Kevin Kempf's Blog

July 9, 2009

South Carolina Vacation Spots

Filed under: South Carolina, Vacation — kkempf @ 9:55 am

We’ve been here 4 years now, and have taken advantage (as best we can) of the wide variety of vacation options nearby. Coming from Chicago originally (where one had to drive several hours just to get away from the city), it’s a refreshing change to have the ocean, mountains, lakes, historical sites, big cities and small town festivals within easy reach.

For long weekend type getaways, we’ve had great success with Vacation Rentals by Owner.

Our first foray was a trip to Edisto island, where they say “the locals” go to the beach in SC. It left a great impression on us; quiet, small, relaxing. In many ways it reminds me of Hilton Head Island (though smaller) back in the 80’s when my family used to vacation there. Meaning, it isn’t jam packed with cars, stores, and restaurants, and hasn’t fully embraced the competition of “who can build the biggest house” which seems prevalent on Hilton Head now.

Next we headed up to the mountains for another long weekend, near Walhalla. Despite its proximity to Clemson, it was a wonderful trip. There is some wonderful scenery up there, such asĀ  Stumphouse Tunnel Park which includes Issaqueena Falls, and the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. We also found a hidden gem in High Falls County Park

Last summer, we met up with a large segment of my wifes family on Fripp Island. This was a total change of pace from Edisto and Hilton Head; it is gated and pretty much like stepping into a resort when you arrive at the island. There are few cars (golf carts and bikes are encouraged instead) all amenities are owned by the resort: the restaurants, golf courses, swimming pools, marinas, stores etc. Of the barrier islands we’ve visited, Fripp had the most natural feel to it; they work hard (and succeed at) making the island quiet, relaxing and restful. Our only regret was amenity cards. These are sold as “add ons” to the weekly rental, to the tune of $75 or $100 a person. In truth, these are not upgrades, but necessities, as without one, you cannot go out to eat without leaving the island or swim in the pool. One highlight of the week was a side trip to Parris Island, to watch the USMC graduate a class of recruits (open to the public!).

This past fall, we headed to Biltmore to see their Christmas decorations, and the whole clan went so we rented out an entire B&B in Asheville, NC. It was a wonderful arrangement, given the varying ages of the children and adults, and their respective adherence to nap times, etc. This was a lovely old house which served as the perfect “home base” for trips to the Biltmore Estate. The Estate itself was as majestic as ever, and never fails to impress. Being done up for Christmas, it was nothing like I remember inside from my one prior visit 20+ years ago. They call this place America’s Castle, and if you’re ever in the area I strongly urge you to stop and see it.

Finally, as I mentioned elsewhere in this blog, this summer we’re heading to Edisto again, this time with the whole extended family for a week. Will update with our impressions of Edisto during peak season (our last trip was in the Fall).

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