updated 12/27/2010 10:16:25 AM ET 2010-12-27T15:16:25

COLUMBIA, S.C., Dec. 27, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- New attractions and services for travelers to South Carolina range from a zip line through the woods of the Blue Ridge to a sky-high Ferris wheel on the ocean in Myrtle Beach, with lots to do, see and eat in between.

Going mobile was the theme last year for myriad industries and enterprises across America, and tourism in South Carolina was no exception. Mobile apps offering such things as visitor info and special deals were launched by a number of Palmetto State destinations – including Beaufort, Charleston and Spartanburg and the Lowcountry Region of the S.C. National Heritage Corridor. Various attractions and destinations also have created their own, available by searching their names at the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android apps stores. They include Charleston walking tours, field trips in salt marshes and swamp forests, the new Edisto Island National Scenic Byway and many more on a fast-growing, constantly changing list.

Meanwhile, the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau not only has created an iTunes app, but it as has rolled out a mobile-enabled version of its website at www.visitmyrtlebeach.com . As has the Greenville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

And that’s not even mentioning all that Facebook and Twitter action filling up the airwaves. Now, here’s a rundown of non-cyber happenings from around the state in 2010 and 2011:

AIR SERVICE DEVELOPMENTS

Speaking of service through the air, real-live airlines also made news in South Carolina tourism in recent months, including the much-ballyhooed arrival of Southwest Airlines to the Greenville-Spartanburg and Charleston airports this coming March. Flights will be between both South Carolina airports and Baltimore/Washington, Chicago Midway, Nashville, Houston Hobby and Orlando. USAirways also has added an additional non-stop between Charleston and New York LaGuardia.

Spirit Airlines, meanwhile, has expanded to its seasonal service into Myrtle Beach, and Myrtle Beach International Airport itself is adding new passenger and general aviation terminals. The passenger terminal will expand from its current seven to 12 gates. The $130 million project began in 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2012.

ABBEVILLE

Historic old Abbeville now offers the Livery Stable just off its picturesque square. It’s already been used for a farmers market and arts shows. The original Livery Stable was destroyed by fire and the current building was reconstructed over the same site, rumored to also conceal Confederate gold buried beneath.

CAMDEN

Bloomsbury Inn, the 1849 home of Civil War diarist Mary Boykin Chesnut, continues to add to its accolades, named as one of America’s top 10 bed and breakfasts for 2010-11 by BedandBreakfast.com. Proprietors Katherine and Bruce Brown focused their restoration efforts this past year on the 1930s garage and the old kitchen house, using local craftsmen to faithfully reproduce what couldn’t be repaired.

CHARLESTON

The South Carolina Aquarium is offering visitors a way to get even closer to the wind, waves and water with the opening of its 4-D Theater. Unforgettable explorations of coral reefs and shallow coastal waters are highlights of one of the productions, while seasonal shows such as polar bears for the holidays, also are being offered. Two new exhibits also are planned in 2011: Toddler Cove Play Area and the renovated Saltmarsh Aviary.

The Holy City’s nationally renowned restaurant scene continues to burgeon. New entrées in 2010 included The Gin Joint, in the former Robert’s on East Bay Street. Co-owned by the daughter of the original Robert’s proprietor, the new spot features drinks last trendy during Prohibition and a haute cuisine menu. Also new is award-winning McCrady’s chef Sean Brock’s new restaurant, Husk, on Queen Street.

Meanwhile, Charleston Restaurant Week will be held twice in 2011 – Jan. 14-23 and again in September. More than 90 restaurants have signed up to participate. The BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival continues to grow and has launched a new website. New events for this year’s March 3-6 festival include a locavore luncheon, Iron Chef-style competition and tour of the state’s oldest brewery, Palmetto Brewery.

Charleston continued to pull in top honors from national publications and tourism and travel websites in 2010, including GQ Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, ChicagoTribune.com, Lonely Planet Travel Guide and even the United States Tennis Association, which named Charleston “Best Tennis Town” in the country. Updated package and events info can be found at www.explorecharleston.com .

