The first cooler days at the end of the year prompt many of us to pull out our favorite sweaters and boots in anticipation of the winter season. Others start planning and charting a course for some much needed outdoor recreation that doesn’t include heat and humidity. Here are some great spots to get outside and explore the Palmetto State this winter season.
1. Falls Park on the Reedy - Greenville, SC
Take a day trip to Greenville, SC to explore Falls Park on the Reedy. The falls are probably the most photographed feature in the park, aside from Liberty Bridge. But the park is full of inviting trails and areas to sit for a while. A few hours at Falls Park will feel like a few minutes. And then you can easily stroll right into downtown Greenville for lunch or dinner.
Address: 601 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601
2. Brookgreen Gardens - Murrell's Inlet, SC
Brookgreen Gardens is so much more than just a sculpture garden. It's art, history and year-round blooming gardens as well. Winter perennials include Daffodils,
Crocuses and the Spring Snowflake. Brookgreen Gardens is on my list of Top 5 Places in the State. Stop by the petting zoo, take a boat ride through history and visit the butterfly garden. (Butterfly Garden is seasonal.) Plan to spend at least a day. Bonus: your admission ticket is good for 7 days (excluding special events).
Address: 1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576
3. Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens - Columbia, SC
Trip Advisor ranks Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens as #1 on their list of Things To Do in Columbia. It's a fun outing for the entire family. The zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals and has a fabulous botanical garden, even in the winter. Tip: The regular daytime admission fee does not cover events after hours, such as "Lights Before Christmas." Plan accordingly if you're going to spend the day at the zoo and then stay for the holiday lights or another after hours special event.
Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, SC 29210
4. Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden - Bishopville, SC
Any visit to Bishopville calls for a stop at Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden. Here you'll find three acres of whimsical topiary and folk art sculptures. "Pearl" Fryar is loved by the locals not only for his talent for creating interesting topiaries, but also for giving so much back to the community. The gardens are in his own yard and are open for viewing as long as you do so before dark (in the winter) and 6:00 p.m. in the other seasons.
Address: 145 Broad Acres Rd, Bishopville, SC 29010
5. Jones Gap State Park - near Marietta, SC
If you're serious about getting and being in the outdoors, then Jones Gap State Park is the place for you. Jones Gap sports nearly 4,000 acres of trails and camping sure to satisfy any true outdoor enthusiast. Tip: If you're an "armchair outdoor enthusiast" and you go during the winter months, please remember the climate in this part of the state can be very different from others (ah hem...like, the Lowcountry).
Address: 303 Jones Gap RD, Marietta, SC 29661
6. Cowpens National Battlefield - Gaffney, SC
Cowpens National Battlefield is the site of a Revolutionary War battle where Daniel Morgan and his men attacked the British on both sides simultaneously. The move, called a "double envelopment," is one of only a few in history. In fact, this was the only successful double envelopment of the Revolutionary War. Eleven medals were awarded to veterans of the Revolutionary War. Three of the eleven recipients fought in the Battle of Cowpens. History buffs and proud South Carolinians alike will love visiting this historical battlefield.
Address: 4001 Chesnee Hwy, Gaffney, SC 29341
7. Historic Charleston, SC
Take a day trip to Charleston and spend the day wandering the historic streets. How many quaint little courtyards can
you find? Founded in 1670, Charleston and its streets are lined with pre-Civil War era homes. The famous Historic Preservation Society and Charleston's outgoing Mayor Joe Riley are among those credited for the preservation of the historic area. While the Charleston Metro has grown up all around the historic area, downtown Charleston has retained its historic charm and dignity.
Address: Charleston, SC 29401
8. Hunting Island State Park - Hunting Island, SC
Hunting Island is the most popular and most visited state park in all of South Carolina. The 5,000 acre island is one of the only undeveloped sea islands in the Lowcountry. Bring your RV (make a reservation) or tent camp in the park's camping area. You can also hike and bike on the park's many trails, including a 6.1 mile loop. A 19th century lighthouse is among the "must-see" elements of this fabulous park.
Address: 2555 Sea Island Parkway, Hunting Island, SC 29920
9. Hitchcock Woods - Aiken, SC
Equestrians, hikers, dog walkers, and joggers will enjoy the 70 miles of sandy trails in Hitchcock Woods. Tip: It's BYOH (Bring Your Own Horse) if you feel so inclined. Or you can just walk the trails here in one of the largest urban forests in the nation.
Address: There are several entrances for Hitchcock Woods in Aiken, SC
1700 Dibble Road
1770 Dibble Road
2180 Dibble Road
430 South Boundary Avenue SW
670 Coker Spring Road (equestrian and pedestrian access only, no parking)
540 Berrie Road
1120 Clark Road
Year round the Palmetto State has so much to offer in the way of outdoor activities. The cooler temps during the winter months offer a great opportunity to get outside without the sweltering heat and humidity felt in some other months. So let’s get out there this winter and explore this beautiful state.
If you have other suggestions for exploring the Palmetto State this winter we’d love to hear them. Please share them in the comments below.