South Carolina is a state in the United States of America and is part of the American South. It is known for its diverse geography from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Upstate to its subtropical beaches and marshlike sea islands along the coast. Coastal Charleston is a historic city, defined by pastel-colored houses, Old South plantations and Fort Sumter, where the Civil War’s opening shots were fired. To the north is the Grand Strand, a roughly 60-mile stretch of beachfront known for golf courses and the vacation town Myrtle Beach.
around Charleston and the central coast
the state capital and uplands
|Old 96 District
|Olde English District
around Rock Hill and south of Charlotte
|Pee Dee Country
|Santee Cooper Country
central South Carolina between the capital and Charleston
south of the capital bordering Georgia
|Upcountry South Carolina
the extreme western South Carolina bordering both Georgia and North Carolina
- Columbia - the state capital with a large zoo and riverfront trails.
- Charleston - oldest and largest city in the state, home to historic architecture and coastal views with numerous shopping and dinning options.
- Greenville - foothills town consisting of numerous hiking trails, restaurants and shops.
- Myrtle Beach - coastal resort town with golden-sand beaches and numerous hotel options.
- Georgetown - historic port city with small shops and restaurants.
- Rock Hill - suburban town with riverfront trails and close proximity to Charlotte
- Aiken - located in thoroughbred country adjacent to Augusta
- Clemson - college town home to Clemson University.
- Edisto Island - Natural and uncommercialized, Edisto Island is just 45 minutes south of Charleston, with moss-covered oak trees, creeks, and sandy beaches.
- Hilton Head Island
- Congaree National Park
- Seabrook Island
- Isle of Palms
- Beaufort - The Queen of the Sea Islands is 300 years old, as of 2011
South Carolina, together with North Carolina forms a region historically known as Carolina. The two were governed as one colony until the early 18th century. South Carolina has a long tradition of suspicion of national authority, from the slavery crises of the 19th century to the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th. It suffered heavy fighting during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. After the Civil War, South Carolina lost most of its wealth, which was tied up in slaves and the plantation economy. This rough history has produced a uniquely strong sense of state identity and pride.
Though the famous "Southern accent" is definitely in evidence here, if you listen closely, you'll hear all its regional variations, from the deeper drawl of the Lowcountry to the more clipped speech of the Upstate.
The climate of South Carolina is generally characterized as having a humid subtropical climate. In the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms are common throughout the state with temperatures around 90°F (32°C) towards the coast and 80°F (27°C) along the Blue Ridge. In the winter months, the temperatures are much more drastic. Along the Blue Ridge, temperatures remain below 40°F (4°C). Towards the coast, temperatures average around 60°F (16°C). Snow is rare across much of the state. However, it is very common in the months of December–February along the Blue Ridge.
English is official.
Gullah is spoken on the Sea Islands.
South Carolina is served by five interstate highways.
- Interstate 85 traverses the northwest corner of the state, near Anderson, and connects Greenville and Spartanburg with Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Interstate 26 stretches southeast across the state, from Landrum to its terminus in Charleston. It intersects with Interstate 85 near Spartanburg, Interstate 20 near Columbia and Interstate 95 near Orangeburg. I-26 also connects with I-85 via I-385, which goes directly into downtown Greenville.
- Interstate 77 begins in Fort Mill, at the North Carolina border from Charlotte, N.C. and continues south to its terminus at *Interstate 26, just south of Columbia.
- Interstate 95, the most major highway in the state, crosses the border near Dillon and continues south-west through Florence to Savannah.
South Carolina has multiple airports servicing the state.
- Charleston International is the largest in the state, and features flights all around the east coast and Europe.
- Myrtle Beach International, Columbia Metropolitan and Greenville-Spartanburg International are decent sized airports with a variety of destinations.
- Smaller regional airports are located in Hilton Head and Florence. These airports primarily service regional hubs. The Atlanta and Charlotte airports are easily accessible from western South Carolina by I-85 or I-77.