Magnolia Plantation has preserved and restored four original slave cabins and one from the turn of the last century. Each reflects a different period of the African experience on the plantation; from slavery to Reconstruction, through the 1920's, and on to the civil rights era of the 1960's. A 45-minute tour includes interpretive furniture and landscaping and a culinary and medicinal garden, as well as access to a nearby cemetery.

COLUMBIA

Main Street in the heart of downtown Columbia continues to show serious signs of revival. A thriving gallery and music scene as taken hold and work is now under way on a new Mast General Store and the move of the city’s Nickelodeon independent movie theater and film society into the old Fox Theatre next door. Both are expected to open in 2011.

The Vista continues to add new trendy eateries, shops and nightspots, too. They include Pearlz for Lowcountry cuisine and raw bar, English pub food at The Sly Fox, Cuban fare at Mojito’s Tropical Café and Tako Sushi, a Japanese cuisine and sushi bar.

The South Carolina State Farmers Market has opened in a very visible location along Interstate 26 in Lexington County not farm from the intersection with Interstate 77 near Columbia. Accessible off U.S. 321, the market’s sheds already are open, with a demonstration kitchen, restaurant, bakery and amphitheatre also planned or under construction. The state Agriculture Department also has offices on the site. (There’s also the year-round All-Local Farmer’s Market, a completely separate operation, each Saturday at the renovated 711 Whaley St. building in Columbia’s Olympia neighborhood, featuring produce, dairy, meat, baked items, arts and crafts.)

DILLON

South of the Border has opened Reptile Lagoon, billed by the Interstate 95 tourist attraction as the “largest indoor reptile exhibit in the United States.” Featured creatures include a 22-foot albino python, king cobras, diamondback rattlesnakes, a black mamba, tortoises and of course, crocodiles from around the globe. Qualified reptile handlers are on site so you don’t have to.

EDGEFIELD

Five locally directed and performed plays,, classes and exhibitions are on the 2011 scheduled at the Joanne T. Rainsford Discovery Center. The renovated farmhouse in the heart of the historic town contains the Edgefield Regional Arts Gallery, a museum focused on local history, politics, and people, and the new Edgefield Community Theatre.

FAIR PLAY

South Carolina’s small but thriving Mennonite community is adding another business, this time a family-operated bakery. Kauffman’s Bakery is located at Highways 59 and 182 about a mile off Exit 2 of Interstate 85 near Fair Play.

FORT MILL

Carowinds plans to introduce a million-dollar light and sound show featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts gang this coming summer. Using low-energy, high-efficiency LED lighting the extravaganza will stretch from the theme park’s County Fair to Planet Snoopy and will include animated and stationary light displays.

GREENVILLE

A new Courtyard by Marriott hotel is now anchoring downtown Greenville’s latest development, Main @ Broad. The development, adjacent to City Hall, also includes 65,000 square feet of office space with street-level retail and a fine dining restaurant. Also included is a 250-space parking garage and an open-air green plaza.

FLORENCE

The Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center is expected to be in business this winter. A 61,000-square-foot facility is anchored by a 900-seat auditorium with control rooms, support areas, a box office, lounge area and dressing room for artists and catering kitchen, as well as acoustics idealized for live and recorded sound. The striking building features an exterior of granite and also includes an academic wing. The project is part of a $20 million investment in the cultural community of Florence that also includes a new Florence Little Theatre, also on Dargan Street in downtown Florence.

The Florence Tennis Complex on Timrod Park Drive is expected to be ready for play this spring. The complex will feature a 4,500-square-foot, two-story community building and 30 courts, six of them clay and the rest hard courts. Spectator viewing will be accommodated and collegiate-level lighting is being installed. The complex is expected to host state and regional tournaments as well as provide recreation to local residents. A pro shop, pond, walking trail and picnic areas also will be on site.

Comfort Suites has opened at Exit 164 just off Interstate 95. The new hotel features 77 guest rooms, with flat-screen televisions, microwaves and refrigerators. A heated indoor pool, exercise room and business center also are on site. Nearby attractions include the Pee Dee State Farmers Market and Young Plantations Pecan Outlet.

