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Nothing could be finer thanto be in Beaufort, S.C.

While many tourists flock to the charming and historic Atlantic seacoast cities of Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, Ga., not to be overlooked is a burg about halfway between: Beaufort, S.C. Or so say readers of Southern Living magazine, who ranked the community of about 12,000 people the "Best Small Town" in voting for the region's best places to stay, visit, shop, and dine. So what gives it the nod over other compelling Sun Belt destinations such as Blowing Rock, N.C., or Eureka Springs, Ark.? Answer: a combination of culture and natural beauty. Beaufort's walkable downtown is thick with art galleries and may have one of the densest such concentrations anywhere. Located on Port Royal Island in South Carolina's famous Lowcountry, it also boasts a historic antebellum waterfront and estuaries alluring to boating and sport fishing enthusiasts. Southern Living's choices of best Southern towns, from its January issue:

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