Pee Dee Weekend (Part Two) Florence, Marion, Williamsburg

Saturday , 11, January 2020 Comments Off on Pee Dee Weekend (Part Two) Florence, Marion, Williamsburg

We finished off our weekend stopping at places in three other counties. I also decided to throw Anderson County into this post since we checked it off the a couple weeks later.

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Point of Interest: Pecan Festival

It was exciting to find a festival happening in Florence during the weekend we planned to visit. We were looking forward to trying out different pecan related products, but unfortunately the Pecan Festival did not live up to this expectation. It was located in downtown Florence and spanned a number of blocks, but featured more of the food you would find at a County Fair. I actually never even saw a place to you could try pecan related food. The girls enjoyed watching a few of the dance performance that were scattered through the blocks of booths of food and items that people were selling.

The highlight of the Pecan Festival was the STEM booths that were set up for kids to try different activities. The girls especially enjoyed the Clemson booth which was set up to make paper airplanes. Leslie was also excited to run into one of her classmates when making a sandart and get her nails painted. Next time in Florence, I would like to visit Lynches River County Park as it appears there are a number outdoor activities for kids and different programs offered throughout the year.

County: Marion

Point of Interest: Bike Hike Trail

Across the country, there are trails that have been created from the old rail systems in order to connect communities. I love the idea behind this project and you can learn more on the Rails-to-Trials Conservancy website. There are 23,000 miles of trails across the country and in South Carolina there are a total of 25 trails. One of these is located in Marion, the Bike Hike Trail. This trial is 1.1 miles long and connects the downtown out to farmland in the county. This original rail track connected Mullins to Sumter and there are two other trails along this track but they are not all connected at this time. We enjoyed grabbing a cup of coffee and walking a portion of the trail!

Another interesting fact about Marion is the Beneteau factory is located there. Beneteau makes sailboats and we actually sailed on one for a week while in the BVI back in 2010 through Sunsail. As we drove by the factory, there were a number of hauls with the Sunsail logo in the yard getting ready to head out to sailing grounds across the world.

County: Williamsburg

Point of Interest: Brown’s BBQ

I struggled with finding something to do in Williamsburg, so I was glad that we ran across Brown’s BBQ right around lunch time. Brown’s BBQ claims to have some of the best BBQ in South Carolina. This vinegar based BBQ was delicious and Avery especially loved the pot roast that was offered on the buffet. Brown’s is a family owned business that has been around for 30 years in Williamsburg County. It sure did get busy while we were there, so it must be a local favorite!

County: Anderson

Point of Interest: Kid Venture

We visited Anderson right after Thanksgiving on our way back to Beaufort from Georgia. There were two stops in Anderson. First, we visited with my Grandmother who is in a retirement home in Anderson. She was able to see all three girls and we had a nice visit. We then grabbed lunch and headed out to Kid Venture, a playground created by a local volunteer group. It is unique because it offers playground equipment you might not find on a traditional playground because it was designed with ideas from kids in the local community. It is located besides a pond with many ducks to feed. This was a great stop before we hit the road back to Beaufort.

We now have 13 counties left. I have a few ideas for places to stop in these counties but any suggestions in the following counties would be appreciated! Cherokee, Union, Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster, Chesterfield, Berkeley, Georgetown, Orangeburg, Calhoun, Lexington, Allendale, and Bamberg,

We traveled up to the Pee Dee region of South Carolina this past weekend to mark off a couple counties. We stayed in Florence, but were able to make stops in 6 different counties. Overall impression of this area of the state is LOTS of cotton field, swamps, and large industrial buildings/businesses.

County: Darlington

Attraction: Darlington International Raceway

First stop was Darlington County and the Darlington International Raceway for a 5k. Bryan and I have actually attended a couple NASCAR races in previous years at the raceway prior to having the girls. We drove up to Darlington on Friday night in order to participate in the Terrence Carraway Memorial 5K. Terrence Carraway was a Florence officer who was killed while on duty last year. The Darlington Raceway, known as the track “Too tough to tame” is the original paved superspeedway in NASCAR. I ran the race, while the girls and Bryan cheered me on! It was rather cool to experience the bright lights shining down at night while running around the track that cars usually speed around. While I was running, the girls were able to walk halfway around the track and experience the steep incline in the turns. This was the first time I have run in a race in about 5 years and I was surprised to have come in first in my age division!! This also motivated Avery and Leslie to enter a future race, so the training has begun for them!

