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SOUTH CAROLINA CALLS FROM THE LOWCOUNTRY TO THE UPCOUNTRY
 
(2013 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: LYNN SELDON



South Carolina seemingly has it all.

We often return to this great state. Quite simply, there’s something for everyone.

The Coast and Beaches

Highway 17 meanders down South Carolina’s coastline from Myrtle Beach to the Georgia state line, passing wide island beaches, quiet towns, friendly seafood restaurants, charming Charleston, Hilton Head Island, and the Lowcountry. From family beach vacation hot spots to classic southern history, the coastline never disappoints.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2013, Myrtle Beach is bigger and better than ever for kids and those who are young at heart. Downtown’s beachfront revitalization project continues beyond the new 1.9-kilometre-long Boardwalk and Promenade, which runs between two iconic piers. The towering 18-storey SkyWheel Myrtle Beach as well as the many dining, shopping and entertainment establishments are highlights along the Boardwalk and Promenade.

Heading south on 17, other coastal destinations include Murrells Inlet, South Carolina’s seafood capital; Brookgreen Gardens; quiet Pawleys Island; historic Georgetown; downtown Charleston and its nearby beaches; iconic plantations; more charming towns such as Beaufort and Bluffton; and—just before the Georgia state line and Savannah—beloved Hilton Head Island.

Featuring more than 19 kilometres of broad beaches, world-famous golf, an oft-photographed lighthouse and numerous other attractions, Hilton Head Island remains a popular beach destination decades after its initial development. By incorporating forward-thinking techniques and offering environmentally-oriented attractions and activities long before “green” initiatives and ecotourism were trendy, the island is thriving.

Historic Charleston

Charming Charleston remains one of the southeast United States’ (and the nation’s) favourite destinations, thanks to cobblestone gaslight-lit streets; carriage tours; the recently renovated, award-winning Charleston City Market; and many other historic houses and sites. The city is also renowned for its dining scene, which includes destination restaurants such as Circa 1886, Hank’s Seafood, Husk, McCrady’s, Cypress, The Macintosh, The Ordinary Fancy Seafood Oyster Hall, FIG and Fish, as well as early-spring’s sprawling Charleston Wine + Food Festival. However, many may not realize the Holy City is also quite close to beaches and historic plantations.

Sitting at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, Sullivan’s Island is a welcoming seaside spot, which also features the nearby town of Mount Pleasant, Shem Creek seafood restaurants, and Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum (home to the USS Yorktownand more). Northeast of Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms offers golf, boating and more great beaches.

Just 15 minutes from downtown, eccentric Folly Beach is a favourite with locals and veteran visitors. Just a bit further south, both Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island serve up miles of quiet beachfront, world-class golf and more. Nearby Edisto Island features another popular beach.

Charleston is also a great base from which to explore one or more nearby plantations. Possibilities include Middleton Place, which also features relaxing accommodation and Lowcountry dining; Drayton Hall; Magnolia Plantation and Gardens; and Boone Hall Plantation.

The Lowcountry

Charleston and its nearby beaches and plantations provide visitors a taste of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, however there’s much more to see and do if you dig a bit deeper into the region’s plough mud. Along with Charleston, Hilton Head Island and other beaches and towns, the Lowcountry lures visitors with stunning vistas and outdoor activities.

Formed by the convergence of the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers, the famed “ACE” Basin is perfect for boaters, canoeists and kayakers who want to explore swamplands, meandering rivers and streams and tidal marshlands. More than 141,000 hectares of undeveloped land and plenty of wildlife above and below the surface are waiting to be discovered. Situated in the historic Frampton Plantation House just off I-95 at Yemassee, the Lowcountry Visitor Center can help you with your exploration of the area.

Columbia and the Midlands

Known as “famously hot” for good reason, South Carolina’s capital of Columbia and the surrounding Midlands are white-hot with travellers looking for something different. City sightseeing venues include Riverbanks Zoo and Garden (including the new Sky-High Safari ropes challenge course); the South Carolina State Museum; the Columbia Museum of Art; and EdVenture Children’s Museum.

Further afield, manoeuvres in the Midlands might include a visit to horse country in and around quaint Aiken or various water-borne adventures on rivers in the area or on nearby Lake Murray. Thousands of pretty purple martins converge on Lake Murray’s Bomb Island in late July and August, making it the largest roosting sanctuary on the continent.

Greenville and the Upcountry

Bustling downtown Greenville has developed into one of South Carolina’s most popular destinations, thanks to Falls Park on the Reedy, the Greenville Zoo, The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, Peace Center for the Performing Arts and Dark Corner Distillery. A downtown dining scene, revolutionized more than 15 years ago by the Table 301 Restaurant Group, now includes the original Soby’s New South Cuisine, Devereaux’s, Nose Dive, The Lazy Goat, Overlook Grill and Soby’s on the Side. And co-founded by Greenville native and famed rocker Edwin McCain, September’s tasty Euphoria weekend focuses on food, wine and music.

In the Upcountry north of the city, foothills and mountains, state parks, waterfalls, hiking trails and history await outdoor enthusiasts. The Dark Corner area of the Upcountry was once moonshine country. Today tours exploring the area are offered out of Greenville.

With all this awaiting travellers from the Upcountry to the coast, it’s easy to see why much more than a long weekend is needed when planning a trip to South Carolina. It’s simply a great state.

Travel Planner

For more information, log onto discoversouthcarolina.com or call 803-734-1700.

 
 
 
 
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