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18 Things Only Someone Who's Been to South Carolina Will Understand

South Carolina Insider Guides
by Jordan McCutcheon May 2, 2016

1. The first shots of the Civil War took place at Fort Sumter.

We all know what happened next.

2. South Carolina beaches have their own distinct personalities.

Beginning in the north at Myrtle Beach and following down the coastline of South Carolina to Folly aka The Edge of America, the 187-mile coastline changes drastically. Myrtle, with its boardwalks and buffets, is reminiscent of a traveling carnival. The sand-dusted streets and low-slung tin roofs shade long, narrow porches on Sullivan’s Island. People watching from the veranda at Poe’s Tavern is like seeing a music video from a 1950s beach song. Further south, Folly Beach has solid surf and a bunch of good restaurants along Center Street

3. Pat Conroy is the ultimate legend who depicted the Lowcountry with the elegance it deserves.

The legacy of Conroy’s tomes will forever illustrate the rich culture of South Carolina’s Lowcountry in haunting, authentic prose. He wrote about its beauty juxtaposed against the darkness of his own past. Reading Conroy is the best way to have an inside look to the dignified charms this side of the South. In his words:

“To describe our growing up in the low country of South Carolina, I would have to take you to the marsh on a spring day, flush the great blue heron from its silent occupation, scatter marsh hens as we sink to our knees in mud, open you an oyster with a pocketknife and feed it to you from the shell and say, ‘There. That taste. That’s the taste of my childhood.’ ¨ – The Prince of Tides.

4. Beware of all sports bars during Clemson vs. Gamecocks football games.

If you’ve been in South Carolina during this particular brawl between the major rivals, you may have witnessed a fight or accidentally thrown a punch yourself.

5. Myrtle Beach can be an abomination created by high school senior weeks, all-you-can-eat lobster buffets, and biker week.

Ask around. You probably know someone who has been arrested here. Twice. In all fairness, this is a myth created by those both senior and biker weeks, particularly when they occur simultaneously. You know to avoid these weeks in Myrtle at all costs unless you are 18 or own a Harley. And to never frequent buffets.

6. The only authentic Slave Relic Historical Museum exists in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Yes, plantations overflow with tourism, their driveways canopied with Live Oak trees touching from across the street and Magnolia’s blooming in the lush backyards behind well-kept farm homes. Some tell somewhat of the horrific past, but most are prime spots for weddings and picnics. The Slave Relic Historical Museum is dedicated in the preservation authentic African American culture. Here you can find knowledgeable insight of the Underground Railroad, the Abolitionist Movement, and the slave trade.

7. Beach music never dies.

You figured out how to do the Charleston or Shag (not that kind) with a beautiful stranger one sultry summer evening on a boardwalk to a live band blaring Bruce Channel’s “Hey Baby!” You’ll never meet that stranger again, but you still remember all the steps and the warmth of his arm around your waist.

8. No one does shrimp & grits or Lowcountry boils better.

Once tasted you wonder how your taste buds could ever go without shoving a spoonful of cheesy, buttery grits down your gullet. How have you ever lived without boiled local shrimp, corn, potatoes, sausage, and crab from a bucket buffet? Never mind shucking fresh oysters. You know to go to Pearlz, where you can watch a pro open them properly and add one to a shot of pepper vodka and spicy cocktail sauce.

9. The idea of snow wreaks havoc over the state, especially if you’re a College of Charleston student.

“Snowstorms” or snow flurries that stick for an hour or two at best are like hurricane days (excluding Hurricane Hugo): they create a mentality of insanity. School gets canceled, and people have parties “to prepare.” Then, things like this happen on the CofC Cistern on live television.

10. College of Charleston, established in 1770, is the oldest municipal college in the U.S.

They used to hang pirates from what is now a Starbucks that sits opposite campus and across Calhoun Street or so say the school tour guides. Did they? Maybe. Regardless, the campus sells itself. While in the midst of historic downtown Charleston, the campus is enclosed by walls that seclude its antique clock and stoic, centuries-old Randolph Hall from bustling, modern-day King Street. Nowhere you’ve been since brings that rush of nostalgia you have of tripping over the candy brick paths in front of everyone on your way to class in the morning.

11. After Charleston rebuilt itself from the Civil War, it was once again destroyed by one hell of an earthquake in 1886.

Most don’t imagine South Carolina and earthquake together; nevertheless, one that measured a 7.3 magnitude, killed 60 people and caused at least $6 million in damage did indeed rock the coastal city. As someone who’s frequented the city, you know remnants of the earthquake remain in the fancy earthquake bolts that embellish most historic downtown buildings. Those tiny, gold stars or large turquoise crosses embedded into old brick or stone houses aren’t just for decoration; they’re holding the place up in case of another natural disaster.

12. The 1,500-year-old Angel Oak Tree is the oldest, and arguably most enchanting living thing east of the Mississippi.

Standing under her magnificent, thick arms as they reach outwards and towards the sky is a peaceful, awe-inspiring experience. You have a picture hugging the ancient, wild Oak on John’s Island, but it doesn’t quite do the tree justice through a lens.

13. Sweetgrass baskets and Gullah history thrive between Charleston and Mount Pleasant — a heritage that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

It’s difficult to ignore the African American women from Gullah heritage weaving sweet grass baskets at the Charleston City Market. But it’s important to remain respectful of their privacy. The Gullah origin dates back decades and keeps its tradition intact and private—something obvious from the clothing and the intricate basket weaving.

14. The cable-stayed Arthur J. Ravenel Bridge is the longest of its kind.

You’ve run across it with over 40,000 people during the 10K Cooper River Bridge Run and witnessed brilliant New Year’s fireworks close-by or biked from downtown to Sullivan’s on a balmy Saturday. Although you dread the traffic that tends to haunt the bridge at rush hour, you at least have an incredible seaside sunset view while you’re stuck in it from inside your car.

15. Jacob Preston is Bluffton’s tallest potter.

That’s not why you visit him. For 40 years, he’s resided in Bluffton Tabernacle honing his skills as a master potter from sinks to pie platters to tiles. Most of what he does is invented from his own colorful mind, but you’ve customized your own, too.

16. Summer concerts at Palmetto Bluff are always a go.

The romance of summertime is accentuated by live music under Live Oaks coated in Spanish moss and it never disappoints. The event is a seasonal occurrence to look forward to and an exceptional way to give back: each car is $25, all of which benefit Family Promise of Beaufort County.

17. The Edisto River is best experienced inside a tube with a cold brew.

You may get swallowed by an alligator, but as long as you managed to attach a suitable cooler of booze, you won’t even know it’s happening. No, but really, it’s fun.

18. Day drinking at Carolina Cup is a right of passage.

Each April welcomes spring blossoms in window boxes, warm beach breezes and one day where a majority of the state goes to the Kentucky Derby of the Carolinas: Carolina Cup in Camden, South Carolina.Yes, there are big hats, Lilly Pulitzer, and Firefly Sweet Tea. You probably won’t see an actual horse, and again, someone you know may get arrested.

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