After a family vote, we determined our top 10 South Carolina county visits. While we all generally agreed on a top ten, we had some differences in opinion regarding the rank of the top ten. It’s fun to hear the way the girls reflect on each stop and what was meaningful to them. For a couple of these top ten, we had to break a tie. So, here is our family’s Top Ten Counties of South Carolina with a special memory from one of us!
10. Chesterfield, Sugarloaf Mountain
Bryan- We had a good mix of natural and human attractions during our tour of South Carolina counties and Sugarloaf mountain in Chesterfield was one of my favorite natural sites. Chesterfield is in the PeeDee region, is very rural, and the landscape is pretty flat. For that reason, Sugarloaf was very unique and surprising to us upon arrival. You drive for a long time into what seems like a pretty remote area full of sandy pine forests and then, standing alone and rising from the trees is this steep hill made of rock. The geologic history of the area is that this area used to be the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and these rocks remain from that time. It’s an easy walk to the top for families and there is a good view of the area from there. After we walked back down, we followed a few other trails through the woods and let the girls roam around. Because of the curiosity that this strange geologic feature inspires, and because of the excitement of seeing a wolf crossing the path on the way in, I chose Sugarloaf Mountain in Chesterfield county as one of my top ten county stops.
9. McCormick, Heritage Gold Mine
Laura-We almost did not take the “tour” of this old goldmine located in McCormick and just stuck to the gem mining that is offered right of the road. I’m so glad we decided to walk down to the mine. This made my top list because I was so surprised, actually shocked, that they actually took you into this old tunnel that was blocked by an old gate. I’m claustrophobic, so the fact that I made it into the tunnel to the end was a feat. I kept turning around looking for the light at the end and expecting the rocks to tumble down. Luckily, they didn’t and we had a fun exploring this mine from 1852.
8. Hampton, Watermelon Festival
Avery- In Hampton we entered a watermelon craft contest. For my entry, I entered a clothespin wreath made out of a wire wreath and we painted clothespin like tiny watermelons. Then we put it together. We took the wire wreath and the tiny watermelons and sniped them on the wire. Then we made Leslie’s craft. We made a bowl. At the festival, the outside fountain had turned red and we ate watermelon and I won the contest! Leslie was second.
7. Greenwood, Emerald Farms
Leslie- We got to ride on a miniature train. We saw a little house and saw goats and peacocks. We collected peacock feathers and they are in our house today. We also got to see a model train.
6. Lexington, Peachtree Rock
Bryan- I chose Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in Lexington County for my TopTen list for several reasons. I prefer the natural attractions of our state to the human ones in general, and this spot is definitely a unique site. Similar to the geologic history of Sugarloaf Mountain, the seemingly out-of-place rock formations found here are evidence of our ancient coastline with the Atlantic Ocean in a part of the state that is currently 100 miles from the present coastline! There is even a waterfall here, the only natural one found in the Midlands. I also have fond memories of visiting here when I was a kid and enjoying the trails on which to run and boulders on which to climb. On a more personal level, I especially enjoyed this trip because I had finally gotten over some allergy issues that had been dragging me down for weeks and on this day I felt really good for the first time in a while! Finally, I’ll always remember Avery’s excitement when she found out while walking on the trails here that she had been selected for a role in an upcoming musical back in Beaufort. It was a special moment and a very enjoyable afternoon.
5. Kershaw, Goat Daddy’s Farm
Bryan- Goat Daddy’s Farm was one of our first stops on our tour of the state and I was impressed with how the owners had set up the facility to welcome guests. While it was still a working farm, we learned over the coming months that many farms across the state have made these adjustments to try to create an additional income stream. The day we were here, there was live music being played and craft beers to enjoy. There was a really nice mix of animals for the girls to see and interact with, including peacocks, emus, horses, pigs, tortoises, birds, and, of course, lots of goats. The grounds were well kept and centered around a new building where they sold a variety of food products made from goat milk and other merchandise with the Goat Daddy logo. I enjoyed the day because of the atmosphere and how entertaining the goats were to watch.
4. Darlington, Darlington Raceway
Laura- Based on the experience that we had at the raceway, this stop made the top of the TopTen list. We entered the infield through the haulers entrance (which I later ran back through) and made our way to pit row. I picked up my bib for the Terrance Carraway 5k and as the sunset, the bright lights came on and the race began. While I ran the race, the girls and Bryan were able to walk around the track and experience the huge incline. It was such a nice cool night to run and an unique experience to run on the track that cars typically speed around at 150+ mph. As I crossed the finish line, I had all three girls running toward me with huge hug! I actually placed first place in my age group making this an extra memorable night!
