Beaufort — A new business in this tourist town aims to open up sightseeing possibilities to everyone, including those with limited mobility.
Beaufort Cart Tours offers small-group sightseeing golf cart tours of the historic downtown and other areas of Beaufort. Up to five individuals, plus a tour guide, can fit in the open-air golf carts specially designed to be low to the ground for easy access.
The golf carts are family- and senior-friendly and can also accommodate those in wheelchairs, according to owner Rich Huffman.
Mr. Huffman, who also owns Beaufort Shave Ice, said he started the business because he saw a need for an accessible tour in Beaufort. He said there were already walking and biking tours, plus the double-decker bus tour, but those aren’t accessible for people in wheelchairs and with other mobility limitations.
“Beaufort has an aging population, I thought it could use something that allows everyone to experience the town,” he said.
Mr. Huffman said he is the only company in the county offering accessible cart tours.
Beaufort Cart Tours offers one-hour sightseeing tours of downtown Beaufort and other areas of town. Mr. Huffman serves as a tour guide, along with other guest guides who have specialized knowledge and can give more personalized tours based on guests’ interests.
There are four basic tours offered throughout the day at different times, including the morning “Coffee Time” tour, early afternoon “Tea Time” tour, late afternoon “Libation Hour” tour and evening “Sunset” tour. Guests are also free to call ahead of time and arrange to have a specialty tour customized to their interests, whether that be maritime history, architecture or shopping and restaurants.
“It’s a good orientation to Beaufort, we point out the good places to see and eat,” Mr. Huffman said.
He said the tours also give some insight guests might not have known otherwise, such as the fact that the signal flags on the Front Street boardwalk spell out “Beaufort.”
“It’s little stuff like that that can enrich the experience,” he said.
Mr. Huffman said he likes to personalize the tours because it gives guests an experience they know they will enjoy. He said it is easy to personalize tours since the groups are so small, and he starts most tours by figuring out what the group wants to focus on for their hour.
“I have a concierge-type attitude. I like to have a conversation, to find out what people like and want to see on their tour, and I try to center the tour on their interests,” he said. “…It turns it into a more pleasant, personal experience.”
Beaufort Cart Tours also offers a hop-on-hop-off Pelican Hopper cart to transport people between shops, restaurants and lodging without dealing with downtown paid parking, which has drawn criticism this summer. The ride costs $5 a “hop” and can be arranged by appointment or availability if a cart with an open spot passes by.
Mr. Huffman said the Pelican Hopper has proven especially successful this summer for both locals and tourists. He said some people call the cart to avoid having to find a parking spot and pay the parking fee downtown. He said it is another good option for those with limited mobility to get shopping and eating done without worrying about walking too much.
“Instead of dealing with parking or walking far distances with their arms full of stuff, it’s easy to just hop on and get to where you’re going,” he said.
Mr. Huffman said the business so far has been well-received. He said it has been used by everyone from a 100-year-old man on Father’s Day to families with children who have sensory processing problems looking for a quieter, laid-back experience.
“Some people will do the tour who have already done other tours, and they still learn something new and have a totally different experience,” he said.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.