Whenever my wife, Cele, and I think of the perfect place for entire families—from grandchildren to grandparents—to unplug and unwind, we think of the Lowcountry.
We’ve spent many visits walking hand in hand along the sandy beaches listening to the ocean waves lap along the shore. We’ve also enjoyed introducing our nieces and nephews and their children to the Lowcountry. Whether it’s combing the beach for shells, climbing lighthouses, or teaching them about the unique flora and fauna, we love seeing the Lowcountry through their eyes. When we’re here, the quiet and simple character of the place makes it easy for us to unwind from the modern stressors of everyday life and focus on the family members and friends who join us. The Lowcountry is a very special place, where connecting with friends and family over a long weekend quickly becomes much more important than connecting to the Internet.
The Lowcountry is what keeps Cele and me planning South Carolina vacations as often as possible. It has left an indelible mark on our souls. And we’d like to think that we are passing that love on to others when we introduce this magical place. Of course, it’s the cool, salt breezes and the wide sandy beaches—but, it’s so much more. It’s also the marsh at sunrise—and sunset—with the perfume of pluff mud in the air and the sound of marsh grass blowing in the salt-laced wind. It’s the briny smell and taste of fresh seafood, whether we’re heading to a waterfront restaurant or fixing something up in the kitchen. Then, there’s the history and the culture that can’t fit inside any classroom. This is our Lowcountry and it’s what we love sharing with kids—and kids at heart.
One of the many beauties of the Lowcountry is that’s it’s so multi-dimensional, making it ideal for multi-generation visits. The slow pace of life here allows for lingering visits and conversation with family and long-time or new-found friends of all ages. This is a place that feels like “home” to everyone almost immediately.
A few of our favorite places and activities to share with others include: beachcombing and surf fishing at Hunting Island and Edisto Beach, where we love seeing the reactions of family and friends as they adjust to ocean time and life. Hiking, biking, sunsets and more at Lake Warren State Park are some of our favorite lets-get-out-of-the-house activities. And for culture, heading to historic Penn Center is always a treat. Through programs and events, it preserves and presents the history of the Lowcountry and its African-American Gullah heritage on the site of one of the country’s first schools for freed slaves. For Cele and me, watching a nephew check his fishing line or a niece learn about the history of the Gullah culture instead of going online is reason enough to return to the Lowcountry with family and friends as often as possible.
The transformational power of the Lowcountry can certainly be attributed to the place, but it’s also due to the people. We’ve always found area locals to be very friendly, whether we’re in a quaint small town restaurant or café, buying oysters at a bustling seafood shop, antiquing in one-of-a-kind shops in Walterboro, heading out on a kayak tour with a local guide, hand-feeding llamas at the petting zoo at Bee City Honeybee Farm, or visiting the Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage in Ridgeland. It’s the kind of place where people say hello with a smile when you pass them in the street—or in a kayak—and it’s this kind of graciousness and hospitality that we hope to pass on to our future generations.
Connecting and bonding with friendly Lowcountry locals—and with each other—is most definitely part of the process of unwinding and living for the moment. Locals live by the tides, instead of what their smartphones give as the time. It’s a Lowcountry lesson we love to follow and share as well.
Through outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, nature walks, beachcombing and more, we very much enjoy seeing how kids and kids at heart so easily unwind in the Lowcountry when they’re exposed to the transformational power of its places and people. Like an ebbing tide, the stresses and stronghold of modern culture simply evaporate naturally and are replaced with being in the moment—wherever that may be and whoever it may be with in this special place for us and, hopefully, many converts.
The late beloved writer, Pat Conroy, paints a beautiful picture of the area, “To describe our growing up in the Lowcountry 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.’”