3. Marlboro, McArthur Farms
Leslie- At McArthur Farms we got to ride on a cow train and we went through a corn maze, and I found the exit first. We got to swing in a pipe swing and play in a corn pit. I liked the corn pit very much and even got the corn in my shoes. I enjoyed it and we got to ride on little tractors, not real ones.
2. Orangeburg, Teapot Museum
Avery-We went to a Teapot Museum. First, we had a scavenger hunt for teapots and there was a garden of teapots with beautiful flower teapots and pumpkins. After that are mom and dad let us have a tea party. The teapot museum keepers gave us strawberry’s dipped in chocolate and mandarin oranges dipped in chocolate too! We got to dress up; here is a picture of it. It was the happiest time of the county tour for me!
1. Georgetown, Atalaya Castle
Laura-And finally, our number one vote for the top county visit in South Carolina is Georgetown County!! It was a rather close vote between Orange burg and Georgetown. This county visit included a couple different stops. We visited Atayla Castle in Huntington State Park. Once again our state park pass came in handy. Not only did we enjoy learning about Anna Huntington and the story about her and her famous artwork, but we also had fun exploring the maze of Atalaya Castle. There were actually bear cages on the homestead that kept bears for Anna to sculpt. The “castle” is located right off the beach entrance so we were able to walk along the beach and visit the campgrounds, which we hope to camp at soon. We also had a special treat of visiting an old friend in the county!
So, that is it, the county tour is complete and our top 10 visits documented. Excited to start brainstorming our next family adventure! Any suggestions????
Our visit to the final four counties took place a couple weekends ago. We took a day trip from Beaufort through Calhoun, Orangeburg, Bamberg, and Allendale. It was an exciting trip knowing that we were completing our goal!!
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Point of Interest: Calhoun Country Market
We arrived in Calhoun County in St. Matthews, SC in the morning and stopped at the Calhoun Country Market. This small roadside cafe featured coffee, breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, and an extra treat of Clemson ice cream. Apparently, they now package Clemson ice cream in individual sized servings which Avery promptly took advantage of! In addition to the ice cream, there were many other South Carolina made goodies including jams, nuts, and honey. Leslie indulged with a strawberry smoothie and I ordered a delicious pimento cheese and bacon sandwich. We enjoyed this quaint spot and talking with the owner as he fixed our snacks. On our way out, he graciously allowed the girls to pick out an Easter stuffed animal to take with them.
Point of Interest: Teapot Museum
We had no idea what a treat we were in for when we drove up to the Teapot Museum in Orangeburg. This was well worth the stop and most likely a place we will go back to with friends. We decided to do the whole experience at the museum which included the tour and the tea. I will admit that I was concerned going into the this place with kids and could imagine the damage they could do to the fragile items that surrounded them. To my surprise, kids were very welcomed by the staff and we did not have any mishaps! We first took the tour of over 5000 teapots, all divided up in different areas associated with a theme (Christmas, kids, Noah’s ark, garden, etc.) The girls were given a scavenger hunt to find 12 specific teapots.
After completing the scavenger hunt, we headed out for our tea and treats. The treats included a two-tier tray that was filled with shortbread cookies, chocolate covered strawberries and mandarin oranges, teapot shaped scones and accompanied with a lemon spread, honey, and strawberry spread. The girls were allowed to drink out of real teacups and served raspberry tea. It was all so elegant and the sweet ladies made them feel so special! They also had a collection of hats that they could wear while having tea. We enjoyed every part of this experience. While we were having our tea, a bunch of ladies were having their Red Hat Society meeting which was fun to witness. In addition to the hats, they also had dress up clothes that the girls had fun with trying on. I cannot say enough about this cute little teahouse and the experience it provides to little ones!!
The UFO welcome center is also located in Orangeburg, While we did not actually make a stop here, we did drive by and took a picture of this odd roadside attraction!