County: Marlboro

Attraction: McArthur Farms

We got up on Saturday morning and headed to Marlboro County. As with much of the counties we have visited, we drove through a number of cotton fields to get there, both sides of the road lined with white. I had no idea how many cotton fields were in South Carolina. Our stop in Marlboro was McArthur Farms, a roadside farmers market, cornmaze, and kids play zone. McArthur Farms is over 180 acres of farmland that grows various crops including strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. In 2018, it was voted the Pee Dee’s best attraction. The 12 acre corn maze was slightly beat up since it is at the end of the season. The girls were much more interested in all the fun farm games. There were tractors to crawl on, slides going down a hill, tunnels, pedal go carts, and plenty of hay bales to climb all over. The favorite attraction was the corn pit that was just like a sandbox, but with corn. The girls enjoyed rolling and digging in the corn. We also took a wagon ride around the farm and the girls took a ride on the cow train. It was a great place to get lots of energy out!

County: Dillon

Attraction: South of the Border

Up next, was the famous roadside attraction, South of the Border in Dillon County. Up and down Interstate 95 around the border between North and South Carolina billboards line the highway advertising all the “fun” at South of the Border. We lost count of how many billboards we saw! We explained to the girls that this is what is known as a tourist trap and to beware not to get trapped. They took us literally and were on the look out throughout our time at this stop for anything that would trap them and did not ask to buy anything!!

This silly stop is home to “Pedro” and lots of other colorful animals that we walked around and took pictures with. Also there is various shops that sell all types of gimmicky items. The motels and other attractions all looked pretty abandoned and we decided to head on down the highway for lunch.

Part 2 of our exciting Pee Dee weekend includes Florence, Marion, and Williamsburg!

Greenville, Spartanburg, and Newberry

Saturday , 26, October 2019 Comments Off on Greenville, Spartanburg, and Newberry

We went to a Clemson game (Clemson vs. Florida State) a couple weekends ago and decided to squeeze in a couple county stops during the weekend in the upstate. While we traveled through around a dozen or so different counties, we only made three official county stops.

County: Greenville

Attraction: Falls Park on the Reedy

Greenville County has a number of different attractions explore! When we come back through Greenville, I would like to check out the state parks and maybe do some camping.  Since we were heading to the Clemson football game on Saturday, we did not have much time, and decided to visit downtown Greenville in the morning prior to the game.  We stopped into Sully’s Steamers for a steamed bagel sandwich (which were delicious; perfect way to start a gameday) and then headed to Fall Park.  Greenville was having a fall festival so all the downtown roads were blocked off which made it nice to walk through the downtown area.  We ate our bagels in the 32 acre, Falls Park, which is located within the city making it rather unique. There is a suspension bridge (Liberty Bridge) we walked across to view the falls. On our way walking back through the city, we spotted one of the nine “mice on main”.   The city has nine little bronze mice scattered around the city and offers a scavenger hunt for kids to try to find them all. Greenville is such a beautiful town and I was impressed with all the shops and restaurants that lined the streets. I wish we had more time to spend exploring the city, but we needed to make our way to Clemson to cheer on the Tigers!

County: Spartanburg

Attraction: Downtown Spartanburg

The next day, we made our way to Spartanburg county.  As with Greenville, Spartanburg also offers some fun outdoor attractions, but it was raining, so we did not get too adventurous and headed downtown to check out the city of Spartanburg.  We ate breakfast at the Crepe Factory which was voted number one brunch spot in Spartanburg and did not disappoint.  The girls had never had crepes before so this was a new food experience and they loved them, especially since they were covered with nutella. After breakfast, we walked around downtown and found some fun metal bikes that were the same that we saw when were in on the boat and visiting the town of Fort Pierce in Florida.  As with Greenville, I would have liked to stay longer, however, we had a long drive ahead of us and the weather was not very good. Had it been open,we would have liked to visit the Spartanburg Science Center but we will have to save that for another visit.

County: Newberry

Attraction: Wells Japanese Garden and Newberry College

Our final stop on our way home, was Newberry County.  I struggled with finding something to do in this county but we ended up making two stops.  First, we visited Wells Japanese Garden, listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1980.  The garden has a couple bridges but unfortunately, has not been well maintained and was rather overgrown.  We passed Newberry College on our way into the town and decided to stop there on the way out.  We visited the stadium and the girls ran around and got out some energy before we hit the road back to Beaufort.

I believe our next stops will be within the Pee Dee region.  We would love some suggestions of attractions in this area if you have any!

Charleston, Dorchester, and Colleton

Tuesday , 1, October 2019 Comments Off on Charleston, Dorchester, and Colleton

Over the last few weeks we have taken a couple days trips to counties that are not too far from Beaufort. We have traveled through these counties on a number of occasions already, especially Charleston so we looked for some different points of interest that we had not yet experienced.

County: Charleston

Point of Interest: Caw Caw Interpretive Center

As many people know, Charleston has LOTS to offer a visitor…horse drawn carriage rides through historic downtown, boat rides to Fort Sumter National Monument, tours of Patriots Point or the South Carolina Aquarium. Not to mention the many festivals throughout the year, and of course the beaches. We wanted to stick with our theme of low cost and “off the beaten path” for our county visit, so we decided to visit Caw Caw Interpretive Center. This park is located off of Hwy 17 on the the south side of the Charleston County making it convenient to Beaufort. I have passed the entrance to the park so many times on my way to and from Charleston so I am glad we finally drove back in and checked it out.

