Lowcountry Oyster Trail

Shell Art Trail in Bluffton Features Giant Oyster Sculptures Painted by Local Artists

Oysters have been part of the history and culture of the Lowcountry for thousands of years.  Thanks to the Lowcountry Oyster Trail they are about to achieve a whole new prominence in a unique and interactive way.

During October some 21 giant oyster shells will be placed throughout Bluffton to create a Shell Art Trail.  Each four-foot tall fiberglass resin shell, sponsored by a local business or organization and decorated by a regional artist, features one of four themes:  Bluffton history and culture, oysters and their habitat, our unique marine ecosystem and ecology, and Lowcountry outdoor activity and adventure. The trail was kicked off on October 14th, where a special pop-up art park featuring 13 of the shells appeared during the Art Walk.

Larry Hughes, founder and president of the Lowcountry Oyster Trail, said the whole purpose of creating the Shell Art Trail is “for the giant oyster shells to bring giant smiles to the faces of visitors and residents alike for the next 12 months.”

The Shell Art Trail will help promote the importance of the Lowcountry marine ecosystem and draw attention to marine restoration efforts throughout our region.  Each sculpture gives people the opportunity to embark on a public art trail unlike anything else in the region … while learning more about one of the Lowcountry’s most treasured resources.

To experience the Shell Art Trail, “Trailblazers” can download a digital map and print out a Shell Art Trail Passbook leading them to the 21 sculpture locations throughout Bluffton.  A special plaque on each sculpture will provide people with a unique “oyster fact” in answer to questions in the guide. People are also encouraged to take some “Shell-fies” along the way and post them to their social media accounts, tagging @LowcountryOysterTrail, and using #LowCountryOysterTrail #heARTofBluffton #SeeShellsinBluffton for the opportunity to win some special prizes while completing the trail.

For more information about the Shell Art Trail, including a listing of participating artists and sculpture locations and sponsors, visit https://lowcountryoystertrail.org/shell-art-trail/.

Enjoy It: Our Favorites Ways to Eat an Oyster

Ahh Oysters, is there anything better? We think not! So, begs the question, what is the best way to eat these delightful mollusks? Naked? Raw with a slice of Lemon? Mignonette? All are delectable but let us break down our favorite ways to eat an oyster.

For wine, “terroir” is the concept that its flavor is derived from its sense of place in the vineyards terrain, soil, sunlight and water quality that all equally contribute to a unique wine that holds all the flavor of a particular place and time. Like wine, each oyster is directly impacted by its surroundings – the body of water in which they came from, the algae it feeds on, temperature, season, strength of the tides, the mineral content of the sea floor and rainfall. Even just the distance of a few miles can have a huge impact on an oyster’s flavor, or “merroir.”

Typically, raw oysters are served on the half shell are served with plenty of lemon for squeezing, Tabasco sauce or a shallot vinaigrette, called mignonette. But the most common way to eat a raw oyster is with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Why lemon? Lemon juice brings out the crave-able briny flavor that make oysters the delicacy they are.

If lemon just won’t cut it for you…mignonette is hands down our favorite way to dress an oyster. This name may sound fancy, but it is an incredibly simple dressing to prepare. We love to vary acidity and add additional flavors by seasoning our oysters with a mignonette sauce – a sauce made with vinegar and shallots that you sprinkle on your oyster – just as you would with lemon juice.

If eating an oyster raw isn’t your thing, you can grill your oysters. The lightly smoked flavor they tend to pick up during this process will blow your mind! You can grill any oyster you would eat raw – but bigger is better as they tend to shrink the longer they cook. A grilled preparation of an oyster maintains the fresh flavor but adds a satisfying char, fat and a meatier texture.

The coastal culture of the South is part of who we are, so it may be obvious that roasting is one of our favorite ways to enjoy an oyster. Whether lightly steamed and juicy or fully cooked, firmed and smoked – Oyster Roasts are a staple here in the Lowcountry.

What is your favorite way to eat an oyster? Share with us in the comments below!

How Your Advertising on the Lowcountry Oyster Trail Itinerary Can Grow Your Business…and Bring a Whole Lot of New Customers Right to You.

The Lowcountry Oyster Trail (LOT) is all about creating the ultimate Lowcountry travel experience for those embarking on the “Trail” – offering customized itineraries for people to personalize their adventure by doing (and eating/drinking) the things they love best. So while we hope that everyone on the LOT loves or learns to love oysters, we’ve also made sure that history, arts, outdoor adventure and more are all among the choices to be made in crafting a to do list of LOT fun and learning opportunities.

