South Carolina’s Low Country is known for it’s calm marshes, coastal islands and rich history. This road trip will take you through coastal South Carolina from Georgetown to Savannah, passing through areas of great natural and historic interest. To drive it in the other direction try our Low Country Scenic Drive article, which includes the southern Georgia coast as well.
Road Trip from Georgetown, SC to Savannah, GA
Begin in Georgetown, a city that has a great shopping area, added to which is the Harbor Walk, a three-block-long boardwalk, offering access to shops and restaurants on one side, and a view of the docks and the Sampit River on the other. Visit the Rice Museum and Herb Garden on the east side of the Harbor Walk, and the Kaminski House and Museum on the west. If you have time, take Cap’n Rod’s Low Country boat tour, to see the area from the water, and hear about its history.
Drive south on US 17 to visit Hopsewee Plantation, also known as the home of the signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Lynch, Jr.’s birthplace. Also called Hopsewee-on-the-Santee, it is an indigo plantation house built in 1735, located at 494 Hopsewee Road. You may wish to take a side trip to the church where Thomas Lynch, Jr. worshiped, the old Brick Church at Wambaw, which was built by French Huguenots in 1768. Its architecture was inspired by the same Palladian ideals that Thomas Jefferson used in his designs. The church is located on a still-unpaved portion of the Old King’s Highway. This 6.6-mile section of what is known locally as the Old Georgetown Road is among the longest and last unpaved portions of the 1,300-mile Colonial era road that once linked Charleston, South Carolina and Boston, Massachusetts. The old church is owned by the St. James Santee Episcopal Church, whose members hold an annual worship service in this historic setting. To get there go south on 17, cross the South Santee River then turn right on S 10-857; go about a mile to the left turn on to Old Georgetown Road, and follow it to the church. Take it slowly, the road is unpaved. Before heading down the Old Georgetown Road, go a bit further along S 10-857 to see Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, with the oldest Greek-porticoed private home in the United States, now a South Carolina State Park.
Continue along route 17 to Mount Pleasant, and visit the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum to see the USS Yorktown, and three other vessels, as well as to learn some of the history of the Vietnam War. Boone Hall Plantation is still a private home; the owners offer a visit to the ground floor of the mansion, as well as Slave Street and interpretations of Gullah life. The plantation has the honor of being one of the African American Historic Places in South Carolina. Another attraction that combines the home of a signer of the Constitution with interpretations of Gullah heritage is the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site. The farm house dates to 1828. There are 28 acres of land that preserve agricultural history and plantation life.
Charleston is one of the finest historic waterfront cities in the nation, and so filled with things to do and explore that we urge you to read the article devoted to a visit there. Do not miss historic Fort Sumter and be sure to book your reservations ahead for a meal at the always-marvelous Magnolia’s.
From Charleston, you can take a side trip down to Folly Beach. If you do, consider a meal at the Lost Dog Café or the Black Magic Café. Other side trips to the coast at Kiawah and Edisto Island are worth doing in this stretch of the journey.
At Gardens Corner Take 21 to Beaufort. A short side trip available to you there is along Old Sheldon Church Road, a perfect Low Country drive, with arching tree branches overhead, to the amazingly picturesque Old Sheldon Church Ruins. There is a parking area and a short walk to the red brick columned ruins. The church was burned during the Revolution and during the Civil War. Today it is a popular wedding destination.
Charming Beaufort has great shopping and many enjoyable restaurants, as well as a wide variety of historic architecture. We especially like Panini’s on the Waterfront for dining. This is a strolling city, and one could easily spend an entire day enjoying it. For natural wonders, visit Hunting Island State Park and its lighthouse.
Saint Helena Island, closer to the coast, is the center of Gullah culture, Visit the ruins of the Chapel of Ease, and learn the history of the town at Penn Center.
Then continue on to Port Royal. Old PR has shops and restaurants. Eat at Moondoggies or 1638 on the avenue. Visit the Sands, walk out the walkway and enjoy the view of the wetlands from the tower. Sharks teeth are often found on the beach. Follow 128 to 170. Cross the Harbor River on 170. Continue on 170 and 278 to Bluffton.
Bluffton is home to the lovely and historic Church of the Cross, with its Low Country interpretation of Gothic revival architecture. There are shops and galleries to explore in Old Town Bluffton, as well as the Heyward House Historic Center. Don’t miss the tour of Rose Hill Mansion, also in the Gothic revival architectural style, the house is surrounded by 400 year old trees, and the host family will probably greet you warmly at the end of your tour. There is only one tour a day, starting at 2 p.m., so making reservations is recommended.
From Bluffton drive to Hilton Head Island. Hilton head Plantation is world famous as a thoughtfully-planned vacation community, and has served as the inspiration for dozens of similar destination towns along the nation’s coast.
Conclude your journey in grand and gorgeous Savannah, Georgia. You may want to consult this article for more on that wonderful city. To continue down the coast of Georgia, refer to our Low Country Scenic Drive article.