Central South Carolina Tour - Best Western Hotels & Resorts

  

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SC Sumter to Sumter

Major Cities, National Parks, Forests & Forts

South Carolina’s three largest cities are on a northwest-southeast line, from Upstate to the Piedmont and through the Sandhills to the Atlantic coast. Two major places named Sumter show up in the form of a forest and a famous fort. Let’s take a drive right down the backbone of the Palmetto State, from fast-growing Greenville to the capital and university city of Columbia, to beautiful and historic Charleston. Along the way, national forests, rolling hill croplands, and the state’s only national park provide beautiful breaks from city bustle. Let’s go!

Start in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in the city of Greenville The city feels much larger than its population of 65,000, probably because it’s the anchor city for the Greenville-Spartanburg metro area, which has almost half a million residents. Partially due to the former plant in Piedmont we just mentioned, Greenville was known as the “Textile Capital of the World” during the early 20th century and today is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country for business and young professionals. International companies like Michelin make Greenville their North American headquarters, and BMW has an office and manufacturing plant nearby (more on that later) and technology, aviation, and alternative energy are significant economic drivers in the area.

Greenville is home to Furman University, South Carolina’s oldest private university. A liberal arts college founded in 1826, the school has a student body of 2,800 and a wooded 750 acre campus featuring 40-acre Furman Lake, a big reason the campus often makes the list of “America’s Most Beautiful College Campuses.” Along the lake is a replica of the cabin Henry David Thoreau stayed in while writing On Walden Pond, and the Bell Tower & Burnside Carillion both rises to mark the heart of campus and delivers cascading chimes from the 59 bells in the tower. The university is one of the smallest to play NCAA Division I sports, and the Furman Paladins compete across 20 sports in the Southern Conference including football and basketball. Above campus, Paris Mountain State Park offers hiking, biking, swimming, and fishing, all on campus and close to Greenville. A bathhouse built in the 1930s is now the Park Center, which offers historic exhibits.

The city has minor-league pro sports, including the Greenville Drive. A Class-“A” affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, the Greenville Drive draw big at 5,700-seat capacity Fluor Field at the West End. True to its Boston affiliation, Fluor Field is modeled after Fenway Park in terms of field dimensions, its own version of the “Green Monster,” a manual scoreboard, and even singing “Sweet Caroline” in the eighth inning (with more of a Southern than Boston accent). Baseball fans know of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Heck, most people who don’t follow baseball have heard of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Greenville salutes the native son with the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum & Baseball Library, located in the house where Joe Jackson lived and died, showcases his life, displays many of his personal belongings, and features over 2,000 books related to baseball. Fluor Field at the West End is right across the street.

The Greenville Road Warriors (which also play well at home) play hockey in the ECHL as affiliates of the NHL’s New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Those games happen in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, which opened downtown as the Bi-Lo Center in 1998 and hosts plenty of other events, concerts, and more.

Greenville’s downtown is flanked by several historic districts, including the Woodside Cotton Mill Historic District just west of downtown, featuring over 280 buildings of industrial or architectural significance reflecting life in the early 20th century textile town; the Colonel Elias Earle Historic District is a strip north of downtown that was once the estate of a prominent early settler and now features hundreds of 19th century homes with a wide array of architectural styles; the Overbrook Historic District is to the east of downtown and holds historic and large homes from prominent families in the early 20th century, many of whom made their fortunes in textiles. The East Park Avenue Historic District, Heritage Historic District, Pettigru Historic District, and Hampton-Pinckney Historic District are all close to downtown, serving as vivid illustrations that Greenville has been a bustling little city for quite some time.

The West End Historic District holds the ballpark at its southern end and proceeds up and near Main Street south of the Reedy River. This is the “hip and trendy” area of the city, where funky shops and restaurants and meet start-up companies and design firms in former 19th century storefronts and buildings, and a river walk connects many of them. Falls Park on the Reedy is an urban gem of a park, giving visitors not only dynamic green space, public gardens and sculptures, but a 355-foot long suspension bridge that spans the Reedy River. Known as the Liberty Bridge, its unique design offers an unobstructed view of the beautiful waterfalls that cascade over the rocks below, which is also a popular spot for picnic and kids to test their parents’ skittishness by climbing around the rocks. This is perhaps Greenville’s ultimate gathering space; outdoor summer concerts, dining on overlooks, and community events of all kinds happen in the park, which we highly recommend for a visit on a nice afternoon or early evening.

