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South Carolina is known for many things. Once the grounds for indigenous tribes like the Cherokee and Catawba, the state has gone through many transitions.
One of the original thirteen colonies, South Carolina, is rich in history. Among the wealthiest colonies, the state exported many goods like cotton, rice, tobacco, and indigo dye.
South Carolina is also where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter and where you can find spanking good Southern food.
The state is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and culture seekers alike.
From the beautiful coastline to famous actors to electric food, you can find anything you’re looking for.
There’s a wide range of places to visit and foods to try. Next time you plan your trip to South Carolina, here are some things to look out for.
10 Travel Destinations South Carolina Is Known For
If you like to travel, put South Carolina on your bucket list. It’s estimated that 30 million people travel to South Carolina every year.
Here are some of their favorite destinations.
Whenever you think of South Carolina, you’re bound to think of Myrtle Beach. The tourist town has many attractions and is one of the nation’s top travel spots.
Myrtle Beach is widely known for its famous beaches. There’s no summertime sadness here, as summer is a hopping time for people to come and visit.
The Grand Strand spans 60 miles of beautiful beaches, where locals and tourists alike go to sunbathe and swim.
It’s also widely known for its golfing landscape, offering over 90 championship golf courses. It’s often considered the ‘Golf Capitol of the World.’
They host top country stars at the Carolina Country Music Festival every year. The event draws in thousands of people from all areas.
It’s a great place to travel, whether it’s solo, family, or with a group. There are many outside activities, including water sports, that you can participate in.
Charleston was founded in 1670 and is one of South Carolina’s pride and joys. It has deep, Southern roots.
Some streets are still paved with cobblestone, and you can find horse-drawn carriages.
The French Quarter and the Battery feature beautiful, pastel antebellum homes. It is also home to the iconic Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge.
The Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River. It spans over 1,546 feet, connecting Mount Pleasant to Charleston.
When you go to Charleston, make sure to check out the Battery.
The Battery is a fortified seawall and promenade spanning five miles. It’s bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, which form to connect the Charleston harbor.
Before you go, stop by the Charleston Tea Garden. It’s the largest tea garden in America. The 127-acre plantation boasts about 150,000 tea plants.
Fort Sumter was built in 1829 to defend the major coastal seaports. It lies right in the middle of Charleston Harbor and is only accessible through ferry rides.
In April 1861, Confederate forces bombed the fort, forcing Union troops to surrender. It is famously known for being the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
The issue of slavery slowly split the nation in two. After Lincoln was elected president, South Carolina seceded from the Union.
Fort Sumter National Monument is now a popular tourist destination. There are still cannonballs and artillery shells there today.
Just north of Beaufort, you can find Morgan Island. It’s also known as Monkey Island for its large colony of free-range rhesus monkeys.
The island was long uninhabited as it was too far from the mainland. However, the monkeys are originally from Lar Parguero, Puerto Rico.
They used to stay at the Caribbean Primate Research Center, but the CDC reported incidents of the monkeys escaping.
This posed a threat to Puerto Rico because the monkeys carried viral herpes B infection, which would contaminate the local population.
South Carolina stepped in and offered the uninhabited island. In 1979 and 1980, 1,400 animals were relocated to the island.
Hilton Head is part of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. It’s a popular beach destination and golfer paradise.
It’s ranked one of the top islands in the United States, and for good reason. It has over 100 miles of paved trails, making it ideal for walking and hiking.
Hilton Head has the perfect mixture of nature and upscale resort living. It may be modest in size, but the opportunities are vast. The beaches at Hilton Head go on for 12 miles, offering a tranquil visit.
They even host the golf tournament RBC Heritage, which brings in many golf professionals and fans.
Nature lovers can enjoy The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, where you can find salt marshes and a plethora of wildlife.
You can learn even more about its history at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Immerse yourself in the island’s story.
Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is more than 26,000 acres, located 18 miles southeast of the state’s capitol, Columbia.
The park has a variety of trails, with a 2.4-mile boardwalk that immerses you in the heart of the first. It’s perfect for all hikers, birders, and nature lovers alike.
The Congaree and Wateree Rivers regularly flood the area, nourishing the ecosystem and ensuring constant rejuvenation.
Plenty of wildlife can be found here, from otters and turtles to over 200 bird species.
If you’re lucky and visit the park during late May and early June, you may experience one of the best wonders at the park. For a few weeks of the year, thousands of fireflies light up the night sky.
The USS Yorktown is a decommissioned aircraft carrier now serving as a Charleston museum.
It was constructed in 1936 and used in World War II and Vietnam. The USS Yorktown played a significant role in the Pacific theater. The aircraft and crew participated in several campaigns, including the Marshalls, Caroline Islands, and Marianas.
During the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot,” the ship’s planes struck key blows against the Japanese.
