Historic Charleston, Carolina Islands and South Carolina National Parks
South Carolina's lowlands are a perfect destination for travelers looking to combine the hospitality of a beautiful southern city and the adventure of the outdoors. The city of Charleston is a great start or end point for a South Carolina road trip. You will find that this region of South Carolina has attractions to easily fill several weeks of vacation. This road trip combines a bit of everything for the adventurous traveler.
Start your trip east of Charleston to explore some of South Carolina's beautiful barrier islands. As you explore the many and diverse islands you will see that each island is unique and some are developed giving visitors a wonderful resort experience while others remain in their natural state.
Isle of Palms is an excellent destination to start a relaxing road trip. This barrier island has it all. You can enjoy the resort experience at the Wild Dunes Resort. While there you can enjoy the historic charm of the town, spend time on the beautiful beaches, and more. Not only are the beaches, resort and golf courses excellent, but Isle of Palms is also a good place to experience an open sea fishing experience.
The Capers Island Heritage Preserve is one undeveloped barrier island well worth the visit. Just a few miles north of Charleston and only three miles off of the mainland, this island has beaches, maritime uplands, salt marsh and more. While hiking and exploring the island you may see a wide variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, alligators and even loggerhead sea turtles. McCaskill Trail is a great expedition for birders and hikers alike, from this trail you may observe an amazing variety of birds, including ibises, herons, egrets and more.
North of Capers Island is the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, which covers over 60,000 acres and offers visitors an amazing opportunity to see wild and undeveloped beaches and barrier island habitats. You take a short ferry ride through the salt marsh creeks, providing excellent dolphin watching, to reach Bull Island. Upon reaching Bull Island you can hike on the islands trails. Bull Island's trails travel through maritime forests and allow you to see some amazing coastal species. One attraction not to be missed on a visit to Bull Island is "Boneyard Beach," which was named for the dead trees lining the beach.
East of Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge on the mainland, visitors can stop and enjoy some wilderness exploration and recreation at the Francis Marion National Forest. This forest preserves the South Carolina wilderness, with swamps, marshes, bald cypress trees, pine stands and more. It is home to many different types of wildlife, including some endangered species. The Francis Marion National Forest is an excellent spot to enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing and much more.
After visiting the Francis Marion National Forest, continue north toward the Congaree National Forest. Just to the north of the Francis Marion National Park, you can stop for some freshwater recreation at Lake Moultrie. This lake is a manmade lake and is one of the larger lakes in the state. Visitors will find that this is an excellent spot for fishing, with varying conditions that offer habitat for many different species of fish including catfish, crappie and more. Lake Moultrie is also excellent habitat for alligators like much of the state.
As your road trip continues on you might also want to stop at Santee State Park, located on the shores of Lake Marion. Like Lake Moultrie, Lake Marion is an excellent spot to enjoy some fishing. Santee State Park also offers cabins on the lake, and many opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, camping and more.
Congaree National Park is an absolutely amazing place to discover the natural wonder of South Carolina. The Park preserves the largest remaining old-growth floodplain forest on the continent. You will find that Congaree National Park has an amazing array of trail, both for hiking and canoeing. Each of these trails will give you a chance to experience the beauty of the wilderness. You will also find that the Park also offers ranger guided hiking and canoeing tours. While recreating in the park you can see this unique ecosystem that once covered a large part of the southeastern US. Today the park has pines in the uplands and bald cypress and water tupelo in the lowlands.
After exploring the unique wilderness at Congaree National Park you can start your journey back southeast to Charleston to finish out your road trip with some relaxation in the historic city. You will find that Charleston is filled with attractions, fine dining, and much more.
While spending time in Charleston you should be sure to visit the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. These beautiful gardens and the plantation have a long history. The gardens are open year-round and are in bloom year-round. Boone Hall Plantation is another worthy attraction in Charleston. Visitors to Boone Hall can take tours of the house, the gardens, and much more.
Charleston is also an excellent city to enjoy live theater and music performances. The city also has a wide range of art exhibits. Throughout the city you will find all sort of activities and attractions, while also providing a relaxing end to your road trip. After spending time recreating in some of South Carolina's most beautiful wildness, Charleston presents a great relaxing, historic, and fun finish to your amazing South Carolina road trip.