The northwestern region of South Carolina in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains was originally known as the "back country" because it was "in back" of Charleston. Over the years, this land of scenic wonders, with miles of peaks, waterfalls, mountain hamlets, and unspoiled forests, became known as the Up Country (also Upcountry). Here, American patriots trounced vastly superior British forces at the Cowpens, one of the decisive battles of the southern campaign during the Revolutionary War.

Today, the region generally referred to as the Upstate offers a wide variety of attractions and outdoor activities: 90 festivals throughout the year, more than 500 historic sites, 12 state parks, and numerous recreational opportunities.

The nation's second-largest hot-air-balloon festival, Freedom Weekend Aloft, is held July 4th weekend at Donaldson Center in Greenville. Another favorite is the Collectors' Market on the Green (antiques and pottery), staged in Pendleton in mid-September. For the history buff, the Cowpens National Battlefield Weekend, featuring 18th-century living-history and tactical demonstrations, is held in mid-January on the anniversary of the battle.

Plantations, parks, churches, and homes of former notables abound. The entire Pendleton District is on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the first separate African-American congregations established in South Carolina after the Civil War is in Greenville. Spartanburg is the site of historic 1765 Walnut Grove Plantation. But the region doesn't sleep in the past; it's also a center of international business, especially in Greenville and Spartanburg.