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August 17, 2016   By Nicole Aiello in Community

Visitors enjoy a peaceful canoe ride at Old Santee Canal Park.

Road trip. Sightseeing tour. Expedition. Trek. Journey. Jaunt.

No matter what you call it, it’s one of my favorite things to do on a sunny weekend. Although I’ve lived in South Carolina for more than 15 years, there’s still a lot of the state I haven’t seen. If you have a passion for exploration and love a good daytrip, let me tell you about a quiet little spot in the Lowcountry that you may have never visited, or even heard of: Old Santee Canal Park.

Old Santee Canal Park is just a hop, skip and jump away from the greater Charleston area – only 34 miles from the heart of the peninsula. And it’s only a scenic hour and 50-minute drive from Myrtle Beach and Columbia. Basically, that’s perfect daytrip traveling time.

At Old Santee Canal Park, you can get up close and personal with wildlife while exploring the park’s beautiful surroundings and impressive history. Listen as frogs begin to sing their broken, croaky harmony and watch long-legged egrets silently tiptoe through the water as they look for their next meal. Alligators lazily sun themselves in the creek near the Interpretive Center, which has informational videos on wildlife and the Santee Canal, America’s first “superhighway.” The Interpretive Center also features exhibits and educational programs to teach visitors about the area’s rich history and natural diversity.

Herons, eagles and osprey are regulars at Old Santee Canal Park, flying among the knobby cypress trees and the majestic live oaks. Limestone bluffs line some of the park’s many walking trails and nature observation areas are abundant. The Stony Landing House, built in 1843 and open for tours, proudly stands on a picturesque bluff overlooking the Cooper River.

For kids, and kids at heart, canoes are available for rent and there’s a playground for sliding and swinging under the trees. There are also plenty of picnic areas and benches when it’s time to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

The idea for the Santee Canal came before the American Revolution and a charter was granted for its construction, but the war interrupted the dream of America’s first true canal. Construction was completed in 1800, with 22 miles and 10 locks that connected the Santee and Cooper rivers, the precursor to the Santee Cooper project that created lakes Marion and Moultrie. Also on park grounds is the Berkeley County Museum and Heritage Center.

Old Santee Canal Park is located in Moncks Corner and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The price is right at only $3 per adult and $2 for senior citizens and groups over 15. Children six and under are admitted free.

Enjoy a little history, a little nature and a lot of fun on your next road trip at Old Santee Canal Park.