South Carolina is an interesting state with a long history. Whether you're interested in learning about the Civil War and the plantations of the past, a tea lover who wants to know more about the farms of today, or you just want to enjoy a hike or a lazy day on the beach; South Carolina has what you're looking for. The geography changes as you move inland, providing a sandy coast lined with beaches and quaint little towns to scenic mountains with idyllic views as you move west.
For one of the best views in the state, visit Sassafras Mountain located about 16 miles north of Pickens on the border of North Carolina. This is the highest point in the state at 3,553 feet and provides a stunning view. From the summit, it's possible to see four states: North Caroline, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. Take your camera for some of the most picturesque views in the Palmetto State.
Located on the coast just south of Myrtle Beach, Brookgreen Gardens was the first public sculpture garden built in the United States. It opened in 1931 and is made up of four former rice plantations. This is a great place for photography and also features a wildlife sanctuary, back road tours, and creek excursions. Be sure to check out the butterfly house, pontoon boat excursions, and any of their seasonal events, including summer concerts, children's activities, and plant sales.
Pawley's Island is on the coast just south of Brookgreen Gardens and is one of the oldest resorts on the Atlantic coast. It was first settled by rice planters in the early 1700s and still embraces a laid-back lifestyle. Here, you can visit the historic district, go crabbing or fishing, relax on the beach, or kick back with a book in a rope hammock. This is a great beach getaway for anyone who prefers something more relaxing than the bustle of nearby popular Myrtle Beach.
Just outside of North Charleston is Middleton Place, an 18th-century rice plantation set on 65 acres of beautiful gardens. Here, you'll see sculptured terraces, reflection pools, and flowers that bloom all year round. In addition to the beautiful landscape, you can also visit the House Museum, working stableyards with heritage breed animals, and organic farm. Take a tour on horseback or rent a bicycle or kayak to see the plantation in a different way. You can also stay the night at the beautiful inn and grab a bite to eat at the restaurant which serves local, seasonal dishes.
Take a one-hour horse and buggy tour of the beautiful streets of Charleston. This tour covers historic homes, gardens, and churches with a knowledgeable guide who tells visitors all about more than 300 years of the city's history, including its important role in the Civil War. The horses are the same that were used on American farms back in the 1800s, and they pull each carriage through 30 blocks of the city's historic district.
Fort Sumter sits in Charleston Harbor and played an important part in the Civil War. The first shots of the war were fired here on April 12, 1861. Visit the educational center in downtown Charleston then take a boat to Fort Sumter for a ranger-led tour to learn more about this difficult time in American history. Then head to Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island which once served as a quarantine station where everyone coming into the harbor passed through, including African slaves.
Huntington Beach lies on the coast just south of Myrtle Beach and is the ultimate stop for outdoor lovers. In addition to the beautiful beaches, Huntington Beach and the surrounding areas offer boating, fishing, golf, kayaking, canoeing, and scuba diving. Not to mention the numerous trails to explore for spotting wildlife and wildflowers while hunting down your next geocache find.
Southwest of Charleston near Rockville, you'll find the Charleston Tea Plantation. This is a must-see for tea lovers. Here, you'll find hundreds of thousands of acres of tea bushes and have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the factory the see the tea-making process from start to finish. Although there are hundreds of tea plantations across the world, this is the only one in North America. They produce the only tea that is 100% American grown.
Located in the northwest corner of the state, Caesars Head State Park is the perfect place to explore the outdoors. Named after a large granite outcropping, this park offers views of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. There are various loop trails for hikers that connect to nearby Jones Gap State Park. The four-mile Raven Cliff Falls trail provides a good look at the falls or take the long 6.6-mile loop and cross the suspension bridge for an amazing view of the falls as they fall into the mountains below.
A few miles west of North Charleston you'll find the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, named one of the most beautiful gardens in the country. This place has a lot of history. It was founded in 1676 and survived both the American Revolution and the Civil War. What's interesting about these gardens is they don't try to make it appear controlled and formal; rather, they try to keep it as natural as possible. They opened the doors to visitors in 1870 and are the oldest public gardens in America.