Within blocks of Falls Park on the Reedy, you’ll find the Peace Center, an arts and performance complex including a 2,100-seat concert hall, 400-seat theatre, and amphitheater along the river. The Peace Center is the cultural hub of not just Greenville but the entire Upstate region. You’ll find everything from big-name concerts and Broadway shows to performances of ballet, theater, symphony orchestras, and more from the city’s impressive cast of performing arts groups. Model railroad fans will love the small but fun Miniature World of Trains, just up the street from the park. The layouts feature up to 40 HO scale trains traversing mountain and city landscapes across 1,600 square feet. Kids can also a scavenger hunt.

North of the Reedy, Main Street cuts through the heart of Greenville’s downtown. A streetscape redesign has turned it into a tree-lined street welcoming pedestrians, shoppers, performers, café, galleries, and more. Paralleling two blocks west is Academy Street (U.S. 123), the wider and busier thoroughfare through the business district. Many museums and attractions are this area north of the Reedy too, including the Greenville County Museum of Art, a premier American art museum that features the world’s largest collection of works by Andrew Wyeth; the adjacent Children’s Museum of the Upstate, the only children’s museum in the country that is also a Smithsonian affiliate; and the Museum & Gallery at Heritage Green, which has an impressive exhibit of Russian art and history located in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant. Heritage Green is itself features lush gardens, all part of “Museum Row” adjacent to downtown. Also nearby is the Upcountry History Museum, which explores the colorful history of Upstate South Carolina as well as the regions around it with a series of interesting exhibits. Bob Jones University is on the northwest side of Greenville and offers the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery, which houses an impressive collection of religious art and art from the Victorian Era.

On the southeast side of downtown you’ll find the popular Greenville Zoo, perched on a hill with a nice selection of animals and very kid-friendly. Nearby is more history, with the Museum and Library of Confederate History offering a free and realistic look at life in the South during the Civil War.

To continue on our Tour, head east-northeast out of Greenville on I-385. Along the way before I-85, the Roper Mountain Science Center offers a nature-filled respite including hiking trails through woods, an arboretum, butterfly garden, a living history farm, old homesteads, and the Hooper Planetarium which presents a variety of shows and stargazing opportunities.

Once you reach I-85, head north (the signs will say towards Spartanburg and Charlotte). Exit 54/Pelham Road is where you’ll find the Best Western Greenville Airport Inn, conveniently close to everything we just saw in Greenville as well as the nearby Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), which is South Carolina’s second busiest. Just southwest on I-85 in nearby Piedmont, you’ll also find the Best Western PLUS Piedmont Inn & Suites.

A quick side trip to Greer brings you to the BMW Zentrum Museum, the only BMW museum in North America. Why is it there? Because the BMW Plant and Performance Center is there, too. This is a unique building showcasing BMW’s car models, stories and exhibits of the company’s engineering and innovation history. It’s the only BMW museum in North America – and very much unlike the cars, it’s free. Factory Tours charge admission, but you get the equivalent of a “backstage pass” look at one of the most advanced automobile factories in the world. Follow I-85 to Exit 60, and just follow the signs.

From the Greenville area, head southeast on I-385 to I-26 (if you went to Greer, I-26 south will be closest) and continue past Clinton into the Sumter National Forest, Enoree Ranger District. Just off I-26 via SC Highway 56, you can explore the Musgrove Mill State Historic District, which preserves the Revolutionary War site of The Battle of Musgrave Mill on August 19, 1780. The free site is available until 6pm daily, with a Visitor Center open until 5pm. Connect to SC Highway 72 and follow it through the forest to Whitmire, a town of 1,400 that calls itself the “Pearl of the Piedmont.” A Visitors Center in Whitmore at 20 Work Center Road provides all kinds of information about the surrounding National Forest, including its three rivers (the Broad, Enoree, and Tyger) along with miles of ATV and hiking trails. Two horse trails add a horseback-riding variety to the forest’s activities, and the rivers add paddling and boating opportunities. One of the hiking trails is 35 miles long! Clearly, there is plenty to do out here.

Through town, follow U.S. 176 south; you’ll drive through the heart of this portion of the Sumter National Forest, skirting Newberry and then, via either U.S. 176 or the faster I-26, we head into the capital of the Palmetto State.

