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Four Reasons to Visit South Carolina on Your Next Road Trip

South Carolina is a state brimming with Southern charm and character. As a road-trip destination, especially from Georgia, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Palmetto state.

Of course, Charleston is a popular destination for travelers from all over the country, but there are other little-known spots where you can also get historic charm and unique experiences. Here are just a few of the places that should give you reason enough to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and visit South Carolina.

1. Edisto Island, SC

Nestled in the Lowcountry between Hilton Head and Charleston you’ll find the beautiful Edisto Island. This is a great destination for short weekend road trips since it’s under 300 miles from Atlanta and will only take about five hours. This secluded spot is a laid-back destination with a picturesque landscape. The island has a rich cultural history and offers plenty of outdoor activities, not to mention some fantastic seafood.

2. Beaufort, SC

Beaufort is not only the second oldest city in South Carolina, but it was also named by National Geographic as seventh best waterfront adventure town. During your visit, you can soak up the beautiful waterfront views and take advantage of a variety of different festivals and cultural attractions. Located just off Hilton Head Island, this is a great road-trip destination since it’s just about 270 miles from Atlanta, which you can do in about four and half hours.

3. Georgetown, SC

Brimming with shops, historic attractions, and more than fifty antebellum mansions, Georgetown is a delightful look into a different time, making it a great place to escape modern life. Each antebellum home offers a unique experience for visitors. Plus, you can enjoy a day of golf, sailing, deep-sea fishing, and historic sight-seeing.

The other benefit to road tripping to Georgetown is that you have easy access to Charleston, which is only sixty miles away and takes about an hour and half, and you can easily visit Myrtle Beach, too, as it is only about thirty-five miles away, which is less than an hour drive.

4. Greenville, SC

Boasting two beautiful state parks and plenty of shops and restaurants, Greenville is a great town to visit for a quick getaway. Between the Reedy River Falls and the Greenville Zoo, this city will make wonderful road-trip choice for families and outdoorsy types alike, especially considering it’s only about 160 miles away from Atlanta.

Next time you’re looking for a last-minute weekend road trip from Georgia, consider the Palmetto State. Of course, there are many more attractions and towns that give people reason to visit South Carolina, offering a range of options for every taste and traveler.

Increase Your Fuel Mileage With These Easy Tips

Most drivers would love to improve their car’s fuel mileage and save on the monthly gas bill. Fortunately, this is something you can accomplish by making only a few small changes in your personal-driving habits. It doesn’t matter whether you have a small car like a Chevy Cruze or a large SUV like a Jeep Grand Cherokee, there’s always a way to squeeze out a few extra miles per gallon (mpg).

Check out these four easy tips to improve your daily mpg.

1. Go Easy on the Throttle

One of the biggest drains on your fuel tank comes from hitting the gas pedal a bit too enthusiastically when pulling away from a stop. Sometimes you’re caught in traffic that’s moving intermittently and you’re only heading from one red light to the next. Smooth throttle application that gradually accelerates rather than so-called jack-rabbit starts will save you gas in the long term.

2. Lighten the Load

This tip is especially true for anyone who drives a larger vehicle like a Dodge Grand Caravan or a Honda Pilot, where kids and other passengers can leave items behind that accumulate over time. Or maybe you have a trunk full of items you’ve wanted to empty out into the garage for a few weeks, but simply haven’t found a spare minute to do so. Whatever extra weight you’re carrying around in your car impacts your fuel mileage, which means it’s worth keeping your vehicle spic and span to save in the long run.

3. Use Cruise Control

The key to getting the best fuel mileage on the highway is maintaining a steady speed and avoiding the small accelerations and slow-downs that can creep in after an hour or two of driving. By setting the cruise control on your vehicle you can let the computer worry about the throttle and virtually guarantee a constant speed at all times. Some modern cars even come with predictive cruise control systems that use the automobile’s navigation system to tell them when there’s an uphill or downhill section approaching and to prepare accordingly.

4. Consider a More Fuel-Efficient Car

Changing your driving style is even more effective if you opt for an automobile that’s more efficient right out of the box. Consider trading in your current vehicle for a smaller compact car like the Honda Civic or the Hyundai Elantra. Less size equals less mass to move, which combined with a more modest engine adds up to a cheaper fuel bill.

Taken together, these four tips will go a long way toward boosting your fuel mileage. Small changes in behavior translate into large benefits over time, so make sure you give each one a month or so before you decide whether it’s making a difference in your gas costs.

