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.
Celebrating its 25th year, the Sumter County Museum immerses visitors of all ages in everyday life from decades past with extensive historical collections and hands-on exhibits. In the handsome Edwardian Williams-Brice house, guests examine artifacts, artwork, and personal effects of Sumter County residents from the early 20th century, while a Carolina Backcountry homestead gives kids and adults alike a taste of life in the early 1800s with a log cabin, blacksmith's shop, and settler's house.
The water hazards at Lakewood Links may seem innocuous at first glance—until golfers realize that they are seemingly everywhere. Waterways come into play on 11 holes throughout the round, often in positions that leave golfers little room for error. On the ninth hole—a 421-yard par-four rated the most difficult on the course—a pond intersects the fairway right down the middle, making golfers think twice about hitting their driver off the tee. The par three 13th hole is the course's signature track, and for good reason: from the tee box, golfers take aim at a scenic island green stationed 173 yards in the distance. Before rounds, golfers can warm up with practice strokes at the driving range or by using their tees as chopsticks over lunch at the Bamboo Bar.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,826 yards from the tips * Course rating of 73.8 from the tips * Slope rating of 124 from the tips * Four tee options