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Out-of-the-Park Adventures: Edisto Beach State Park

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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Enjoy beautiful sunset views from Edisto beach.
Experience the beauty, culture and history of the Lowcountry during your stay at Edisto Beach State Park.

Got cabin fever? Hit the road with your own accommodations for a socially distanced vacation in a South Carolina state park campground. With 33 parks offering campsites for tents and RVs, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for an out-of-the-way getaway. Some parks even feature lodging for those who prefer to stay in a cabin or villa.
Along with their many recreational amenities and beautiful settings, state parks offer visitors the opportunity to explore less-traveled areas of the state and discover small towns and communities with a rich history and unique attractions.

Ready to roll? Here’s a two-day, out-of-the-park itinerary for Edisto Beach State Park:

Set at the edge of the pristine ACE BasinEdisto Beach State Park offers visitors the opportunity to learn about this unique wetland ecosystem named after the free-flowing Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers.

Park features:
- Two campgrounds—one on Scott Creek, the other along the beach—with 120 campsites featuring individual water and electrical hookups and convenient access to restrooms with hot showers.
- Seven one- and three-bedroom cabins on the saltmarsh with a screened-in porch and satellite TV.

Day 1

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at The SeaCow Eatery, a longtime island favorite famous for its whimsical logo featuring a cow in flippers, mask and snorkel. The menu has all the classics, including biscuits and gravy, “Moo La La” French toast, and omelets with your choice of 10 ingredients.

First stop after breakfast is the Edisto Island Serpentarium, dedicated to every manner of slithering, scaly reptile. Snakes, alligators, caiman and snapping turtles are on display in outdoor observatories designed to resemble their natural habitats as well as in an indoor gallery where you can see snakes up close behind the safety of glass enclosures.

Next up is the Edisto Island Museum to learn about the island’s history and those who have made their lives along the area’s marshes and creeks, including Native Americans, English settlers and enslaved African Americans.

From there, head to 7666 Point of Pines Road to view the recently renovated Hutchinson House, identified as the oldest remaining African American residence on Edisto. The home was built in 1885 by freed slave, farmer and businessman, Henry Hutchinson, one of the few African Americans who owned a cotton gin on Edisto after the Civil War.

For lunch, drive 15 minutes up Highway 174 to the new Roxbury Mercantile, a country chic restaurant and market offering affordable, high-quality sea island cuisine. The lunch and dinner menu includes traditional Lowcountry dishes, from she-crab soup to Lowcountry Boil. Be sure to get a side of Sea Island Red Peas, an heirloom field pea with bold flavor and a sweet, creamy richness.

On your way back to the state park, pick up the makings for a traditional Lowcountry meal to cook up at your campsite. Stop at the Johnsmans’ Marsh Hen Mill for a bag of their signature grits milled on their 1945 grist mill and heirloom vegetables grown on the family’s three-acre farm. Then, drop into the Flowers Seafood Company for fresh-off-the-boat local shrimp.

Day 2

Spend the morning exploring Botany Bay Heritage Preserve, a stunning 3,300-acre property that once was home to Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud plantations. The undisturbed land serves as coastal habitat for a wide range of wildlife, including the state-threatened least tern and neotropical songbirds like the painted bunting and summer tanager.

You can pick up a driving tour guide of the property at the information kiosk near the entrance. The 6.5-mile route takes you along a magnificent avenue of oaks, past historic buildings and salt marsh vistas. Don’t miss taking a walk on “boneyard beach,” a unique stretch of coastline featuring the remains of trees that have succumbed to erosion.

By now, you’ve worked up an appetite. Chow down at McConkey’s Jungle Shack, an island institution with its painted picnic tables and beach-themed porch. You won’t go wrong with the shrimp and chips, fish tacos or their famous “fat burger.”

If you’ve been hoping to see dolphins swimming and feeding in the creeks, reserve the afternoon for a boat tour with Botany Bay Ecotours. You’re also likely to see herons, pelicans and other wildlife native to the ACE Basin. In addition to dolphin tours, the outfitter offers a Gullah tour and sunset cruise. These fun and educational excursions are a great way to see a different side of the Lowcountry and learn about the area’s history, wildlife and native species.

End the day with a culinary homage to two Southern staples—oyster roasts and pig pickings. Enjoy fresh, locally sourced oysters and smoked barbecue at Briny Swine, a smokehouse and oyster bar brought to you by the owners of the acclaimed Ella & Ollies. Grab a spot by the windows to take in the view of Big Bay Creek.

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.