Getting There and Around
- Grand Strand Weekend
- South Carolina for Kids
- South Carolina Bar-B-Que
- A Midlands Weekend
- Civil War Adventures
- South Carolina Waterways
- Three Days in Horse Country
- South Carolina for Seafoodies
- South Carolina Kitsch
- Gullah and African American History
- Upstate Weekend
- South Carolina’s Top Ten for Golfers
- South Carolina’s Offbeat Festivals
- Southern Comforts
- Lowcountry Romance
There are six key airports serving South Carolina. Charleston International Airport (5500 International Blvd., 843/767-1100, www.chs-airport.com, airport code CHS), Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (2000 GSP Dr., 864/877-7426, www.gspairport.com, airport code GSP), Myrtle Beach International Airport (1100 Jetport Rd., 843/448-1589, www.flymyrtlebeach.com, airport code MYR), Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (400 Airways Ave., 912/964-0514, www.savannahairport.com, airport code SAV) off I-95 in Savannah, Georgia, and Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (5501 Josh Birmingham Pkwy., 704/359-4000, www.clt.com, airport code CLT).
While some may be tempted to fly into Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport because of the sheer number of flights into that facility—the world’s busiest airport— I strongly advise against it because of the massive congestion in the Atlanta area, and because it’s really not that close to South Carolina anyway.
South Carolina is extremely well-served by the U.S. Interstate Highway system. The main interstate arteries into the region are the north-south I-95, I-77, and I-85, and the east-west I-20 and I-26.
Keep in mind that despite being heavily traveled, the Myrtle Beach area is not served by any interstate. A common landmark road throughout the coastal region is U.S. 17, which used to be known as the Coastal Highway and currently goes by a number of local incarnations as it winds its way along the coast.
Unfortunately, the stories you’ve heard about speed traps in small South Carolina towns are correct. Always strictly obey the speed limit, and if you’re pulled over always deal with the police respectfully and truthfully, whether or not you agree with their judgment.
Winter driving in South Carolina is generally easy, since it rarely snows here. However, during periods of heavy rainfall unpaved roads can become quite muddy. Should you be unlucky enough to be on the coast during a mandatory hurricane evacuation, be aware that some roads, especially interstates, will become one-way westbound for all lanes to streamline the evacuation. Always follow all law enforcement directions in any case. For updates on planned slowdowns due to construction projects, go to www.dot.state.sc.us/getting/roadcondition.shtml.
South Carolina’s copious network of interstate highways offers numerous rest stops. They are often a very welcome sight, since the state’s heavily rural nature means services can be hard to come by on the road. While all rest stops are clean, safe, and well-equipped, remember there is no gasoline sold at any of them.
Unless you’re going to hunker down in one city, you will need auto transportation to enjoy South Carolina. Renting a car is easy and fairly inexpensive as long as you play by the rules, which are simple. You need either a valid U.S. driver’s license from any state or a valid International Driving License from your home country, and you must be at least 25 years old.
Some rental car locations are in cities proper, but the vast majority of outlets are in airports, so plan accordingly. The airport locations have the bonus of generally holding longer hours than their in-town counterparts.
Passenger rail service in the car-dominated United States is far behind other developed nations, both in quantity and quality. Many towns and cities in South Carolina are served by the national rail system, Amtrak (www.amtrak.com), which is pretty good, if erratic at times—though it certainly pales in comparison with European rail transit.
With the notable exception of the Grand Strand, South Carolina is well-served by Amtrak. You’ll find stations in Camden, Charleston, Clemson, Columbia, Florence, Greenville, and Spartanburg. The closest Amtrak station to the Beaufort/Hilton Head area is in Yemassee.
South Carolina is well-served by the privately-owned bus company Greyhound (www.greyhound.com), which has stops throughout the state, including Aiken, Anderson, Beaufort, Camden, Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, Orangeburg, Spartanburg, Sumter, and Walterboro. While rates are reasonable and the vehicles are high-quality, this is by far the slowest possible way to travel throughout the state, as buses stop frequently and sometimes for lengthy periods of time.
One of the coolest things about the South Carolina coast is the prevalence of the Intracoastal Waterway, a combined manmade/natural sheltered seaway going from Miami to Maine. Many boaters enjoy touring the coast by simply meandering up or down the Intracoastal, putting in at marinas along the way. There’s a website for Intracoastal information at www.cruiseguides.com and a great resource of area marinas at www.marinamate.com.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition