South Carolina is a state in the United States of America and is part of the American South. It is a quintessentially Southern state in the United States of America filled with culture, history, beautiful coastlines, scenic mountain and delicious cuisine.
South Carolina is composed of five geographic areas, whose boundaries roughly parallel the Atlantic coastline. In the southeast part of the state is the Atlantic Coastal Plain. From north to south the coast is divided into three separate areas, the Grand Strand, the Santee River Delta, and the Sea Islands. Further inland are the Sandhills, ancient dunes from what used to be South Carolina's coast millions of years ago. The Fall Line, which marks the limit of navigable rivers, runs along the boundary of the Sandhills and the Piedmont, which has rolling hills and clay soils. In the northwest corner of the state are the Blue Ridge Mountains, the smallest geographical region in the state.
The climate of South Carolina is generally characterized as having a humid subtropical climate. In the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms are common throughout the state with temperatures around 90°F (32°C) towards the coast and 80°F (27°C) along the Blue Ridge. In the winter months, the temperatures are much more drastic. Along the Blue Ridge, temperatures remain below 40°F (4°C). Towards the coast, temperatures average around 60°F (16°C). Snow is rare across much of the state. However, it is very common in the months of December–February along the Blue Ridge in the far western part of the state.
South Carolina, together with North Carolina forms a region historically known as The Carolinas. Both were originally part of a single British colony called Carolina before the two were separated into two distinct states. Though smaller in population than North Carolina, South Carolina boasts a rich historical legacy. This is particularly evident in Charleston, which was an important port in the colonial and post colonial eras of the United States as well as the site of the onset of the Civil War.
Though the famous "Southern accent" is definitely in evidence here, if you listen closely, you'll hear all its regional variations, from the deeper drawl of the lowcountry to the more clipped speech of the upstate.
South Carolina can be quite hot and humid in the summer, and its nice coastal areas are a big tourist attraction. Winters on the coast are generally mild, though the upstate does get light snow accumulation from time to time.
South Carolina is very much a part of the American "Bible Belt," and religious zeal is much more evident that it would be in some other regions of the United States like California. Similarly, South Carolina is a historically conservative state. People are generally kind and open.
Due to the popularity of South Carolina as a tourist and retirement destination, there are large numbers of individuals who are seasonal or new residents from other parts of the country (particularly the North East) and Canada. This is substantially more common in the coastal areas like Myrtle Beach.
English is official, and by far the most commonly spoken language. Spanish is also widely spoken, particularly in Hispanic communities; however, travelers should not expect to get by without a decent command of English. Signage is commonly in both English and Spanish.
Gullah is spoken on the Sea Islands by a few. Due to its unique cultural heritage, preservation and promotion efforts have been undertaken in recent years.
books set in SC
Many movies and TV series are set or filmed in SC, some of the most notable are...
South Carolina is served by five interstate highways.
Interstate 26 stretches southeast across the state, from Landrum to its terminus in Charleston. Interstate 26 intersects with Interstate 85 near Spartanburg, Interstate 20 near Columbia and Interstate 95 near Orangeburg.
South Carolina has multiple airports servicing the state. Charleston International is the largest in the state, and features flights all around the east coast. Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Greenville both have decent sized airports. Smaller regional airports are located in Hilton Head and Florence. These airports primarily service regional hubs.
Amtrak has multiple routes that pass through South Carolina. The Silver Service and Palmetto trains call in Florence, Columbia, and Charleston in addition to smaller towns along the route from New York City to Florida. The Crescent train calls in Spartanburg, Greenville, and Clemson en route from New York City to New Orleans.
The roads in South Carolina (like most places in the United States) are in good condition for travel. Interstate 95 in much of the southern part of the state is highly traveled and only a four-lane highway. One should keep a very close eye out for sudden back ups...especially close to Hilton Head.
Public transportation is not a viable option in most of the state. A vehicle of some sort will most likely be necessary to get around, especially from city to city. Charleston is the notable exception as it is highly walkable.
Along the Eastern Atlantic Coast of South Carolina are several popular tourist destinations.