The ship and her crew faced kamikaze attacks, battled storms, and endured the challenges of prolonged combat operations.
The USS Yorktown is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Charleston. You can explore the ship, learn about its history, and see what life was like for the sailors who lived there.
Blue Ridge Mountains
The Blue Ridge Mountains are primarily contained in the Sumter National Forest.
The Blue Ridge Mountains stretch through several states, including Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
The northwest corner of South Carolina, commonly referred to as the “Upstate,” is characterized by rolling hills, deep valleys, and tumbling waterfalls.
One of the defining features of the Blue Ridge in South Carolina is the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a dramatic rise in elevation that forms a natural boundary between the mountains and the Piedmont region.
Serving as the state’s capitol, Columbia is the second largest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston.
It’s home to the University of South Carolina (USC), not to be confused with the University of Southern California.
The city is also home to South Carolina State House, where the state government operates.
You can also find the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Riverbanks Zoo is a 170-acre zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden. It is home to over 2,000 animals and is considered one of the best zoos in the nation.
Greenville is in the northwestern corner of South Carolina and sits at the Blue Ridge Mountains’ foothills. The land originally belonged to the Cherokee.
The Liberty Bridge, an architectural marvel, stands as an emblem of Greenville’s blend of history and modernity.
Suspended over the Reedy River Falls, this 345-foot pedestrian bridge offers breathtaking views and is a focal point of the downtown area.
The nature is also spectacular. Covering 22 miles, the Swamp Rabbit Trail is a multi-use greenway. It winds through parks, wetlands, and forests, inviting people from everywhere to come and bike, jog, or take leisurely walks.
Greenville is only a short drive away from the mountains. Paris Mountian State Park and Caesar’s Head State Park beckon with trails and scenic overlooks.
8 South Carolina Foods You Don’t Want to Miss
The South is known for its good cooking, and South Carolina is no different. There are many South Carolina foods to be on the lookout for.
Here are eight foods you need to try.
Shrimp & Grits
Native Americans introduced early settlers to ground corn, what we know today as grits. Coastals regions began pairing their freshly-caught shrimp with creamy grits.
Shrimp and grits first appeared in South Carolina as a dish known as breakfast shrimp. Sailors began their day with shrimp cooked in butter and served over grits.
Grits are traditionally a breakfast food, except when paired with shrimp. It’s a cornmeal porridge with a mild flavor.
Southerners believe the best grits are when you can turn your plate upside down without them falling off. They like their grits nice and thick.
Southerners can’t get enough of this Southern staple. They love their sweet tea, but do you know where it comes from? Sweet tea comes from Summerville, South Carolina.
Summerville is known as the “Birthplace of Sweet Tea.” The historic town is located near Charleston.
The town has a sweet tea trail where guests can enjoy sweet tea-inspired specials. They can also take pictures with “Mason,” the world’s largest sweet tea. Mason stands 15 feet tall and can hold 2,524 gallons.
Sweet tea is made by adding sugar to black tea while it’s still hot. This allows the sugar to dissolve completely, resulting in a sweet and refreshing drink.
South Carolina is the second biggest producer of peaches in the United States, behind California.
Despite Georgia being named the Peach State, South Carolina produces three times the number of peaches harvested.
The “Peach Capital of the World” resides in our own Johnston, South Carolina.
There are even two peach-themed festivals, as the peach is the state fruit. There’s the Lexington Peach Festival in Gilbert and the South Carolina Peach Festival in Gaffney.
The Palmetto’s State official snack is boiled peanuts. You’ll find the best-boiled peanuts at roadside stands during the summer and early fall. They even have their own festival.
Every September, Bluffton hosts the Bluffton Boiled Peanut Festival. At the festival, you can participate in cook-offs and eating contests.
Don’t leave South Carolina without trying them.
Don’t worry. No frogs were harmed in the making of this stew. This tasty dish originated on St. Helena’s Island in a little area named Frogmore.
Frogmore Stew is popular in the Lowcountry, where it’s also known as Lowcountry Boil. It’s a mix of meats and veggies boiled together.
Common ingredients include sausage, shellfish, corn, potatoes, and onions. The dish is typically cooked and served from the same pot.
Okra crossed the ocean years ago during the Atlantic slave trade, and it’s a big crop in South Carolina. This popular food even has its own festival, Irmo Okra Strut, taking place in Irmo, SC.
Originally from Africa, this vegetable has made its way across the world into places such as Asia and the Americas.
It also offers a plethora of health benefits. It’s rich in Vitamin C and K and contains a good amount of fiber. The presence of magnesium, folate, and other vitamins and minerals in okra contributes to its reputation as a health-boosting vegetable
South Carolina Barbeque
You can find three primary types of barbeque here: vinegar-based, mustard-based, and ketchup/tomato-based.
Generally, you’ll find the ketchup/tomato-based barbeque upstate and the vinegar-based barbeque in the low state.
