Outdoor

Marie McAden

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

10 of South Carolina’s most walkable downtowns

Posted 2/15/2014 1:36:00 PM

Who says you need a dirt path or rocky trail to go hiking? City sidewalks have become a favorite in-town option for traveling trekkers.

Instead of gazing upon scenic waterfalls, mountains and rivers, you can ooh and aah at historic architecture, cascading fountains and public works of art. And the fare you’ll find in the local eateries will certainly beat the smashed peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich in your backpack.

Sally forth, urban hikers! Here are 10 wonderfully walkable downtowns:

1. Abbeville — This quintessential small Southern town — settled in 1758 by a group of French Huguenots — features a lovely town square and a restored turn-of-the-century opera house.

2. Aiken — Once the “Winter Colony” of well-to-do northerners, the town still sports historic remnants of the Gilded Age, including the grand Willcox Hotel and Rose Hill estate.

3. Beaufort — One of only a handful of U.S. towns to have its entire downtown designated a historic district, this seaport city features oak-shaded streets lined with stunning homes built by wealthy plantation owners before the Civil War.

4. Bluffton — Built on the banks of the pristine May River, the quirky tidewater town features eight antebellum homes and the colorful Calhoun Street with its eclectic mix of shops, cafes and art galleries.

5. Charleston — There’s a reason Charleston has been named the Top U.S. City by Condé Nast Traveler three consecutive years. Its rich history, well-preserved architecture, narrow cobblestoned streets and award-winning restaurants will knock your socks off.

6. Columbia — The capital city’s downtown features the State House, along with the University of South Carolina’s famed Horseshoe, a lush quadrangle surrounded by 19th century buildings. You’ve also got Main Street and The Vista — hot spots for shopping, dining and art.

7. Georgetown — The third oldest seaport in the country, this historic coastal community has a charming downtown lined with historic homes, grand old churches and museums. A grassy waterfront park and the newly renovated Harborwalk add to the ambiance.

8. Greenville — The revitalized downtown has been ranked among “America’s Ten Best” by Forbes magazine. The centerpiece of the shopping and entertainment district is Falls Park and its signature pedestrian suspension bridge.

9. Spartanburg — Morgan Square is the heart of this Upstate city’s downtown. The gathering spot dates back to 1787 and features the iconic 19th century town clock. Many of the historic buildings in the area date back to the textile and railroad boom between 1880 and 1920.

10. Summerville — Some 700 buildings in the downtown district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the most notable is a three-story Victorian house that served as the residence of cosmetics executive Elizabeth Arden.