Point of Interest: Rivers Bridge State Historic Site
Rivers Bridge State Historic Site makes the list of one of the many state parks that we visited on our county tour. The park features a battlefield walk that loops around and alongside the swamp. This park is the only park in the state park system that is home to a former battlefield. This battle was an attempt to deter General Sherman and his Union army on their march to Atlanta. Many of the soldiers that fought here were seasoned veterans, knew the land well, and were great survivalists. Some of the manuevering and fighting took place in cold swamp water as high as their chests, as the Confederate army guarded three bridges that provided passage through this area.
In addition to the battlefield loop, another section of the park is a memorial to all the fallen soldiers. There is a picture depiction of the soldiers and the wounds and hardships they incurred during this battle next to the memorial site. This is not a very highly visited state park, as we were the only one’s visiting on a Saturday but the park does host some different events that I wish were going on while we were there including “Dog Tent,” “Coffee and Cake,” and “Hardtack and Coffee.”
Point of Interest: Lower Savannah River Alliance Greenway
We wrapped up our last county visit in Allendale along the Lower Savannah River Alliance Greenway. In order to get to the greenway, we drove past USC Salkehatchie, one of the four USC regional campuses. We arrived at the greenway and stopped at the “Obstacle Course” to play. Unfortunately, this course had not been well maintained and was falling apart and had nails sticking out of parts of the wood. Despite a little bit of a disappointment, the girls found some equipment to play on and we officially finished our county tour that started 9 months ago!
Stay tuned for a highlights post on some of the most memorable counties as we reflect on some of our favorites!
I have found the Agritourism Farm website really helpful when visiting different counties to check out some local products and farm experiences. There are over 430 farms across the state on this site that then will link you to the farm website or facebook page. We planned to wrap up the end of our day at one of the farms in Chester county that I had found, Fishing Creek Creamery. I had hoped to try some of their products, especially the goat cheese. Unfortunately, the farm store was closed but we still got to take a peek at the goats and pig. Since we had a little extra time before it was going to get dark, we drove to Landsford Canal State Park. This park is alongside the Catawba River and has the remains of a commercial canal system used in the 1800’s. The park is also home to the largest stand of rock shoals spider lilies. They bloom in May and June so it might be worth the trip back to check them out. On our visit, the river was extremely high. The kids burned off some energy at the playground before ending out day!
Point of Interest: Andrew Jackson State Park
Our next day began in visiting Andrew Jackson State Park in Lancaster County. Our state park pass came in handy this weekend since this was the third state park we visited within the total of seven counties that we “toured” during the weekend. The park is the homeplace of our 7th president, Andrew Jackson. We walked around the park to the school house, the outdoor amphitheater and drove through the campground.
Avery made an extra special connection to this park with our visit to Atalaya Castle in Georgetown. Anna Huntington, the sculptor who lived at Atalaya sculpted the statue of Andrew Jackson named “The Boy of the Waxhaws” which is featured in the park. It was very impressive to see her make this connection and gives hope to me that they may remember some of what they seeing!!
Point of Interest: Sugarloaf Mountain
Our stop in Chesterfield county was Sugarloaf Mountain located in Patrick, SC near the Sandhill area of the state. As we entered the park, we drove along a dirt road with pine tree lining each side and we’re greeted by a coyote crossing the road in front of us. Sugarloaf Mountain is an unusual pile of sand that rises up 100 feet. Similarly to our earlier stop in Lexington county at Peachtree Rock, this part of the state was once covered by the ocean and created an interesting geological formation of sand and lava rocks.
We were the only people visiting at the time and girls had fun climbing on the rocks and looking out at the vast forests below.
At the conclusion of this weekend, we officially marked off 42 counties and only have 4 to go before completing our goal of visiting all 46 counties in the state of South Carolina!! Last on the list are Orangeburg, Calhoun, Allendale and Bamberg.
We are wrapping up our county tour and knocked out seven counties this past weekend. There was lots of driving involved to get to these counties. The visits were generally characterized by interesting geological formations and history lessons. This post will highlight the first four that we visited.
Point of Interest: Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve
The Peachtree Rock is a large rock that was created by the Atlantic Ocean when the coastline was in the Midlands. The bottom portion of the rock eroded more quickly creating a triangle rock that balanced on its tip. It has since fallen over in 2013 and now sits on its side. Within a few feet of the rock is the midlands only natural waterfall.
The trail was well kept and easy for all three girls to hike on. Avery and Leslie especially enjoyed exploring the large rocks around the falls and wanted to keep walking the trails that went toward the back on the park.
