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South and North Carolina were my favorite states to visit so far on the east coast. Today I’ll talk about the places we visited and how much it cost to spend a month travelling through South and North Carolina.
Aiken, South Carolina
As a quick side note, in late February/early March we actually spent one week in Aiken, South Carolina while we were visiting our friends in Georgia. It’s only about 30 minutes from Augusta (which is right on the Georgia/South Carolina border).
I didn’t mention it at the time because we didn’t do anything exciting while we were there. There are not many places to stay in an RV in the Augusta area. When we called, nobody answered the phone at most places (a phenomenon not exclusive to the area when it comes to RV parks). So our first day in the area, we ended up driving to place after place, only to find they were all fully booked by full-time residents. So I won’t add this cost to our April amounts, because it was already accounted for in previous months.
Aiken RV park had space for us for a week. Their weekly prices are $130 (cash only) and include free use of their WiFi (which was slow and spotty) and free use of the laundry facilities. This was the only park we found that even had laundry on-site, so that was a bonus.
There is not much in the immediate area; a few gas stations, a Dollar store, some fast food. The road is busy and not somewhere we felt safe riding our bikes. When we arrived, the person who checked us in advised us to please keep our pets leashed and pick up after them. He then went on to explain that others in the park did not follow these rules. Um, okay?!? We did witness this ourselves.
Downtown Aiken is very nice. If you just want to stop by for the day and have a small RV (think van-sized) there may even be street parking available for you. The town is bigger than it looks, although it’s hard to tell from the RV park.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a cheap place to sleep near Augusta this is a decent option. Just don’t have high expectations going in.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
On our way north from Florida I just had to ask for a stop at Hilton Head from Ryan. Back when we used to pay for cable I used to watch HGTV religiously, and I remember drooling over the area when it was featured on the shows.
Sadly, Hilton Head was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew last year, and they are still clearing away downed trees and making other repairs. But overall it looked good and you could almost not tell what happened.
One thing to keep an eye out for on Hilton Head are the toll roads (if you’re watching your budget). There are ways to get to most areas on the island without taking the toll roads. Just make sure you have your maps/GPS set to avoid tolls.
Another unfortunate thing is that most of the beaches do not have room for RV parking. However, the area is extremely bike-friendly and has lovely walk/bike trails everywhere.
They also have the most scenic Wal-Mart we encountered thus far. It’s like staying in a forest, there are so many trees. We received permission to stay for one night, as long as we did not leave the RV behind. I guess some people had a habit of dropping off their RVs and then staying in a hotel for several days! How inconsiderate! If you do that, you are likely to have your RV ticketed or towed. Not only that, it keeps the rest of us from having a place to stay.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
My favorite place in South Carolina is Myrtle Beach. First of all, there’s a beach. Second, there are many choices for places to stay right on the beach. We stayed in 2 of them.
One choice is Myrtle Beach State Park. We did not stay there, because rates for a site that would fit our RV were $42-52 per night.
Lakewood Camping Resort
We stayed for a week at Lakewood Camping Resort. This is one of the HUGE private campgrounds along the beach. We paid $32 per night for the non-premier site rate. I’m glad we didn’t pay the extra $10 per night, because it didn’t seem worth it. These are “oceanfront” sites but there is a tall sand dune between you and the ocean. Some of the sites may have a partial ocean view, but others can only see the dune.
Even though our site sat back several spaces from the beach, we could still hear the waves crashing every night, which was fantastic to fall asleep to. And it’s a quick walk to the beach no matter where you are in the campground.
Lots to do here. Seasonally they have a water park, paddle boat rentals, mini golf and more. Upon check-in you get a wristband which gives you access to everything, and you can even load money on it to buy food at their snack stands in several places around the park.
The bummer (which we mentioned to management) is they don’t really say when the season starts, and that is in part because they don’t have a set start date. Shortly after we left, the prices jumped up to a higher nightly rate in time for all the attractions to open.
What is open year-round is an indoor pool and hot tub. They were functional but not well-maintained. There were also several places around the resort with warped and loose decking. Ryan managed to find each one (because he’s good at finding things to trip on). The resort assured us these would be repaired but we don’t know what happened after we left.
If you haven’t spent time at a beach “resort” before, it’s just good to know that they are often overpriced and underwhelming. But the beach itself did not disappoint. I spent time sitting or walking on it every day, even when it was cold. The ocean is my healing place, and I took that week to re-charge my mental batteries.
Dogs are also allowed on the beach (seasonally, during certain times of day) and the boys had a great time playing in the sand and dipping their paws in the water.
