From small towns to secluded nature spots to unique attractions, South Carolina features a trove of hidden gems and well-kept secrets.
Among them is Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve, a 627-acre sanctuary at the edge of the Congaree River near the city of Cayce. It protects extremely rare and native Atlantic white cedar trees growing along Congaree Creek. Within the grounds of the preserve, archaeologists have discovered a variety of artifacts, including arrowheads, tools and pottery, left behind by those who lived in the area 12,000 years ago. Running through the preserve is the historic Cherokee Trail, which once served as a corridor between the Appalachian Mountains and the coast. Red and green trail markers on a secluded 2.7-mile hiking loop will take you through the wetlands. As you wind your way through the preserve, take time to sit on a bench and enjoy the natural surroundings. Just be sure to bring along insect repellent.
Cayce also has a few culinary gems. Try a smoky maple bacon or honeysuckle latte at Piecewise Coffee Company, located in the heart of Cayce. Priding itself on brewing local coffee beans and creating house-made syrups, it offers a wide variety of unique and customizable beverages along with fresh pastries, oats, salads and vegan options to please all palates. If you want to order ahead, check out the user-friendly Piecewise Coffee Company app.
And then there's Steel Hands Brewing, the Midlands largest production brewery. The 10,000-square-foot facility features 11-12 beers on tap, including the famed Coffee Lager, Tropical IPA and Foreman Golden Ale. Enjoy a pint in the 2,500-square-foot taproom or sit in the large outdoor space and order up some some tasty South Carolina grub to go with your brew.