Good First Cars: Safe Choices for Teenagers

Searching for good first cars for teenagers may not seem like an easy task, but the current car market takes a fair amount of pain out of the process. Why? Because many of today’s cars are safer than ever, notes nonprofit Consumer Reports.

Thanks to government mandates and market demands, just about every new vehicle, regardless of price or type, comes with a full complement of airbags, anti-lock brakes, and traction and stability control systems. Today’s teens have more safety features available to them than previous generations did. Parents can rest assured knowing that safety is more of a priority than ever for manufacturers.

The three vehicles below offer a great combination of safety, space, and fuel efficiency. And none will break the bank, even when properly equipped.

Ford Focus

The Ford Focus is a popular pick in the compact-car class. Available as a sedan or hatchback with two engine options, a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder for power, as well as three transmissions to choose from and an optional electric-vehicle form. The Focus can achieve up to forty-two miles per gallon (mpg) on the highway, and both the sedan and hatchback versions earned five stars in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) overall crash-testing, which is the top score.

Chevrolet Malibu

The Malibu is a roomy sedan with start/stop technology as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring systems. Perhaps most attractive to parents will be the Teen Driver system, which mutes the audio of any paired device if those in the front seats aren’t wearing seat belts. It also sends out audio and visual alerts to the driver when the car is traveling faster than predetermined speeds. Additionally, parents can track their teen’s behavior with downloadable stats such as top speed, distance traveled, and use of active safety features. The Malibu gets up to thirty-seven mpg on the highway in nonhybrid form and also earned NHTSA’s top overall crash-test score of five stars.

Honda Civic

Another great buy for teens also comes from the Honda family. It’s a well-known nameplate, and the most recent Honda Civic model just so happens to be the 2016 North American Car of the Year. It’s available as both a coupe and sedan, with a hatch on the way. Depending on engine and transmission, it can get up to forty-one mpg on the highway. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision alert.

Safety Considerations

What separates some vehicles from others is the availability of certain active and passive safety features that aren’t yet standard across the industry. Although features such as a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and various collision-avoidance and collision-mitigation systems are becoming quite common (along with telematics systems that can aid in the event of an accident), they aren’t always available in some less expensive cars that might be purchased for a teen. Additionally, the explosive growth of the crossover SUV, especially in compact and subcompact sizes, gives you even more options when searching for good first cars for your teen.

The goal is to find the right balance between price and safety features before purchasing a vehicle. Buying a car that’s right for a teenager has never been easier thanks to ever-increasing fuel economy and safety standards, but a few options still stand above the rest.

South Carolina Attractions: Hidden Gems

Burn enough gas throughout the expanse of South Carolina, and you’ll soon discover it teems with unique attractions. Yet even natives of the Palmetto state may not be familiar with some of its most glistening hidden gems. So roll out your map and get ready to stick pins in the following not-to-miss South Carolina attractions.

Boneyard Beach

Hop aboard the Bulls Island Ferry in Awendaw for a quick jaunt to Bulls Island. This South Carolina barrier island, known for its untouched environs and thriving wildlife, lays claim to Boneyard Beach, located on its northeast end. Call it a Gothic paradise, the three-mile sandy expanse proves to be what some people describe as a “Dali painting come to life.” Thanks to the island’s changing shoreline, hundreds of oak, cedar, and pine trees have been frozen in twisted webs. Bleached by the sun and saltwater, the trees have been smoothed by the ocean tide. While kids often take to the climbs of this natural playground, seabirds can be found perched high above for a literal bird’s-eye view of their next potential meal. Make sure to arm your camera with a fully charged battery as photo-ops abound.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 280 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 360 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 160 miles round trip

Congaree National Park

Just outside of Columbia, Congaree National Park may not be the most high-profile among South Carolina’s array of national park attractions, but its collection of natural wonders certainly demands a visit. More than twenty-five miles of hiking trails and over two miles of boardwalk allow visitors the chance to soak up picturesque surroundings. The forest offers up its star attraction: primeval old-growth trees known as the champions. They make up the tallest deciduous forest in the country and loom high above the winding trails. Keep an eye out for massive turtles, deer, river otter, and sizable spiders. You might even gander at a gator or two. The park allows camping, in addition to canoeing and kayaking in the adjacent Cedar Creek.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Greenville — 260 miles round trip
  • Charleston — 220 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 190 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 280 miles round trip