On the Lowcountry Oyster Trail, there’s a customized experience and special itinerary for everyone – and, as a Trail Partner, your spot on one of our customized itineraries is guaranteed to reach exactly the potential customers that you’d like to reach. Looking to reach the many Foodies, Gourmands and Epicureans who will be blazing a trail on the LOT? We’ve got an itinerary specially created for them … and a spot on that trail just waiting for you to become one of the “stops”. Want to showcase your business to the many Adventurers who are looking to add an element of adventure to their oyster experience? We’ve got itineraries for that, too. We’ve also created special itineraries geared towards those looking for a more Historical & Cultural experience – and, for those looking to make their oyster experience a true Family Outing—no problem, plenty to do for young, old (and in between).

In addition to different itinerary categories for you to choose from, Trail Partners also have the opportunity to become part of either a 3 Hour Tour, 24 Hour experience or Two-day excursion for each category. For oyster-lovers and everyone else, there are so many choices and so many different ways to customize their experience. And for our Trail Partners, so many different ways to gain exposure for their business — and experience exciting growth – as part of the Lowcountry Oyster Trail.

For more information about our individual itineraries, click here. And to discuss how you and your business can become the next stop on any one of our customized itineraries, call or email us today for more information and current availability.

P.S. Although it seems like our Trail is ALL ABOUT OYSTERS, we realize your business may not be and that’s OK- you should still be on the trail… want to know why? Give us a call… Or, check out our Shell Ring Sponsors here.

Stay Here: Anchorage 1770 Inn

There is a reason Anchorage 1770 Inn has recently been named the Top Inn in America by Coastal Living, Southern Living and named one of the “52 Places to Go in 2016” by The New York Times. Whether you are a local or visiting from out of town – the Anchorage 1770 Inn is the perfect spot to experience Lowcountry living at its best!

This dreamy four-story waterfront inn is full of character, amazing views, Lowcountry charm, romance and loads of personality with personal touches. Built in 1770, Anchorage 1770 Inn has a long history as part of the fabric of the Beaufort Historic District. Over the years the inn has served as a private residence, a hospital during the civil war, a tourist home, and as a restaurant. Today, this beautifully restored B&B offers locals and visitors the pleasure of the past — with all the luxuries of the 21st century.

In 2014, owners Frank and Amy Lesesne fell in love at first sight and purchased this “Queen of the Bay” – beginning the significant renovations we see today. Now the inn is complete with 15 bedrooms, 13 in-suite bathrooms, a commercial kitchen, an elevator and a top deck overlooking Beaufort’s historical harbor & downtown. Amy and Frank pride themselves on providing the ultimate Lowcountry experience filled with as much luxury and adventure as each guest desires. Sip drinks on the sprawling upper deck, enjoy in-room massages, yoga on the front porch, historic carriage tours, gourmet fare and world class fishing – these are just a few opportunities you will have while visiting this historic inn. The inn even has two-dog friendly rooms – so you won’t have to leave your best bud at home!

Each room is unique, with details ranging from four-poster beds, to stunning fireplaces and expansive hand-painted ceilings. If you’re looking for some casual reading, the history of the mansion is a fascinating series in itself… a classically elegant historic small-town vacation and a nature-lovers paradise all in one. Guests of this fabulous Lowcountry retreat will experience the absolute perfect balance of the urban and natural pleasures of this historic town.

While at the Anchorage, don’t forget to dine at The Ribaut Social Club, a fine dining and social space for Beaufort locals and visitors to mingle over cocktails and innovative regional cuisine. Originally established in 1891, this club once hosted performances, grand parties, dances and even some gambling! Every dish tells a story of the Lowcountry. Be sure to try their refreshing chilled cucumber and dill soup – a perfect dish to escape the summer heat!

Insider tip: Don’t miss the nightly happy hour up on the mansion’s top deck, with sunset views over the Beaufort River and cold refreshing cocktails!

Learn more about the history of this Lowcountry gem here 

heART of the Lowcountry: How Being a Part of the LOT Shell Art Trail Can Bring People, and Business, Right to Your Front Door

What do people love almost as much as oysters? Art. And we’ve found a way to bring together the unique culinary, and aesthetic, attributes of the beloved Lowcountry oyster …. as we get ready to launch the Lowcountry Oyster Trail Shell Art Trail this Fall.