Of course, we’re talking about Columbia, South Carolina’s capital and largest city, with about 130,000 residents but anchoring a metropolitan area of nearly 800,000. The city is basically in the middle of the state; downtown is located only about 13 miles northwest of South Carolina’s geographic center. The Saluda and Broad Rivers join here to form the Congaree River (“Congaree” being the name of the inhabits in the area prior to European settlement), which flows through the city and under several long bridges that lead into downtown, whether via I-126, U.S. 176, U.S. 1, or some other route. Like several other state capitols in the Southeast, Columbia lies along the Fall Line, where rivers cease to be navigable upstream from the ocean (U.S. 1 tends to follow this line in this part of the country). The city is surrounded by Interstates: I-20 criss-crosses to the west and north of the city, I-26 comes past the west to southeast, and I-77 flanks the east side of town on its way up to Charlotte.

Downtown Columbia is centered on the State Capitol, amidst a network of wide streets and a combination of office and government buildings. The stately Greek Revival structure peaks at 180 feet high at the top of its dome and is surrounded by monuments celebrating the state’s history and people. Begun in 1855, the Capitol had construction interrupted during the Civil War and six bronze stars mark places on the buildings where Union artillery shells hit. The main structure was finished in 1875, with additional construction and recent renovations expanding the building as the city and state grew. Tours are available of the building and grounds; visitors can enter from Sumter Street.

Trivia: Columbia has a network wide streets in the oldest part of the city, including around the capitol; thoroughfares were ordered to be at least 100 feet wide, because apparently the belief was that mosquitoes would starve to death if it had to fly more than 60 feet. Sadly, they were mistaken, but eventually repellent was invented and today, Columbians still enjoy the wide network of streets.

The Civil War took its toll on the city. The first South Carolina Secession Convention was held in the city’s First Baptist Church back in 1860, helping to lead up to the war; by 1865, Union troops were burning much of the city down during its occupation. General William Tecumseh Sherman led the march through Columbia and tourists can follow a walking tour of it today, complete with some original paths and remains of charred ruins. Some of the ruins of an old textile mill remain on the grounds of the Riverbank Zoo & Gardens, just across the river from downtown.

Riverbank Zoo & Gardens features 170 acres of botanical gardens and over 2,000 animals across themed areas such as the African Plains exhibit, the Aquarium Reptile Complex, Kangaroo Walkabout, and more. Riverbank is the most popular attraction in Columbia with over one million annual visitors, but it’s just one of many attractions in the city, many of which are concentrated in and around downtown. Just over the river via U.S. 1 (actually, an old shipping canal that was once a navigable path to the Atlantic), you’ll find the South Carolina State Museum, the largest museum in the Southeastern United States. Located in what was one of the largest textile mills in the world and the first to be totally powered by electricity, the State Museum of South Carolina showcases the state’s history and culture like no other place. Focusing in the areas of cultural history, science and technology, art, natural history, and art, the Museum includes life-sized replicas of a locomotive and submarine, as well as a Megalodon, which is apparently good for scaring children.

Speaking of, the EdVenture Children’s Museum is located right in front of the State Museum, providing a stress-free, enjoyable time and adventure for the little ones. On the northeast side of town, the Carolina Children’s Garden features environmental theme gardens such as the Carolina Fence Garden, the bird garden, and the butterfly garden, provide a place for investigation, experimentation, and imaginative play. Open from dawn to dusk, your family can do self-guided tours any time they’re open. For more grown-up fare, the Columbia Museum of Art is blocks from the Capitol, a.k.a. the South Carolina State House. From the Chihuly-designed chandelier in the entry atrium to the auditorium to the over 18 galleries, the museum offers a wide variety of art and sculpture to study and enjoy. You can also catch a performance at the Town Theatre, the oldest community theatre building in continuous use in the country. For history of the presidential kind, the Woodrow Wilson Family Home honors the 28th President of The United States. The home was built in 1872 and features nearly two acres of gardens.

The city’s main indoor entertainment and sports venue is Colonial Life Arena, which opened in 2002 and is the largest in the state. Concerts, sporting events, conferences, and more take place here throughout the year. For entertainment, just south of the Capitol along Gervais Street is known as the Congaree Vista District, an area of old warehouses now brimming with bars, art galleries, restaurants, shops, and nightlife. The old Sea Line Railway station is one of the structures incorporated into this district, which is popular with both college students and people in general looking for a good place to hang out. Two hotels are minutes from this district, too: the Best Western Executive Inn is on the west side of Columbia, and the Best Western PLUS Columbia North East is on – surprise – the northeastern side of the city.

