Atlantic Coast

From Beaufort, the easiest way south is to follow Hwy-170 all the way to Savannah or to detour east onto I-95. Otherwise, a pleasant but potentially confusing series of two-lane roads run around Hilton Head Island across the lowlands toward Georgia.

Near the southern tip of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is the largest ocean island between Florida and New Jersey. It was first settled in 1663, but only since the late 1950s, when a bridge to the mainland was completed, has it really been on the map. The deluxe 60-guest room, 5,000-acre Sea Pines Resort (32 Greenwood Dr., 866/561-8802, $161 and up) is an international destination. Upscale golf courses and plantation-style estates abound around the island’s 30,000 acres, as do mini-malls and all the trappings of suburban America. There’s also a popular family-friendly Disney’s Hilton Head Resort (22 Harbourside Lane, 843/341-4100, $133 and up).

The “success” of Hilton Head has caused developers to set their sights on the rest of the Lowcountry, as shown by the opening of the super-plush Montage Palmetto Bluff (843/706-6500, $295 and up) at nearby Bluffton, where each of the 44 waterfront or forest-view cottages is outfitted with LCD TVs and a Sub-Zero fridge for that quintessential Lowcountry experience.