Charleston, SCTake home a piece of Lowcountry history in South Carolina’s greater Charleston area, where the traditional craft of sweetgrass basket making has been passed down for generations. These handwoven artisan works, each made from bundles of dry sweetgrass that’s abundant in the local marshes, are a visible aspect of the Lowcountry's Gullah/Geechee culture: descendants of West and Central Africans enslaved and brought to the lower Atlantic States. Isolated on the Sea Islands, they retained many of their original African traditions, utilizing sweetgrass baskets for everything from storage bins to bread trays. Just across the Cooper River from the Holy City, stands selling this incredible slice of local heritage line both sides of Highway 17 for seven miles.
Upstate, SCWith more than 90,000 acres of protected lands, South Carolina offers endless opportunities for experiencing the great outdoors. This is especially true in the Upcountry, a rural treasure tucked into the state’s northwest corner, where rolling hills give way to rising blue-hazed gorges, cliffs, and mountains. At Devils Fork State Park, soak in a tranquil landscape that’s home to the cool, stream-fed waters of 7,565-acre Lake Jocassee, attracting both swimmers and paddleboarders alike. Hikers head to Table Rock, a 3,100-foot high granite dome and once Cherokee spiritual retreat, which the earth pushed up nearly 350 million years ago. Though strenuous, its 6.8 mile out-and-back trek is a virtual rite of passage, one that climbs through hickory and oak forest to result in superb panoramic views.
South Carolina is a culinary capital, but for the freshest and most inventive of the state’s incredible food scene, step into the domains of its Chef Ambassadors. These are people like Chef Haydn Shaak, executive chef at Restaurant 17 in Travelers Rest, who whips up seasonally inspired Upstate cuisine (think mountain trout piccata and buttermilk ricotta dip) through a mix of classic techniques and locally sourced ingredients. Or John Ondo, executive chef at Kiawah Island’s The Atlantic Room. The Charleston native’s close-knit relationships with farmers and fishermen help him to create a hyper-local menu steeped in Lowcountry regional food traditions. There’s also Chef Chris Williams, proprietor at the recently relocated Roy’s Grille, now in Irmo, whose skill and family recipes turn simple dishes like fried chicken and barbecue into an art form.
With 187 miles of coastline, including more than a 100-mile-long stretch of unbroken sands that open into the tidal and freshwater marshes of the Sea Islands, choosing your own beach adventure in South Carolina is easy. Bask in the legends and lore of Charleson’s barrier islands, the former stomping grounds of infamous pirates like Blackbeard, or forget your troubles on the laid-back Folly Beach. Hilton Head’s 12 miles of shoreline boast everything from shelling spots to soft, sunbathed, inviting sands. Myrtle Beach is home to a string of diverse beach destinations, from family-focused Garden City to nearby Pawley Island, a historic seaside resort where hammock-lounging is par for the course. For birders, Huntington Beach State Park near Murrells Inlet attracts more than 300 avian species.
South Carolina’s rich history comes alive in places like Middleton Place, a former plantation that invites visitors to explore its 18th century origins and the lives of its former residents, including the men and women it enslaved. Colonial reenactors teach traditional arts like cabinetmaking and cask-repairing at the Living History Park in North Augusta, a once abandoned water works now sporting more than a dozen permanent structures, including a blacksmith’s forge and pottery. Climb aboard the Adventure, the state’s only 17th-century-replica trading vessel, at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site (South Carolina’s birthplace), or peruse the Revolutionary War Center at Camden, commemorating South Carolina’s pivotal role in the American Revolution—including the stories of the women, African Americans, and Native Americans who fought for liberty.