Columbia is home to the flagship University of South Carolina, which dates back 1801. While it opened then with only nine students, today the student body numbers over 33,000. The campus starts within blocks of the capitol downtown and spreads to the east and north, peppered with shade trees and graceful old structures. “The Horseshoe” is a lovely area in the center of campus containing 10 of the 11 original building on campus, which date prior to the Civil War; that’s where their Visitor Center is located, and you can schedule a campus tour. Just to the east of downtown and campus, the prominent lights and massive size of Williams Brice Stadium dominates the landscape; 80,000 screaming Gamecocks fans fill the place on home football Saturdays, making it one of the loudest SEC stadiums in the country. The stadium opened in 1934 as Carolina Stadium, when capacity was only 17,600. Upgrade after upgrade has increased the number of seats, and an upper deck is so well known for swaying from the stomping crowds inspired their famous quote “If it ain’t swayin’ we ain’t playin’,” coined over thirty years ago.

Columbia is a military as well as a college town; Fort Jackson is the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army. About half of all soldiers entering the Army are trained here – about 45,000 soldiers each year. Fort Jackson dominates the eastern end of Columbia; although much of it is closed to the public, the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum walks visitors through the experience of basic combat training, showing how the individual elements of training – without changing of principles – have changed in the past century…and you don’t have to get up at 5am to go see it! The Museum is open weekdays from 9am-4pm, closed weekends and Federal holidays.

Nearby on the northeast side along U.S. 1, not far from the Best Western PLUS Columbia Northeast, is Sesquicentennial State Park. Covering over 1,400 acres, the park features a beautiful lake, interpretive nature programs, and a two-story log house that dates back to the mid-18th century.

To continue on the Tour from Columbia, follow SC Highway 48 east and head into the countryside. Though often several miles away, the road parallels the Congaree River through farmland and small towns. Just past Gadsden you’ll find access to Congaree National Park, the only national park in South Carolina. Named for the river that formed back in Columbia, Congaree National Park offers one of the most diverse forest communities in the country; it’s designated as an International Biosphere Reserve.

You’ll find over 22 different plant communities and the largest intact expanse of bottomland hardwood forest in the United States, including some of the tallest trees in the eastern half of North America. Guided canoe tours are available, and for kayak paddlers the Congaree River Blue Trail offers no less than 50 miles of designated trail extending from the state capitol downtown to the heart of the park. Landlubbers can enjoy 20 miles of hiking trails that include a 2.4 mile boardwalk and walk under one of the highest tree canopies in the world. The park is worth several hours for exploring, hiking, or learning at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center (be sure to check the “Mosquito Meter”… level 5 is marked “ruthless” and it’s not even the highest!).

From Congaree, continue down SC Highway 48 to U.S 601; continue south over the Santee River and left southeast on SC Highway 267. This takes you through some of the most pastoral and productive farmland in South Carolina along a designated scenic route. After 12 miles, Highway 267 meets with Highway 6; follow that southeast (“east”) to Santee State Park. In this area, the Santee River widens to become Lake Marion, a 110,000-acre reservoir created by a dam in 1941. Santee offers great access to the lake’s extensive shoreline, boat ramps, and excellent fishing. The lake has a reputation for largemouth bass in particular, but there are plenty of other fish in the lake and abundant wildlife throughout the park.

The park abuts not only the lake, but the town of Santee. The area is well-known for a number of popular golf courses, many of which abut Lake Marion and provide some of the prettiest views in this region of the state. I-95 meets SC Highway 6 here; for more nature, hop north over Lake Marion via I-95 and follow Exit 102 to the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge hosts a wide variety of plants and animals amidst forests, marshes, croplands, impoundments, and open waters. The Best Western PLUS Santee Inn is ready where SC Highway 6 and I-95 intersect to let you enjoy golf, nature, or whatever floats your boat (which could be Lake Marion).

