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South Carolina

Mr. Harper's Travel Guide

Charleston and its genteel charms remain the star attractions of South Carolina, but the “Palmetto State” has much else to recommend it: the rugged peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains; the placid lakes of the central Piedmont plateau; the broad, sandy shores and resort islands ...

Charleston and its genteel charms remain the star attractions of South Carolina, but the “Palmetto State” has much else to recommend it: the rugged peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains; the placid lakes of the central Piedmont plateau; the broad, sandy shores and resort islands of the Lowcountry. The first state to secede from the Union in 1860 wears its history on its sleeve, from the live-oak promenades of Georgetown to the stately mansions of Charleston's Battery. 

Today, the state rightly declares itself a golfer's paradise, with Myrtle Beach boasting more courses per capita than any other city in the country. The notoriously erratic winds of The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island have sobered thousands of golfers since its opening in 1991. One could easily spend an entire week leisurely enjoying the antebellum homes and world-class restaurants of Charleston, but several singular properties scattered throughout the rest of the state merit attention as well.

bird icon Recommended Luxury Hotels in South Carolina

All Andrew Harper-recommended hotels offer impeccable accommodations and high levels of personal service. Only the best of the best make our list, so we rate them on a scale from bird icon 90 to 100.
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Best Restaurants in South Carolina

High ceilings, exposed brick walls and a spectacular wall of wine holding 4,500 bottles all contribute to the striking interior of this 1834 building in the Market district. The food is modern Lowcountry, with a woodburning grill giving many dishes an extra edge of flavor. Look for appetizers such as the plump crab cake with corn chow-chow and avocado cream. Among the main courses, the crispy wasabi tuna in a ginger-garlic glaze with edamame and shiitake mushrooms illustrates the restaurant’s flair with Asian ingredients and techniques. There are also tableside preparations for two, such as rack of lamb and Chateaubriand. 

167 East Bay Street Charleston $65

Chef Mike Lata of FIG (also a superb restaurant) opened this local seafood-focused small-plate venture in late 2012, and it quickly became a great success. My favorite dish was the pickled shrimp, a humble-sounding appetizer that Lata updated into a gorgeously composed salad. Current selections include broiled oysters with green garlic and Parmesan, and blue crab-topped grouper with asparagus and artichokes in mustard sauce. Try the adroitly balanced Royal Bermuda Yacht Club cocktail. Closed Monday.

544 King Street Charleston $60

In this former warehouse, chef Sean Brock takes a more experimental tack than at his renowned Husk (a restaurant I also recommend), with smaller portions and carefully composed presentations. My dinner included courses such as oysters served with egg yolk and green garlic; medium-rare cobia (black kingfish) with cabbage, cooked sous-vide in pork fat; succulent duck breast with tart satsuma marmalade, mild radishes and a surprising cube of duck confit; and a caramelly frozen brioche “parfait” with contrastingly bitter kumquats. Creative wine pairings rose to the occasion. 

2 Unity Alley Charleston $90. Seven-course tasting menu, $125

Hank’s is a modern evocation of an old Charleston seafood house, where Chef Tim Richardson serves imaginatively updated Lowcountry cuisine. Starters include a rich chowder-style oyster stew with leeks, potatoes and bacon. Among the specialties is local shrimp sautéed with smoked andouille sausage, then stewed with fresh tomatoes, garlic and white wine and served with grits. If you’re looking for a real taste of local seafood, Hank’s seafood platters are legendary. 

10 Hayne Street Charleston $60
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