The LOT Shell Art Trail is a soon-to-be-launched public art “scavenger hunt” that we’ve created in conjunction with the Lowcountry Oyster Trail – where up to 30 unique Oyster Sculptures (each individually decorated by local artists) will be placed throughout the community. These unique 4’ tall fiberglass oyster sculptures will not only be creating excitement in the community as part of a unique Shell Art Trail, but can (literally and figuratively) bring business directly to your door.

How? By being part of the Shell Art Trail and sponsoring/showcasing one of these unique sculptures, you and your business will be ”on the map” – becoming a destination for hundreds (if not thousands) of tourists and Lowcountry locals alike in the months ahead. All you have to do is say “yes” … and we’ll do the rest – including commissioning a local artist to decorate your fiberglass oyster. Then tell us where you’d like “your oyster” to be placed (either right at your business, or we can suggest some prime spots that will help create foot traffic to your location) … and you’ll be part of this unique public art trail destined to become one of the Lowcountry’s biggest attractions for food-lovers, art-lovers, adventure-lovers … and everyone in between.

We’re getting ready to officially create the Shell Art Trail … and our “oysters” are booking up fast. Sound like something you’d like to be involved in? Click here to learn more about how you can claim your oyster and your spot on the trail that everyone is sure to be talking about in the weeks and months ahead. As part of the launch of the Shell Art Trail in October, we’ll be kicking off a major advertising/marketing/public relations campaign … which, as a part of the Shell Art Trail, you’d reap the benefits of (and added company visibility), too!

So while there may not be a pearl in every oyster, these 4’ tall fiberglass oysters that will soon be scattered throughout the community are sure to bring good fortune (and potential new customers) to those who become part of this exciting new program here in Bluffton. We hope you’ll be one of them. Call us today to discuss how you can “get on the Trail” … and let the Lowcountry oyster season (and your company’s business growth) begin!

Click here download a Shell Art Trail form.

Eat This: Hudson’s Seafood House on the Dock

Nestled on the docks of the Port Royal Sound, Hudson’s Seafood House on the Dock is the perfect spot to bring your family and friends for a true Lowcountry dining experience. Hudson’s brings local, fresh seafood straight from their docks to your table by employing the largest fishing fleets on Hilton Head Island. If you are lucky, you’ll see a Hudson’s shrimp boat unload its catch; watch the sorting process as the shrimp make their way to the restaurant tables.

There are just two remaining commercial shrimping operations on Hilton Head, and one of them will use Hudson’s dock for free, in exchange for the restaurant getting first pick of the freshest shrimp in the area. You will even see the chef head out to the docks each time the boat returns, to check up on the daily catch. They grow and harvest their own oysters, and even have a state-of-the-art seawater system to shed out soft shell crabs in the spring – ensuring they are at the highest quality & serving up the best seafood available.

So, while you’re in Hilton Head, do as the locals do and head to Hudson’s on the Dock for some of the freshest seafood in the area. To make sure you have the best experience, we have highlighted our favorite menu items to order while you sit back & enjoy the views of the Port Royal Sound against the setting Lowcountry sun. The view from Hudson’s is almost as good as their food.

One rule though – You MUST leave room for dessert!

What to order:

  • Be sure to ask about their “best of today’s fresh catch,” as their specials are pretty incredible, and come straight off the boat to your table.
  • Anything with shrimp in it. Hudson’s extremely fresh shrimp are served up steamed, broiled, fried or stuffed. We think any style is perfection, but try their New Orleans style BBQ Shrimp, made with butter, cream, Cajun spices and Worcestershire sauce – it is sinfully delicious! For a simple shrimp dish, you can never go wrong with their shrimp cocktail, where you can really taste the true freshness of this daily catch.
  • Their char-grilled oysters, are a MUST TRY! This sinfully delicious, char-grilled version is placed directly on the grill in its shell & cooked in its own juices, then topped with Parmesan cheese, butter, garlic and flash broiled. They also have fantastic steamed, fried & raw oysters.
  • Their Fried Green Tomato Plate is a true work of art, topped with onion & bacon jam, tomato chutney, goat cheese, arugula and a balsamic glaze, this dish is one of the reasons so many of us keep coming back for more!
  • Sure, hushpuppies are a southern staple, but no one does it better than Hudson’s. Shaped more like tots than spheres, they are tender with a crunchy crust topped with sugar for added sweetness. Why are these hushpuppies so delicious? Most restaurants pre-make theirs, while Hudson’s cooks every single batch to order.
  • Can’t decide what to order? You can’t go wrong with their “Can’t Decide Sampler” (for two), oysters hudson, oysters rockefeller, stuffed mushrooms, mini crab cakes and blackened scallops to get the most out of your Hudson’s experience.
  • Hudson’s, She Crab Soup is a tradition at Hudson’s & probably the best soup you will ever taste. This thick & extremely flavorful soup is topped with a bit of sherry to round out the taste. You cannot go wrong with their Seafood Gumbo either, a Cajun style gumbo made with dark roux and loaded with the freshest of seafood, sausage and seasonal vegetables.
  • We told you to leave room for dessert! Hudson’s is known not only for their fresh catches, but for their decadent desserts. Our favorite desserts include their Key Lime Pie, Mud Pie “Enough for Two” (if you like to share) and their signature, not to be missed, Bessie’s Peanut Butter Pie.

This island institution seats over 345 people and serves the islands finest seafood to more than 1,000 guests on a typical summer night. Next time you make your way to Hilton Head Island, do as the locals do and sit at the tables topped with blue and white checkered cloths and devour buckets of fresh seafood & take in the beautiful views of the Port Royal Sound for a true Lowcountry experience.

Location: 1 Hudson Rd, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926
Phone: 843-681-2772

Website: hudsonsonthedocks.com

Hours of Operation: OPEN DAILY; Lunch from 11 am – 4 pm, Dinner from 5 pm – until, Brunch on Sundays from 10 am – 4 pm and Happy Hour from 4 pm – 6 pm.

The Trail Beckons: A Lot of Great Reasons to Become a Partner or Sponsor of the Lowcountry Oyster Trail

With the launch of the Lowcountry Oyster Trail, the “Sea to Fork” culinary movement is expected to grow by leaps and bounds – offering oyster lovers a way to truly immerse themselves in a unique culinary and educational oyster experience unlike anything else in the region. It’s a truly exciting time for food lovers and travel enthusiasts far and wide, who will be flocking to the Lowcountry to experience all that the Lowcountry Oyster Trail has to offer. And it’s also an exciting time for local business owners and organizations – as the launch of the Lowcountry Oyster Trail offers the opportunity to get involved in what could be the biggest boom to local tourism the Lowcountry has ever seen.

There are two ways to get involved with the Lowcountry Oyster Trail. As a Trail Partner, your business will actually be a part of — and a stop on — the Trail. Or, as a Trail Sponsor, you can be part of this unique initiative and gain significant exposure for your company even if you don’t have a business that can be part of the Trail itself (sponsors can be corporate sponsors, small companies, organizations or individuals.)

Why become a LOT Trail Partner or a LOT Trail Sponsor? There are a LOT of great reasons … and a LOT of great options. As a Trail Partner, you’ll not only be part of a team dedicated to dynamic tourism and economic development of the region, but you’ll be helping to grow your own business through having your own business profile page integrated on all of our Lowcountry Oyster Trail materials, including the LowcountryOysterTrail.org website and mobile applications, the LOT Google map and part of all promotions and advertising driving people to the Lowcountry Oyster Trail. As a sponsor (or part of our “Shell Ring”) you’ll have the option of a number of different levels of sponsorship (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze Levels) — each providing you with specific sponsor benefits and added visibility for your business (all sponsors are acknowledged on the LOT brochure/map and included in email blasts/monthly newsletters, and Silver, Gold and Platinum sponsors are also listed on the LOT website as a sponsor with a link to your website, among other benefits.)

Ready to show the community – and tourists from all over the country – how proud you are of our Lowcountry Oysters … while showing them how you and your company are committed to being part of this exciting new initiative? Interested in showcasing your name, and your business, to the many Lowcountry residents and visitors who are expected to “take to the Trail” beginning this Fall? There are so many ways for you to be involved – click here to learn more about our partnership opportunities and different levels of sponsorship. Or call us anytime at 888.587.4593 and we can provide you with any additional information that you might like.

Happy Trails to all … and we hope you’ll join us “on the trail” as you consider the many benefits of becoming a Partner or Sponsor in the months ahead!