The most well known area is called The Grand Strand and comprises 60 miles of mostly beachfront property. The Strand runs south from the North and South Carolina border through the towns of Little River, Atlantic Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City (in Horry County), down Hwy. 17 south through Georgetown County including Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, and Pawleys Island. The Grand Strand is know for family entertainment options and affordable beach accomodations.
Little River is known for its beautiful inlet, great for fishing and water sports. Myrtle Beach's claim to fame is not only its beaches, but its nickname as "Golf Capital of the World". Murrells Inlet offers some of the freshest seafood around. Pawleys Island offers historic plantation sites as well as great golf.
Charleston, SC is often considered the crown jewel of South Carolina and is renowned as one of the best preserved historic cities in the South. The Historic District is very walkable with plenty of charming scenery, historic sights, entertainment and dining options.
Kiawah Island is a short trip from Charleston, with 10 miles of pristine beaches and approximately 10,000 acres of natural woodlands.
Columbia has many family-friendly options such as Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Riverbanks is a top zoo, with natural habitats, a large aquarium center, botanical gardens, etc. Columbia is also home to EdVenture Kids Museum.
SC is known for its "soul food" and barbeque. Most of the BBQ in South Carolina is similar to Eastern Carolina-style with tangy mustard-based sauces on pulled pork or chicken. South Carolina is the only state that boasts 4 distinct styles of sauces: mustard, vinegar, tomato and mustard.
On the Southern coastline, lowcountry and Charleston-style cuisine prevail, influenced by French, continental, and creole cooking with lots of fresh seafood options.
As with elsewhere in the United States, enclaves of immigrant communities exist, so a wide range of options are available aside from the more traditional southern comfort and lowcountry cuisines.
Sweet tea is very popular and readily available, as it is elsewhere in the South.
The drinking age for alcohol in South Carolina is 21. Almost all bars and off-premise vendors request government issued photo I.D. for younger looking patrons (those who look under 30). In spring break destinations like Myrtle Beach police write scores of citations for underage drinking at clubs or on the beach. However, there are exceptions to allow the under age consumption of alcoholic beverages. The exceptions to allow under age consumption of alcohol are for educational purposes (Example: students in culinary school, although in South Carolina the student must be at least 18), religious purposes, government work related purposes (Example: working undercover with police and participating in government research), and on private non-alcohol selling premises with or without parental consent.
Beer and wine are widely available in grocery and convenience stores around the state. Liquor must be sold in dedicated liquor stores. With the exception of coastal and metropolitan counties, off-premise sales of beer are banned on Sundays. Bars, however, will serve alcohol on Sundays. These rules vary by county so you may find some areas where wine is sold on Sundays; however this is limited.
Bars serve alcohol until 2:00am on Saturdays.
A word of caution, it is illegal in South Carolina to be 'grossly intoxicated' in public. The police can arrest you and charge you with public disorderly conduct if they believe this is the case, and there seems to be no legal definition of grossly intoxicated for a pedestrian. This is a misdemeanor offence, resulting in a court hearing. You can get your charge expunged within the state by entering a Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. This involves fines, community service, drug tests, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and homework assignments and typically takes about 2 months to complete. However, the PTI program is not recognized by the Federal Government.
Most of the areas visitors would normally visit in South Carolina are relatively crime-free. However, some residential areas in large cities like Charleston may be somewhat dangerous after dark for non-locals.
American Alligators can be present in any freshwater from the coast up to the Fall Line just west of Columbia. Unlike the aggressive crocodiles of Australia, Africa, and Latin America, alligators mostly exhibit territorial behavior. Be vigilant when planning a swim and take logical precautions. Never ever feed an alligator. Not only is this illegal, it also reduces the alligator's ingrained fear of humans and forms a mental connection between humans and food. This could cause the animal to exhibit aggressive behavior, attacking and reacting violently to the presence of humans forcing the Department of Natural Resources to kill it. A fed alligator is a dead alligator.
Venomous snakes such as the Copperhead, Cottonmouth Moccasin, and Timber Rattlesnake are present in the state. Take precautions while hiking, and watch where you step while going through forested areas and wetlands.