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden

Topiary artist Pearl Fryar regularly wows visitors who peruse his handcrafted garden. More than 300 plants, many plucked from the compost pile of area nurseries by Fryar himself, serve as living works of art. With clippers in hand, Fryar has a penchant for turning shrubs, trees, and more into abstract shapes that look as if they sprang from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. His found-object statues, made from discarded metal, glass, and more, display messages of love, unity, and peace.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 100 miles round trip
  • Greenville — 310 miles round trip
  • Charleston — 250 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 250 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 210 miles round trip

H.L. Hunley Submarine at Warren Lasch Conservation Center

Have you ever been curious about what a submarine that was used in the Civil War might be like, look no further than the H.L. Hunley. It holds the distinctive honor of being the first combat submarine to sink a warship. The USS Housatonic took the hit in Charleston’s outer harbor; the Hunley, however, sunk shortly thereafter. Yet it wasn’t until 1995 that researchers recovered the vessel. In fact, some of the same folks involved in recovering the Titanic helped snag the Hunley. Today, visitors can take a look at the Hunley as it sits inside a conservation tank located at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center on the old Charleston Navy Base.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 240 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 310 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 210 miles round trip

Next time you’re planning a road trip, check out one of these four South Carolina attractions, which are so hidden some Palmetto state natives don’t even know about them.

Preventative Car Maintenance to Increase a Vehicle’s Lifespan

When it comes to vehicles, doing preventative car maintenance is typically far less expensive than paying a mechanic for parts and repairs. In addition to the cost of repairs, you may have to spend money on a rental while your car is in the shop. A great way to avoid some of these expenses is to keep up with your car’s maintenance.

Here are six ways to keep your car running and in healthy condition.

1. Keep Fluids Fresh

Changing your engine oil is probably the most important step you can take, because it keeps engine components working smoothly together and at optimal levels. Low or old oil can cause major damage to the engine itself, which means expensive repairs and time without your car.

Other fluids, such as transmission fluid, coolant, and gear oil should also be refreshed, but these depend on your vehicle. Check the owner’s manual for the right time or mileage to have these changed as well as the right oil viscosity to keep things running smoothly.

2. Warm Up Engine

Hard acceleration and braking are not good for a cold engine. Start your car a few minutes before your trip, and don’t take off until the engine reaches an appropriate operating temperature. Get familiar with your temperature gauge so you can be aware if there is a problem, such as the engine overheating.

3. Wash Regularly

An important part of car maintenance is keeping your vehicle clean. Not only will it look better, but a clean surface will also help prevent rust. Washing off road grime and salt prevents damage to the metal surfaces of your car and wheels. Consider applying a coat of wax twice a year to minimize dirt buildup and keep your car looking its best.

4. Check Tires

A spike in the temperature, either hot or cold, can cause your tire pressure to change, which can result in less gas efficiency or more unnecessary wear on your tires. Be sure to check the tire pressure with each drastic change in the weather or temperature. Additionally, you can extend the life of your tires by regularly rotating them at home or having a mechanic do so.

5. Be Diligent

Pay attention to any new or strange noises, vibrations, lights, or warning notifications in your vehicle. Don’t assume issues will resolve without assistance, and report anything out of the ordinary to your mechanic so the problem can be solved before it becomes a major repair.

6. Find a Trustworthy Mechanic

A mechanic with a good reputation is vital—look for one before your car actually needs work, and then take your car in for yearly checkups. Especially with older vehicles, this type of preventative car maintenance can save you money down the road if you can catch issues before they spiral out of control.

It’s important to stay ahead of potential problems rather than waiting until the engine light comes on. To save money, time, and headaches, stay on top of your car maintenance.

Four Spectacular Museums in Georgia

From the internationally renowned World of Coca-Cola to the High Museum of Art and the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta is home to some of the most notable attractions in the state.

But what you may not know is that there are ample opportunities outside of the city to discover unique attractions and educational museums in Georgia, where you can reap the benefits of lower ticket prices, beautiful scenery, and fewer crowds.

Next time you’re looking for a weekend adventure, check out these four museums and attractions located throughout Georgia.

1. Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

Location: Macon, Georgia

Macon’s 43,000-square-foot hall of fame is the largest state sports museum in the country, commemorating the history of Georgia-based athletics. Given the size of the museum and the caliber of athletes honored, this is a great stop for sports fans and history buffs alike. While you’re there, be sure to stop by the 200-plus-person theater to see the exposed steel trellises modeled after those used for Ponce de Leon Park, long-time home to the former Atlanta Crackers’ baseball team.

