South Carolina – South Carolina, founded in 1663, was key in the American Revolution. It hosted major fights like the 1780 Battle of Charleston. This state’s push for freedom helped shape the United States. Many of its old towns are filled with interesting tales and link back to its colonial days, adding to its historical and cultural significance.
The state is a mix of history and beauty, from Charleston’s old-world allure to Camden’s spirit linked to the revolution. The state’s scenery is like a historical book, inviting people to discover South Carolina’s past, perfect for a day trip or a longer visit.
Charleston, founded in 1670, is a famous old city in South Carolina. It’s a year-round tourist spot, known as the “Holy City.” This nickname might come from an admirer or from the many churches and synagogues seen on historic walks in the city.
The oldest church in Charleston, St. Michael’s, was built in the 1750s. It’s at the “Four Corners of Law” – Meeting and Broad Streets – where buildings represent different laws (a Post Office, a Courthouse, City Hall, and the church).
To see Charleston, you can take a horse-drawn carriage, a pedicab, or a walking tour. Or, try a self-guided walk starting at the Waterfront Park to see the Pineapple fountain, a sign of hospitality. Walk by Rainbow Row’s colorful houses and enjoy the waterfront. You can also take a sunset cruise on a catamaran or tall ship.
If you like beaches, downtown Charleston is close to three: Folly Beach, Isle of Palms Beach, and Sullivan’s Island Beach. They offer soft, white sand and different experiences, from lively to peaceful.
Beaufort, on the southeast coast of the U.S. and established in 1711, is a quaint town known for its well-preserved homes. These homes are a big draw for tourists. During the Civil War, Beaufort was occupied by Union forces, saving it from destruction unlike other towns in South Carolina.
To experience Beaufort’s history, the Beaufort History Museum, located in the 1798 Arsenal, is a great start. The Beaufort National Cemetery, managed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, is another significant site with over 19,000 graves, including soldiers from major American wars like Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf.
Beaufort is also known for its vibrant arts scene. Here, you’ll find painters, storytellers, weavers, and sculptors. The local galleries and craft shops display an ever-changing array of works inspired by the town’s history and ambiance. Antique enthusiasts should visit the Beaufort Collectors Antique Mall, home to over 30 dealers offering a variety of collectibles, vintage items, military memorabilia, and exquisite glassware.
Georgetown, set in South Carolina’s “Hammock’s Coast” between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, was founded in 1729. Known for its relaxed lifestyle, it’s one of the state’s oldest cities. It boasts a picturesque historic waterfront where casual attire is the norm.
The town’s historic district spans 37 blocks along the waterfront. You can stroll around, exploring shops that sell snacks, home goods, and gifts, or check out local art in the galleries. For a bite, The Big Tuna Restaurant and Raw Bar is a hit. It offers fresh local seafood and a great view of the Sampit River from its back deck.
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Georgetown has several museums. The Rice Museum focuses on the city’s history of rice farming. The Gullah Museum celebrates the Gullah Geechee people, African descendants preserving their unique language and culture.
Nearby beaches like Pawleys Island, Litchfield Beach, and Huntington State Beach Park are close to downtown. Another must-see is the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, a 24,000-acre preserve with alligators, birds, and sea turtles, offering free guided tours to the public.
Camden, founded in 1732, is a town steeped in American Revolution history, known for its colonial and antebellum buildings. As of 2022, it had about 8,312 residents. This town uniquely combines its Revolutionary War background with a strong horse culture and an active arts and entertainment scene.
The Revolutionary War Visitor Center highlights Camden’s crucial role in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution. Here, South Carolinians held off the British, helping the American patriots to regroup and eventually turn the tide of the war. The Center honors South Carolina’s contribution to the war.
Camden is also famous as the “steeplechase capital of the world,” attracting horse enthusiasts globally. It offers a range of horse-related activities, from lessons to trail rides, and hosts major equestrian events. Visitors can learn about different types of horse racing, such as flat track and steeplechase, at the Springdale Training Center or the Camden Training Center.
Don’t miss The National Steeplechase Museum located at the Springdale Training Center. Here, you can watch horses train, meet trainers and riders, and enjoy a guided museum tour. However, the tour is restricted to visitors over thirteen for safety.
Walterboro, founded in 1783, is perfect for a weekend escape or a day trip. Known as the “Front Porch” of the Lowcountry, it’s celebrated for its historic downtown and majestic live oaks with Spanish moss. It’s a wonderful place for antique shopping, appreciating local art, and enjoying nature. Don’t miss the Colleton Museum and Farmers Market, where you’ll find insights into local history and culture, like the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, and life in the ACE Basin. The Farmers Market, open from May to November on Saturdays and Tuesdays, offers fresh produce, eggs, honey, baked goods, and more.
The ACE Basin is ideal for hiking and biking, with numerous trails and dirt roads. It’s a hotspot for birdwatching, with over 265 species observed in the 79,000 acres of public lands. You might spot bald eagles and ospreys. The rivers and creeks are perfect for canoeing and kayaking, offering scenic views and wildlife sightings, including alligators.
Orangeburg, established in 1877 and known as “The Garden City,” boasts the Edisto Memorial Gardens, dating back to 1920 with its azaleas. Over the years, the gardens have grown, adding a greenhouse in 1947 and blooming its first rose in 1951. The gardens honor local war heroes.
From the Monday before Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, the Edisto Memorial Gardens transforms for the Children’s Garden Christmas and Kid’s Walk, open from 5 pm to 10 pm. This annual event, attracting over 300,000 visitors with free admission, features a drive-through display with over 60 exhibits and a walking path with 40 more. It’s a festive experience for all ages, with Santa Claus often visiting in the days leading up to Christmas.
Established in 1728, Moncks Corner is a quaint town known for its lovely downtown and closeness to natural wonders like the Santee Cooper lakes. Named after Thomas Monck, who bought land here in 1735, it’s famous for outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, and freshwater fishing.
Moncks Corner is a prime spot for enjoying Lake Moultrie and the Cooper River. There are many public boat ramps, making it easy to access these waters. Cypress Gardens, open since 1932, offers beautiful paths and gardens. It’s been featured in magazines and movies like The Notebook and The Patriot.
The Old Santee Canal Park, a 195-acre park, celebrates the first canal in America. Visitors can explore the Stony Landing House from 1843, walk along boardwalks in Biggin Creek’s swamp, and learn about the area’s history at the Interpretive Center, dating back to 4000 BCE. The Berkeley County Museum in the park is a great place to delve into Moncks Corner’s history.
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Touring South Carolina’s oldest towns is like stepping back into the state’s rich past and culture. These towns showcase South Carolina’s colonial history with well-preserved historic districts, iconic buildings, and landmarks that tell stories from the American Revolution and Civil War. Walking on old cobblestone streets and visiting historic plantations offers a blend of Southern hospitality and a learning adventure for those interested in history or seeking an authentic peek into bygone days.