South Carolina's Historic Cities
By Renan Leahy
Between the sea and the mountains, in the heart of the south-eastern United States, South Carolina parades a colorful history that becomes even more special with the warm receptivity of its residents. Each place has its own identity, but all are equally welcoming. Just come and feel at ease!
History and Southern Charm in Charleston
The historic city of Charleston will delight you with the horse-drawn carriages that take you for a ride into the past, crossing cobblestone streets and antebellum homes. Along the waterfront promenade, discover the series of colorful, historic homes known as Rainbow Row. Be sure to visit Fort Sumter, the site where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. There are also a number of plantations around the city that survived the American Civil War.
I highly recommend taking a walking tour through the historic district and downtown. You’ll get so much more information and perspective on what you see throughout the area when you’re guided by a local expert. Everything in Charleston is so uniquely beautiful that it still lives in my memory (and in the dozens of pictures I took).
The State Capital, Columbia
Away from the coast, Columbia, the state capital, brings together several historical and cultural attractions. Visit the South Carolina State Museum, the largest museum in the south-eastern United States, which is housed in a circa-1894 textile mill. The impressive South Carolina Statehouse, a splendid example of 18th-century architecture, offers free guided tours of the seat of South Carolina’s government. Look for the stars on the outside of the building – those mark where General Sherman’s cannons attempted to destroy it. Other great historic sites to visit include the beautiful gardens of the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, the Robert Mills House and Garden (he designed the Washington Monument) and the Woodrow Wilson Family Home.
Camden’s Historical War Sites
Another must-visit is the small town of Camden, the oldest inland city in South Carolina and the site of two American Revolutionary War battles. The Battle of Camden in 1780 was the worst defeat of American troops during the Revolutionary War. Along the Palmetto Trail, you can read informational signs on a two-mile tour to view this historic battle site. History buffs should also visit the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site. This outdoor museum complex focuses on the Colonial and Revolutionary eras of Camden with several 18th- and 19th-century structures, hiking and nature trails, and a Quaker cemetery.
Nature and Fun in Greenville
To wrap it up, include in your South Carolina itinerary a trip to Greenville, a city full of possibilities at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the larger Appalachian Mountains. It’s the perfect backdrop for walks along beautiful trails and many adventures. Two favorite spots for great photo ops are the Poinsett Bridge, the state’s oldest bridge with a distinctive Gothic arch, and Campbell’s Covered Bridge, South Carolina’s last remaining covered bridge painted a signature barn red.
The friendly South Carolinians are waiting for you. Come enjoy a complete vacation!