2. Telfair Museums

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Founded in 1883 by Mary Telfair, a prominent Savannah philanthropist, Telfair Museums is one of the oldest art museums, not only in Georgia but in the entire South. Telfair left her home and all of its furnishings to the Georgia Historical Society with instructions to open it up to the public. Since then, the museum has expanded significantly and now consists of three separate buildings full of art.

3. Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History

Location: Augusta, Georgia

An inductee into the Georgia Women of Achievement, Miss Lucy Craft Laney was an iconic and influential educational leader who started a school, established the first African American kindergarten in the United States, and founded the first nursing school for African Americans in the United States. Many years after her death, her house was restored and preserved as a local museum. You’ll be led through both permanent and rotating exhibits by a guide well versed in local African American history. Don’t miss the beautiful butterfly gardens.

4. Boyhood Home of Woodrow Wilson

Location: Augusta, Georgia

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson is an educational historical site and museum honoring the twenty-eighth President of the United States. The home has been carefully preserved and filled with both original and restored furnishings. Open three days a week, volunteer docents give tours that delve into Wilson’s childhood, life in Georgia during the Civil War, and the widespread impact of the Battle of Atlanta, one of the most significant events of the time period.

These four museums in Georgia offer an educational experience and a chance to learn more about the long history of the Peach State in a variety of ways.

How to Battle Traffic in Atlanta without Going Insane

Despite all of Atlanta’s perks, its oft-loathed traffic emits an exhaust cloud of dread to commuters and visitors alike. But the automotive logjam isn’t unbeatable. Consider the following tips, tricks, and suggestions for dealing with traffic in Atlanta.

Take Alternate Routes

Rush hour traffic on I-285 remains one of the most hated experiences on Atlanta roadways. Consider the following back-road alternatives during peak hours.

  • A total of 5 two-lane roads, Mt. Vernon Road, Dunwood Club Drive, Winters Chapel Road, Oakcliff Road, and Northcrest Road, run almost parallel to I-285 between Dunwoody and Doraville. Although they can also get crowded, they provide a swift escape if you hit them at the right time.
  • Although it’s also known as H.E. Holmes Drive, James Jackson Parkway, and South Cobb Drive, the entire stretch is called Highway 280. Need to travel from I-20 to Marietta, but the west side I-285 looks horrific? This alternate route runs alongside 285.
  • If I-285 gets jammed on either side of town, some recommend taking I-75/85 through Atlanta. Although folks often flock here when trouble arises on I-285, this downtown connector can be quicker than some surface streets.

Check Traffic Reports

WSB Radio, available on 95.5 FM and on 750 AM, continues to be one of the more popular ways for Atlanta commuters to score up-to-the-minute traffic details, including twenty-four-hour traffic information, incident reports, and approximate trip times.

Georgia 511 is also a wealth of information, either through the website or mobile app, which is the official traffic application of the Georgia Department of Transportation. Be sure to pull over or pass your phone to a passenger when you check for traffic updates.

Entertain Your Ears

If you’re alone, the time spent in traffic may be an opportunity to escape the stress of the day through music, audio books, or podcasts. Independent station AM 1690 has an eclectic playlist that runs the gamut from classical to country to vintage soul to early rock. Among its shows, Mike Holbrook’s Radio Free Radio rises to the top. Special guests, including outlaw country icon Billy Joe Shaver, have been known to drop in.

The Atlanta-based daily talk show Comcastro, hosted by Maximüs Groves, puts the spotlight on a variety of professionals in and around the Big Peach. Politicians, scientists, filmmakers, comedians, and a many others talk shop during their respective interviews. Topics range from comic book writing to the art of crowd funding.

Wait Out Traffic

If you can’t stand sitting in the car any longer, Atlanta offers many opportunities to wait out traffic doing something fun. Slingshot Entertainment has 130,000 square feet of action, including high-powered indoor go-kart racing, a swanky fourteen-lane bowling lounge, American Ninja Warrior–style obstacle courses for grown-ups and tots, and an on-site restaurant.

Golfers who are getting antsy waiting in their vehicle, can duck off of a gridlocked 400 and experience Topgolf Alpharetta, a competitive driving range with targets.

If you’re stuck on 285 with impatient kids at rush hour, the Disney Store at Perimeter Mall may be the swankiest of its kind in town, with interactive bells and whistles, and ‘toons on the big screen.

While it can be tough dealing with traffic in Atlanta, indulging in entertaining activities, strategically using traffic reports, and taking alternate routes can help you beat the bottleneck.