Golfers have long flocked to South Carolina, known for its combination of mild winter weather, championship golf courses and luxury resorts. Some of the best courses in the state are found in and around Myrtle Beach, Kiawah Island, Hilton Head Island and Charleston.
Myrtle Beach—which Sports Illustrated once dubbed Sportstown USA—has more than 100 golf courses, along with 200 tennis courts and about 100 kilometres (60 miles) of beaches. With eight fishing piers and many backwater creeks, the area is popular with fishers—the annual Grand Strand Fishing Rodeo is a highlight.
Gardeners and art lovers shouldn't miss Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark between Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island that is home to one of the world's largest collections of American figurative sculpture, with more than 900 pieces.
Charleston, meanwhile, draws history buffs, architecture aficionados and romantics. Start your explorations in the Historic District, where antebellum homes line cobblestone streets. Don't forget to stop and smell the wisteria; just about every home seems to have a romantic garden peeking out from behind a wrought-iron fence. In Liberty Square, you can catch a ferry to Fort Sumter National Monument, where the first shots of the Civil War rained down.
Lovely as South Carolina's coastal areas are, not all the attractions in the state are located on the ocean. Inland you'll find Darlington Raceway, where NASCAR fans gather annually to watch the Mountain Dew Southern 500. In the state capital of Columbia, you can see more than 2,000 animals at the Riverbanks Zoo, one of South Carolina's most popular tourist attractions. And in the northwestern corner of the state, along the border with Georgia, you can enjoy some of the best whitewater rafting in the East along the Chattooga River. Come in spring for the wildest water, or in summer and fall for quieter floats.