In South Carolina, the Fourth of July marks the official beginning of peach season.
Although the weird weather earlier this year wiped out some of the state’s peach crop, the sweet and juicy fruits can still be found – you just might have to drive for them.
(Like you need a reason for a road trip.)
The obvious place to start is the S.C. State Farmers Market, the central distribution center for South Carolina farmers. Drive slowly through the shed, talk to the farmers, ask them where they’re from, what they grow – and you may be offered a taste.
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Most of the early peach crop was lost, but places like Perdeaux Fruit Farm on S.C. 11, along the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, will have “full crops on most peach varieties that ripen during July to mid-August.” They plan on picking Red Haven peaches by Saturday, July 8.
While you’re there: Continue driving through the mountains and check out Table Rock and Caesar’s Head.
Sander’s Peaches in Filbert is where author Dori Sanders holds court. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you might find her under the shed on her family’s peach farm, selling fruit, signing autographs, telling stories and dishing cooking advice. The farm is one of the oldest African-American farms in the region and specializes in Georgia Belle and Elberta peaches.
While you’re there: This is part of the Olde English District that includes Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Union and York counties. Check out the Revolutionary War sites, antique stores and more.
Heading to the beach
Mac’s Pride, on S.C. 151 between Hartsville and McBee, is a traditional stop for peach lovers heading to the beach. The McLeod family has been growing peaches here since 1916. Stop in for fresh fruit, peach ice cream, peach bread, peach pies – you get the idea.
While you’re there: You can hang out at Mac’s and grab lunch or dinner at the diner or wander (for free) through the on-site antique museum featuring old cars, farm equipment and amusement rides.
Closer to home
The Lexington Peach Festival is all that on Tuesday, July 4. Fresh peach ice cream, pies and more. Peaches come from James R. Sease Farms and the roadside stands along U.S. 378 near Gilbert.
Head down S.C. 23 to the heart of the state’s peach country. Along this route you’ll find Titan Farms and Watsonia, two of the state’s larger peach operations. You can buy directly from the roadside stands: Sara’s Stand (Titan), 5150 Edgefield Road, Trenton; Watsonia’s Peaches N Such I, 3771 S.C. 23, Monetta; and Peaches N Such II, off Exit 44 on Interstate 20, Gilbert.
While you’re there: This is Lake Murray country, so grab a basket of peaches and head to the public beaches or rent a pontoon boat for the day. Or, you can meander down S.C. 23 – starting at Batesburg-Leesville, travel through the small towns of Monetta, Ridge Spring, Johnston, and Edgefield and check out the antique shops and diners along the way. End your journey in Modoc, along the Savannah River, or back in Monetta for an after-dark adventure at the Big Mo Drive-In Movies.