Beaches, history, shopping and fine dining blend with championship tennis and a national forest in the diverse area east of the Cooper River.

Surf and sun lovers are drawn to the Isle of Palms with its rental beachfront homes and boardwalk, nightclubs and restaurants.

Military history buffs have plenty to enjoy at Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island and the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, home of the aircraft carrier Yorktown.

Further north on U.S. 17, the tempo relaxes into the vast expanses of the Francis Marion National Forest and Cape Romaine National Wildlife Refuge. This is prime country for hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, picnicking, and wilderness hiking and biking.

Once a sleepy village, the town has grown to a bustling place of 65,000 residents that touts its low crime rate, highly rated schools and upscale shopping epitomized by the sprawling Towne Centre on U.S. Highway 17.

Shrimp boats line Shem Creek, the picture-postcard tidal tributary of Charleston Harbor that is home to restaurants, inns and the town’s Shem Creek Park, where a boardwalk stretches through marsh.

The town is home to the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, the Palmetto Islands County Park and Boone Hall Plantation, one of America’s oldest working plantations. It has been continuously growing and producing crops for more than 320 years.

Memorial Waterfront Park offers stunning views of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

The Edgar Allan Poe Library is housed in Battery Gadsden, a former Spanish-American War four-gun battery. The library is named for Poe, who was stationed on Sullivan’s Island as a private in the Army in 1827 and 1828. He used the island as the background for his famous story, “The Gold Bug.”

This island’s Fort Moultrie bears the name of Col. William Moultrie, who repelled a British attack in 1776. The National Park Service manages the fort as a historic tourist attraction.

Middle Street offers an array of bars and restaurants. The beaches are some of the widest and most popular around.

The island has a full-service marina offering charters for offshore and inshore fishing. Kayaking, parasailing and jet skiing are available. Six miles of beach access for visitors makes the island a popular destination.

A boardwalk offers a mix of bars, restaurants and retail outlets selling everything from ice cream to surfboards. Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission operates a beachfront park on the island next to the boardwalk.

The Wild Dunes resort occupies 1,500 acres on the northern end of the island and offers two 18-hole Tom Fazio golf courses, 17 tennis courts and numerous pools.

The new part of Daniel Island is located in Berkeley County, although it’s part of the city of Charleston. It’s a community of landscaped lawns and fresh-faced homes, some of them large and spacious that feature porches and balconies and a uniform look.

The Family Circle Cup puts Daniel Island in the women’s tennis spotlight each year. Blackbaud Stadium, also on Daniel Island, is home to the Charleston Battery professional soccer team.

This picturesque village in northern Charleston County on U.S. 17 was ravaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989 but bounced back to become a self-sufficient community of schools, homes, churches, shops and docking facilities with an economy largely dependent upon the sea.

On the way to McClellanville, check out the Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center and the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw.

The center has flight demonstrations featuring hawks, falcons, owls, eagles and vultures. The center, which rehabilitates injured birds of prey, offers tours of aviaries housing more than 30 species of eagles, falcons, owls and other birds from all parts of the world.