Exploring South Carolina: Road Trips in the Palmetto State

By Kimberly Graf. Published on February 16, 2024

South Carolina is a great place to visit because the people are really nice, and there is so much to look at! Our two trips will take us through some out-of-the-way sights, but also some natural wonders in this great state. Let's get started!

South Carolina's Natural Wonders

We'll start at Forty Acre Rock, a huge natural preserve with colorful plant growths and tons of hiking opportunities. The main draw is a huge rock that you are able to hike across, from which you can see all of the surrounding scenery. There are waterfalls and all types of hidden places that you can explore from the hiking trails. Take your time here, and when you're finished, head on to Congaree National Park.

Congaree: Knee-Deep in Nature

It's almost two hours away, but Congaree and points beyond are definitely worth the drive. Congaree itself is an amazing and well-preserved site. It contains the largest bottomland hardwood forest in the United States that is considered to be 'old growth'. There are plenty of trails here, most of which are marked off on boardwalks. Make sure that you walk at least a little ways down these trails to experience this almost-extinct ecosystem!

Next on our list is the Angel Oak Park. It's just over two hours south. Speaking of old trees, this tree is, quite literally, the oldest! The Angel Oak has some limbs that are as long as 187 feet, and some people believe that the tree is the oldest living thing on the east coast. That's pretty amazing! Take a look and some pictures with this amazing piece of greenery before moving on.

The last stop on our list is Botany Bay. It's another hour away, and it's a wildlife management plantation on Edisto Island. There is a lot of interesting history and old plantation houses to be found here, but what really draws people is the beautiful views! It's a beautifully scenic location, and when the tide is high, you can catch some absolutely beautiful views. Bring your camera!

Out-of-the-Way Sights

South Carolina also boasts a lot of hidden places and things that you wouldn't necessarily know to look for. Let's take a trip to some of them! This trip will take you a total of 5 hours and 30 minutes of drive time, so it might be a good weekend trip!

Hunting Island State Park

Our first stop is the Hunting Island State Park. It boasts a lighthouse that is open to the public, which most of South Carolina's lighthouses aren't. There's also a semitropical barrier island out in the sea that draws a lot of visitors for its unique climate.

When you're finished there, It's 33 miles to the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church. This Georgian-style church was burned down in the Revolutionary War, only to be rebuilt some fifty years later. Then, during the Civil War, it was burned down again by General Sherman's regiment, as a type of warfare that he excelled in. The church was gutted to rebuild homes that were also burned down.

Today, only the ruins remain, along with several graves that have been there since the second burning of the church. It's a beautifully haunting place to go and observe – the foundation of this building was, after all, built in 1745.

UFO Welcome Center

Our next stop is a roadside attraction – the UFO Welcome Center an hour away in Bowman. If you come during a certain time, you can even meet the person who put time and effort into building it. This structure looks like a flying saucer with a smaller one up top. It's for sure a unique place to stop and examine, and take pictures with!

You're probably getting hungry. If you aren't quite there yet, good news! Our lunch stop is 122 miles away in Laurens, South Carolina. This Giant Burger restaurant has been in operation since it opened in 1957. It's gotta be good, right? So head in and get some food before heading on to our last two stops.

Liberty Bridge in Falls Park, Greensville, South Carolina

Next, we're headed to the Liberty Bridge at Falls Park. It's an engineering marvel, but more than that – it's gorgeous! This bridge is over a football field long and curves invitingly around and above waterfalls. You can look over the edge to get some truly unique views. It's the only bridge of its kind in the country!

And when you're finished marveling at that, head another 38 miles down the road to the Fred W Simmons chapel. You might want to stay in the area and head out here first thing in the morning, so you can catch the gorgeous views. It's a chapel built into the side of a mountain, and behind the altar is an open wall. Services like weddings and other religious observances are held here by request, against this beautiful backdrop of mountains and wilderness. It doesn't get much better!

So next time you're in the area, check out some of South Carolina's best and brightest attractions or sights. You won't want to miss it!


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