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Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel

SOUTH CAROLINA

Among Charleston's many interesting historic attractions is Denmark Vesey's House & Garden, the site of meetings where Vesey and others organized the largest slave insurrection in U.S. history.

Visitors to Hilton Head Island, part of the state's Low Country region, can take a tour of several sites that highlight the area's African-American Gullah heritage tour. Myrtle Beach, a favorite resort at the northern end of South Carolina's Atlantic Coast, is home to Brookgreen Gardens - which boasts the world's largest collection of American sculpture - and 100 area golf courses.

In the Olde English District, situated in the northeast portion of the state, two notable visitor attractions include the Dizzy Gillespie Birthpark in Cheraw and the Cheraw Historic District. The African-American heritage of northwest South Carolina is showcased at the Greenville Cultural Exchange Center. For outdoor recreation, Greenville's picturesque Falls Park on the Reedy features gardens, a nature trail and picnic areas.

BEAUFORT

A Low Country destination on South Carolina's Port Royal Island, the entire town of Beaufort has been named a National Historic District. Neighboring St. Helena Island is home to the Penn Center and York M. Bailey Museum, which are located on the campus of the area's first post-Civil War school for African-Americans.

A Horse-drawn carriage or walking tour is a great way to view Beaufort's more than 50 historic buildings, and the city presents tours of some of its historic homes in the spring and fall. Art Walks spotlighting local galleries are presented in conjunction with the home tours. Other special events for experiencing the area's history and culture include the Gullah Festival, held each Memorial Day weekend; A Taste of Beaufort, a food, wine art, music festival in early May; the Water Festival in July and the Shrimp Festival in October.

The list of year-round area attractions includes historic St. Helena Episcopal Church; Old Village in the town of Port Royal, home to the Lowcountry Estuarium and a variety of restaurants and shops; and the Parris Island Museum, with exhibits on military history and island settlements dating back to the 1500s housed at the U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

COLUMBIA

The 142,000-sq. ft. Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center offers meeting groups the largest venue in South Carolina's capital city.

In their free time, delegates might want to explore local Black cultural and historical sites like the Waverly Historic District; Mann-Simons Cottage, the home of Celia Mann, a slave who walked from Charleston to Columbia after gaining her freedom; and the African American History Monument on the grounds of the South Carolina State House.

Kid-friendly attractions include the EdVenture children's museum or the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens, while the adults might enjoy a night out at the Big Apple, a synagogue-turned-dance club.

TENNESSEE

Tennessee is divided into three major regions, each having a distinct cultural flavor and landscape. In west Tennessee, situated between the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers, the best-known destination is Memphis, the state's largest city.

Middle Tennessee , where rolling hills and the Cumberland River are geographic focal points, is home to the capital city of Nashville, as well as scenic sites like the Tennessee Walking Horse Trail. The area also is known for its spirits - that is, the kind being produced at whiskey manufacturers like the Jack Daniel Distillery, the oldest registered distillery in America.

East Tennessee includes Knoxville, Chattanooga and Gatlinburg - a favorite vacation destination and gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort & Amusement Park, Chapel in the Glen, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and the Great Smoky Mountain Arts & Crafts Community are just a few of the attractions visitors to this area can explore.

CHATTANOOGA

Chattanooga's free zero-emission electric shuttle system and steps toward sustainability at the 185,000-sq. ft. Chattanooga Convention Center are helping this city become a greener meeting destination. The Chattanooga metro area has 9,000 guestrooms.

The Bessie Smith Performance Hall at the Chattanooga African-American Museum has space for meetings, receptions and other events, and the museum's Vilma Fields Atrium can hold small gatherings. Be sure to make time on the itinerary for exploring some of the area's great sightseeing attractions, including Lookout Mountain, where you can ride the world's steepest passenger railway and view the 145-ft.-high Ruby Falls; and the Walnut Street Bridge, the longest pedestrian bridge in the world.

Visitors can explore nature indoors at the Tennessee Aquarium, where the themed exhibits include Appalachian Cove; the Discover Hall Gallery, featuring displays related to the Ohio River; the Delta Country Gallery, highlighting the Mississippi River environment; and the Secret Reef exhibit on the Gulf of Mexico.

The Hunter Museum of American Art, perched on a 90-ft. limestone bluff overlooking the Tennessee River and housing painting, sculpture, crafts, contemporary studio glass and other works, offers great views both inside and out. Two other notable attractions are the Houston Museum of Decorative Arts and the Creative Discovery Museum.


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