Centuries-old mansions, Spanish moss-draped trees, spooky cemeteries, cobblestone walks: in a word, Charleston. As you walk the gas lamp-lit streets at night, past horse-drawn carriages and the antebellum architecture, you just might think you've traveled back in time. But just because this South Carolina city is proud to celebrate its heritage doesn't mean it's stuck in the past: Charleston boasts innovative restaurants, interesting shops, contemporary art galleries and the world-class Spoleto Festival USA. This is the place to experience the genteel South – after all, it was the home of suave "Gone with the Wind" character, Rhett Butler.
With more than 30 cities and towns in the United States named Greenville, it's no wonder the tourism slogan for Greenville, South Carolina, is "yeah, that Greenville." Founded in 1786, that Greenville is the oldest of the group, the third-largest urban area in the state and one that is known nationally as one of the fastest-growing cities in the South. From families and foodies to cyclists and culture lovers, visitors will find an array of people, attractions and activities, many of them centered in the compact downtown district.
To fit in on Hilton Head, you're going to need to slow down. This 42-square-mile barrier island might often welcome a wealthier clientele, but you don't need to rush to keep up with the Joneses. Follow the leisurely pace of the residents – the population is part descendant of the Gullah, or the freed slaves who settled in the area, and part East Coast mainlanders who make Hilton Head their second home. Your fellow vacationers will likely be white-haired retirees (thanks to the world-class fairways) and young families (thanks to the clean beaches). So if you're looking for a rollicking nightlife scene, this may not be the spot for you. This isn't to say there's no nightlife – it exists, but usually in the form of leisurely sunset dinners and live music on the waterfront. In short: If you've come to Hilton Head, you've come to relax.
The clean beaches are the main draw in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but there's more to this vacation hot spot than its 60 miles of brown sand. One of the most popular East Coast family vacation destinations, Myrtle Beach boasts amusement parks that offer everything from water slides to roller coasters to race tracks. While the shopaholics of the family spend time at the outlet malls, golfers of all skill levels can flock to one of the area's more than 100 courses, and then the whole family can enjoy pirate or medieval-inspired revues during dinner. When you're not on the beach, attractions like Ripley's Aquarium and the Broadway Grand Prix can entertain family members of all ages. Plus, there's a minor league baseball team for sports lovers. In short, Myrtle Beach is the ideal destination for budget-minded families looking for a multitude of entertainment options on a budget.
Best Places to Visit in the USA