St. Helena is home to many beautiful roads. A turn onto Lands End Road puts you right in the heart of the Penn Center. This historically significant landmark is the site of the former Penn School, one of the first educational sites for formally enslaved individuals. Their website says it best, “Opened in 1862 the Penn School tutored freedmen out of slavery and into freedom. After the school closed in 1948, Penn became the first African American site in the state whose primary purpose was to safeguard the heritage of the Gullah Geechie community.
Lake Warren State Park
Lake Warren State Park is located just outside Hampton. The park provides many opportunities for outdoor recreation. A wide variety of wildlife can be found in the floodplain forest, wetlands and woodlands of the park. While walking in the park look for deer, armadillo, turtles, raccoons, squirrels… Be on the lookout for alligators, snakes and birds along the shores of the lake.
If you are looking for a dog-friendly beach adventure that aims to please, look to Fripp Island. This easternmost barrier island in South Carolina is located at the end of Highway 21 in Beaufort County. Just a stone’s throw from Hunting Island State Park, Fripp provides private island vacationing (and living) at its finest. Amenities abound and nature delights. If your furry friend is a part of your vacation plans, this is the destination for you.
Experience a Driving Detour Through Yemassee
Many travelers enjoy driving Highway 17, between Charleston and Savannah. The naturally beautiful landscape of Yemassee is located between the two cities. A simple turn off Hwy 17 onto Old Sheldon Church Road is like stepping back in time. Travel up the road for about two miles and see the church ruins on the right. Parking is located across the street. This church was burned during the Revolutionary War, rebuilt and then destroyed again during the Civil War. There is a debate as to whether the church was burned or disassembled during the Civil War.
Spending the Day in Old Town Bluffton
A drive to Old Town Bluffton is always a good idea. The historic architecture and river views are spectacular. There is also a hidden gem worked into the landscape. Today’s outing started at the Heyward House, located at 70 Boundary St. This property has been in Bluffton since 1841. The house serves as Bluffton’s official Welcome Center and museum. The house is decorated in period furnishings and is complete with artifacts that tell the story of Bluffton, and the people that once lived there. There are also outbuildings located behind the house that represent a cook house and slave quarters.
Colleton County’s Donnelley Wildlife Management Area
Donnelley is a favorite spot for tourists and locals alike. It is located on Hwy 17 in Green Pond (between Yemassee and Jacksonboro) in the heart of the ACE Basin. Open from dawn to dusk, this is a great place to glimpse Lowcountry nature at its finest. The property features a historic rice field system, which is now managed to attract waterfowl and migratory birds. The drive is pleasantly lined with beautiful old live oaks.
Touring Pinckney Island
This 4,053-acre national refuge consists of salt marsh and tidal creeks, forests, grasslands, and freshwater ponds. In combination, these habitats support a diversity of wildlife species.
All trips begin and end at the parking area half a mile from the refuge entrance. Touring this beautiful island is fun on foot or by bicycle. There are over 14 miles of trails to enjoy. Coastal Discovery Museum offers walking tours of Pinckney Island, enlisting the expertise of an experienced bird watcher.
Edisto Island’s Botany Bay
The wildlife management area of Botany Bay Plantation is one of the most unique destinations on Edisto Island. The 4.000+ acre property boasts historical buildings, maritime forest, beach and fresh water ponds. Historically it was two plantations (Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud), that grew sea island cotton and timber. The property is covered in pine, palm and live oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss. Don’t be surprised to see deer, alligators, shore birds, crabs, raccoons and many other maritime forest creatures.
There are two sites listed on the register of historic places. A set of three surviving 1840s outbuildings and the prehistoric Fig Island Shell Ring can be seen on the property.
Explore the plantation house ruins, walk the forest trails, or stroll the beach on this South Carolina controlled wildlife management area
Botany Bay’s beach is often referred to as “Boneyard Beach”. Sun bleached standing and fallen trees line the beach.
Botany Bay does not allow pets, so you’ll have to leave the furry friends behind. Shell removal is also prohibited.
Spending Time at Sgt. Jasper Park
Sgt. Jasper Park is conveniently located off I-95, at Exit 8. After exiting the interstate, point toward Hilton Head and turn left at the first traffic light. Follow the road around until you bump into the park entrance. Trails are located on both sides of the road. Some trails are wheelchair accessible. This is a great place to get off the interstate and stretch your legs. Dogs are welcome here, on a leash. A trail map is available in the park office.
The trails alternate between gravel, boardwalk and natural footing. The views around the lake are pretty, and the trails are relaxing.
There are other opportunities at the part as well. There are canoes, kayaks and a disk golf course. Information can be found in the park office. There’s a playground for the kids and plenty of picnic spots. There is also a covered picnic shelter. Grills can be found at the park as well. The disk golf course is located on the left side of the road. The park also has fishing opportunities.
Watermelon Festival Time
Watermelons are in season and you know what that means… the Watermelon Festival is in town! Yee-haw!
If you are familiar with this event, you know that it is the one time a year you get to devote an entire week to fun, food, and festivities! If you are not familiar with the Watermelon Festival, you should sit down because the excitement and good times can be overwhelming!
2017 marks the 75th Annual Hampton County Watermelon Festival. During this week there are all kinds of events happening, including but not limited to: petting zoos, arts and craft contests, “Taste of Hampton County,” Blue Grass concerts, a street dance, 5K, and my favorite the watermelon eating contest! Free watermelon slices will be given out during certain times of the week and there is even a historic tour of the Old Jail. The week’s dates are – .
If all this amusement is not enough to get you to come, this year’s theme is “Honoring Our Teachers.” You can take a moment to remember and think back to some of the most influential people in your life while enjoying a cool, refreshing, delicious slice of melon. You can’t lose! Check out the Hampton County website for more information http://www.melonfest.org/ and get down to Hampton today.
Just spit the seeds on the ground… we don’t mind!