LONG CREEK

Wildwater Ltd. has made the Upstate a bit wilder, adding a zip line over the lake and through the woods at its headquarters at the historic old Baptist academy near Long Creek that’s now home to Chattooga Rafting Center. Operated by the same firm that has long taken rafters down the nearby Chattooga River, Chattooga Ridge Canopy Tours offer a three-hour, half-mile trip through the trees and across Academy Lake.

GAFFNEY

The City of Gaffney has opened its new Visitors Center and Art Gallery in the circa-1913 former post office building on North Granard Street. The building had been unused since 1991 and was falling into disrepair. Now it will serve as home to the Cherokee County Alliance of Visual Artists and also will offer community meeting space.

GREENWOOD

After years of effort and dreaming, the Benjamin E. Mays Historic Site is now open to the public. The site at 237 N. Hospital St. in Greenwood showcases the birth home of Dr. Mays, the son of a sharecropper who went on to become a longtime president of Morehouse College in Atlanta and mentor and advisor to civil rights leaders and presidents. Also featured is an African American schoolhouse from the 1800s that has been turned into a representation of a sharecropper’s home.

LANCASTER

Burned by an arsonist in 2008, 180 years after it was built by famed designer of the Washington Monument and structures across the South Carolina, the Robert Mills Courthouse in Lancaster will re-open this spring following major renovations. An active courthouse until the recent fire, the National Historic Landmark now will be the Lancaster County Welcome Center, open to the public as a visitors center and repository of historical artifacts.

MOUNT PLEASANT

Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens has opened a new exhibit telling the African American story using eight of the original slave cabins still on the site. Using a range of audio-visual presentations, visitors are shown aspects of daily life of the slaves and their descendants, how they worked and lived, struggles that were faced, as well as follow different periods of historical progression from the beginning all the way up to present day

MURRELLS INLET

A butterfly exhibit has been added to the spectacular outdoor sculpture gardens and naturalistic zoo and aviary at Brookgreen Gardens. After an initial run in 2010, the exhibit will re-open this spring. Flowers and other plantings, ambient sounds and the sight of free-flying butterflies will make the 3,600-square-foot contained site a sensory exploration.

A new 30-unit resort geared to eco-tourists and sportsmen has opened in Murrells Inlet. Inlet Sports Lodge include a fish-cleaning station, courtyard with grills and a fire pit, pool, tiki bar, restaurant and concierge service geared to help plan fishing trips and other outdoor outings, including visits to nearby Huntington Beach State park and dolphin-viewing boat trips.

MYRTLE BEACH

2010 marked the first year of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk & Promenade, a mix of old-timey walking the planks in front of beach shops and restaurants and “green-minded” stretches of sand and trees through an oceanfront park. The 1.2-mile long boardwalk goes from the 14th Avenue North Pier to the 2nd Avenue Pier, which itself has undergone extensive renovations and boasts a new restaurant and open-air bar. Regularly scheduled events geared toward all ages, along with street performers, help make the trip even more fun along the new boardwalk.

The Myrtle Beach skyline will include a unique new attraction this summer. SkyWheel is expected to be ready in time for the 2011 tourist season on Ocean Boulevard. At 187 feet, it’s touted as the tallest Ferris wheel east of the Mississippi and will include 42 glass-enclosed, temperature-controlled gondolas. With its location near the northern end of the new oceanfront boardwalk, it should be quite a view.

Looks like Dolly Parton has gone all pirate on us. After 19 years, the country superstar’s Dixie Stampede dinner theater will become Pirates Voyage in 2011. The show will feature a 15-foot deep indoor lagoon where pirates will battle it out while landlubbers cheer them on and, of course, have dinner, in this case a four-course meal. A new, original musical score and live animals also will be part of the show.

Another fixture in the Myrtle Beach show scene is getting a new home. Legends in Concert plans to move into a renovated commercial building next to Planet Hollywood adjacent to Broadway at the Beach. The official opening for the home of performing celebrity impersonators is is set for March 11, 2011.

Meanwihle, The Palace Theatre at Broadway at the Beach is planning a new stage production – “Hooray for Hollywood” – as a highlight for 2011. The big show – from the producers of Le Grand Cirque and “Myrtle Beach Spirit of the Dance” – will include performances made famous by the greats of film and stage – from Fred Astaire to “Footloose.” The presentation will feature film clips and then live performances.

