Congaree National Park
Known primarily for its magnificent hardwoods and soaring pines, an astonishing biodiversity exists in Congaree National Park. As the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States, the park’s floodplain forest features one of the highest canopies in the world and some of the tallest trees in the eastern United States.
Fort Sumter will forever hold a place of importance in American history as the launch point for the Civil War, the bloodiest and most divisive conflict in our nation’s history. A visit to Fort Sumter evokes a range of emotions as you reflect upon the noble ideals, political turmoil, sacrifice and suffering it represents.
Taste of Charleston
The three-day Taste of Charleston takes place in late September. The event begins with an Iron Chef-style competition pitting local chefs in a head-to-head battle in the kitchen. The second day features a singer/songwriter showcase. The final day is highlighted by the Main Event where more that 50 of the area’s favorite restaurants gather to serve attendees sample size portions of their most popular dishes. The Main Event also includes live music, a beer tasting tent, the legendary Waiters’ Race and the Kids Kitchen Sideshow.
Congaree Bluegrass Festival
The Congaree Bluegrass Festival is held on the first Saturday in October at Granby Gardens Park. The free festival is very family friendly. It features bluegrass performances, tours of the Cayce Historical Museum, a popular festival food, youth-oriented activities and a children’s play area.
The Beaufort Shrimp Festival
The Beaufort Shrimp Festival is held annually the first weekend of October. Enjoy free admission and delicious South Carolina wild fresh shrimp. The event also includes live entertainment, a 5K walk/run, a popcorn run, an arts and crafts market, children’s activities, a restaurant competition, an adult shrimp heading competition and a kid’s shrimp peeling competition.
Fort Sumter Iris Festival
Fort Sumter’s Iris Festival is South Carolina’s oldest continuous festival and has been featured in Southern Living magazine. The three-day festival held over the Memorial Day Weekend includes concerts, an arts and crafts show, a flower show, a quilt show, car shows, and a number of contests and children’s activities. The event kicks off the evening prior with the crowning of the festival’s King and Queen followed by the Taste at the Gardens, where revelers enjoy live music and tasty delights from some of the area’s leading restaurants and caterers.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
More than 2,000 animals call the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden home. The 170-acre site boasts natural habitat exhibits, scenic views, historical landmarks, a magnificent garden and more. Enrichment programs, special feedings and interactive experiences also are offered. With ties dating back to the early 1800s and a spot on the National Register of Historical Places, Riverbanks features structural remains of important buildings that reveal a rich past.
The Center for Birds of Prey
Who hasn’t marveled at the sight of a hawk in flight? Or an owl singing its nighttime song? The Center for Birds of Prey offers flight demonstrations, tours, an extensive exhibit area and the unique Owl Wood where visitors can experience these beautiful creatures in a refined and tranquil setting. The Center also features open flying fields where resident birds including nearly 50 species of eagles, falcons, hawks, owls, vultures and other raptors will amaze visitors as they swoop, soar, glide and dive.
Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve
The Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve is a stunning property once home to two well-known plantations. Left undisturbed, it provides a habitat for a wide range of wildlife species. Erosion on the beach itself has left a “boneyard” of dead trees in the sand and because shell collecting is prohibited, the beach is filled with shells of every shape and size. Visitors are invited to walk the shoreline, hike its trails or take a driving tour.
Kings Mountain National Military Park
The Battle of Kings Mountain conducted on the border between North Carolina and South Carolina was a pivotal one. In fact, Thomas Jefferson called it “The turn of the tide of success” as American Patriots pushed back the Loyalists to secure an important victory during the Revolutionary War. Today, a one-and-a-half mile paved trail leads from the visitor’s center around the base of the mountain along the Patriot lines and ascends to the crest where the Loyalists were positioned. The trail passes several monuments, large and small, the earliest dating from 1815, giving a good sense of the battleground.
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum
Patriots Point is home not only to Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum but also a fleet of National Historic Landmark ships, Cold War Memorial and the only Vietnam Support Base Camp in the United States. It also is the location of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and the agency’s Medal of Honor Museum. The noted World War II aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, is the centerpiece of the museum and draws more than 270,000 visitors each year.
Coastal Discovery Museum
There is so much to see and do at the Coastal Discovery Museum, you may need more than a day to explore it all. The Karen Wertheimer Butterfly Enclosure is a greenhouse garden populated with native butterflies from May to October. The exhibit is filled with plants and informational panels where visitors can learn about the four stages of a butterfly’s life. The Carnivorous Plants Bog Garden displays three different kinds of insect-eating plants. The Heritage Garden features more than 30 plant species that have historical relevance to the Lowcountry while the Camellia Garden showcases more than 120 varieties of Camellia plants. The property also features several historic buildings including the Discovery House, the Supervisor’s House, the Pole Barn and the Horse Barn.