There is an exhibit center where you can learn about the history of the park and see exhibits about the animals that live within the park including alligators, birds, and turtles. The land was once used as rice fields, but now offers many trails to walk and enjoy nature. The camp ranger offered the girls a scavenger hunt which kept them entertained on our 2 mile walk and they received a stamp when they completed the hunt. We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch when we arrived and then set off on the board walk and through the salt marshes. While we did not see an alligator on our walk, we did see a bunny which was a highlight for the girls.

County: Dorchester

Point of Interest: Summerville Sweet Tea Festival

Next stop after Charleston, was a quick ride up the road into Dorchester County. We headed to the town of Summerville which claims to be the birthplace of Sweet Tea and home of the largest Sweet Tea at 2,524 gallons. We were lucky and actually were able to attend the annual Sweet Tea Festival that was taking place within the town square. We were also extra fortunate to be able to have a quick visit with family, Uncle Chris and Aunt Rachel!! We enjoyed the live music and beverages in the town square while the girls enjoyed a watermelon Italian Ice.

County: Colleton

Point of Interest: Walterboro Pickle Festival and Tuskegee Air Monument

I read about the Pickle Festival on the Colleton County website and thought this could be a fun stop for this particular County. Avery really enjoys pickles, so we started to get excited about all the different pickled food to try at the “Pickle Festival”. It actually turned out to be a bit of a hoax since there was no festival going on, but simply the Walterboro Saturday Farmers Market with one guy handing out a pickle to sample. Apparently they try to have “themed” market days to drum up business. Despite being a little let down, we enjoyed this quaint farmers market and our taste of a pickle. We were also able to pick up some interesting pumpkins to start decorating for fall. And course, we loved having Papa with us on this stop!

The Tuskegee Air Monument is also in Colleton County, so we headed to the airport to take a look at this memorial that honors the first black military airmen who spent their final months of combat training at Walterboro Army Airfield. Interestingly, this is also the site of a POW camp during WWII where 250 Germans were brought to work in a lumber mill.

We enjoyed our visits close to home, especially because we had family with us on some of the county stops! We have now officially crossed a milestone with half of the counties marked of the list, only 23 more to complete the state of South Carolina.

Seven County Weekend (Part Two) McCormick, Aiken, and Edgefield

Sunday , 8, September 2019 Comments Off on Seven County Weekend (Part Two) McCormick, Aiken, and Edgefield

County: McCormick

Point of Interest: Heritage Gold Mine Park

From Abbeville we drove back down south to McCormick County and stopped at Heritage Gold Mine Park. Our original intention was to let the girls pan for gems, but we were talked into a mine tour. The big girls found some interesting gems to add to their rock collection and then we set out on the tour. After walking up a hill and getting a history lesson on the background of the mine, we walk past where the ground had caved in on the mine at some point. We were then lead down some stairs to the base of a hill with a hole in the side with an iron gate covering the entrance. As we continued to get a gold mining history lesson, Leslie turned to me and asked, “are we going in there?” pointing to the hole in the side of the rock. I told her of course not, but to my surprise that was the entrance to the underground old mine. Bryan had to bend down to get into the “mine” and he could not stand straight up. Despite the little flashlights we had been given to use, it was dark and we kept walking deeper into the mine. This gave me serious anxiety, but the girls seemed to be enjoying the adventure and the crickets that were along the edges. We finally made it to the end, snapped a quick picture and then quickly hurried out to the the light at the end of the tunnel. All I could think about is the tunnel caving in, as it had in the places we were just walking above ground.

County: Aiken

Point of Interest: Hitchcock Woods

We stayed overnight in Aiken on Friday and Saturday night, we were able to drive around the town throughout our weekend, but our official stop in this county was Hitchcock Woods. These woods are the largest privately own urban forest in the country. There are 2100 acres of land and close to 70 miles of trails for people and horses to use. On our morning walk came across a couple people riding horses and they allowed Avery and Leslie to pet the horse. It was interesting to see such vast woods in the center of a city.

County: Edgefield

Point of Interest: Ten Governor’s Rail Trail

Our final destination on our weekend trip, was Edgefield County. We picked up subs and headed to the Ten Governors Rail Trail for a picnic and walk. The county created a trail highlighting the 10 South Carolina Governors who were from Edgefield. There is a different governor featured every .1 miles on the 1 mile path. The path leads you around a lake and over a bridge and then onto the old railroad tracks that have now been turned into the trail. We had a nice picnic surrounded by ducks and then walked the trail. Some of the famous governors we saw were Storm Thurmond who started the trail and “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman.

So, that completed our weekend tour. We have now completed 20 counties and have 26 counties to go!!