South Carolina earned the nickname the Palmetto State as a symbol of strength and courage. During the Revolutionary War, colonial soldiers used miniature palm trees called palmettos to build a fortress on Sullivan Island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. Today, the tree graces the state flag and lines the capital city of Charleston. From the country roads of the Upstate to the beaches of the Grand Strand and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina offers visitors a diverse landscape and a glimpse of the rich history of the Old South.
Named for King Charles II of England, Charleston is perched on a peninsula at the convergence of the Cooper and Ashley Rivers. Along the Battery, pillared mansions and landscaped courtyards skirt the Charleston Harbor. Horse-drawn carriages roll down cobblestone streets past gardens filled with jasmine and magnolias. On East Bay Street, visitors will find the famous series of brightly-colored, 18th-century Georgian townhouses known as Rainbow Row. Shoppers stroll King Street for fine antiques or designer wares and the Old City Market for regional items, such as Low Country spices and sweetgrass baskets.
North of the capital, beach resorts dot the 60 miles of coastline nicknamed the Grand Strand. One of the most popular vacation spots on the East Coast, Myrtle Beach is an affordable family retreat with 100 manicured golf courses, a renovated boardwalk, seafood restaurants and shops. At Myrtle Beach State Park – surrounded by 300 acres of pine trees and sugar-white sand – beachgoers can kayak or cast a line at the pier.
Near the Georgia border, Hilton Head Island – an upscale beach resort – merges the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge with the southern coastline. Vacationers unwind on the flat beaches of Coligny and Alder, play tennis and golf or navigate 50 miles of bike pathways. Lowcountry eateries serve regional specialties like beer boiled shrimp and seafood gumbo.
Through the rolling hills and clay soil of the Upstate, outdoor activity abounds. At the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Table Rock State Park encompasses 3,000 acres of mountain trails, streams, waterfalls and campgrounds.