BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS
The trip through South Carolina begins in the hilly northwest. This is where the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains, a chain of mountains extending over several states, cross the Palmetto State of South Carolina.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are home to the 1085-meter-high Sassafras Mountain, the highest point in South Carolina. The mountain is named after the sassafras tree, also known as the fennel wood or clove-cinnamon tree.
Hikers should really undertake the ascent, because at the summit an exceptional tourist attraction awaits. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is building an observation platform, which is due to open in late summer of 2018. On clear days, it promises a panorama view of the four states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.
Now we leave the mountains and head southeast towards the coast, entering the Piedmont. The name of this plateau-like region is derived from the French “pied” for foot and “mont” for mountain, as the Piedmont lies right at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Piedmont includes a number of South Carolina’s economically important cities such as Greenville, Greer and Spartanburg, which are home to the automotive industry. The BMW Spartanburg Plant, the largest BMW Group plant worldwide, operates here with 9,000 employees. The plant is exclusively dedicated to BMW X models – which is why Spartanburg is known as the “Home of the X”.
The BMW Group success story in the USA would not have been possible without the openness and warm-heartedness of the people living in South Carolina.
Chairman of BMW AG
Spartanburg, however, is best known as an exciting place for music fans: One of the most famous representatives of the Piedmont Blues, Pink Anderson – who by the way, the band Pink Floyd named itself after – was active around this region. Piedmont blues, in contrast to the deep blues, generally addresses common everyday topics. If you want to get to know more about this type of blues, you should follow the Spartanburg Music Trail. The trail leads you through historic Spartanburg, telling the musical history of the city at several stops along the way.
An absolute must-see for everyone who visits this region: the panoramic Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway Route (SC 11). It leads you through gentle hills country and romantic river valleys. Along the way you’ll come across countless possibilities for short hikes, for example in the state parks of Table Rock and Caesars Head, with exciting trails over suspension bridges revealing views of rushing waterfalls.
Let us continue to the state capital of South Carolina, Columbia, named after discoverer Christopher Columbus. The city is home to nearly 134,000 residents and is located in the midst of the Sandhills Region, an area known for its broad, sandy areas.
Another worthwhile stop is the South Carolina State Museum. There’s something for everyone interested in learning more about the state's past. Thousands of exhibits cover the highlights of the 20th century, the time of America's two great wars as well as the time of the colonial settlement all the way back to the life of the native inhabitants of South Carolina 14,000 years ago.
If you prefer nature, then head out northeast from Columbia on United States Highway 1 (US1). On your way through the border region between the hilly part of South Carolina and its flatter coastal region, you will find numerous noteworthy stops, such as the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, where birdwatchers keep an eye out for the threatened red-cockaded woodpecker, or Cheraw State Park, a popular destination for golf fans – the 18-hole Cheraw State Park Golf Course, with its broad fairways, gently sloping greens and Lake Juniper as a backdrop is a truly pleasurable place to play golf.
Visitors to South Carolina can find even more golf courses in the state's flat coastal plain. Hilton Head island on the Atlantic coast alone offers more than 20 golf courses. But golf greens are not the only lure of South Carolina’s southern coast. Fans of long beach walks will find Myrtle Beach a paradise, while history buffs can travel on to Charleston and historic Fort Sumter.
The port city of Charleston, founded in 1670, is beloved for its historic Old Town: cobblestone streets, horse carts and pastel-coloured houses take visitors back to the 19th century. Stroll about the romantic French Quarter and marvel at the many church steeples that gave Charleston its nickname “The Holy City”.
In addition, Charleston is known for outstanding cuisine. Of special note is Gullah cuisine with its West African roots, which, as a relic of the era of slavery, is very widespread around Charleston. To experience it, you can for example line up at Bertha’s Kitchen at 2332 Meeting Street Road. In this restaurant, which opened in 1979, you can really get a taste of the culinary history of South Carolina over a plate of okra soup – a thick stew of okra pods, tomatoes and pork. The James Beard Foundation, which gives annual awards to restaurants for their regional authenticity, awarded Bertha’s Kitchen the coveted America's Classic Award in 2017. Another speciality of the Charlestonian kitchen: the Lowcountry Boil – a stew of shrimp, sausages, potatoes and corn.
We wind up our tour of South Carolina with an interesting fun fact: the Charleston originated here, a dance made popular in the 1920s by Josephine Baker.
The BMW Spartanburg Plant
The BMW Spartanburg plant, in Greer, South Carolina, is the BMW Group's largest plant worldwide. Around 1,400 BMW X3, BMW X4, BMW X5 and BMW X6 automobiles leave the assembly line every day. Currently more than 9,000 people are employed at the Spartanburg plant. Until 2021, BMW will invest another 600 million euros here. Currently the plant is gearing up to produce the BMW X7, which will appear on the market at the end of 2018.