8 Secrets of South Carolina

South Carolina is one of those US states which you may have heard of but have been wholly unfamiliar with.  Like many UK travellers, perhaps you have travelled extensively to more familiar US tourism destinations such as California, Orlando, Nevada and New York but many states, including South Carolina have eluded you attention.  Well fear not dear  low season traveller, I’m here to give you a snapshot as to why South Carolina is definitely one to consider.

Here, with the help of my new (and utterly charming I must say) friends at SouthCarolina.travel, we are going to look at 10 secrets of South Carolina which you may not be aware of.  Enjoy!

1. The state tree, seen on the iconic South Carolina flag, is a cabbage palmetto.

Did you know that cannonballs bounce off of palmetto trees? Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan’s Island, was built out of palmetto tree trunks on top of sand walls. The palmettos’ incredible spongy consistency repelled the British cannonballs and helped the Patriots win the first major naval battle of the Revolutionary War.

Oh, and on the subject of trees, we should clarify that

The palmetto tree isn’t technically a tree at all as it doesn’t have a solid wood trunk!

2. Iced Tea was born here

South Carolina is home to the US’s first commercial tea farm, and is the birthplace of that most delicious of icy, refreshing drinks: sweet tea.

3. The poinsettia is named after South Carolinian Joel Roberts Poinsett.

Joel was the US’s first ambassador to Mexico. He introduced the plant to the US when he sent specimens of the lovely red and green plant to his greenhouse in South Carolina 1825.

4. South Carolina is home to some of the best golf courses in the world today!

You might not know that it has always been at the centre of golf in America. The first known shipment of golf clubs came into Charleston in 1739 and the first golf club in the US, the South Carolina Golf Club, was also founded in Charleston in 1786. They played on America’s first golf course, Harleston Green, which was roughly between Calhoun and Beaufain streets near the Ashley River.

South Carolina isn’t just known for traditional golf, though. Myrtle Beach is considered the mini golf capital of the world, with more than 50 mini golf courses and home of the US Pro Mini Golf Association Master’s National Championship course.

5. The fantastic, amazing Angel Oak tree on John’s Island is the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River.

6. And Angel Oak isn’t the only amazing tree in South Carolina.

Congaree National Park is home to more than two dozen “champion trees,” trees which are the largest specimen of their kind. Congaree has the highest concentration of champion trees of anyplace in America and one of the highest concentrations in the world. If you like trees, (and hey, who doesn’t love a good tree right?) Congaree is your place.

7. The first European settlement on the North American continent was in South Carolina.

It’s actually the oldest US State.  San Miguel de Guadalupe was founded in 1526 by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, probably near present-day Georgetown. The colony only survived three months.

8. Milk is the official State Drink.

While sweet tea was born in South Carolina and is known as the state’s hospitality beverage (Come sit on the porch and have some tea, y’all!) it’s not the official state drink. That honour belongs to milk. And with so many beautiful dairies and creameries to visit in the Palmetto State, one can see why. Stop by Happy Cow Creamery outside Greenville to for a true taste of milk bottled right on the farm from, you guessed it, happy cows.

We caught up with the good folk of South Carolina at ITB, the world’s largest travel and tourism industry gathering, in Berlin.  “Y’all” can have a listen to how we got on in our the podcast below.  Enjoy!