9 Hot Spots for Students to Explore in South Carolina
Although highly recognized for its stunning coastal beaches, South Carolina is much more than just a family vacation getaway. With mysterious natural phenomena, historic battlefields and prestigious performing arts centers, South Carolina is bursting with learning opportunities for student groups.
Adventure is out there
Students who visit Lake Jocassee have the chance to discover its enchanting waterfalls and abundance of wildlife. With 7,500 acres for scuba diving, kayaking and paddle boarding, students can tap into their adventurous spirits. The lake is located in northwest South Carolina and can be reached from various cities: Salem, Seneca, Clemson and Pickens. Included in National Geographic’s “50 of the World’s Last Great Places,” Lake Jocassee is the epitome of an adventure hot spot for student group travel.
Concentrated elliptical depressions known as the Carolina Bays are considered geological phenomena and serve as a perfect science lesson for student travel groups. Located along the Atlantic seaboard, the Carolina Bays and the mystery behind how they originally formed still remains unsolved. Students can wander through the bays and learn about their different formations and ecosystems and possibly even propose their own hypothesis regarding their origins.
The Palmetto Trail—South Carolina’s largest hiking path at 425 miles—is a must-see destination for any adventure seeker. Established in 1994, the Palmetto Trail is a designated federal Millennium Legacy Trail and is one of only 16 cross-state trails in the United States. Each passage is unique and allows students to learn the culture, history and geography of the Palmetto State. Students can revel in the breathtaking natural landscapes while simultaneously practicing conservation and getting in some physical activity.
War…What is it good for?
Founded in 1773 and opened to the public in 1842, the Charleston Museum is recognized by the American Alliance of Museums as America’s first museum. Known for its collection of armory, including Revolutionary War—and Civil War—era swords and equipment from World War I and World War II, the museum also houses the only known fossil of the largest flying bird ever discovered.
Brattonsville Historic District
Home to one of the most important battlefields of the Revolutionary War—the Battle of Huck’s Defeat—Brattonsville Historic District in McConnells offers students a variety of educational experiences. With over 30 historic structures from the 1760s to the late 19th century, Brattonsville Historic District allows students the opportunity to learn about Scots-Irish and African-American history in South Carolina. Staff members dressed in period clothing demonstrate how people farmed the land, cooked their food and entertained themselves in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Fort Sumter National Monument
Notable for two significant battles during the Civil War, the Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston is destined for student travel groups. The National Park Service provides student groups with two different scavenger hunt opportunities: a Fort Sumter scavenger hunt and a museum scavenger hunt. Also available are lesson plans pertaining to the American Revolution, Civil War and National Park Service. Each assignment meets South Carolina social studies curriculum standards.
Art and culture at your fingertips
Columbia Museum of Art
The Columbia Museum of Art is a great destination for students wishing to embrace their cultural and artistic sides. The museum consists of collections ranging from American, European and Asian artworks to modern and contemporary pieces. The museum also holds a number of exhibitions that come and go throughout the year. Student groups have the opportunity to partake in lesson plans designed by the museum for grades K-12. Students can discover why artists were intrigued by ancient civilizations in “A Conversation with the Ancients” or examine how power is expressed through art in “Symbols of Power.”
Abbeville Opera House
Known as the Official State Theatre of South Carolina, the 107-year-old Abbeville Opera House is sure to intrigue theatre lovers. In its early years, it served as a stopping point for road companies traveling from New York to Atlanta. This opera house has held Broadway plays, Shakespeare, Vaudeville acts, minstrel shows and burlesque. It holds performances 36 weekends out of the year.
Located in Greenville, the Peace Center performing arts center offers classical, dance, jazz, country, bluegrass, folk, pop, comedy and Broadway performances. It comprises a 2,100-seat concert hall, a 400-seat theatre and an amphitheater. The Peace Center has four resident companies: Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Carolina Ballet Theatre, South Carolina Children’s Theater and the International Ballet. Additionally, it has hosted debates for several presidential elections.
By Ally Mahoney