National Geographic Traveler has rated the Lowcountry's Sea Islands among its 20 must-see places in 2015.
The list -- which includes places around the world such as Zermatt, Switzerland, and Choquequirao, Peru -- is available online. It will be included in the December/January edition of the magazine, which hits newsstands Dec. 2.
The feature touts the Sea Islands as a "Path to a Forgotten Past," and highlights the Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor, culture and history.
"Visitors are beginning to learn that some of the most important chapters of American history took place here, right beneath their vacation-tanned feet," the article says.
Until a reporter called to ask her about it Thursday, Victoria Smalls, director of history, art and culture at Penn Center, didn't know about the article or its mention of Penn Center Heritage Days and the Gullah-Geechee culture.
"Oh, wow," she said while reading through the article online. "I just love everything. I love how they are incorporating all the county. ... Penn Center has been a little secret, and now I'm so happy that they are shedding a little more light on us and all of our Lowcountry and the Sea Islands."
Smalls said the article comes at a crucial time, as center staff and other community representatives are trying to push the local history and heritage into a national and international spotlight.
Travel tips advise people to attend the Hilton Head Island Wine and Food Festival, the Original Gullah Festival in Beaufort, the Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival, and Penn Center Heritage Days. It suggests Beaufort, and specifically the Rhett House, as a place to stay and Dye's Gullah Fixin's on Hilton Head Island as a good place to eat.
Visitors should read Fripp Island resident Pat Conroy's memoir "The Water is Wide" before they arrive, and take a hand-woven sweetgrass basket with them when they go, the author suggests.
"Whenever you encompass all of the Sea Islands and showcase all of our heritage in one piece, you see there's a lot out there," said Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce tourism division director Robb Wells.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.