Less Traveled 2012

Ernie Wiggins

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

My sister is coming for a visit and we would like to go and spend a day or an overnight at a nice lake that we could go swimming in. We grew up in New Hampshire where summers were spent swimming in the lake. - Maureen, Columbia
Some of my favorite swimming spots around the state are in recreation areas connected to one of the state's many beautiful lakes. I've listed a few of my favorites below but you can't go wrong at any of our lakes that offer swimming and boating access.

Clarks Hill Park on Lake Thurmond in McCormick County is a beautiful spot with two swimming areas, lakeside picnic areas and plenty of trees. 

Ebenezer Park in Rock Hill is another popular summer destination on Lake Wylie.

Lake Keowee in Oconee County attracts visitors interested in boating, fishing, water skiing and swimming, camping and picnicking.

Lake Monticello Park in Fairfield County is not far from Columbia and is a popular destination because of its ball fields, fishing piers, walking paths and swimming areas.

You might be familiar with Lake Murray Park, which is just outside of Columbia. It has a large swimming beach, one of the few public swimming areas on the lake.

And, in the Lowcountry you'll find Overton Park on Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County. Overton Park has beautiful sandy beaches.
 
We would like to see the Smoky Mountains on the South Carolina side. We need directions from the Knoxville/Pigeon Forge, Tenn., area. We'd also like some information about the closest attractions and some boarding rates. - Suzie Q, South Carolina
Thank you for your question. Technically, the Great Smoky Mountains do not extend into the state of South Carolina. They run along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. South Carolina does have the Blue Ridge Mountains in its beautiful upcountry region, however. You can find a wealth of information at the Discovery Upcountry website. And here's another link you might find helpful in planning your trip to the mountains of South Carolina.

As for driving directions, the most direct route from Pigeon Forge, Tenn., is Interstate 40 East to Interstate 26 East. That will take you to the South Carolina Upstate.

Good luck, and thank you again for your question.
 
I'd love to see the historical African American sites in South Carolina. And tell me about Gullah Island! I want to see as many sites as I can! - Fran, Sumter
Thank you for your question about South Carolina's rich African American heritage and culture. As you can imagine, you could spend a lifetime exploring all of the dimensions of African American history in the state. You might begin with the upcoming Moja Festival in Charleston. I'm afraid you've missed this year's Gullah festival in Beaufort, but be sure to mark your calendar for next year. Finally, here is a good informative site that would be a good place to start.
 
Can you suggest a quiet, laidback beach between Savannah and Charleston? Something that can be rented by the day for just my husband and I. Thanks - Melissa, DC
Melissa, I can’t speak to the daily rental question – that would depend on the type of property you were considering. But, there are some great beaches between Charleston and Hilton Head Island.

Hilton Head Island has a large variety of resorts and accommodations. It may not be as quiet as you are looking for, especially in the Summer Off-season, after Labor Day, things slow down with rates dropping and crowds dwindling. Check out the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce website for great information on the area.

Up from HHI is Beaufort, a historic and quaint town right on the Beaufort River that is celebrating its 300th birthday in 2011. With wonderful B&Bs and other unique lodging, it provides a great home base for traveling out and exploring nearby Hunting Island State Park or Port Royal. Check out the Beaufort CVB website.
 
The final leg before getting up to the historic city of Charleston would give you Edisto Island and Kiawah Island Resort.

Edisto is known for it’s laid back life-style and has that old beach community feel. And it has the benefit of Edisto Beach State Park and Botany Bay Plantation, a Heritage Preserve, managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.

Finally, there’s Kiawah, a planned community located a barrier island just below Charleston. Offering a variety of accommodations from the award-winning Sanctuary hotel right on the Atlantic Ocean to rental villas and homes, you can find something to fit your needs. Kiawah also has lots of great outdoor activities such as kayaking, biking and even a nature center.
 
I am looking for a beautiful, remote beach in the Lowcountry to spend the day (and possibly the night.) I also am going to stop and see the Old Sheldon Church ruins on my way down. I'm very excited and would love to hear a recommendation! - Shannon, Ridgeway
Hello, Shannon:

I asked a friend to name his favorite "remote beach" in the Lowcountry and he recommended Hunting Island State Park. He said it's a favorite destination for his family. I enjoy Hunting Island as well because it is undeveloped and uncluttered. It's the perfect destination if you want to get away from it all.

Good luck.