When's the Last Time You Discovered South Carolina?

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By Robin Gibson

Media professionals were treated to brunch at the new Hotel Bennett on the third floor Piazza overlooking opening day of Charleston Wine + Food's Culinary Village in Marion Square. The event marked the third day of the ever-popular festival and offered a chance for like-minded industry folks to network, gather and learn while casting a spotlight on the State of South Carolina. The Public Relations arm of South Carolina's Official Parks, Recreation and Tourism Office, Discover South Carolina, is doing a tremendous job promoting and advancing the Palmetto State's interests with on-point messaging and effective marketing campaigns. But as with anyone used to so many amenities in a city like Charleston, it can be easy to overlook the rest of the state overshadowed by the success of one its own. Here's what I'd like to share so you can be informed and impressed, too.

As a lifelong South Carolinian from the Upstate with ties to practically every corner of the state, I was blown away by some of what I learned during Discover South Carolina's media brunch. For example, did you know that we boast over 200 barbecue restaurants as part of the SC BBQ Trail? Pack your bib and hit the road pulling and picking pork around the only state in the country that features all four official styles of barbecue sauce. Want to know more? Check out SCBBQTRAIL.com.

Like to play outside? Consider becoming an Ultimate Outsider by visiting all 47 of South Carolina's unique state parks. Pulling a page from the Kentucky Bourbon Trail's playbook, outdoor enthusiasts can collect stamps at each park marking and commemorating their journey. If beaches, freshwater lakes, mountains, waterfalls, black water rivers and other wonders of nature appeal to you, you're in luck. Visit SouthCarolinaParks.com to map out and plan your outdoor travel adventure.

Welcome to the digital world of South Carolina! Next time you're traveling around the state pop in one of our Welcome Centers like a tourist and see how the state is promoting itself through the use of technology. Now available are an array of smartphone tools and downloadable maps that can help you take advantage of everything there is to see and do whether you live here or you're just passing through.

Is golf your thing? Good. It isn't mine but those who have an affinity for the sport will feel right at home here with more than 360 public golf courses at their fingertips. Scheduling a tee time is no problem for visitors and residents considering we hold the record of the most golf holes per capita than any other state in the country.

These are just a few of the eye-opening attributes I discovered while gaining an even greater appreciation of this wonderful state I call home. Of course, hospitality reigns supreme all over the place in oft-forgotten corners like Historic Camden in Kershaw County, home to more antebellum homes than anywhere else in the state — a fact you may not have known before reading this. From the Upstate to the Lowcountry, Pee Dee to the Midlands, Grand Strand, Horse Country and every back road in between, Discover South Carolina — you'll be glad you did. South Carolina. Just Right. DiscoverSouthCarolina.com

To those of you enjoying this year's Charleston Wine + Food Festival, cheers! I know I will.