The FTC service area and its regional surroundings in the Palmetto State are filled with amazing places to visit and many of them are within easy reach via a quick road trip. And of course, every destination offers something different, making for one perfect app visitors should install or website they should visit to enhance their adventure.
Consider these six great road-trip destinations (including a couple undeniably quirky ones) located within 100 miles of Sumter, along with the perfect app/website for each:
- The South Carolina State House — Located less than an hour west of Sumter, the 130,000-square-foot seat of South Carolina’s state government can be found in the state capital of Columbia. Built in the Classical Revival style, the stately and historic building is home to the South Carolina General Assembly and the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor. Guided and self-guided tours are available to those who visit.
Experience-enhancing app: The SC Legislature app offers a great way for South Carolina residents to keep up with state-level legislative activities, find and contact their representatives, see live and archived video related to the legislature and view stats about the current legislative session. The app is available for Apple and Android.
- The South Carolina State Museum — While in Columbia, visiting the state’s largest museum is a great way to round out a day filled with amazing educational experiences. This Smithsonian-affiliated museum, found along the banks of the Congaree River in downtown Columbia, boasts a collection containing over 70,000 artifacts. Its exhibits cover four disciplines: South Carolina Art, Natural History, Science & Technology and Cultural History. It is also home to a planetarium, a 4D theater and an observatory.
Experience-supporting site: The Virtual Museum page on the facility’s website offers a collection of e-learning resources that can get visitors revved up for their educational adventure. The offerings here include virtual exhibits, video presentations and links to other valuable online resources.
- South of the Border — Found at the North Carolina-South Carolina state line in Dillion, S.C. (actually the address is Hamer, S.C.), this quirky attraction off I-95 is easy to spot from afar. That is largely thanks to a nearly 200-foot-tall, sombrero-topped sign (the nation’s largest neon sign east of the Mississippi River, in fact) depicting the attraction’s friendly mascot, Mexican bandito Pedro. Visitors who make the journey are in for plenty of Mexico-in-Dixie-themed adventure at the South of the Border complex, including souvenir shopping, dining and a range of attractions such as the 200-plus-foot-tall Sombrero Observation Tower, the fun rides of Pedroland Park, and the many species of crocodiles and snakes found in the Reptile Lagoon display.
Experience-supporting site: Offering a rundown of upcoming events and attraction schedules, updates on offerings and destination-related news, Pedro’s Blog is a great pre-visit resource for road-trippers planning to make the trek.
- Congaree National Park — Found about 35 miles west of Sumter near Hopkins, Congaree National Park is home to the Southeast’s largest remaining and still-intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest. Filled with an amazing array of wildlife and incredibly diverse plant life, the park’s floodplain forest features some of the tallest trees in the Eastern United States. And with the Congaree River flowing right through it, Congaree National Park offers a range of recreational opportunities for visitors with canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking and camping among the most popular.
Experience-enhancing app: The National Park Service’s NPS App, which is available in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, puts helpful information about more than 400 national parks nationwide at users’ fingertips. Among the trip-planning details it can provide are interactive maps, self-guided park tours, information on in-park amenities and accessibility, activity recommendations and park-related news and updates.
- Huey Cooper and His Lucky Rabbit’s Foot — Found right in the heart of the FTC service area, the Huey Cooper sculpture in the Lake City Historical District is a unique tribute to a beloved (and also unique) area historical figure. A longtime fixture in downtown Lake City, Huey was a friendly and cheerful character with an odd offering: For the low price of a nickel, he would let those strolling by rub his prized rabbit’s foot for good luck. Today, a larger-than-life bronze statue marks the spot at the corner of Acline and Main streets where Huey used to spend long stretches of his days. The statue of Huey still offers a rabbit’s foot for rubbing and a slot in the sculpture’s right pocket even lets visitors deposit their nickels to enhance their chances at good luck.
Experience-supporting site: Offering insights on Huey and a range of other historical area figures, culture and events, the Lynches Lake Historical Society and Museum is a great resource for those interested in the region’s past. Among its standing exhibits are ones covering the Civil War, Early Trades, Natural History, Textiles and the Revolutionary War. Further, visitors to Huey’s statue are only a short, two-block stroll from the museum’s location on East Main Street in Lake City.
- Brookgreen Gardens — Found in Murrells Inlet about 20 miles south of Myrtle Beach, this sprawling sculpture garden and wildlife preserve covers 9,100 beauty-filled acres between the Waccamaw River and the Atlantic coast. Home to the nation’s most expansive collection of American figurative sculptures, Brookgreen Gardens serves as a prime destination for nature and art lovers, largely thanks to its several themed botanical gardens and the 2,000-plus artworks it puts on display. Additional attractions on the property include nature trails, a butterfly garden, historic rice plantations and the Lowcountry Zoo. And signature special events held throughout the year include educational programs, special art exhibits and the attraction’s renowned Nights of a Thousand Candles during the holiday season.
Experience-enhancing app: Brookgreen Gardens offers its own app, available in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, that provides a rundown of on-site attractions, a property map and details on much of the art on display there.
Bonus: Another app that could come in quite handy at Brookgreen Gardens is the LeafSnap app, available for Apple and Android users, which helps users identify 90% of all the world’s known plant and tree species with a simple snap of their device’s camera.
Need a new smartphone with all the latest features including the ability to run all kinds of travel apps and visit the latest attraction-focused websites? FTC offers the latest iPhones as well as a range of other smartphones, including top-of-the-line Samsung and LG models. Visit ftc.net today to explore our latest money-saving promotions and get a device that helps you easily connect to the area’s top attractions.
Photo courtesy of SC Tobacco Festival.