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Low Country - South Carolina

Few regions in the United States pack in as much history, culture, and natural beauty as the Low Country—a 200-mile (322-kilometer) stretch of coastal South Carolina and Georgia.

 

OVERVIEW

A pungent, slightly salty smell permeates the air of the Low Country. Its source is the area's pluff mud: the dark marsh soil left behind after the tide recedes. That smell—and term—is one of the Low Country's many distinctive qualities. Other features that tend to leave lasting impressions on visitors include the wide, flat expanses of marsh grass, the shrill songs of tree frogs and katydids, the silhouettes of live oak trees, their long, arching limbs shrouded in silvery clumps of Spanish moss. Then there's the seemingly omnipresent water—tidal marshes, rivers, estuaries, and the Atlantic Ocean—often with at least one shrimp boat trawling. On a trip through the Low Country, Charleston and Savannah make convenient bookends. Some backtracking is required in between—out to the islands—but that just gives you more time to absorb the scenery. After all, this trip should not be rushed, but made slowly, Southern style.

 

START IN CHARLESTON

Precise boundaries for the Low Country are unclear, but Charleston is generally agreed to be its largest economic center. Begin your trip on the edge of the historic district with a stroll down East Bay Street; on one side you'll see some of Charleston's historic architecture, from Italianate to art deco, and on the other, across the harbor, Fort Sumter, where the first shot of the Civil War was fired. For your first taste of the South, try the shrimp and grits fritters at High Cotton while live jazz plays.

—Text by Suzanne Bopp, adapted from National Geographic Traveler