Discover the deep roots, wide rivers and high-octane thrills of northeast South Carolina.
Take it Outside
Everywhere visitors go in the Pee Dee, they are greeted by pristine natural areas with creeks full of fish and landscapes ripe for exploration. Little Pee Dee State Park is a favorite for hiking, camping, picnicking and fishing. Lee State Park offers kayaking and canoeing on the Lynches River and features five artesian wells that bring crystal-clear water to the surface. Woods Bay State Natural Area is known for its Carolina Bay, an elliptical depression found along the Atlantic Coast. The diverse habitat ranges from forest to marsh and attracts wildlife from birds to gators. For visitors who prefer their outdoor time to include golf carts and a clubhouse, find many bucket-list golf courses in the Pee Dee.
Go Way Back
The area’s agrarian heritage is showcased at the South Carolina Cotton Museum and the South Carolina Tobacco Museum. But the region’s roots are much deeper than that. Revolutionary Rivers Trail offers a paddle trip that follows the path of General Francis Marion, “The Swamp Fox,” a Revolutionary War hero. The National Recreation Trail follows the Lynches River through cypress and tupelo swamps, the hiding places of Marion’s militia. Civil War battle sites and plantations are also preserved throughout the region, and local museums hold relics from that pivotal time.
Rev it Up
Visitors flock by the tens of thousands to Darlington Raceway, NASCAR’s oldest super-speedway, to see The Southern 500 each year. But visitors enjoy the speedway year-round with tours of the track and visits to the on-site museum and hall of fame. Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame honor the pioneers of the sport and show off historic muscle cars that made the sport a fan favorite. Super-fans enjoy Liberty Lane Walk of Fame, also in Darlington, a city park where many legends of racing left their handprints in concrete.
Every spring in Lake City, the creative spirit of the Pee Dee is on display during ArtFields. The nine-day event attracts painters, sculptors, photographers and other creatives from across the Southeast who display their work in venues around town, from historic warehouses to local diners. If you don’t make it to ArtFields, the downtown Lake City gallery scene bustles with color and creativity year-round. Enjoy a small-town getaway with fine arts and entertainment that rival any big city.
At the Pee Dee State Farmers Market in Florence, see what local farmers and crafters are up to each season. The Pee Dee was built on agriculture, and today visitors can savor Certified SC Grown produce, prepared foods that showcase farm-fresh produce, plus flowers and crafts spread across 55 acres. Also in Florence, the local pecan crop inspired the SC Pecan Trail, featuring more than 20 restaurants that offer up unique pecan creations. From Pecan Pie Martinis to Pecan Crusted Grouper, taste the savory Southern specialty and get stamps in your passport along the way.
Have a Garden Party
Located on the site of a former 19th century plantation, Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville preserves a historic garden known for its colorful displays of azaleas and camellias. Visitors are also invited to tour the historic home on site or paddle a canoe on Black Creek. Moore Farms Botanical Garden in Lake City is all about Southern plants and traditional growing practices. The area’s long growing season attracts green thumbs who stroll among the seasonal floral displays.
Let the Kids Loose
Kids smile ear to ear when they chase goats at local petting zoos or try to find their way out of corn mazes. Coker Farms National Historic Landmark in Hartsville was an experimental farm that developed the first cotton breeding system in the US, a revolution in the field of agriculture. Guests today tour the property and dairy barn, and an annual fall festival plays to the kids with a corn maze and hayrides. Darlington’s Dargan Farms and Pim Farms also have seasonal corn mazes, u-pick pumpkins, hayrides and other family activities.