From Santee, I-95 south to I-26 east (or U.S. 176 if you want the two-lane option) towards the ocean. When you reach Summerville, you’re in the Charleston suburbs. But Summerville has been a city in its own right, dating way back to its days as Pineland Village in 1785. The Flowertown Festival, the largest arts and crafts festival in South Carolina, takes place in Summerville each year in early April. Heading southwest from either U.S. 176 or I-26 via SC Highway 165, you can access some of the most amazing Old South homes and history you’ll find anywhere.

The Old Dorchester State Historic Site preserves archaeological remains of Colonial Charleston, which back to those original settlement days around Revolutionary War time. The old fort, walking trails, bird watching, and more are popular activities here – often right along the banks of the Ashley River. Next up, head over the river on SC 165 and connect to SC Highway 61 southbound for a tree canopy-lined, gracefully beautiful drive down Plantation Row. Paralleling the Ashley River, this road takes you to several amazingly beautiful plantations and gardens.

As you drive the Spanish moss-laden lanes of SC 61 (a.k.a. Ashley River Road), start with Middleton Place. A National Historic Landmark (circa 1741), Middleton Place features the nation’s oldest “landscaped gardens”, a large plantation house, and stable yards with plenty of activity. A nursery and market are on the grounds, and some regular wine-related events also happen here. The horticultural splendor in the gardens, designed on principles of French landscape architecture, make for a colorful and fun visit; original stone walls and other historic touches make this a very pleasant place to spend a chunk of the day. Just to the southeast, the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens dates back even further: to 1676.

Magnolia’s garden is the oldest “romantic garden” in the nation, but some of the work stays constantly new: it’s still a working plantation. You can tour the historic home museum, ride a nature train, and take a boat or boardwalk tour of the Audubon Swamp Garden, which is preserved marshland on the plantation grounds. Kids will love the Magnolia Zoo & Nature Center, and the Peacock Café and provide a food-and-drink pick-me-up for kids and adults alike. At 390 acres, there’s plenty of room to explore the grounds and work up an appetite. Finally, Drayton Hall is a National Trust Historic Site, featuring the only surviving colonial plantation house along the Ashley River. The land was originally acquired by John Drayton back in 1738 and it remains in the Drayton family’s hands today (there have been some upgrades since). Architecture fans will marvel at its Georgian Palladian design, considered one of the finest examples of its kind in the nation. Tours are available of the house and the grounds.

Back across the Ashley River, you can check out Ladson, home to the Best Western Magnolia Inn & Suites located right along I-26 and conveniently close to Plantation Row; next door is bustling North Charleston, where you can refreshed at Whirlin' Waters Adventure Waterpark. The city has a long naval history, having been home to the Charleston Naval Base until it closed in 1996. The Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial commemorates both the base’s history and the men and women who worked at the base and on the ships; be sure to check out the statues “The Lone Sailor” and “The Homecoming.” Some ships were subs, and the H.L. Hunley Submarine Museum is busily restoring this Civil War-era (yes, Civil War-era) submarine that, despite having been sunk early in its history, stands as the first submarine to successfully sink an enemy warship. It was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean floor in 1995 and is on display in a tank, where the restoration process is underway. The Best Western PLUS Airport Inn & Suites is right nearby, along the interestingly-named Ashley Phosphate Road.

For the final stretch, head into Charleston, the oldest city in South Carolina (founded in 1670 as Charles Towne, honoring the King of England) and the second-largest city in the state. The Ashley and Cooper Rivers frame Charleston’s amazingly beautiful Historic District as they gradually meet up and merge into the Atlantic Ocean. Charleston’s setting, history, architecture, restaurants, and friendly reputation earns it constant accolades, from being named “America’s Most Friendly City” by Conde Nast Traveler, the “Most Polite and Hospitable City in America” by Southern Living, a top city for high-tech companies and entrepreneurs by a number of publications, and in 2013 Charleston was ranked #7 among “World’s Best Cities” by Travel + Leisure (Barcelona, Spain was #8 and Paris, France was #9 – this is serious company!)

Historically, Charleston is a landmark for more than its age; this is home to Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in April, 1861. The Fort Sumter National Monument contains plenty of exhibits and information on the Civil War – and its maiden battle – including the original flag that was flying over the fort at the time (you can only see small sections of it in low-light glimpses… it needs to be handled very carefully). The monument is also the launch point for a boat ride to the actual Fort Sumter, several miles away. It’s visible from the riverfront balconies; also visible upstream is one of the signs of new Charleston, the graceful Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (also known as the New Cooper River Bridge), a white cable-stayed span that carries U.S. 17 over the Cooper River. In between on the west bank of the Cooper River, next door to the Fort Sumter National Monument, is the South Carolina Aquarium. Across the river at Patriots Point is the USS Yorktown [http://www.patriotspoint.org/], which is open for tours once you’re done with Charleston proper.

