The “real” South Carolina , this large area stretching across the wide waist of the state tends to be left out of many discussions of Palmetto State tourism. Between the living movie set that is the Lowcountry  and the more dramatic landscape of the Upstate , the Midlands—flat and criss-crossed with interstates—sometimes seem plain by comparison.
But the Midlands have long been something of an honest broker between the Lowcountry and the Upcountry, from Columbia ’s original role as compromise state capital to the region’s default mode as a cultural buffer zone between the insouciant coast and the staunch mountains.
It’s quite a menu, actually: There are the considerable cultural offerings of Columbia and any number of picturesque smaller cities, such as horse-centric Camden . There are the old tobacco towns of the Pee Dee , like Hartsville  and Cheraw . And once you’ve tasted it, you can’t forget that distinctive Midlands-style barbecue, in an unusual but oddly addictive mustard-based sauce, courtesy of the region’s original contingent of German settlers.
Anglers in particular will enjoy the Midlands, home to several excellently stocked freshwater lakes, among them Lake Murray  near Columbia. In Santee Cooper , the huge Lake Marion  and its slightly smaller sibling Lake Moultrie  host a cottage industry catering to anglers from the serious professional to the casual fisherman.
In addition to fishing, throughout the region there’s an abundance of outdoor activity, including some of the best whitewater rafting in the South  near Columbia and the altogether unique Congaree National Park , home to some of the most ancient old-growth forest on the planet.