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Day Trip from Bluffton....to Savannah? Beaufort?

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Two of us are driving from NYC to Florida next month. We are breaking up the drive with a stop near Elizabeth City, followed by a two-night stop in Bluffton, SC, which gives us a full day in the area.

Back in the days when I was a magazine writer/editor, I covered this area for a number of features (even styled the photos for the cookbook published by a famous old Savannah restaurant), but it has been years and years since my last visit. So for all intents and purposses, I am a newcomer. Partner's exposure to the Low Country is limited to stops oon St. Simons/Sea Island during last's years NYC-Florida ordeal.

Looking at the map, Beaufort seems to be the logical option. But investigating further, it appears that Savannah is actually closer to Bluffton (34 minutes according to Google maps vs 41 mn to Beaufort).

BUT: We want to make this easy and uncomplicated. We will be driving a car filled to the brim with "stuff" destined for out Florida condo rental. We want to walk around for a couple of hours and maybe eat lunch in a non-fancy place featuring local seafood. Do not want any parking issues. Do not want to visit any historic houses on this trip. Just need a break from the long drive and a chance to soak up the natural and architecturall beauty of the Low Country. Since we are staying at a nice hotel, would like to enjoy the faacilities there for part of the afternoon, so this should not be an all-day jaunt. We also want an hour or so in downtown Bluffton, but can possibly do this the evening before, after check-in.

With all that in mind, what would be a good plan for us coming from Bluffton? Maybe a 3/4 hour jaunt from the hotel? Should we meander through some of the shoreline islands? Head for Savannah? But what about parking in Savannah? Secure? Easy to find upon entering the city? Or easier to head for Beaufort which might be a few more minutes in distance but might be a lot less complicated as far as traffic, parking, etc.

I appreciate any and all help!!! Many thanks..

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