For first-time vacationers to South Carolina, the state is bursting with surprises. Starting with its size – South Carolina is one of the ten smallest states and the entire Palmetto State isn’t beyond much of a three-hour drive. That means a day trip to the mountainous Upcountry from your favorite RV park in the Lowcountry is a comfortable possibility. You can easily explore South Carolina by taking a trip to Folly Beach, Edisto Beach or Hunting Island from your best lakeside campsite in the Upcountry.
South Carolina has its own bonafide national park – something most of its Southern neighbors can’t claim. Congaree National Park is a world of languid blackwater rivers and protects the largest contiguous old growth bottomland of loblolly pines, tupelo and bald cypress in the United States. Natural wonders extend beyond the swamps; Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It’s 411-foot tiered plunge can be seen with a short walk from the National Forest parking lot. Raven Cliffs Falls and the hydro-spectaculars at Jones Gap require a sterner hike to see their tumbles off the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
South Carolina is known as the place where the Civil War started. Fort Sumter can still be toured in Charleston harbor, but for history buffs, the real South Carolina treasures are from the American Revolution. British general Sir Henry Clinton lamented that events in South Carolina were “the first link in a chain of evils that at last ended in the total loss of America.” You can still explore those critical battlefields preserved at Ninety-Six, Camden, Cowpens and Kings Mountain.
The interstate highway system flows into the South Carolina population centers of Charleston, Columbia and Greenville. To find the true Southern experience, steer the RV to the two-lane roads to discover the gleaming white antebellum mansions of Beaufort, the Colonial port town of Georgetown, the historic cotton market of Cheraw, the famous blue granite of Winnsboro, and the the Gilded Age horse country of Aiken.
As you work up an appetite, keep an eye out for South Carolina cuisine. Seafood boils are a tradition in the Lowcountry, and the go-to supper is barbecue everywhere else. There are more than 220 pitmasters working their slow-cooking magic around the state – and here is your final South Carolina surprise: unlike more celebrated barbecue sauces from around the country, South Carolina barbecue is mustard-based. It will have you coming back to the Palmetto State time and again.