*Thank you to Jessi Leslie for this guest post!
With canceled vacation plans due to the global pandemic, my family was looking for a way to get out of the house in a safe way. We thought, maybe a camping trip to a state park would be the answer. Now, before you go on thinking I am some super camper that can live off the land…you should know I have never tent camped. Ever. Why not have the first time tent camping be with my husband, three-year-old twins, and two dogs?
I did some research on ‘how to camp’. I was all over Pinterest, Facebook groups, asking my outdoorsy friends the ins and outs. The cool thing is, you make camping what you want it to be. As long as you Leave No Trace, have the best kind of fun for you and your family!
Our first trip was to Hamilton Branch State Park (near Augusta, GA) in late June. We had the best time and our boys were thriving in this outdoor, lakeside, fresh air setting. At the park store, we discovered the SC State Park guide book. The ranger told us that each park has a unique stamp. When you get all the stamps, you turn it into a ranger to verify that you have been to all forty-seven state parks and you become an Ultimate Outsider. (Hello free t-shirt!) We decided that we want to reach the Ultimate Outsider by the following June.
As of this September, we have visited sixteen parks! There are many state parks that make easy day trips from Charleston! The parks we cannot make a day trip out of, we plan a camping trip and camp at one park and visit others nearby. Recently, we camped at Devils Fork State Park (pictured) and visited four others in the area. That was one of our favorite trips and we plan on making it a yearly vacation!
Each park has its own personality, but they all offer the same thing.. outdoor family time. This journey has really been a gift to our family. We get to focus on each other without the distractions of electronics. Nature and green space is a welcome break from working-at-home in the suburbs.
For our day trips, we always pack a picnic lunch, have fishing gear handy, and I check the AllTrails app for nature trails suitable for our young kids. You don’t have to visit all the State Parks in a year. I do encourage you to get out and find your favorite park. Kids love it, and watching kids in their element and thrive is so rewarding as a parent!
Here’s a list of all the state parks under two hours from Charleston:
Charles Towne Landing Historic Site (pick up your guidebook here!)
Colonial Dorchester Historic Site
Givhans Ferry State Park
Colleton State Park
Santee State Park
Edisto Beach State Park
Hunting Island State Park
Hampton Plantation State Historic Site
Huntington Beach State Park
Myrtle Beach State Park
Poinsette State Park
Lake Warren State Park
Sesquicentennial State Park
Woods Bay State Park
Rivers Bridge State Historical Site
Barnwell State Park
About the Author
Jessie Leslie from Summerville, SC is a hairstylist, wife, and mother of twin boys. When she’s not in the salon, you can find her outdoors looking for family adventures, in her vegetable garden, knee-deep in DIY house projects, or in a quiet place reading. Jessie is also a fur-mama to a dog and cat, both rescues. She loves her community by shopping and small and serving with her church.