This beguiling little town on the river is my favorite place in the Pee Dee  and one of the Palmetto State’s great, but underrated, gems. How gemlike? To tour some of its historic buildings, you simply sign out the keys at the little visitors center. Only in South Carolina , folks.
Primarily known today as the birthplace of jazz great Dizzy Gillespie , it’s actually one of the first settlements in the state, dating from the 1730s. Its heyday came in the early 1800s as a central brokerage point for cotton. Because Cheraw—pronounced “chuh-RAW”—sits where the Pee Dee first becomes navigable, cotton farmers sent their crop here for barge transport down the river to the seaport of Georgetown .
Cheraw played a role in both the Revolution and the Civil War. The former saw General Nathanael Greene’s army encamp nearby, and the latter saw General Sherman bring a large number of troops here—thankfully with little destruction. (Sherman’s dirty work was largely done for him by the time he came; an 1835 fire destroyed many buildings in Cheraw, and a wartime powder explosion wrecked the Village Green  area.)