Get off the Beaten Path in South Carolina

By:Laura Mueller


There’s a lot to be seen and experienced off the beaten path in South Carolina. These hidden gems might not draw the same crowds as South Carolina’s premiere destinations, but they provide plenty of adventure for a day or weekend trip.

Fox hunts might sound like a thing of the past, but at Hitchcock Woods in Aiken, drag hunts (scent hunting) take place each Tuesday from October through March. The 2,000-acre park is one of the country’s largest urban forests, providing more than 70-miles of trails for hikers, runners and equestrian traffic.

Another point of interest in central South Carolina is the God's Acre Healing Springs historic site near Blackville. The name of the site alone should reveal why these artesian wells are so highly revered. The site’s history dates back to the 1700s when Native Americans used water from the springs to heal the sick and injured, and it was named by troops during the Revolutionary War. These days the springs are used to collect potable drinking water, but it’s not uncommon to see visitors splashing around in hopes that the legend might be true.

Some of South Carolina’s richest history comes from the Sea Islands, where Gullah culture and tradition have deep roots. From Charleston down to Hilton Head, you’ll find many interpretive sites, events and guided tours aimed at educating the public about the Gullah people and way of life. A great place to start is the Penn Center on St. Helena Island. Formerly known as the Penn School, the site was one of the first schools in the country for freed slaves. By preserving historical collections, oral histories, handicrafts and musical recordings the Penn Center now details important aspects of African American history on the island. The site is open for tours, educational programs, conventions and other enrichment activities year-round.

Plenty of treasures are tucked away in South Carolina’s upstate region among the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Take a detour from Interstate 26 near the North Carolina border in Landrum and you'll find Campbell’s Covered Bridge; South Carolina’s only remaining covered bridge, built in 1909. About 30 miles away in Travelers Rest, you’ll find the state’s oldest intact bridge. The stone Poinsett Bridge was built in 1820 and once served as an important connector between Charleston and North Carolina.

Chattooga Belle Farm, located in the far northwest corner of the state, is one of the prettiest spots in all of the Carolina foothills. Pick apples, pears, figs, muscadines and more among a stunning backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Educational farm tours, a lunch bistro and a disc golf course are also on-site.

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