WonderWorks will make its South Carolina debut this spring at Broadway at the Beach. It will be the fourth location for the “amusement park for the mind” and will include a variety of experiences such as experiencing hurricane-force winds, landing the space shuttle, lying on a bed of nails and piloting a fighter jet. That’s all inside. Outside, there’ll be a 50-foot tall zip line and a ropes course.

The second annual Coastal Uncorked Food & Wine Festival will be held May 8-15, 2011, at venues that include the Market Common and Myrtle Beach Boardwalk & Promenade and will include a golf tournament, outdoor entertainment, restaurant week and wine-tasting trolley tour. More than 4,000 tickets were sold for 2010’s inaugural event.

An upscale Cuban/Calusa/Spanish restaurant is scheduled to open this spring as the first occupant of Summit Shores on the Waterway, a 33-acre multi-use complex similar to the existing Market Common.

NEWBERRY

Just like the vines they planted several years ago, the proprietors of Enoree River Winery near Newberry said their business is now bearing fruit. Along with their local wine, they offer a tasting room and cellar and a gift shop with South Carolina products ranging from rice to muscadine soaps and candles and the work of local artists and craftsmen.

PAWLEYS ISLAND

A slice of Jamaica in the form of Mama Rue’s Blues Garden Restaurant & Lounge is the newest member of the Pawleys Island dining set on the south end of the Grand Strand. From a kitchen headed up by a Jamaican chef who cut his teeth at one of St. Petersburg, Fla’s top Jamaican restaurants, Mama Rue’s has taken over a former thrift shop and transformed it into the home of such island favorites as jerk chicken, oxtails, plantains and codfish with callaloo.

ROCK HILL

The Main Street Children’s Museum is opening in an historic old bank building in downtown Rock Hill. A joint effort of the City of Rock Hill and the Culture & Heritage Museums, the setting is expected to both help spur the continued revival of the city’s downtown and provide a place for youngsters to have some educational, spirited fun year-round. The interactive exhibits were inspired by the whimsical artwork of Rock Hill native Vernon Grant, creator of the Snap, Crackle, Pop characters.

The Culture & Heritage Museums also have opened a new Naturalist Center at the Museum of York County. The center has transformed the existing African animal dioramas into a new interactive learning area and opened up the vaults to allow hands-on access to real specimens of local and exotic flora and fauna to school groups and individual visitors.

The Riverwalk Trail along the Catawba River opened this past summer. It’s a 2¼ - mile asphalt walk that’s handicapped accessible and part of the City of Rock Hill’s Trails and Greenways System and of the Carolina Thread Trail. The Riverwalk Trail is the first project to be completed in the 1,000-acre Riverwalk community, which also will include 250 acres of green space and public recreation amenities.

SPARTANBURG

Downtown Spartanburg has several new additions, including the Hub City Bookshop, Little river Coffee Bar and Cakehead Bakeshop, and the Hub City Railroad Museum. Carriage rides through downtown also are now available. Find it all at www.visitspartanburg.com .

Tournament softball and baseball players will have a new venue in Spartanburg with the opening of Tyger River Park in September 2011. Thirteen field will be included, including a full-scale premier stadium for baseball and softball play. There also will be a nature-themed play area and, of course, wireless Internet access, courtesy of the Spartanburg Parks Commission.

Stay up to date with other news and developments in South Carolina tourism by subscribing to e-newsletters at this link: http://www.discoversouthcarolina.com/plan-your-trip/enewsletters/default.aspx .  The newsletters cover general travel information, culinary pursuits, golf, art, and hot deals and discounts.

###

Dawn Dawson-House

Director, Public Relations & Information

South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism

803-734-1779

ddawson@scprt.com

Find me on Facebook at facebook.com/ddawsonSouthCarolinaTourism

South Carolina is Made for Vacation

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The following pictures are available for download:

[Image] New WonderWorks Museum at Myrtle Beach
[Image] Chattooga Ridge Canopy Tours
[Image] Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade
[Image] 2nd Avenue Pier Restaurant and Bar -- artist's rendering
[Image] Myrtle Beach's new SkyWheel -- artist's rendering
[Image] Main Street Children's Museum in Rock Hill, SC

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