Thursday, December 16, 2010

How I Fell in Love with South Carolina

Summer 2005: One of my first (amazing) trips to Myrtle Beach!
When I was younger, South Carolina was never one of those places I had a burning desire to see. I think at one point my parents talked about a trip to Myrtle Beach—maybe when I was in middle school. But that vacation never came to fruition, which is why I was 22 before I ever saw more of South Carolina than the immediate 95 south corridor.

My first actual visit to South Carolina was a trip to Myrtle Beach with my sister. She was checking out Coastal Carolina University and I was just there to be company. It was a chilly weekend in mid-April 2005, and after just two nights we were both hooked—despite the fact that it was too cold to enjoy the beach.

Beautiful Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC
Thanks to my sister’s relocation to “the Beach” for school, 2005 and 2006 were comprised of numerous visits to the Myrtle Beach area, and when my parents moved to Greenville it wasn’t long before I decided to relocate as well. My relocation led to more trips to Myrtle Beach as well as weekends in Charleston, but it wasn’t until I was forced to leave Greenville for work that I realized how much I’d taken for granted while living there. I vowed that if I was able to move back, I would do everything in my power to explore as much of South Carolina as possible.

As is evidenced by my blog Connecticut Yankees in South Carolina, I did get to move back—and I was able to bring my then-boyfriend, now-husband Steve with me. We’ve now been here just over a year and we have done just what I swore to do: explored much of South Carolina, especially Greenville, and fallen in love.

One of the amazing houses on the Battery in Charleston
I won’t claim that Greenville has the attractions of Charleston or even Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head. Living here is what drew me to South Carolina and what kept me here, and of course I believe it’s an amazing place to visit. At nearly 28, Myrtle Beach no longer holds the attractions it once did, so let’s say you came to visit South Carolina. Where would I suggest?

Playing the "Mouse game" in downtown Greenville
Well, if you want a beach community with a nightlife, Myrtle Beach it is. But if you want a beach community in a quiet, beautiful setting, we have Hilton Head, Edisto, and Folly Beaches. I have to claim ignorance about Columbia, but Charleston can certainly give you your fill of history. Go there and walk the Battery, visit the open market, take a pub or martini tour with the Lesesne Tour Company. Shop on King Street, take a nearby plantation tour or even go see the Confederate submarine Hunley.

And if you want to see the new South—a city that almost died with the local textile industry but was instead brought more to life than it ever was before by an influx of new blood and new ideas—come to Greenville. Catch a baseball game with the Greenville Drive, a Red Sox farm team that plays in a field built to resemble the infamous Fenway Park. Come to Greenville and walk the Liberty Bridge, our very own unique suspension bridge. Come to Greenville and visit the many local shops and restaurants along our beautiful Main Street. Stay at the historic Westin Poinsett, built in the 1920s, and stop by one or more of our museums, including a Confederate Museum, Upstate History Museum, or even the Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery, which has an extensive art collection. We have a surprisingly enjoyable "hidden mice" game downtown called Mice on Main that's even fun for us big kids ;o)

Fluor Field - our "mini Fenway" in Greenville
Really, the wonderful thing about South Carolina is that our state has a great blend of old and new. Even the old places like Charleston have learned to adapt; and the “new” places like Greenville have learned to hold on to their roots just tightly enough. And even better, in three hours you can drive from a beautiful coastal city, one of the oldest in the South, to a great little city at the base of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

South Carolina is easy to fall in love with and truly not a place anyone should miss visiting. I can only hope that in the future people won’t just stick to the coastline, as if it weren’t for Greenville I never would have known just how great this entire state is ;o)

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