While the Civil War was rough on the city, Charleston has weathered some natural disasters too; an earthquake in 1886 nearly destroyed the city as it was struggling to rebuild from the war. When you realize that earthquake was felt as far away as Boston, Milwaukee, and New Orleans, it gives you an idea of how powerful it was – they estimate 7.3 on the Richter scale. To this day, you may find metal bolts that look like “plus” signs in some old masonry buildings; those are there to provide stability in the event of another earthquake. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 is much more recent and while it did $2.8 billion in damage to the city and locals will recall it like it was yesterday, the city and area recovered quickly. Today, it prospers. It’s becoming a hub for high-tech businesses too, to the point where one of its nicknames is becoming “Silicon Harbor.” Another primary nickname for Charlestown, since it can be a casual place, is “Chucktown.” But faith in this city is strong, and the multitude of churches is a testament to the long-standing nickname “the Holy City.”

Following U.S. 17 past the Best Western Sweetgrass Inn over the Ashley River, you land in Charleston’s downtown area; the Historic District lies to the south, all the way to the end of the peninsula. It is HIGHLY recommended to fully explore this area. The aforementioned Fort Sumter National Monument and South Carolina Aquarium lie along the Cooper River side (along with that beautiful view of the cable-stayed, harp-like Ravenel Bridge – U.S. 17 – behind them), but any drive south brings you to and through beautiful neighborhoods, historic sites, shops and restaurants, and at the end of the peninsula, The Battery. Primary streets to check out include Market Street, Bay Street, Meeting Street, and King Street, which is home to the city’s burgeoning Fashion District. Many cobblestone side streets take you back to the days of old, even as the city embraces the future. The Charleston City Market on Meeting Street is a National Historic Landmark; the busy exchanging of goods takes place around historic Market Hall, which dates back to 1841, and the Daughters of the Confederacy Museum is also inside. The famous local sweet grass baskets, hand-woven in the region for centuries, often hold the works of art, crafts, food, jewelry, and other items being offered at the City Market. The Aiken-Rhett House, built in 1818, showcases life in antebellum Charleston; it’s right along King Street, not far from City Market and just north of today’s Fashion District.

Hungry? This is a place for unusual food combinations. Hit Sullivan’s Island off the peninsula and try a peanut butter burger at Poe’s Tavern (2210 Middle Street, 843-883-0083) or the Big Nasty Biscuit at the famous Hominy Grill (207 Rutledge Avenue, 843-937-0930), which has been featured on numerous foodie shows. Shrimp & Grits are a local delicacy, as is She-Crab soup, which is made from female crab meat. Places like the Hominy Grill, along with the Charleston Crab House (41 S. Market Street, 843-853-2900) and Hyman’s Seafood (215 Meeting Street, 843-723-6000) are great places to experience this unique dish. Enjoy one (or more) of eight local brews at the Southend Brewery & Smokehouse (161 E. Bay Street, 843-853-4677) and take a ride up the glass elevator to a terrific view of the whole harbor. For marshmallow-y dessert lovers, the Moon Pie General Store (48 N. Market Street, 843-724-3525) – one of several in the South – sits along Market Street; but you’ll find sweet treats, confectionaries, and delectable desserts in places throughout the Historic District.

Toward the end of the peninsula, check out Rainbow Row with its blocks of colorful homes that lead you toward Waterfront Park and The Battery, which once defended Charleston from military attacks and still helps protect the Historic District from the occasionally angry Atlantic. This lovely area is perfect for a walking tour or horse carriage ride. Ghost tours are also popular; with a history as rich as Charleston’s, there are plenty of haunted stories to share.

And with lovely Charleston, we’ve reached the Atlantic and the end of this tour. So there you have it: from bustling Greenville in the foothills of the Appalachians, through the capital of Columbia to the history city of Charleston, through a national park and from Sumter National Forest to Fort Sumter National Monument, we’ve seen a great cross-section of the state. Check out the other tours in South Carolina to keep going and enjoy every part of the Palmetto State!