Travel

10 Road trip-worthy South Carolina destinations and attractions that won't break the bank

Caesars Head State Park offers some of the best views of nature in the state.

Photo courtesy of Discover South Carolina

There's a lot of wide open America to fall in love with between your home and your destination. Taking the long way or the road less traveled isn't a bad thing. It can lead to new adventures that end up as fond memories.

Almost as important as the destination itself is the vehicle you choose to road trip in. Click here to see AutomotiveMap's picks for best road trip SUV and here to see the best road trip cars. Click here to see AutomotiveMap's advice for planning the perfect road trip.

The next time you're planning a road trip to South Carolina, consider the following destinations, which are not on the usual tourist roster.

Swamp Rabbit Trail

Reedy Falls Park Greenville SC

Photo courtesy of Discover South Carolina

The Swamp Rabbit Trail features 22 miles of greenway path for cycling, walking, and running. It winds along the Reedy River from Travelers Rest to Greenville, South Carolina via an old railroad corridor. While some parts of the trail are rural, one of the best gems of the path is its span along Reedy Falls Park in downtown Greenville. In addition to recreation, there are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops that serve as a good destination for your recreation adventure.

Lake Murray

South Carolina's Lake Murray offers recreation and relaxation. In-town, enjoy antiques shopping to exploring history, to eating your way through all the Souther cuisine and barbecue you can handle. Head out on the lake to enjoy boating, fishing, rowing, paddle boarding, and more. Accommodations surrounding the centrally located lake aren't pricey compared to what you'll find in South Carolina's other tourist areas.

Huntington Beach State Park

Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park\u200b

Photo courtesy of South Carolina State Parks

Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet is one of the grandest of the Grand Strand state parks. It is home to Atalaya, the former winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, 173 campsites, over 300 species of birds, and three miles of beaches. There is an admission fee to enter the park and a separate fee to tour Atalaya.

Hopsewee Plantation

Hopsewee Plantation was built 40 years before the America Revolution. It was one of the most important rice plantations in the South and the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The main house still stands and is used as a private residence, however, tours are offered, as are basket weaving classes and dining.

South Carolina State House

South Carolina State House Columbia

Photo courtesy of Discover South Carolina

Free and self-guided tours are available of the Greek Revival-style South Carolina State House in Columbia, South Carolina during typical business hours, Monday through Friday. Arrangements for guided tours can be arranged in advance. Before you go, check out the State House's tour brochure here for more info. You can also take a virtual tour here.

Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens is full of things to do. There are 3.5 miles of hiking trails, swamp boat rides (extra $5.00/person), a reptile center called the Swamparium, butterfly house, and wildlife galore (be on the lookout for alligators) at the Monocks Corner attraction. A long list of movies have been shot at the location including "The Patriot" (2000) and "Cold Mountain" (2003).

Supernatural Walking Tour of Charleston

Downtown Charleston

Photo courtesy of Discover South Carolina

It's always fun to tour a new place, or learn more about a town you love by seeing it from a whole new perspective. A ghost tour will tick both of those boxes. Charleston is chock full of hundreds of years of history, just waiting to be explored as part of this 90-minute walking tour, which begins and ends at Marion Square.

The Avian Conservation Center & Center for Birds of Prey

Awendaw is home to The Avian Conservation Center & Center for Birds of Prey, an attraction that wins praise from wildlife activists as well as visitors. There are 50 species represented at the Center including eagles, hawks, owls, falcons, kites, and vultures. Visitors can partake in a guided tour and flight demonstration, a two-hour event that costs an additional $18/person. In the autumn they also offer an owl discovery program in the evening.

Caesars Head State Park

Caesars Head State Park

Photo courtesy of Discover South Carolina

The Blue Ride Mountains in northwest South Carolina give visitors a visual feast for thier eyes delivering sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, lakes, and vast swaths of trees that extends into Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. Caesars Head State Park features over 60 miles of hiking trails, including one that take visitors across a suspension bridge that goes above Raven Cliff Falls (the tallest water fall in South Carolina). There are 18 primitive campsites. The park is part of a natural migratory path for hawks three months of the year along the Atlantic Flyway.

Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum

Reconnect with your youth at the Myrtle Beach Pinball Museum. There are over 25 pinball museums at the attraction, where visitors pay a $12 flat rate for the ability to play for a full hour on any of the machines. To gain entry, you must buy your tickets online ahead of time. The museum limits the number of tickets to help alleviate overcrowding.

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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New driver assist technology is coming to the Lexus lineup later this year.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

New Lexus Teammate driver assistance technology will debut on the 2022 Lexus LS 500h later this year. Its availability is constrained to all-wheel drive models.

The technology was developed based on the Mobility Teammate Concept. This automated driving concept is unique to Toyota sough to enhance communication between drivers and cars, "enabling them to reach out to each other for mutual assistance". The concept sees cars and humans interacting and partnering rather than having automation take over for drivers. This approach allows drivers to enjoy the experience of driving but allowing the vehicle to take over some functions of driver's duties at times. In this way, the tech works as both guardian and chauffeur.

2022 Lexus The company's flagship sedan will get the technology first.Photo courtesy of Lexus

2022 Lexus LS 500h

On the 2022 Lexus 500h, Lexus Teammate will offer two functions: Advanced Drive and Advanced Park.

Advanced Drive is design to "accurately detect driving conditions to plan and execute acceleration, braking, and steering commands to maintain the vehicle within the lane, follow other vehicles, change lanes, navigate certain interchanges and traffic jams and overtake slower vehicles." It's a Level 2 functionality that "allows for driving on limited-access highways with partial hands-free, eyes-on-the-road operation".

This description makes it sound a lot like the suite of lane keeping, lane centering, and adaptive cruise control technology that Hyundai offers rather than true Level 3 technology that General Motors's Super Cruise delivers.

Lexus will show operation of the technology on a screen with information displayed like this.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park operates similar to how the Genesis GV80's hands-free parking assist technology works. The Lexus tech automatically controls steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes with parallel parking or backing into a parking space. It uses a combination of 360-degree sensing technologies and a bird's eye view display to perform the task while allowing the driver to monitor progress.

"We are very proud of Lexus Teammate, which is the culmination of five years of close collaboration between our technical centers in Japan and the US. We conducted simultaneous development and rigorous testing in both markets with the goal of achieving industry-leading advanced driver assistance functionality," says Derek Caveney, executive engineer at Toyota Motor North America's Integrated Vehicle Systems team.

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