Fill your senses with sun, sand, and surf this month by heading to the gorgeous southern coast of South Carolina and the historic city of Savannah, Georgia. Nestled between Interstate 95 and the Atlantic coast, this is some of the most enchanting terrain youíll find anywhere. With its rich culture, complex history, and incredible natural beauty, youíre sure to fall in love with this part of the country. Weíve designed a travel route that will take you from the brick-lined streets of Savannah to charming Beaufort, Hunting Island State Park, and to the acclaimed resort of Hilton Head Island.
Start your tour in beautiful Savannah, a city thatís been known for its Southern hospitality since 1733. This hip and happening city offer excellent golfing, carriage rides through historic neighborhoods, fantastic shopping, and outdoor adventures like dolphin cruises, fishing charters, and the Oatland Island Education Center. You can visit the Meinhardt Vineyards & Winery to sample the vintages, meander through the gorgeous Chatham County Garden Center & Botanical Gardens, or rent a kayak for a day on the water.
Savannah is known for casino boat cruises that let you enjoy gaming, dining, and dancing while you sail the nighttime waters. Try the Emerald Princess Dinner Cruise and Casino or the Diamond Casino. You can learn more about this stunning cityís past at the Georgia Historical Society museum or the Coastal Heritage Society museum. And for a day at the beach, head eighteen miles east of Savannah to 3-mile-long Tybee Island. Youíll find a lively pier, historic lighthouse, miles of strolling space, and beautiful beaches beside the surf.
For a nice side trip, visit the Fort Pulaski National Monument, the site of an important battle in April 1862. You can follow a guided tour, see re-enacted musket firings, and view living history displays. The volunteers will even demonstrate firing the fortís famous rifled cannons. The fort is set on Cockspur Island and includes more than 5,000 acres of hiking trails, coastal marsh, and wildlife viewing areas. Take a walk to the romantic lighthouse, go fishing along the Savannah River, or watch for birds like the white ibis, oriole, kingfisher, and colorful painted bunting.
From Savannah, take Highway 170 northeast to popular Beaufort and St. Helena Island. Known as the ìQueen of the Carolina Sea Islands,î Beaufort offers waterfront shopping, quaint charm, and historic homes. Youíll also find phenomenal golfing and dining, plus historic forts and museums. Pay a visit to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island or visit the Port Royal boardwalk for its incredible views and arts culture.
Leaving from Beaufort, you can make an easy jaunt to 5,000-acre Hunting Island State Park, an amazing place to watch for wildlife. Tour the sands looking for loggerhead sea turtles and sea horses, or head to the marshes for alligators, pelicans, and buntings. Dolphins swim off the five-mile-long beach, playing near the fishing pier and tidal creeks. You can spend your time fishing in the lagoon, creek, or surf, or go boating in the warm sunshine. The park has horse trails, a playground, hiking and biking trails, and a Nature Center.
After youíve toured Beaufort and Hunting Island, head south to nearby Bluffton with its moss-shaded streets and ante-bellum homes. Bluffton offers excellent golfing, year-round sunshine, and shopping in the outlet malls, boutique shops, and specialty stores. This unique South Carolina city is also home to Real Wasabi, an organic farm that specializes in this zingy-hot condiment that is surprisingly good for your health. If you havenít tried wasabi before, stop by and take a taste of the good stuff!
Wrap up your visit to South Carolina with a stop at Hilton Head, the famous golfing and vacationing resort area. Hilton Head Island offers quiet beaches, golf tournaments, tennis, lighthouse tours, and turtle viewing. You can take the kids to play at the Coastal Discovery Museum or the Sandbox, a hands-on interactive museum. Youíll find laser tag and bumper cars at Adventure Cove, water-skiing and snorkeling on the coast, and plenty of art galleries and theater events. Take a dolphin watching cruise, go kayaking around the inlets, or take part in one of the islandís many fairs and festivals.
From the old-world charm of Savannah to the golf courses of Hilton Head, youíll find a special kind of beauty on the southern coast of South Carolina. On your next camping vacation, be sure to let time slow down to a quiet rhythm while you settle back and relax, beach-style.