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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????