Point of Interest: Brown’s Mountain in Kings Mountain National Military Park
Kings Mountain National Military Park covers three counties and is located in two states. Brown’s Mountain is part of Cherokee County. We checked out the visitor center and learned that there are only two Revolutionary War National Battlefield Parks in the country. The visitor center was impressive with a large theater and museum. We decided to hike the 1.5 mile trail. The trail lead us through the woods with different monuments and plaques describing the battle that took place many years ago. There were two very large monuments, one of which looked like a mini Washington Monument along the way. This stop was a great history lesson! Plus, the girls were able to stamp their handmade passport books with the “official” park stamp.
Point of Interest: Hereford Hills Ranch
This county was a little bit of a disappointment since our planned stop was closed for renovations. The Hereford Hills Ranch is a cattle farm that raises grass feed cattle on a rotating pasture to ensure they are always well feed. They also advertise a distillery. When we drove up we were greeted by many large, loud dogs and informed they were closed. So we continued on our “tour” to the next county to meet up with some friends. Had we had more time, we might have visited the Piedmont Physics Garden.
Point of Interest: South Carolina Railroad Museum
We were fortunate to have some old friends join us on our visit to Fairfield County. We met our friends at The South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Actual train rides are offered throughout the summer months, as well as special themed rides (Easter Bunny, Santa, Valentines). We toured one of the trains which was set up as a passenger train. The kids enjoyed peaking into the different rooms and running down the narrow hallways. We had an extra treat of being allowed to checkout the double decker train that was getting ready for a special Valentine’s train ride that evening. In the museum, they had a great kids area that the girls could color, build with blocks, and stamp their papers with a train stamp.
The next three counties visited during this weekend where Chester, Lancaster, and Chesterfield which will be in part two of this post!
This post consists of three eastern counties in South Carolina. We actually visited Horry County about seven month ago, but I have yet to add it to a post, so it seemed fitting to add it to this post. Getting close to the finish with 11 counties left!
Atalaya Castle is located in the Huntington State Park. “Atalaya” which means watchtower in Spanish, was the winter residence to Anna and Archer Huntington, built in the 1930’s. The brick house is made up of 30 rooms with two large inner courtyards. Anna Huntington was a famous sculptor and kept live animals such as bears onsite to sculpt them. Her sculptors are featured in Brookgreen Gardens, located across the street from Huntington State Park. We toured the house, which was rather fascinating with all the different rooms and narrow hallways and large grassy courtyards for the girls to run through. It was a fun adventure for Avery and Leslie to be able to wind their way through the house and read the signs located in each room telling it’s purpose. After visiting the “castle”, we checked out the playground and the beach. Leslie and Hunter collected a couple shells and we headed back out towards the town of Georgetown. As we drove back out of the park, we circled around one of the camp sites and are beginning to make future plans to head back to camp at the state park.
Our next stop in Georgetown was to meet up with an old friend who was my roomate while in graduate school and a bridesmaid in our wedding. We had a quick visit with her and two of her children at the Old Georgetown Creamery. Downtown Georgetown was also one of our first stops when living on All In and we drove by the marina we stayed for a few nights.
Point of Interest: Old Santee Canal Park
We were lucky to find an event going on in Berkeley during the time we planned to visit, so we headed to Park After Dark at the Old Santee Canal Park. Old Santee Canal Park is home of the first true canal in the United States and construction site for the first semi-submersible torpedo boat, the CSS Little David. In addition to the food trucks, bouncy house, and marshmallow roasting, the large Interpretive Center housed numerous exhibits and activities for the kids. I was surprised how large this building actually was with room after room of exhibits, many of them being hands on, perfect for the kids! Also the entrance way to the Interpretative Center was so unique with water on either side, like a canal and water running down the brick walls on the sides. A large boardwalk was outback and multiple theaters throughout the building.
An added bonus to this stop was a visit with Uncle Chris and Aunt Rachel at the end of the night!
Point of Interest: The Grand Strand
We spent a week with family at a hotel on the beach in Horry County back in July, but I never had a chance to write about our experience. As most know, Horry County has miles and miles of beaches known as the Grand Strand. This is a major tourist and golfing destination. We stayed away from the typical tourist traps in this area and spent most the time enjoying the beach with family. We did venture out a couple times for a night at the an Escape Room and a day on the ropes course.