Road trip along the South Carolina coast
January 25, 2008 9:29 AM   Subscribe

We're taking a road trip soon from Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, North Carolina to Savannah, Georgia. What do recommend seeing along the way? Favorite food stops? Non-touristy interesting spots? Think boiled peanuts, not golf courses.

Our path is fairly set. We'll take I-40 to Wilmington and then drive the coast from there to Savannah.

Sadly, we only have 2-3 days to do that drive, so visiting NC's Outer Banks is probably too far. Next trip. We'd like to see the fun, small, offbeat places and avoid the traps like Myrtle Beach.

Keep in mind that this is in February. Thanks!
posted by billder to Travel & Transportation around South Carolina (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Well, this is exactly the opposite of non-touristy, but stop for a little bit at South of the Border!!! You will not be able to miss it, if your journey takes on on i-95, you'll probably see about 50 billboards for it.
posted by dicaxpuella at 9:41 AM on January 25, 2008

Last time I drove to Savannah, the wife and I were struck speechless by the appearance of the Squat n' Gobble restaurant.
posted by aperture_priority at 10:19 AM on January 25, 2008

This might be helpful if you're taking US-17. That site came from this thread.
posted by GalaxieFiveHundred at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2008

Wow, you are going through my backyard. I would recommend going to the Charleston beaches, Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island. Slightly off the 17 path, but it's hard to really get lost. You really should also see historic downtown.

Stop at Jack's Cosmic Dogs at the corner of 17 and Hiway 41.

South of Charleston, keep your windows down and you will smell the sublime aroma of pluffmud.

Msg me if you want more ideas...
posted by toastchee at 11:31 AM on January 25, 2008

Best answer: Having spent an unholy amount of time on the SC coast here's my list of fun stuff (south to north):

Go to Beaufort and then out to Parris Island to watch the recruits sweat, they have a neat exhibit (or did last time I was there) on Port Royal, the first European colony in SC. Also some stuff on the history of the Marines in SC. Beaufort is a very cool little town, with lots of history.

Go out to Hunting Island to climb the old steel lighthouse (it costs 25 cents) and tour the grounds. Grab a shrimp burger at the Port Royal Marina.

Plan to eat supper at the Sunset Grill on Edisto Island for the best view of the sun setting in the harbor to the west. If your eyes are sharp you can see the lighthouse you just climbed on the horizon. The drive to Edisto may be the best view of the old coastal life before it disappears entirely, and Edisto is an neat old beach community.

From Edisto to Charleston, plan to jump off of US 17 to SC 61 to see the old plantations and gigantic live oaks. Traffic will be bad here during peak hours, and it's a windy little two lane road. Plan to drive it on a Sunday morning.

In Charleston, tour the USS Yorktown. Local nightspots are on Folly Beach, if beer and seafood and walks on the ocean is your thing (ask for a go-cup). Go to Moe's Crosstown Tavern.

Take the Ravenel bridge into Mount Pleasant, then head out to Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms to see the old fort, then come back to the mainland and take in some fishing or just a long walk on the old Pitt Street Bridge (a refurbished trolley bridge) where you can see the whole harbor and Ft. Sumter.

Pawley's Island is another neat beach community. It bills itself as "arrogantly shabby." And it is.

Stop off in downtown Georgetown to see the old waterfront. North of town the old Baruch Plantation is owned by USC and kind of open to the public (the museum is, don't know if they'll let you go to the main house, can't hurt to ask, though).

Fried seafood in Murrell's Inlet is also a must do.

Walk the pier in Myrtle Beach or Garden City for the touristy stuff. Eat at a Calabash All-you-can-eat seafood place until your buckle snaps. (Wow, there's a lot of food on this list.)

In NC, definitely go out to Nag's head, it's one of my favorite places.

All the islands I've mentioned have state parks, with some facilities and a small entry fee ($5 per car or some such). Some also offer camping (some directly on the beach!), call ahead for directions and reservations.

Drive slow, eat well, don't be afraid to take the blue highways, have fun and enjoy the best stretch of coast (IMNSHO) in the east. Did I mention all the food?
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:57 AM on January 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

If you've in the area around North Myrtle Beach near lunch time, head to the Southern Market, in the Galleria shopping center on 17. FABULOUS sandwiches; the kind that has you making moaning noises while you eat them. They're THAT good.
posted by tigerjade at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2008

One correction: Moe's is in downtown Charleston, not Folly. I don't think I made that clear. Still, go, it's the least touristy thing in Charleston and one of my all-time favorite bars. Also: food.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:45 PM on January 25, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you everybody. This is a ton of help. I'm looking forward to seeing a new part of the country. Well, an old part. New to me. Whatever, you get it.
posted by billder at 1:55 PM on January 25, 2008

It will be quite hard to find boiled peanuts anywhere in February, I am a huuuuuge boiled peanut fan and they're not really available until April. However- in Savannah, you should visit Polks Produce downtown. They have lots of fresh fruit and nuts and things and is right in the Historic District of Savannah.

Don't eat at the Lady and Sons. You will stand in line all day and eat mediocre food. Instead, check out Mrs, Wilkes. Much, much better Southern food and a Savannah tradition. As for finer dining downtown, you should get reservations at Garabaldi's. Mmmm, making me hungry just thinking about it.

Also, my favorite local bar/restuarant downtown is Six Pence Pub. It's small and awesome and serves food until midnight!
posted by thebrokenmuse at 4:16 PM on January 25, 2008

Spend time in the larger cities like Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Please skip South of the Border and Myrtle Beach. They are total wastes of time. In Charleston, definitely see the slave market in downtown. It's not where they sold slaves but where the slaves would go to buy produce and meats. There is lots of shopping around the market including a lot of high end stores. Also, try to hit up Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. The boat ride there gives you great views of Charleston harbor. One more thing for Chucktown is to go over the new bridge either by driving or parking and walking. It's beautiful and its views even more so. I've lived in SC for 20 years so hit me up at psych87 at gmail dot com if you have any questions.
posted by bobber at 7:52 PM on February 1, 2008

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