Chattooga River ResortSituated just minutes from the roaring Chattooga River, the new 34-acre Chattooga River Resort and Campground features nine rustic motel rooms and more than 40 campsites along the shady banks of Long Creek. For outdoor adventurists, it’s a great home base for exploring Oconee County, situated in northwest South Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area boasts four lakes for boating, fishing, and scuba diving, including Lake Jocassee, noted for its many waterfalls tucked away behind craggy coves. Jocassee beckons scuba divers with its deep, clear water and underwater playground of boats, caverns, and a former girls camp and lodge that was flooded in the 1950s and now rests below 250 feet of water. There’s also the little-known Lake Tugaloo, which is ideal for paddling, with restricted motorboat access, several small waterfalls, gorges, and beautiful forest-covered foothills on all sides. More than 50 miles of hiking trails wind through the county past pristine forests, rivers, and mountain streams. From the Chattooga River Resort, it’s about 10 miles to Oconee State Park and the southern trailhead of the Foothills Trail. Adjacent to the Sumter National Forest, the Foothills Trail is one of the state’s most rugged backcountry hiking destinations, but the views of the Blue Ridge Escarpment make it well worth the effort. When you’re ready to hit the whitewater, multiple outfitters provide trips down the Chattooga, including Wildwater Ltd. Rafting. You can choose from several different adventures, including a relatively tame Class II-III section, perfect for families and novices. More experienced and daring rafters can try Section IV, which drops more than 75 feet and winds through roaring rapids and falls, including Corkscrew and Crack-in-the-Rock. At day’s end, head back to the resort, where the spacious post-and-beam lodge has a restaurant (pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and more) and full-service bar. There’s also an expansive courtyard and terrace with fire pits and two stages that host live music throughout the year. The motel rooms start at $60 a night and the $10-a-night campsites provide access to electricity, water, and a heated bathhouse.
Hotel DomestiqueGeorge Hincapie, a 17-time Tour de France competitor, is opening the luxurious Hotel Domestique near charming Greenville, S.C., in October. The 13-room boutique hotel is set among hilltop vineyards in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. The hotel was formerly known as La Bastide at The Cliffs, and Hincapie has transformed the 29-acre space into a contemporary and modern retreat with French and Mediterranean design touches, complete with a pool, trendy bar, and the gourmet Restaurant 17, named after his impressive number of Tour De France races. Surrounded by pristine mountains and miles of country roads, the hotel will offer bike rentals and host guided trips. If you’re looking for less strenuous adventures, Hotel Domestique is less than 10 miles from Greenville, which has received national accolades for its revitalized downtown. The tree-lined Main Street is bustling with retailers, bars and restaurants. Also be sure to stroll over to the scenic Falls Park, which features walking trails, picnic areas, and the 380-foot Liberty Bridge that overlooks Reedy River and waterfalls. Afterwards, take in a show or concert at the Bi-Lo Center. Located in the heart of downtown Greenville, this state-of-the-art, 15,000-seat arena hosts sporting events, top-selling music artists, as well as family-friendly events. For nature lovers, there are several state parks nearby, including Table Rock and Chimney Rock, both of which provide beautiful vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, miles of hiking trails, and scenic lakes.
CharlestonHeralded as one of the best travel destinations in the world, Charleston, S.C., is truly a one-of-a-kind city that combines natural beauty, rich history, gourmet restaurants, and a thriving cultural scene. A great home base for exploring it all is The Cottages on Charleston Harbor in nearby Mt. Pleasant, where you’ll find 10 gorgeous waterfront cottages. At about 1,400 square feet each, with full kitchens, master bedrooms, and spacious living rooms, the cabins offer more room and privacy than a hotel, while still serving as a convenient gateway to Charleston. All guests have access to a common beach area, along with an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, and clubhouse. Moreover, each cabin boasts a spacious screened-in porch, an ideal spot to relax in a hammock and watch boats drift by. Nearby attractions include Patriots Point, a scenic waterfront park where you can tour the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, a World War II vessel that earned 11 battle stars during its 27 years of service. There’s also Patriots Point Links, a stunning golf course with panoramic harbor views. When you’re ready to venture into Charleston, the Holy City is less then a 10-minute drive across the Cooper River Bridge. (You can also walk across the bridge or take a water taxi from Charleston Harbor Marina.) With so much to see and do, Charleston can be a little overwhelming. A fun way to start your visit is with a horse-drawn carriage tour of downtown. There are several carriage companies located in the famed City Market area, including Palmetto Carriage Tours, which offers hour-long narrated tours past historic mansions, gardens, churches, and parks. The City Market itself is also a not-to-be-missed experience. This vibrant, four-block area has hundreds of vendors selling everything from paintings and pottery to local spices and handmade baskets. Not far from City Market is Battery Park, which features beautifully landscaped lawns, shady oak trees, a stately gazebo, and an expansive boardwalk along the peninsula. If time allows, another fun place to visit is the South Carolina Aquarium, which has thousands of animals, including sea turtles, alligators, jellyfish, sharks, and lemurs, showcased via nearly a dozen exhibits.Of course Charleston is also famous for its fabulous restaurant scene. Foodies will surely delight at the diverse lineup, including popular favorites like Husk, which is located in a restored pre-Civil War mansion on Queen Street and offers fresh Southern classics.
Myrtle BeachThanks to its many beaches, lively boardwalks, and world-class golf courses, Myrtle Beach is one of the most poplar vacation destinations in the country, attracting about 14 million visitors each year. September is a great time to go as the summer crowds have thinned out and the weather is still sunny and pleasant, with temperatures averaging in the mid 70s Great bargains can also be found in September, including at Avista Resort in North Myrtle Beach, which offers one-, two-, and three-bedroom beachfront condominiums with fully equipped kitchens and private balconies starting at about $100 a night. There’s plenty here to keep everyone entertained, with three pools, two hot tubs, and a lazy river, perfect for relaxing in an inner tube and going with the flow. When you work up an appetite, there’s an onsite restaurant, lounge, and poolside grill. If you’re looking for a little exercise, head to the fitness center or sign up for an oceanfront Carolina Power Yoga class. For other fun activities, the beach is just steps away, and Avista is within walking distance to numerous restaurants, nightclubs, shops, and other attractions, including Ocean Drive Pavilion and Amusement Park, which unveiled several new rides this year. You can also embark on a shopping spree to Barefoot Landing or Broadway at the Beach, both of which feature dozens of shops and boutiques, along with nightclubs and live entertainment. And if you want to venture a little further south, Downtown Myrtle Beach has a new 1.2-mile boardwalk, with many new stores and restaurants, as well as the new SkyWheel complex, which features a 200-foot Ferris wheel.