Taste your way through the other peach state—South Carolina—on this sweet peak-season drive

Red Horse Inn Pastures
Private cottages on the pastures of The Red Horse Inn
| Credit: Art Meripol

Day One: Gaffney to Landrum
Distance: 46 miles

Start with bacon-and-egg sandwiches ($2) at Trackside Diner (864/488-1948), a train-themed spot packed with locals. Head south on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11, keeping an eye out for the Peachoid, Gaffney's 150-foot-tall peach-shaped water tower.

Farther west, Highway 11 runs through a peach orchard with squat fruit trees blanketing the hills. Pop in to Strawberry Hill U.S.A. Cafe (864/461-7225) for a scoop of homemade ice cream ($3) churned with peaches picked from the surrounding farm. Across the street, visit the Cooley Bros. Peach Shed, an open-air market where American flags are as ubiquitous as the peaches.

Continue to Landrum's historic downtown, which has more vintage wares than a season of Antiques Roadshow. Grab a fresh peach cupcake ($2.50) at Cakes and Confections 4 U (864/457-2223), and hop from shop to shop. Linger in Carolina Antiques & More, which specializes in rare finds such as vintage ship wheels and restored pinball machines (864/457-4444).

Find upscale pub grub downtown at The Hare & Hound (864/457-3232), where the bacon-and-blue-cheese-stuffed pork chop ($19) is wonderfully decadent. Wash it down with a Bottletree Blonde ($3.50), a crisp brew from nearby Tryon, North Carolina.

Drive a few miles south, and bed down at The Red Horse Inn (864/895-4968; rooms from $205), a collection of cottages and inn rooms perched on an expansive horse farm.

Day Two: Landrum to Salem
Distance: 96 miles

After pancakes and egg frittatas, visit the inn's resident horse, Secret, the great-grandchild of Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Head west on Scenic Highway 11, where Table Rock, a broad granite dome, dominates the skyline. Visit Perdue's Fruit Farm (carolinafarmers.com/perdue), a 20-plus-acre fruit farm with a roadside market that many claim has the best peach preserves in the state. The market doesn't open until 10 a.m. because owner Dick Perdue and his crew pick the fruit each morning.

Grab lunch at Sisters (864/944-8100) in Salem, where each sister has a signature sandwich. Try the reuben ($7), ham-and-turkey club ($6), and chicken salad ($6). Locals love to debate which is best. Check in at the pastoral Sunrise Farm B&B (864/944-0121; rooms from $110; sunrisefarmbb.com), a restored Victorian farmhouse on a former cotton plantation in Salem. Nab the Corn Crib, with a kitchen and private patio overlooking a pasture of pygmy goats, sheep, and llamas.

Follow Highway 11 south to tiny downtown Walhalla for dinner at The Steak House Cafeteria (864/638-3311; dinner on weekends only), a meat 'n' three that's been an Upstate institution since the 1970s. Order the local favorite: crispy fried chicken ($3).

Day Three: Salem to Long Creek
Distance: 36 miles

Be sure to enjoy from-scratch peach muffins and peach coffee cake before bidding farewell to the pygmy goats at Sunrise.

For one last, great peachy gasp, head west on U.S. 76 to Long Creek, where you can pluck the fuzzy fruit straight from the trees at Chattooga Belle Farm (864/647-9768). The 138-acre farm has a 270-degree view of the mountains, making it a popular destination for weddings. (It's impossible to take a bad picture in their peach orchard.) Linger on the grounds and meet owner Ed Land, who is known to launch bruised peaches from a slingshot for the kids. His market is packed with such goods as peach jam and Chattooga Belle's newest endeavor, muscadine wine.