Whether you're looking for a new place to put down roots, craving an adventure-filled trip, or looking for a family-friendly vacation destination, South Carolina delivers more than enough options.
Upstate South Carolina
Comprising 10 counties, South Carolina's Upstate region is home to approximately 1.34 million residents.
The region is located two hours from both Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., making it an ideal location for companies to expand or relocate. The area's many downtown districts are also attracting new businesses, thanks to recent improvements.
“Downtown areas in almost all Upstate cities have gone through revitalization,” says Hal Johnson, president and CEO of the Upstate SC Alliance. “These areas are attracting restaurants, boutiques, pubs and more. There's been an incredible resurgence.”
The region also offers opportunities for outdoor recreation. Lake Hartwell, located near Anderson, features fishing and boating, while Sadlers Creek State Park, on a peninsula that extends into the lake, provides 37 lakefront campground sites.
Whitewater rafting is available at the Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River, which features Class IV and V rapids.
Central South Carolina
South Carolina's central region is home to an expansive array of outdoor attractions, such as Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Congaree National Park, Harbison State Forest, Sesquicentennial State Park, Dreher Island State Park, Sumter National Monument and Hickory Knob State Resort Park.
Mike Briggs, president of Central SC regional development authority, says Lake Murray is the most popular vacation spot in the region. The 50,000-acre lake offers 525 miles of shoreline and features the Purple Martin Sanctuary at Doolittle Island.
“On summer evenings, boats gather at dusk to watch the spectacle of thousands of purple martins coming to roost,” Briggs says.
Another popular attraction is Aiken State Park, which includes the South Edisto River, where visitors may enjoy canoeing and fishing. Camping is also available.
Charleston offers a variety of activities, cultural amenities and attractions perfect for the whole family. The area features more than 90 miles of coastline, providing opportunities for sailing, boating, swimming and surfing.
“Life in Charleston revolves around the water,” says David Ginn, president and CEO of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance.
Charleston's historical attractions, such as the Aiken-Rhett House and the Edmondston-Alston House, draw tourists and residents alike. Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark, features the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States, while at Charles Towne Landing visitors can see what local life was like in 1670.
The area also offers more than 20 championship golf courses, including The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The course, named “the toughest course in America” by Golf Digest, will host the 2012 PGA Championship.
Along the Coast
Hilton Head Island, the largest sea island between New Jersey and Florida, keeps golfers entertained. The Harbour Town Golf Links at Sea Pines Resort has hosted the RBC Heritage, a PGA Tour event, for more than 40 years. The Jack Nicklaus Course at Colleton River was named one of the top 100 greatest courses in the U.S. by Golf Magazine.
The island is also known for hosting the Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival, one of the largest tented wine festivals on the East Coast.
Another popular coastal spot, Myrtle Beach, which scored the No. 3 spot on TripAdvisor's list of the top 10 beach destinations in the United States, based on travelers' reviews. The family-friendly area features 60 miles of beaches, amusement and water parks as well as abundant shopping and golf.