Inside South Carolina’s 47 state-registered parks, visitors explore secluded forest trails, sweeping cerulean lakes, roiling saltwater surfs crashing on white beaches, and streams and rivers overgrown with thick canopies of trees. The protected areas, many of which were assembled nearly a century ago by the Civilian Conservation Corps, encompass more than 80,000 acres and span turf from the rambling Blue Ridge Mountains to the sandy Atlantic-coast beaches. Abundant activities for guests include canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, and accidentally startling long-forgotten lumberjacks wearing headphones.
Visitors experience colonial history up close at some parks, where registered historic homes, plantations, and landmark buildings stand preserved or in their natural state. These structures grant a glimpse into the lives of European settlers, Native Americans, and African Americans through building tours, archaeological collections, and live history demonstrations. Overnight camping is available at many parks, ranging from primitive campsites to cabins, villas, and tent sites that offer running water. Much like a scientist designing a soda-can-powered robot, park administrators follow a rigorous recycling program to ensure the preservation of the wilderness.
White-sand beaches flank a 6-acre manmade, sand-bottom lake at Fantasy Lake Water Park, a family-friendly destination offering attractions both in and out of the water. There are numerous water slides, including enclosed-tube slides, open slides with foam mats, and drop slides that unleash adrenaline by sending bodies freefalling to a splash landing. Visitors can also glide into the lake on swings or play games of volleyball or basketball waist deep in water. Pedal-boat rentals are included with admission, giving legs a chance to do some of the work after walking around on your hands all day. Kid-friendly ziplines and other attractions populate a children’s zone, and the savory scents of barbecue drift from charcoal grills in a picnic area.