Amtrak has multiple routes that pass through South Carolina. The Silver Service and Palmetto trains call in Florence, Columbia, and Charleston in addition to smaller towns along the route from New York City to Florida. The Crescent train calls in Spartanburg, Greenville, and Clemson en route from New York City to New Orleans.
The roads in South Carolina (like most places in the United States) are in good condition for travel. Interstate 95 in much of the southern part of the state is highly traveled and only a four-lane highway. One should keep a very close eye out for sudden back ups, especially close to Charleston, Hilton Head and south of Charlotte in Fort Mill and Rock Hill. Generally, the other interstates do not suffer serious traffic except in the case of major wrecks. Gas prices are typically lower in South Carolina than most of the U.S. because of the much lower gas tax.
- Charles Pinckney National Historic Site at Mt. Pleasant
- Congaree National Park in Hopkins
- Cowpens National Battlefield near Chesnee,
- Fort Moultrie National Monument at Sullivan's Island
- Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston Harbor
- Kings Mountain National Military Park at Blacksburg
- Ninety Six National Historic Site in Ninety Six
- Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
- Healing Springs near the town of Blackville
Along the Eastern Atlantic Coast of South Carolina are several popular tourist destinations. The most well known area is called The Grand Strand and comprises 60 miles of mostly beachfront property. The Strand runs south from the North and South Carolina border through the towns of Little River, Atlantic Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City (in Horry County), down Hwy. 17 south through Georgetown County including Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, and Pawleys Island. Little River is known for its beautiful inlet, great for fishing and water sports. Myrtle Beach's claim to fame is not only its beaches, but its nickname as "Golf Capital of the World". Murrells Inlet offers some of the freshest seafood around. Pawleys Island offers historic plantation sites as well as great golf. Charleston offers quality restaurants and shops, historical attractions and is close to several beaches.
Greenville is a developing tourist spot with an increasing number of restaurants in its historic downtown area, several museums, two large performance venues (the Peace Center and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena), and proximity to the mountains of South and North Carolina.
Most of the BBQ in South Carolina is similar to Eastern Carolina-style with mostly mustard-based sauces on pulled pork. South Carolina is the only state that boasts 4 distinct styles of sauces: mustard, vinegar, tomato and ketchup.
On the Southern coastline, lowcountry and Charleston-style cuisine prevail, influenced by French, continental, and creole cooking with lots of fresh seafood. Shrimp and grits is a local specialty in the Charleston region with a seemingly limitless number of recipes.
Sweet tea is very popular and readily available, as is elsewhere in the South.
The drinking age for alcohol in South Carolina is 21. Almost all bars and off-premise vendors request government issued photo I.D. for younger looking patrons. In spring break destinations like Myrtle Beach police write scores of citations for underage drinking at clubs or on the beach.
Beer and wine are widely available in grocery and convenience stores around the state. Liquor must be sold in dedicated liquor stores. With the exception of coastal and metropolitan counties, off-premise sales of beer are banned on Sundays.
A word of caution, it is illegal in South Carolina to be 'grossly intoxicated' in public. The police can arrest you and charge you with public disorderly conduct if they believe this is the case, and there seems to be no legal definition of grossly intoxicated for a pedestrian. This is a misdemeanor offence, resulting in a court hearing. You can get your charge expunged within the state by entering a Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. This involves fines, community service, drug tests, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and homework assignments and typically takes about 2 months to complete. However, the PTI program is not recognized by the Federal Government.
Most of the areas visitors would normally visit in South Carolina are relatively crime-free. However, some residential areas in large cities like northern Charleston and Columbia may be somewhat dangerous after dark for non-locals.
- North Carolina - The state's northern neighbor is home to the Appalachian culture and incredible scenery of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as the stunning beaches of the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras.
- Georgia - Located on South Carolina's southern and eastern border, Georgia has the major metropolis of Atlanta, with many attractions, and the charming cities of Macon and Savannah.