The smoking wood plays a pivotal part in cooking. While hickory remains a popular choice, many pitmasters opt for a blend of woods to impart a nuanced flavor to the meat.
The Carolina Reaper, developed by Ed Currie, holds the title of the hottest chili pepper in the world. The Carolina Reaper measures 175 to 880 times hotter than the average jalapeno pepper.
Even the ghost pepper falls short; the most intense Carolina Reaper is over twice as spicy.
Despite the scorching power of this pepper, it’s surprisingly fruity and sweet. Notable for its distinctive scorpion-like tail, the pepper is surprisingly fruity and sweet. .
While it may sound intimidating, eating a Carolina Reaper will not kill you.
5 Famous People From South Carolina
For all the food and places South Carolina is famous for, don’t forget about the great people who also call South Carolina their home.
Kevin Garnett is a famous basketball player in the NBA. He was born in Maudlin, SC, before he attended high school in Chicago.
He’s considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, having won the Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, and Sixth Man of the Year awards.
He was a 2000 USA Olympic team member and a 15-time All-Star.
Right out of high school, he was drafted into the NBA. He went on to play with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, and Brooklyn Nets.
The Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, was a South Carolina resident. The famous actor was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina.
He is famous for his roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Black Panther.
He received multiple awards in the Golden Globe, the Academy, and BAFTA.
James Brown was a prominent African-American musician. He earned the nickname “Godfather of Soul” for his climb to the top of funk and R&B music. He was born in Barnwell, SC, and was a major figure of 20th century music.
His career lasted more than 50 years, and was one of the first ten inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Some of his greatest hits include “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Please, Please, Please,” “Night Train,” and “Give It Up or Turn It a Loose.”
Chris Rock, a famous comedian, actor, and filmmaker, was born in Andrews, SC. As a stand-up comedian, he has tackled subjects such as race relations, human sexuality, and observational behavior.
He credits Eddie Murphy as his inspiration for getting into comedy and acting.
He has received multiple awards, including three Grammy Awards for Best Comedy Album, four Primetime Emmy Awards, and received a Golden Globe nomination.
Also, he gained prominence for his appearance on Saturday Night Live (SNL).
Darius Rucker is a famous singer, guitarist, and songwriter. He was born in Charleston, SC. In 1986, Rucker met his fellow bandmates and started Hooti and the Blowfish.
He has recorded six studio albums and charted within the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 six times.
In 2009, he was the first black American to win the New Artist Award from the Country Music Association.
4 More Things South Carolina Is Known For
Feel like you know South Carolina a little better? Before we go, here are four other things South Carolina is famous for.
Angel Oak Tree
They say the Angel Oak Tree is over 500 years old. It stands on John’s Island, outside of Charleston, and it’s famous for its wide stretching branches.
The tree is massive, spanning a 28 feet circumference and standing 65 feet high. The tree is covered in Spanish moss, and the canopy reaches over 17,000 square feet.
The Palmetto Tree has been the official state tree since 1939. It’s also on the state flag and seal. It’s a short and sturdy tree that can grow to 70 feet tall.
Historically, Native Americans utilized the palmetto for myriad purposes. Its leaves served as roofing material for their shelters, its trunks were used as a source of fibers, and its fruit was a nourishing food source.
Largest Gingko farm
Gingko trees are some of the oldest living tree species in the world. The tree is native to China and is the last living species in the order Ginkgoales.
The Gingki tree goes back to over 200 million years ago.
They can stretch over 60 feet tall and span up to a 35-foot spread. On close inspection, you’ll find wide, fan-shaped wings.
There are both female and male trees. Female trees produce nuts, which, after they fall to the ground, smell terrible. For this reason, cultivars focus on producing male trees.
Gullah Geechee Culture
Dating back to when West Africans were enslaved in plantations, the Gullah Geechee Culture is still alive.
The culture has become a foundation in South Carolina history. It’s a unique blend of African, American, and Caribbean cultures.
They are descendants of the enslaved Africans who were brought over to work in plantations. The Gullah Geechee Culture is evident in the Lowcountry, from Charleston to Hilton Head.
If you want to learn more about them, you can discover the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor in Beaufort.
In South Carolina, We Trust
South Carolina is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be unearthed. With its distinctive blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, this state beckons travelers to dive deep into its rich tapestry.
South Carolina’s roots date back to the Cherokee and Catawba tribes and have a vibrant history with African, European, and Native American influences.
The climate is as inviting as its people. Expect balmy, sun-drenched summers and gentle, crisp winters.
And if you’re venturing close to the coastline, the Atlantic’s breezy embrace ensures the weather remains pleasantly moderated.
The state has something for everyone from the Blue Ridge Mountains’ hiking trails to the festive streets of Charleston and the sunny beaches along the coast.
Come and see for yourself.