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Reducing cost of rental car from FL to S.C.? What to see along the way?

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We are going to be in the south for nearly 9 days in February, flying into Orlando (MCO) and out of Charleston, S.C. (CHS). I just looked up the prices of rental cars picking up in MCO and dropping off in CHS and was horrifed to see that they were all around $1,000 for an economy car. (I checked Expedia, Travelocity, and through Costco, which showed rates for Budget, Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, and National.) We will need the car every day. Does anyone have a suggestion of a less expensive option?

We are going to be at a dance workshop in Plant City, FL, for 4 days and then will have 4-1/2 days to drive to CHS. I have in mind seeing St. Augustine, Savannah, and Charleston. I heard about a good place for kakaying in NW Fla. (I need to look up the name) that's also a possibility if it's OK in Feb. I'd appreciate suggestions of other things we should try to see or do along the way and of places where we might stay.

Thanks.

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