South Carolina is a triangle shaped state that is bordered by Georgia in the south and west, North Carolina in the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. South Carolina has a variety of destinations to offer any visitor, from beaches to historic plantations and charming old colonial towns, swamps, and the Sea Islands chain off the coast, as well as a rich culture, with strong traditions and strong accents. The state has three distinctive geographical features: the Blue Ridge Mountains in the northwest and the Piedmont or the midlands in the southeast, which make up the state’s Up Country, and the Coastal Plains or low country that make up two-thirds of the state.
The Up Country is where the Cherokee Indians once roamed and called the mountains the Great Blue Hills of God. The town of Greenville is in this region, and one of its main attractions nearby is the Table Rock Mountain and Table Rock State Park.
The Midlands of South Carolina is home to the state’s capital city, Columbia. The University of South Carolina is in Columbia, as well as a number of historic sites, museums, galleries and parks. Finlay Park, Town Theatre, Columbia Museum of Art, and Richland Library are other attractions.
The Coastal Plains region is a hot bed for tourists. Along the northern coast, from the border to North Carolina all the way to Georgetown is a 60-mile stretch of coastline known as the Grand Strand. There are a number of resorts, restaurants, theme parks and souvenir shops, making it an ideal vacation destination. The star attraction, however, is Myrtle Beach.
The southern half of the state’s coast features the Sea Islands and a few charming towns, like Beaufort, with its old houses and mansions and a riverfront downtown lined with cafes and galleries. Farther south is Parris Island where the Marine Corps Recruit Depot is located. To the east of Beaufort is Saint Helena Island, where the Gullah culture and history can be explored.
The port city of Charleston is the oldest and the largest city in South Carolina, which offers a rich history, beautiful architecture, heritage hotels, old mansions. There are number of interesting places to see at its harbor, including Patriots Point where naval ships are on display at the Naval and Maritime Museum. Just north of downtown Charleston is another plantation called Drayton Hall. This National Historic Landmark was built in 1738 and is open to the public to display its local history. Hilton Head Island is known for the Sea Pines Shell Ring which is a ring of shells collected by Native Americans 4,000 years ago.
Charles Pinckney National Historic Site located in Mount Pleasant, a historic estate owned by its namesake founding father, and a former plantation that once kept slaves who worked in the fields of cotton and rice.
Another National Historic Site is the Ninety Six, an important site in South Carolina’s Revolutionary War history.
Congaree National Park in Hopkins has largest expanse of old growth hardwood forests in the southeast, while the National Monument of Fort Sumter in Charleston is another popular tourist destination in the state.
Some popular and quirky museums in South Carolina include the Museum of York County -Taxidermy Paradise that has a collection of taxidermied animals, the National Bean Market Museum, and the South Carolina Tennis Hall of Fame, which has been named one of the finest sports museums in the country. For horse lovers, there’s the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum and for car enthusiasts, the BMW Zentrum museum and factory is a must visit. The Aiken-Rhett House, Ashtabula Historic House, Burt-Stark Mansion and Brookgreen Gardens are a few other sites worth exploring.
Some historic hotels in Charleston, South Carolina include the following:
Francis Marion Hotel, named after the Revolutionary War figure Francis Marion, this hotel opened in 1924
John Rutledge House Inn, built in 1763 by John Rutledge, a noted signer of the U.S. Constitution, is a National Historic Landmark
Kings Courtyard Inn built in 1853, designed in the Greek revival Style
Wentworth Mansion, built in 1886 as a private mansion