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What a rich, exotic place South Carolina is. One of the original American Colonies, the state has an abundance of historical sites that bring our nation’s past to vivid life. The outdoors lover can enjoy a variety of activities such as kayaking, hiking, saltwater fishing, even scuba diving in the company of alligators. The state's culture has been shaped by its European, African and Caribbean settlers, as evidenced especially by the food, which is some of the most delicious we'll ever have the pleasure of eating.
Be sure to visit Hilton Head Island, whose 70-square mile area gives it the distinction of being the second-largest barrier island on the East Coast. This incredible resort community features a multitude of activities to keep you well-entertained, such as kayaking, dolphin-watching cruises and fishing charters. For more land-based vacation fun you can rent a bicycle and take a cruise along the beachfront trails, or investigate any of the twenty-four golf courses located on Hilton Head. Or maybe you just want to sit and watch the azure-blue tide as it comes in and recedes. Whatever you’re looking for, Hilton Head is your one stop for relaxing entertainment. Hilton Head Island is an optimum place to begin our One Tank Trip through South Carolina; this place has been rated as having one of the top ten beaches in the country, and is a tranquil, idyllic location to enjoy a quick weekend getaway. Outdoor activities and water sports are plentiful, and the relaxed, carefree atmosphere takes us away from the stresses of city life the moment we arrive.
Let’s hit the road! We take the US-278 northwest to state highway SC-170, which brings us into the town of Beaufort. Known as the "Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands", the town's historic homes and peaceful way of life make our visit to Beaufort seem like a step back in time to the quieter, simpler, good 'ole days of the historic Old South. This isn’t meant to imply that Beaufort is stuck in the past – far from it. The town is host to many contemporary art galleries and golf courses, and the adjacent Parris Island Marine Training Camp is one of the most sophisticated military training centers in the U.S.
Our next stop is the city of Aiken. Our route there takes us down the US-21/US-17 to Point South, where we take the SC-68 connecting us to the US-278, then the US-78, which brings us straight into Aiken. Let's stretch out legs a bit and explore the Thoroughbred Hall of Fame & Racing Museum; the facility presents the history of thoroughbred racing, spanning more than a century. Admission is free.
Also in Aiken, we have the DuPont Planetarium, located on the grounds of the University of South Carolina. The 30-foot dome has fully-automated, state-of-the-art projection systems; an observatory is also on hand, featuring a variety of powerful telescopes for stargazing purposes.
Continuing on our trip, we take Highway 19 towards Greenwood. On the way we pass by the Ninety-Six National Historic Site, where two battles of the Revolutionary War were fought and where settlers braved harsh winters and Indians to stake their claim. Now, visitors can experience it for themselves in the original Star Fort, built in 1781, the Stockade Fort and siege trenches, or by strolling through the original town sites of Cambridge and Ninety-Six. This historic site is a fascinating look at the way things were when our nation was in its infancy. Well worth the time to explore!
Back on Highway 19, we continue on to the US-25 which leads us into Greenwood. This town, with its fresh air and sunny skies is a great place to pull over and enjoy some of the many outdoor activities to be found here. The Heritage Trail is a 2-mile paved path, perfect for walking, jogging, or biking. Lake Greenwood is a fine place to break out the rod and reel and try our luck with the catch of the day. By night, we can dine at any one of the myriad of fine restaurants, which showcase cuisines from Europe, the Caribbean, or good old-fashioned American steak and potatoes.
Back on the US-25, we merge with the US-178 to Clemson. Thirty miles later via the US-123 and we're in Greenville. Both cities offer more opportunities for fishing, golfing and fine dining. In Clemson, we should take a day to enjoy the natural wonders of Paris Mountain, with its 1200-acre grounds, majestic, monument-like peak, and the Sulphur Springs hiking trail which makes for an excellent workout. In Greenville, the prospects range from bird watching to kayaking, from cruising art galleries to shopping.
Truly, South Carolina offers visitors a chance to enjoy the modern age while giving us a glimpse into our nation’s past; it’s the perfect place to enjoy the best of all possible worlds.