Web Exclusive: 5 Additional Low Country Destinations

Low Country Destinations
Myrtle Beach because it's there ICW Mile 354 The stretch of Intracoastal Waterway linking Southport at the Cape Fear River in North Carolina and Georgetown in South Carolina arguably includes some of the most miserable mileage on the ICW. Living up to its nickname "The Ditch," it is narrow, congested, and much of the scenery consists of three-story vacation homes lined up like tombstones on the beach. Halfway down this 96-mile stretch, however, beckons one of the greatest entertainment hubs in the world: Myrtle Beach. If the Waccamaw Indians could see it now¿an American Mecca! You might as well stop because you probably can't reach Georgetown before dark. You've got 13 marinas to choose from here, including Barefoot Landing, a restaurant and shopping complex that offers free dockage. (Don't get too excited, though. During the fall migration southward, this long side-tie is usually chock-a-block with sailboats rafted three deep.) With vessel secured, you might as well cut loose and see what the fuss is all about. Fans of Broadway? Take in "Defending the Caveman" at the Alabama Theater. Got kids? Go on a narrated "ghost walk." Dig Jimmy Buffet? Margaritaville awaits with salt on the rim. Golf? Pick from 120 courses. Hungry? Choose between 1,500 restaurants. I said Mecca, right? Tip: In calm conditions take a short cut by going outside at Cape Fear, returning to the ICW through the well marked Little River Inlet. This 25-nautical-mile run can cut more than an hour off the trip to Myrtle Beach even if you are only running in a 10-knot boat.
Low Country Destinations
Charleston for grills night out... ICW Mile 469 Move over Big Easy. Some folks claim that Charleston has supplanted New Orleans as the food capital of the South. Witness the international notoriety of the Hominy Grill, a converted barbershop where chef Robert Stehling offers straight-ahead southern dishes such as his signature shrimp and grits. Stehling stands on tradition, while Charleston's other grills and fine dining venues (Grill 125, Peninsula Grill, Coast Bar and Grill, Magnolias, and 50 others) serve more adaptive cuisine alongside the local favorites. Every March, the city hosts the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, which draws chefs, authors, and wine experts from throughout the United States. It has its own "Culinary Village" with two huge tasting tents at Marion Square, a downtown park. As an example, Anson's restaurant succeeds in amusing with its Ode to the Pig, a presentation of every part porcine in edible form, including "hush piggies" with sausage and a mini-cone filled with roulade of pig's head. Mmmm. www.charlestonfoodandwine.com Tip: Because marinas on the Charleston peninsula are distant from the restaurant/entertainment district, consider a berth across the Cooper River at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, then use the water taxi to get back and forth to downtown. The marina accommodates vessels up to 200 feet.
Low Country Destinations
...And thanks for starting that war, too As a stopover, Charleston rates a two-fer by reason of history as well as fine dining. In the Civil War, Union forces pummeled Atlanta and Richmond until the two looked like they had been carpet-bombed. Yet Charleston, whose citizenry started the awful bloody conflict, escaped with hardly a scratch. Like six degrees of separation, nearly everything about the United States today traces back to our "American Iliad"-an event that spawned baseball, bluegrass and, arguably, Obama-mania. You might say we owe it all to Charleston. Lucky for us, then, that this beautiful old city was spared the torch. You can see the homes and avenues as they appeared during the shelling of Fort Sumter. You can tour the fort itself and learn how the beginning of the conflict played out. And naval warfare buffs can learn about the H.S. Hunley, the first submarine used in combat. When the Hunley torpedoed the USS Housatonic outside Charleston harbor in February 1864, it inspired a murderous new style of warfare much refined throughout the conflicts of the 20th century. The Hunley wreck was found in the 1990s and recovered in August 2000 to great fanfare. Tip: View the Hunley in its 90,000-gallon preservation tank at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center at the old Charleston navy base. Visit the graves of the Hunley's eight-man crew at Magnolia Cemetery, where they were buried in 2004. www.hunley.org Photo courtesy Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau
Low Country Destinations
Savannah for the party ICW Mile 576 Much like Harvard and Yale's famous competition, Savannah has long maintained a rivalry with Charleston to the north. Even though James Oglethorpe's planned city has a rich history and may well be the most beautiful in the United States, it suffers from an inferiority complex. Elements in Savannah wish it were known for fine dining and all that cultural stuff, but instead its reputation is based on the concept of party hearty with some female impersonation thrown in for laughs. C'mon Savannah, you're the city famous for the "go cup," an innovation that encourages people to carry their cocktails into the streets-legally. If that's not enough, your biggest annual event is St. Patrick's Day, which attracts 300,000-plus celebrants wearing green and T-shirts identifying many as "50 percent Irish, 100 percent drunk." So, anyone cruising down the ICW with a boatload of sailors in search of a liberty call, should consider diverting 8 miles up the Savannah River and attaching their ship to the municipal dock, at the very doorstep to intoxication central. No designated driver needed, not even a cab. The docks can handle vessels of up to 250 feet. www.savannahsaintpatricksday.com Tip: And this advice applies throughout the Lowcountry. Savannah's minor league team is not called the Sand Gnats for nothing. Let that be a reminder to wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve clothing and carry insect repellant if venturing out at dusk-especially in spring and fall. Image courtesy Savannah CVB
Low Country Destinations
Cumberland Island for horseplay, plus... ICW Mile 711 Horses, ruins, and bird-watching are the big draws to Cumberland Island, Georgia, a 17 1/2 -mile-long barrier island near the Florida border. The effect is dramatic, like something from a post-apocalyptic movie. Wild horses grazing, wild horses galloping around the ruins of what was once a majestic building. Cumberland Island achieved protected status as a National Seashore in the late 1960s. The ruins of its Dungeness mansion have a long history. The original structure was built by the widow of Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene. The Thomas Carnegie family (whose yacht was also named Dungeness) built the current structure in 1884 on the same foundation. A fire swept through mansion in 1959, leaving the impressive ruins of today. More than 200 horses roam Cumberland, and herds of them often graze at Dungeness. The ICW runs behind Cumberland Island for nearly 20 miles. Avoid the shoals south of Drum Point Island, enter the east branch of Cumberland Sound, then anchor off the National Park Service's Dungeness dock. Visit www.tribeequus.com and www.nps.gov/cuis Tip: Psssst! Those who still enjoy shooting wildlife with a gun instead of a camera might consider participating in the six public hunts allowed each year on the island. Just don't shoot the horses. www.gohuntgeorgia.com