Ocean Lakes Campground
Other than the first week of April, we spent most of our time in Wal-Marts with easy access to thrift stores so we could buy inventory for our used book business. However, we did stay at Ocean Lakes for a few days when the weather got really bad. It rained a lot and was very windy, so it seemed best to stay put for a few days.
Ocean Lakes charges $34 per night for a basic site in the off-season. Since we were trapped inside in the rain, we didn’t see much, but it seemed like a nice place to stay.
We also spent a tornado warning (which thankfully ended up only being a really bad thunderstorm) in a Wal-Mart parking lot, ready to evacuate if needed.
Lee State Park
When it started getting warmer, we decided to escape inland to a more budget-friendly state park. Lee State Park in Bishopville, South Carolina charges $15-30 per night for sites with electric and water (depending on the size and type of campsite) and there is a dump station onsite. They have equestrian sites as well. I enjoyed taking walks around on the many trails. Some of the roads in the park near the river flooded due to recent rain, but this didn’t affect the campsites.
If you come wanting to ride a bike, it should probably be a mountain bike, because most of the roads and trails are sand. There is also not much close to the campground, so plan on stocking up on supplies before you arrive so you don’t have to drive 40 minutes to the nearest store.
Florence, South Carolina
Florence RV Park was another good place to stop to escape the heat. Rates are $32 and $35 per night for just water and electric or full-hookups. They have a seasonal pool and a pond on-site. Tent sites and small cabins are also available.
This RV park is where we got to see Muscovy Ducks for the first time. At first I thought they were geese–they’re so huge! They have very funny personalities and the ones at this park are not shy around people at all.
Little Pee Dee State Park
Little Pee Dee is in Dillon, South Carolina and sites cost $16-20 per night for water and electric. While part of Lee State Park flooded, Little Pee Dee’s lake was small and receded quite a bit. Because it was Easter weekend when we visited, the place was pretty full. There were some kids riding on their bikes who fell in love with Tahoe and tried to convince me to let them bring him back to their campsite. They wanted to walk him, play frisbee and introduce him to another dog. I refused as diplomatically as possible, and Tahoe sat patiently and soaked in all their affection (returned with kisses).
Croft State Park
This campground in Spartanburg, South Carolina is another gem. Hiking/mountain bike trails lead down to a river; on the other side of the river is a maze of mountain bike trails. I keep promising myself that I will get a mountain bike very soon; I just have to sell some other bikes first.
There is a horse arena at this park also, and Tahoe got a close-up view of a horse. When we were at Lee State Park he heard them, and was fascinated. This time we walked 20 feet away from one. I thought he was going to give himself whiplash with the way he kept looking back as we passed! He’s such a good boy, though, that his only reaction was to stare.
Water/electric sites are $14-21 per night at this park.
It continued to stay hot, so our next stay was at John H. Moss Lake Campground in Shelby, NC. Sites are $20 per night for full hookups, and a week is discounted to only $100. There is a boat ramp marina on-site, and next door is the entrance to the picnic area. The lake is huge and ends in a dam right by the campsites.
Just be aware that the entrance to both the park itself and the campground area are both very steep. You will have to ease yourself in and out to avoid bottoming out if you have a larger rig. The road around the campground is also tight and the sites are not level. But it was a pretty spot. As was par for the course, it went from 90 degrees one day to torrential rain the next. We were glad to not be driving through flooded streets.
Morrow Mountain State Park
This park in Albemarle, North Carolina has a swimming pool, bridle trails, and boating. Campsites have electric only with potable water fill-up stations throughout the camp and a dump station. Rates are $18-28 per night. When we were there, there were signs of a forest fire that spread through a lot of the campground. But it was still a beautiful place to stay.
Be aware that the Verizon signal here is very weak.
This county park in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina is HUGE. I took a 5-mile walk and still didn’t see everything. They have a day use area for picnicking with playgrounds, multiple lakes, and a seasonal aquatic center with water slides. There are water/electric sites for $20 per night, tent sites and group tent camping sites. The RV dump station is free for guests and $5 for those not staying overnight.
What the month of April cost
- Lodging: $447
- Gas: $238
- Restaurants: $105
- Groceries: $509
- Other entertainment: $99
Thanks to some decent weather and an abundance of affordable state parks, our lodging cost was a nice, low number for April. Between park fees and gas we’re at $700 for the month.
I’m also very happy about grocery costs. I think moving every few days and buying only what we needed for the next few days was very helpful.
Entertainment costs were higher because we did something special for my birthday. I’ll tell you more about that later, since this post is already so long!
Also, I’m currently updating my list of free urban camping spots. I decided to stop when I reached 50–it was a lot of work to update! But it will give you my list of free places we stayed between the west and east coasts along our southerly route, and then up through South Carolina.
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