As seen in the Island Packet: We’re getting a Lowcountry Oyster Trail and here’s what you should know about it

The concept is simple: Lowcountry oysters are some of the best in the world. So, shouldn’t everyone get to see, taste and experience them for themselves?

In November 2015, the Virginia Oyster Trail was officially launched, and for the first time, attractions spanning across 250 miles were seamlessly connected to provide Virginia visitors with nearly every aspect of the state’s oyster production and consumption.

Bluffton resident and entrepreneur Larry Hughes admired this from afar as the project blossomed, but he harbored one major critique.

“They (the organizers of the Virginia Oyster Trail) are spectacularly good at what they do, which is promoting the oysters in the state. The problem is their oysters aren’t the greatest. Ours are,” Hughes told The Island Packet in a recent interview. “I looked at that business model, looked at what they were doing, and then I looked at our incredible marine ecosystem and our treasures. Any way you want to judge them — competition wise or consumer-wise — our oysters are better.”

Continue Reading >>

As Seen in LocalLife: Lowcountry Oyster Trail Planned

Aquatourism and sea-to-fork culinary movement will combine to assist marine research

Oysters, that gourmet delight prized for over 4,000 years in the Lowcountry, will soon be at the center of a new “aquatourism” initiative set to launch this fall. The Lowcountry Oyster Trail, will highlight the region’s famous oysters, and its growing role in the red-hot “sea-to-fork” culinary movement.

“The Lowcountry Oyster Trail is an exciting multi-faceted economic development concept highlighting wild and farm-raised oysters,” says Bluffton resident Larry Hughes, mastermind behind the LOT. He’s orchestrating the trail’s development and growth. “We also plan to shine a spotlight on the men and women who grow, harvest, shuck, prepare, cook and serve Lowcountry oysters.”

Click here to continue reading

Lowcountry Oyster Trail Set for Fall Launch

Aquatourism and the Sea-to-Fork culinary movement will soon combine to assist oyster habitat and marine research.

Oysters, that gourmet delight prized for over 4,000 years in the Lowcountry, will soon be at the center of a new “aquatourism” initiative set to launch this fall.   The Lowcountry Oyster Trail, will highlight the region’s famous oysters, and their growing role in the red-hot “sea-to-fork” culinary movement.

“The Lowcountry Oyster Trail (LOT) is an exciting multi-faceted economic development concept highlighting wild and farm-raised oysters and much more,” says Bluffton resident Larry Hughes, mastermind behind the LOT. He’s orchestrating the Trail’s development and growth.   “We also plan to shine a deserved spotlight on the men and women who grow, harvest, shuck, prepare, cook and serve Lowcountry oysters.”

The LOT will guide residents and visitors to restaurants, wine bars, outdoor adventure sites, museums, and historical and cultural sights with a host of packages and immersive experiences for all ages. Partners in the trail will include oyster growers, food and beverage operators, hoteliers, educational and cultural attractions, and retailers. Each partner will display a plaque identifying them as part of the LOT and marking them as a steward of the Trail experience.

The LOT website (www.LowcountryOysterTrail.org) will explain the lore and legend of watermen and oystering and be a pathway for site visitors to discover more about the special Lowcountry environment.

“The fun will help support a fund, the SC Lowcountry Oyster Trail Fund,” says Hughes. This is a charitable fund in support of the SC LOT Foundation in partnership with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, a 501c3 organization

Special hospitality packages may include lodging, unique Chef’s Table offerings, oyster tasting rooms pairing single select oysters with special wines or craft beers, and on-site visits to an oyster farm. Additional offerings include outdoor adventures/dolphin encounters in the May River and surrounding sounds, educational boat trips, one-of-a-kind nature talks, and shopping discounts.

The Trail will allow participants to custom design their very own unique “LOT experience” in the Lowcountry. For example, a family can perhaps start their day with a morning kayak paddle on the May River, have lunch at the Toomer family Bluffton Seafood House, go on an afternoon visit to the Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center in Okatie, and enjoy cocktails and dinner at Hudson’s on the Docks on Hilton Head Island.

For more information about the Lowcountry Oyster Trail itineraries, partners to date, and calendar of events visit www.LowcountryOysterTrail.org. Any individual or organization interested in becoming a Trail partner can email info@lowcountryoystertrail.org or phone 888-587-4593, Ext. 2.