Jun 10, 2016

Best of The East Coast: The South Carolina Coast

I have so much love for my state... I've spent the last five years spending almost every weekend exploring South Carolina - the state parks in particular. My momma even wrote a book about our adventures that my family and I went on at all 47 of the state parks. Savannah of The Always Blog is hosting a collaboration to showcase the best of the East Coast, and I am so incredibly excited to share my favorite parts of coastal South Carolina. I couldn't have simply chosen just one location to focus on for this post like Edisto Island, the city of Beaufort, Charleston, or Myrtle Beach because I love them all and there are so many unique elements in each of these locations that make the coast of South Carolina worth visiting out of the entire East coast of America. 

Let's start at the top of the coast line and work our way down the coast...

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina -

Myrtle Beach State Park: Original CCC cabins that are (almost) beachfront and just an incredible piece of land in an overly built up tourist spot that's been left natural. It's a retreat for animals to live and where there are actual trees. It's incredible! 

Broadway at the Beach: If shopping is more your cup of tea, spend a day at Broadway at the Beach. It's been forever since I visited but it's got everything from a fun museum (WonderWorks - the upside down house... can't miss it) to ziplining, live entertainment and dinner theater, Ripley's Aquarium, jet boats, mirror mazes, carnival games, any kind of food, basically tourist activities... HEAD to Broadway if you're there to explore - I recommend the down seasons to visit. Middle of Summer might not be the greatest idea. 

Brookgreen Gardens: Back to the natural... I'm not a huge fan of flashy Myrtle for tourists. I'm in love with the beautiful back corners of the city that are not the number one tourist location like Broadway is. Brookgreen is full of statues, flowers, and other beautiful things. Bring a full camera battery and multiple memory cards because the park is incredible! I actually spent a couple days (admission price is kinda high but it's totally worth it) there last Spring Break

Skywheel: I haven’t done this in YEARS but the view is incredible. It is exactly what the name describes… a ginormous Ferris wheel located on the Myrtle Beach boardwalk - you can’t miss it. It can be a little pricey but you go around more than once so it’s not a complete waste of money! Beware lines of tourists crazed with air conditioning deprivation, and bring water just to wait in the line… The wheel is air-conditioned so NEVER FEAR! If you just feel like being a tourist and doing tourist-y things than this is the place for you.
Vereen Memorial Historic Gardens: I’ve never been but it sounds incredible. Creeks, marshes, trees, and a quiet garden.. Oh and no admission!

Huntington Beach State Park: BEAUTIFUL! If you’ve rented a house or hotel room in Myrtle, drive and spend a day at Huntington Beach. It’s absolutely incredible…. No buildings or other developments surrounding the park and upon driving in you may encounter some alligators in the marsh! There is a castle on park property that you can tour and it’s absolutely beautiful… Definitely one of my favorite beach areas in the state. You have to spend the day and you’ll see for yourself what I mean!


*all of the above are from Huntington Beach State Park - Atalaya Castle or Myrtle Beach State Park

Charleston, South Carolina -

Everyone has heard of Charleston. History, Southern class and charm, extravagant houses and all around beauty. Rainbow Row, the "Charleston accent" - most commonly brought out when discussing the city of "Walterboro", and sweetgrass baskets. Yes, Charleston is made up of these things but when visiting, here's some other must do's for you!

Charlestowne Landing State Historic Site: A historic zoo, palisades, educational walking trails, living history actors, and so much more... It's a place you're going to want to spend the entire sunny afternoon at so plan your time accordingly so you're not rushed. You'll learn a lot and get some great pictures too!

Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site: It's a small little park with historical church ruins marking what was the thriving trade town of Dorchester which was located along the Ashley river. It was abandoned at the start of the Revolution and all that's left are some interesting tabby walls (I can't really describe, you just have to see it for yourself) the aforementioned tower of St George's Anglican and a cemetery. You'll learn a lot during your visit, the manager is eager to share all that he knows with his guests. You have the option of visiting during a time where the park is showcasing living history actors to better tell the tale, or just wandering in at your own time. I've done both, and the quiet of almost stumbling upon this little park and all it's history and exploring on your own is quite the experience. I definitely recomend.

Hampton Plantation State Historic Site: It's beautiful, but before I continue.... BUGSPRAY. The mosquitoes will eat you. You can wear long sleeves, but they bite you through them. So come prepared and enjoy the park. The plantation home itself is amazing (bloggers think style shots for blog posts). It's surrounded by Live Oak trees and Magnolias and helps to educate about slavery in the South. You'll certainly learn a lot... oh and don't forget to find the geocache!

Isle Of Palms: It's a beautiful beach... add it to your list for sure! The sunset is incredible!

Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island: Preserving the spirit of Edgar Allen Poe is this restaurant on Sullivan's (other locations in Atlantic Beach and Wrightsville Beach ). Poe enlisted in the army when he was 18 and was stationed at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's (another great place to visit... INCREDIBLE history - Palmetto Trees) - hence the restaurant location. Check the menu here: link

Boone Hall Plantation on Mount Pleasant: Shopping is great in Mount Pleasant, but I love Boone Hall more! Part of The Notebook was filmed here so you can take great pics for insta and caption them with movie quotes with no shame. It's beautiful plantation grounds and history is preserved so well it's almost scary. I took a day trip here in 8th grade and never forgot all that I learned. Spend some time around the slave cabins if you get a chance... definitely some interesting history. Oh and take in all the live oaks. They really are beautiful trees!

Magnolia Plantation: My parents took us for a round of portraits here when I was little. There are beautiful flowers and plants and the petting zoo is great too! Bring your camera for sure!

Patriots Point: Another place I visited in 8th grade... The USS Yorktown is located here and if you're claustrophobic don't go anywhere near it. Also, there are mannequins so don't freak out... you've been warned. You'll learn a lot and leave with some great pictures!

King Street: Shop till you drop - don't forget to pick up a sweetgrass flower from one of the local vendors!

The Battery and White Point Gardens: Walking through the gardens to the battery is beautiful. There's a gazebo and the Live oak trees just have my heart! The Battery never has been my favorite place to visit in Charleston, but you have to walk across it at least once.

Waterfront Park: Ever wonder where that pineapple fountain is? It's here at Waterfront. Be sure to snap a shot for the 'gram! 

Honestly in downtown Charleston, you can't go wrong if you have a map and just walk the roads. The cobblestone streets are incredible and be sure to read every historic sign. Google anything for further history and honestly just soak it all in. The air, the slow southern city bustle, history, everything. 


Boone Hall Slave Cabins

(excuse picture quality - 8th grade iphone 4s)

On down the map are some of the Islands... Kiawah and Folly Beach, but I haven't spent enough time there to really give you a guide. 

Edisto Island -

Edisto Beach State Park: CCC original cabins located on the Salt marsh. They're amazing. The cabins themselves are furnished beautifully and they all have a great view. There are even ADA accessible ones if that's something you need. As for the actual beach, pay attention to the Tide Charts and Turtle nests. When they say high tide, it's high. The Nature center is one to visit and you never know what kinds of birds will be hanging out on their bird feeder!

Botany Bay: Read all the signs. This beach comes with rules - but they're necessary. It's run by DNR so keep it natural! There are shells out the wazoo and the beach area is so beautiful because it hasn't been built around or anything like that. There's a driving tour for history lovers, but the beach itself... at least go for a walk!

Serpentarium: I've heard good things but I hate snakes. 

Bicycling: The island itself is so small, you can bicycle all over it and explore. 

Kayaking: You're gonna want to... trust me. 

Eats: Local Seafood is AMAZING! The shrimp are huge and delicious. As far as restaraunts go, head to Jungle Road for some options. You can't go wrong with The Seacow Eatery or Whaley's!





Beaufort -

Hunting Island State Park: My favorite! If you're lucky enough to see the cabin empty... book it! The only cabin on the park is located feet away from the Hunting Island Light House. The view from the lighthouse is utterly breathtaking and the climb up is educational and also kind of steep. The volunteers at the entrance to the lighthouse are always willing to snap a photo of you and your family or friends after climbing. The Beach itself is beautiful. I encourage you to pack light and explore the "boneyard" of all the washed up trees. Once you get through the boneyard, the dunes (ish more like treeline) is my favorite part. The marsh, like Edisto Island, is also beautiful. There are equestrian trails at the park however the horses are only permitted on the beach during December, January and February. If you're spending more than a weekend in Beaufort, walk the Hunting Island Beach in both directions. It's beautiful and you'll absolutely enjoy your time. 

Downtown: Like Charleston, spend a day walking the streets, exploring the shops - particularly antiques, exploring it all really. You can't go wrong! 

Kazoo Museum: yep you read that right now go visit

Waterfront Park: No it doesn't have a pineapple fountain like Charleston, but it's a beautiful park. Sit at the picnic tables and enjoy some ice cream or sorbet (my personal favorite is watermelon) at an ice cream shop that I forgot the name of..... but it's a white building so the perfect background or you can just go to the waterfront for a background.

Horse Carriage Ride: 'nough said. You gotta do it!


Of course you can run Pinterest searches to find places to go while you travel along the South Carolina coast, but if you ask me... These are some of my personal favorites. Visit the state parks though! Most people forget them but they are beautiful beach areas, sites of incredible history, and full of nature and wildlife that you miss in the commercialized parts of the coast especially in Myrtle Beach. Take it slow, wear comfortable walking shoes, enjoy the air, eat a lot of ice cream, bring a camera and enjoy your time! 

Check out the other posts in the linkup here:

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Ever been to the South Carolina Coast? What are your favorite places to visit while you're here?

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