South Carolina Overview
Discover South Carolina, a feast of Southern food, history and charm.
From the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, South Carolina offers as much variety in its terrain as it does in its attractions and activities. The state is divided into three regions. The upstate, anchored by the growing city of Greenville, is popular for outdoor activities and quaint mountain towns. The Midlands (Piedmont) region is home to the state capital of Columbia, famously known for its year-round summer climate. South Carolina’s coast encompasses historical gems like Charleston and Fort Sumter, as well as golf and beach havens like Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach.
No matter where you go in the state, South Carolina is steeped in U.S. history. It was at Fort Sumter near Charleston where the first shots of the American Civil War rang out in April of 1861. Four years later, Confederate President Jefferson Davis conceded defeat at the Burt-Stark Mansion in Abbeville. History buffs will love exploring picturesque Charleston, founded in 1670 – voted the #1 City in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure for five years running and the #1 City in the World in 2016. Also along the coast, learn the history and culture of the Gullah, descendants of African slaves who have historically inhabited the Lowcountry and developed a distinct culture and language still preserved today.
You can’t visit South Carolina without an appetite. Enjoy just-caught seafood at a waterfront restaurant, which are plentiful in a state with the ocean at its doorstep along with dozens of lakes and rivers. Join the locals at a classic Lowcountry boil, consisting of a generous mix of shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn boiled to perfection and served in a heap right on the table. Help yourself! Don’t forget about the barbecue: There are four different types of sauces to try – vinegar and pepper, mustard, light tomato and heavy tomato – at more than 200 barbecue restaurants throughout the state.
Bring your golf clubs, because South Carolina is a year-round golf destination and home to about 360 courses. You’re sure to find a course no matter when and where you visit, but the state’s top-ranked greens are generally concentrated along the coast. Notably, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of only four courses in the country to have hosted every major PGA event and is consistently rated one of the top courses in the world.
If your idea of a perfect holiday is less “sand trap” and more “sand castle,” South Carolina offers 301 kilometres of picture-perfect coastline. Families tend to congregate in Hilton Head Island, with a plethora of bike trails and relaxing white-sand beaches, and Myrtle Beach, complete with affordable beachfront resorts and boardwalk amusements. More low-key beach goers can check out Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Kiawah Island.
Must See Places in South Carolina
Charleston’s Historic District
Immerse yourself in the gracious atmosphere of the antebellum south in Charleston, where more than 1400 historic homes, churches, and other buildings line the streets. A carriage ride will give you an overview and a little history as well, or you can join a walking tour that includes a peek into some of them.
One of the most popular things to do in South Carolina in the summer is to retreat to the miles of pristine sands that line the coast at Myrtle Beach.
South Carolina’s Plantations
Walking in some of South Carolina’s 2,000-plus plantations is like entering a dream. The grand historic homes and spectacular grounds are scattered throughout the state, but Charleston is home to some of the state’s most beautiful, and many are set amid equally outstanding gardens. Middleton Place sits above America’s oldest landscaped gardens, and is fully furnished in original style. Magnolia Plantation is in America’s oldest publicly accessed gardens, begun in the early 1700s and first opened to visitors in 1870. They are unique as America’s last grand Romantic-style garden. Boone Hall Plantation in nearby Mt. Pleasant is one of the nation’s oldest plantations still operating as a working farm and is best known for its picturesque, three-quarter-mile Avenue of Oaks. You get a rare glimpse of original 18th-century craftsmanship in the ornamental details of the interior of Drayton Hall, which is the oldest unrestored plantation house in America that’s open for tours.
Hilton Head Island
While Hilton Head Island doesn’t have the glamorous stage shows of the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach, this low-country beach town offers laid-back relaxation and smaller crowds. You’ll find beautiful bicycling trails at Hilton Head, along with shopping, dining, and golf courses, and of course the wide sand beaches.
Caesars Head State Park
Caesars Head State Park in Cleveland encompasses the heights of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and is filled with photo ops. The most impressive is from The Overlook, with its breathtaking view of Table Rock. The Raven Cliff Falls Trail leads to South Carolina’s tallest waterfall, and the Jones Gap Trail leads to a series of swimming holes.
Video Credit: Discover South Carolina