As a lifelong resident of the southeast, I’m a little ashamed that it took us this long to explore South Carolina. Especially since this state packs a real punch, from sea to mountains, cities to countryside, all packed into a tiny easy to traverse space. Our favorite part has certainly been the impressive collection of state parks!
On our first day, we began by heading north into South Carolina from coastal Georgia, where we had just spent the previous week. Our first stop was the Oyotunji African Village, where we realized we should have made an appointment to visit! However, we were able to walk around this authentic Yoruba village, developed as a commune in 1970.
Next, we headed towards Beaufort (where there is quite a lot of history to explore beyond our itinerary here). We always love to add a little quirk to our days, so thought the Kazoo Factory would be just the ticket…and it was! Honestly, if you don’t go to this factory/museum, you’re missing out on life. It was such a fun experience!
That rainy afternoon, we next headed to the beach to explore Hunting Island State Park, our first of many state park visits in South Carolina. We really enjoyed getting out into the semi-wild trails of this out of the way park. Recent hurricane damage gave the beaches a haunting beauty.
The park also boasts a wonderful nature center with various local wildlife to learn about!
That night we drove on to the Charleston area.
On our second day, we were excited to be in Charleston, one of the most superb cities in the southeast, but since we’ve visited before, we wanted to find some new adventures. If visiting for the first time, please be sure to explore beyond these suggestions!
The Caw Caw Interpretive Center was very close to our campground, so we began there to explore and run on the Caw Caw Trail. The visitors center is very cool and informative, as well as the friendly staff. What is amazing about this park is that you are able to encounter five different ecosystems in close proximity to each other!
After our run with more rain on the way, we set our sights on some delicious local southern fare! Fortunately, we were very close to the highly recommended and popular Stono Market and Tomato Shed Cafe. Yum!
Our final visit of the day included a visit to the nearbyAngel Oak, a 400-500 year old Live Oak Tree, thought to be the oldest organism in the southeast!
On our third day, we needed some car maintenance, so dropped “Clark” off at a Firestone that was conveniently within walking distance of another state park, the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site. Dorchester was a fortified post during the Revolutionary War, but was abandoned and claimed by the British then never reclaimed. It exists now as a portal in time.
After our car was ready, we opted to visit two more state parks in the afternoon: Givhans Ferry State Park and Colleton State Park, where we camped that night. Neither park has much to offer in terms of activities (both being very small and predominantly existing as campground locations). However, it is very popular to do an overnight kayak trip between the two parks on the Edisto River, something we really wished we’d planned for!
On our fourth day, we made a beeline for Congaree National Park, one of the only official National Parks in the southeast. We were excited to get out and explore, but the recent rains made that a bit impossible as the park was pretty much flooded. However, we enjoyed learning about the diverse wildlife and especially the trees in the park!
Luckily for us, nearby Poinsett State Park was not flooded! The park is most popular for it’s mountain biking trails, so we popped our bikes out of the camper and rode on a few of them!
That night we camped out at Willard Farms, a very gracious and welcoming Harvest Host site!
By our fifth day in eastern South Carolina, we had really gotten into collecting stamps in our Ultimate Outsiders State Park book! Most of the parks are actually quite small with only a few short trails, so we planned to visit a few and do some speed runs along their trails.
We started at Woods Bay State Park, where we ran along their nature trail and boardwalk.
En route to the next state park, we also stopped at the Mars Bluff Atomic Bomb Impact Center, where in 1958 a B-47 jet accidentally dropped a 26 kiloton nuclear bomb! Thank goodness the nuclear core wasn’t actually attached!
Our next stop was Lee State Park, where we speed ran 1 mile on the Floodplain Trail. This park was notable for its beautiful artesian springs!
Our final stop was at Goodale State Park, where we ran but also enjoyed some Geocaching, which we discovered is very rampant here in South Carolina, especially at the state parks!
On our final day in the Eastern part of the state, we headed for the state capitol, Columbia! Our first stop was Sesqui State Park. This park is known for it’s mountain biking trails. What we loved about the trail we chose was that it was easy to incorporate a multi-cache (a Geocache that requires you to solve for clues at multiple locations to find the real treasure!).
As we moved into the city, we were also excited to explore it’s notable quirky side with visits to various oddities like a gas station named after Obama, a monument dedicated to the 90s band Hootie and the Blowfish, the World’s Largest Fire Hydrant, and the World’s Largest Kid Statue. In addition, the city boasts some incredible public art, such as the famous Tunnel Mural and Never Bust Chain.
The State Capitol also includes multiple notable stops. First of all the building itself is incredibly historical, having survived the burning of the city during the Civil War. The Capitol proudly wears its battle wounds, however, by maintaining a damaged Washington Monument and marking cannon ball damage with Bronze Stars.
However, I think our favorite was the Strom Thurmond Modified Statue. Strom Thurmond death was a resolute segregationist, but after his death it was revealed that he had an illegitimate child with an African American woman. Someone carved her name, Essie Mae, into the statue with the names of this other children.
Finally, if you only have a few hours in Columbia, you MUST visit the South Carolina State Museum. We have never been more impressed by such a well curated museum with so much to offer! Best of all, they gave us a HUGE teacher discount!
Be sure to subscribe to our blog for all the updates and stayed tuned for the corresponding YouTube video for our time in Eastern South Carolina. Our next edition will feature the western part of the great state!