8. Santa Elena
Learn the real saga of America at the Santa Elena History Center. Founded in 1566, Santa Elena was the first European settlement in North America. Her fascinating but little known story is one of religion, geopolitics, cultural clashes, war and struggles to survive. The History Center is now open seven days a week and is housed in the newly renovated, federal courthouse in downtown Beaufort.
Today, the Santa Elena site is a National Historic Landmark, important for its associations with the 16th-century conflict between Spain and France for control of the New World. Located on nearby Parris Island, the site is also considered archaeologically significant and tours of the site itself are available. To learn more about the Santa Elena Foundation and to plan your tour, please visit Santa-Elena.org.