Explore South Carolina

Explore South Carolina
A relatively small state with a big heart and a country-town like feel, South Carolina is a fabulous place to vacation. Situated south of North Carolina, north of Georgia, and east of the Atlantic Ocean, South Carolina has many beautiful beaches along its coast. Most travellers spend the majority of their time exploring the coastal towns of Myrtle Beach and historic Charleston, but there are also plenty of smaller island destinations that boast pristine sands and fantastic water sports.

Myrtle Beach is great for those travelling with children. There is a variety of attractions and family activities along the promenade. A little farther down the coast is Murrel’s Inlet, the ‘seafood capital of South Carolina.’ Many people will plan at least one evening trip to enjoy the splendours of a true shrimp and grits dish.

Further along the coast is Georgetown, the third oldest city in the state, a quaint seaside town with plenty of good low-country cooking, cafes, and high-end boutique stores. If you don’t have time to stay, make sure to stop in for lunch on your way down to Charleston.

Charleston is known for its beautiful Victorian houses in Battery Park, and all the plantation estates that are located just outside of the city. For history lovers, this is the place to come. Charleston marks the start of the civil war and showcases some of the older buildings during Confederate times.

Travelling inland to the Sandhills is where you’ll find the capital city, Columbia. With the recent news of the city taking down the Confederate flag from its state house, this city could see some renewed interest for its ‘history in the making’.  The big attractions in Columbia are Fort Jackson and the South Carolina State House. You can still see where Sherman’s cannonballs struck.

Myrtle Beach
Victorian houses in Battery Park, Charleston
Lake Jocassee

Places to Visit in South Carolina

  • Myrtle Beach
  • Charleston
  • Hilton Head
  • Georgetown
  • Congaree Swamp
  • The South Carolina State House
  • Murrell’s Inlet (for seafood!)

Unique Things to See and Do in South Carolina

  • Relax in the Lake Hartwell State Park
  • Enjoy the scenery at Myrtle Beach
  • Take a tasting tour of Palmetto Moonshine Distillery
  • Admire the unusual designs of Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Gardens
  • Walk through the historical area in Charleston, The Battery
  • Devour a bowl of shrimp and grits, the way it’s supposed to be!

South Carolina’s Plantation History

In order to appreciate South Carolina’s food, architecture and geography, you’ll want to understand the people’s background and history.

The first thing to note is that South Carolina is the one of the original thirteen colonies that joined the Confederacy during the time of the Civil War. The backbone of the state came from the times of slavery when the first wealthy settlers established plantations with slaves brought in from the British Caribbean colony of Barbados. The main crops produced were sugar, cotton, indigo, and tobacco.

Part of the reason behind the Civil War was that Abraham Lincoln wanted to abolish slavery, and for South Carolina’s plantation owners this was a threat to their livelihood. In fact, the Civil War erupted in the historic town of Charleston, which we highly recommend you visit. For obvious reasons, the roots of slavery have been a contentious issue lasting from the 16th century to today.

That being said, you can’t miss visiting the plantation houses. Walking around the old estates is like walking through time. Many of the houses have been left in their original state and are a history buff’s dream. There are hundreds of them, many of them built in the likeness of French and English countryside palaces with period features from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. A good number of them have been turned into historical museums which offer guided tours explaining the relationships of agricultural economics and the wealth created in the US. More importantly, the curators for the houses are taking an important step of explaining the relationship of African slavery in these houses and educating the public about the significant contributions Africans made (although involuntarily). Some directors have even facilitated Truth and Reconciliation panels for the heirs and descendants. 

Getting Around South Carolina

Travelling by car is the easiest way to see the state of South Carolina, particularly if you plan on taking up some of the great outdoor activities or visiting some of the beautiful old plantation houses that lie just outside of the city centres.

Amtrak rail and Greyhound buses both offer daily service to all the major centres, and Greyhound also offers service to some of the smaller and more remote areas.

Did you know…?

South Carolina produces the second highest volume of peaches in all of the United States. (California is no.1)

Peach Sorbert

Did you ALSO know…?

There’s an ongoing debate as to whether or not South Carolina is the birthplace of barbecue sauce.

Barbeque ribs and sauce

Best Time of Year to Travel to South Carolina

Generally, South Carolina is a destination that can be enjoyed year-round.

Summers are long and hot, attracting both beachgoers and golf enthusiasts. The high season runs from May to August with temperatures reaching as high as 33C. Summers fully book up in terms of accommodations along the shoreline, so be sure to book your stay at least 10 months in advance of your trip.

The shoulder seasons, September to November and March to April, are typically quieter times and good for touring most historical sights.

Winters are typically sunny with mild temperatures. However, be aware that some attractions, such as some of the amusement parks in Myrtle Beach, will close in the winter.

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