Day 1: London – Charlotte
Depart from London for your same day flight into North Carolina and your starting destination of Charlotte, the gateway to the Carolinas. Pick up your Alamo car rental and check-in for your overnight stay in this fascinating city, filled with art museums, prestigious restaurants and boutique shopping. Stay 1 night at the Four Points by Sheraton Charlotte (or similar).
Day 2: Charlotte – Greenville (approx. 140 miles)
Today, head over the border to begin your discovery of the Palmetto State, starting in the foothills of South Carolina’s upcountry region. Take a spectacular mountain drive along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11, experiencing the sweeping, panoramic views of the surrounding forests and hills as you drive towards Greenville, home to a thriving arts community, superb restaurants and boutique shopping along its River Walk area. Take a walk along the suspension bridge over the river, and during the summertime you might even get lucky and see a live outdoor concert taking place. Stay 1 night at Hilton Garden Inn Greenville (or similar).
Day 3: Greenville – Columbia (approx. 104 miles)
Today, enjoy a leisurely drive to Columbia, South Carolina’s state capital, and home to the State House, still pock-marked by Civil War cannonballs. Discover the city’s Five Points and Vista areas, home to trendy shops, restaurants and a lively nightlife scene. Take a stroll around the Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Gardens and visit the State Museum, which depicts the colourful history of South Carolina dating back to the revolutionary wars, as well as featuring a new planetarium and 4D theatre. Close by is the beautiful Lake Murray and two other state parks. Stay 1 night at the Sheraton Columbia Downtown (or similar).
Day 4: Columbia – Myrtle Beach (approx. 152 miles)
The lovely South Carolina coast beckons today with a drive east to Myrtle Beach, home to 60 miles of picturesque beaches, green palmetto trees and plenty of southern comfort. This top family resort fulfils every beach-lovers dream with entertainment, waterparks, over 100 golf courses and fantastic shopping. Stay 3 nights at Holiday Inn Club Vacations Myrtle Beach (or similar).
Day 5-6: Myrtle Beach
With over 60 miles of golden sands to enjoy, spend your days soaking up the sun along Myrtle Beach, or practice your backswing with a brisk game of mini-golf, the quintessential Myrtle Beach activity. Then there’s cultural activities and historic sites combined with amusement and waterparks as well as live entertainment, beachside shopping and much more to see. Make sure to visit the new boardwalk where the Skywheel sets the scene aglow. In the evening, the town comes alive with activity and attractions including the fast paced Dolly Parton’s Pirate Voyage extravaganza, or for a quieter alternative, head to North Myrtle Beach and learn how to dance the Shag, an easy-going swing dance set popular since the 1950s.
Day 7: Myrtle Beach – Charleston (approx. 100 miles)
Take a step back in time as you travel further south along the Grand Strand, first point of call is Brookgreen Gardens, a 9000-acre preserve with gardens filled with the largest sculpture collection in the country. Then on past Pawleys Island with its laid-back beach vibe, to beautiful Georgetown famous for its tree lined streets and colonnaded mansions. Pass by Boone Hall Plantation, featured in the Hollywood classic ‘The Notebook’, before arriving into the historic town of Charleston. Stay 3 nights at the Hampton Inn Charleston - Daniel Island (or similar).
Day 8: Charleston (approx. 98 miles)
Radiating the true romance of the South, Charleston is a state treasure, with a history dating back 300 years and featuring one of the largest historical districts in the world. Explore the city on foot or take a horse-drawn carriage down cobblestone streets lined with distinctive architecture and explore the traditional plantations and stunning gardens, or take a themed walk around the tree-lined streets and antebellum townhouses. Charleston’s King Street provides all that you need for evening entertainment with its many restaurants and watering holes.
Day 9: Charleston/Ashley River Road Plantations
On your second day, see where the Civil War started at the Fort Sumter National Monument on a Harbour Cruise, and for a more contemporary perspective visit Patriots Point, home to the USS Yorktown. An afternoon trip out of town will cover the scenic Ashley River Road with its picturesque plantation homes including Drayton Hall, Middleton Place and the magnificent Magnolia Plantation with its formal gardens and slave cabins.
Day 10: Charleston – Beaufort – Hilton Head Island (approx. 98 miles)
Leave beautiful Charleston behind and continue along the South Carolina coast with its maritime forests and tidal salt marshes to reach Beaufort, a picture postcard seaside town of historic museums and artsy shops, best seen from the seat of a horse-drawn carriage. Your destination today is Hilton Head Island, offering miles of pristine sandy beaches with all manner of beach activities, excellent dining and a daunting array of shopping opportunities. Stay 2 nights at Omni Hilton Head Oceanfront Resort (or similar).
Day 11: Hilton Head Island
Take time out to explore the delights of the Hilton Head area, enjoying the salt air, cool ocean breezes, quiet marshes and graceful Spanish moss dripping from live oaks. There are a 100 miles of bike paths to explore or get back to nature with a kayak tour or fishing trip. Spend the afternoon teeing off at one of the many championship golf courses or relax those tired muscles at a luxurious spa. Best of all enjoy fresh-from-the-boat seafood at a waterfront restaurant, whilst watching the sunset over the island.
Day 12: Hilton Head Island – Savannah (approx. 36 miles)
It’s just a short drive south, across Georgia’s state line to the southern gem of Savannah, a living museum of 250 years of history, showcased by its Southern architecture and antebellum homes. Start with an Old Town Trolley tour for an informative and amusing guide to the quirky stories and anecdotes that fill this city, or take a themed walking tour to hear tales of the Civil War, Black Heritage, and the 22 splendid town squares. Stay 2 nights at Holiday Inn Express Historical District (or similar).
Day 13: Savannah (approx. 165 miles)
There’s plenty of time today to explore this fascinating city at your own leisure. The many museums include the Davenport House, a 200-year-old mansion built in Federal style, or visit the Owens-Thomas House, former home to one of the wealthiest cotton merchants in America. In the evening experience the city’s darker side with one of the many ghost tours, haunted homes or cemetery visits available.
Day 14: Savannah – London
Your southern journey comes to an end today, as you head to the airport to drop off your rental car before boarding your flight back to London.
Day 15: Arrive back in London
Your international flight lands into London today. (read more...)