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Less-Traveled Lowcountry Winter Road Trip

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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Charleston may steal all the thunder in the South Carolina Lowcountry, but all of the coastal area’s less-traveled communities offer their own unique amenities and charms. This winter, take a road trip from Mount Pleasant to the seaport city of Georgetown when the air is cooler and the crowds are lighter.

Here are some ideas to get you started planning your winter vacation to a less-traveled section of the Lowcountry.

First Stop: Mount Pleasant

Just across the Cooper River from Charleston, Mount Pleasant has come into its own in recent years with its charming Old Village, modern shopping districts and array of trendy restaurants. As much as it has grown, it has retained its small-town feel, making it an inviting place to visit.


Where to Stay

The Cottages on Charleston Harbor – Experience the Lowcountry’s relaxed vibe with a stay at one of these secluded waterfront cottages overlooking the scenic Charleston Harbor. Enjoy views of Fort Sumter, Sullivan’s Island and downtown Charleston from your own screened porch, featuring rocking chairs and a Pawleys Island hammock.


Where to Dine

Charleston Harbour Fish House – Perched on the shores of Patriots Point, you know the view is going to be spectacular—and the seafood even better. You’ll have your choice of seating—in the main dining room featuring a bar and brick fireplace or outside on the porch.

Vicious Biscuit – Chow down on a Southern classic made from scratch and topped with everything from a fried chicken breast and pimento cheese to slow-roasted pulled pork and candied bacon.

Kanpai – This Korean restaurant is known for its sophisticated, hand-crafted sushi and Asian dishes beautifully prepared by Chef Sean Park. 

Grace & Grit – You know you’re in the South when the menu includes a flight of grits to share with the table and a curated selection of bourbon. Dishes are made with fresh, local seafood and produce.

NICO – Oysters + Seafood – One of Chef Nico Romo’s latest culinary ventures, this fine dining restaurant lives up to his reputation for creating inspired seafood dishes sourced from local waters.


What to Do

Mount Pleasant’s Old Village – With roots dating back to the 18th century, this historic waterfront neighborhood once served as the summer residence of wealthy Charlestonians. After admiring the beautiful houses, take a walk along the small-town main street lined with chic shops and boutiques.

Pitt Street Bridge at Pickett Park – At the end of the old Pitt Street Bridge is a pedestrian greenway overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. On any given day, you’ll find locals fishing, throwing cast nets for shrimp and hunting for blue crabs. From the wooden boardwalk extending into the water you can see the remains of the old steel drawbridge that once connected Mount Pleasant to Sullivan’s Island.

Shem Creek – Renowned for its fun collection of restaurants and bars and lively atmosphere, this popular Mount Pleasant destination also features a 2,200-foot-long boardwalk ( offering panoramic views of the marsh and Charleston Harbor. A separate span leads to the commercial docks where working shrimp and crab boats tie up when they’re not at sea.

Charles Ravenel Jr. Bridge – Connecting the Holy City to Mount Pleasant, this eight-lane, cable-stayed bridge features an extraordinarily popular bike and pedestrian lane. Take a walk to the top for a fantastic view of Charleston Harbour and the city’s historic downtown.

Memorial Waterfront Park – Set in the shadow of the Ravenel Bridge, this beautiful green space features a pier jutting out 1,250 feet over the Cooper River, along with the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion where you can view and purchase sweetgrass baskets created by Gullah artisans.

Second Stop: Georgetown 

The third-oldest city in South Carolina, this picturesque little town is chock-full of charm with its beautiful oak-lined streets, more than 50 historic homes and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic places and a hopping waterfront overlooking Winyah Bay.


Where to Stay

620 Prince –  What better way to soak in the flavor of Georgetown than to stay in a restored 1800s home in the heart of the historic district. You’ll feel pampered at this luxury bed and breakfast offering a European-style continental breakfast, afternoon beer, wine and hors d’oevures on weekends, and evening turndown service.


Where to Dine

The River Room – This iconic Georgetown restaurant has been drawing hungry diners for lunch and dinner since it opened more than 35 years ago. The vibe is casual and friendly with drop-in service only, so you don’t need to make a reservation.

The Humble Crumb – All of the dishes in this Italian restaurant are prepared from scratch, and the dough for the artisan pizza is made daily.

Thomas Café – This charming hometown diner hasn’t changed much since it opened more than 75 years ago. Serving breakfast and lunch, it specializes in Southern fare like cheese grits and fried chicken.

River Oak Cottage Tea Room at Hopsewee Plantation – The drive through this historic rice plantation is reason enough to have lunch or tea in the cottage, open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Root – The stylish setting adds to the pleasure of dining at this Georgetown favorite known for its beautifully prepared American cuisine made with locally sourced produce, seafood and meats.


Things to Do

Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center – This 20,000-acre preserve is made up of a group of barrier islands featuring a diversity of unspoiled Lowcountry habitats. The islands serve as home to an array of wildlife and a migratory bird refuge. Click here for a schedule of field trips and tours offered by the SC Department of Natural Resources.

Hobcaw Barony – Once an exclusive hunting retreat with a guest list that included Winston Churchill, President Franklin Roosevelt and Irving Berlin, the 17,500-acre estate is now open to the public with tours and programs offering visitors the opportunity to view the property and the mansion originally owned by Wall Street tycoon Bernard Baruch.

Harborwalk – Meandering along the Sampit River, the four-block-long waterfront boardwalk is lined with restaurants, shops, galleries and museums. In addition to offering stunning views of Georgetown Harbor, it’s also a great spot to catch the sunset.

The Kaminski House – You’ll find this 18th century home at the west end of Harborwalk on a bluff overlooking the Sampit River. Representative of the Georgian style of the era, the house is filled with an outstanding collection of American and English antiques. Tours are offered three times a day from Monday through Saturday.

Swamp Fox Tours – Hop aboard the Swamp Fox tram to hear about Georgetown’s three centuries of history—and a few of its most notable ghosts—while winding past some of the town’s earliest homes and buildings and other points of interest.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.