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38 Things to Do in South Carolina & Places to Visit

38 Things to Do in South Carolina & Places to Visit

If you’re planning a trip and looking for fun things to do in South Carolina, you’ve come to the right place. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Midlands and the beaches and marshes of the Coast, the Palmetto State has a diverse array of regions to explore. And they’re packed with attractions and things to do for families, couples, or groups.

South Carolina offers a landscape of historic sites, natural attractions, leisure destinations, and a boatload of coastal cuisine. Books and the silver screen (both in some cases) have captured the beauty, romance, and deep history of the state.

Check out titles such as The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (yes, it was set in North Carolina, but most of the film locations are its southern sister) to see or imagine the South Carolina landscape.

Charleston’s most famous native, Darius Rucker (of country music and Hootie and the Blowfish fame), has teamed up with Discover South Carolina to bring his favorite things to do in South Carolina to the public eye (many of his songs are inspired by South Carolina). You’ve probably seen snippets of the state, especially Charleston, in his music videos. 

Read on as we take Mr. Rucker’s lead and get into a Southern State of Mind and pick out some of the best and cheap things to do in South Carolina (whether you’re a famous musician or not).

Charlestons Old South Carriage Historic Horse Carriage Tour
1. Charleston’s Old South Carriage Historic Horse & Carriage Tour Top Recommendation

UTV Rental in North Idaho is the best way to explore the vast and rugged landscapes of northern Idaho. Pre-book your UTV online and start exploring on your own or with friends today. This rental gives you the flexibility to go where you want, set your own pace and discover several beautiful landscapes. From mountaintop vistas to multiple lakes, the area is chock full of places to visit.

Beaufort Historic City Tour by Bus
2. Beaufort: Historic City Tour by Bus

Beaufort, South Carolina is steeped in history. The city boasts the second-oldest city ordinance in North America and was the site of many skirmishes and battles during the Civil War. Join a tour through Beaufort's National Historic Landmark District and learn about the people and places that helped shape this historic town.

Charleston Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise
3. Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

Sitting atop a replica of the 1920s-style “Carolina Belle”, you will discover more than 75 landmarks and points-of-interest as you cruise along the Charleston Harbor. See Fort Sumter – where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, dolphins and pelicans, and enjoy beautiful views of the West Ashley area. You can also use a fully-stocked drinks and snack bar where you can purchase food and drinks.

TLDR

  • Most Significant Landmark – Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island
  • Best Park – Hunting Island State Park
  • Best Free Activity – Swan Lake Iris Garden
  • Best Activity for Kids – Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach
  • Best Activity for Adults – Middleton Place
  • Best Food – Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar in Charleston
  • Best Nightlife – The Bowery in Myrtle Beach
  • Best All-Around Accommodation – The Inn at Middleton Place

Best Places to Visit & Fun Things to Do in South Carolina

Blue Ridge Mountain Region

Greenville, South Carolina town Landscape

Head to the Blue Ridge Mountain Region, in the northwestern part of the state, for golf courses, hiking trails, natural history, and the aquatic settings of the Pee-Dee and Savannah Rivers.

With some of the best things to see in South Carolina, the cities of Greenville, Spartanburg, Oconee, Cherokee, Pickens, and Greenwood are all part of the Blue Ridge Mountain region. If you’re wondering “is South Carolina worth visiting,” this region will quickly give you a solid yes.

1. The Peace Center

Address: 300 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601

A live arts destination, the Peace Center is a performing arts center in Greenville along the Reedy River. The six-acre property has a concert hall, a theater, and an amphitheater. Events include concerts such as Diana Krall, film festivals, speaking engagements, comedy shows, and Broadway touring shows like Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, and Fiddler on the Roof.

See Related: Best Things to do in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

2. Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

Also known as Highway 11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway takes travelers past orchards, parks, and villages along the southern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 130-mile route was originally used by fur traders.

The highway is a leisurely and convenient way to see waterfalls, mountain peaks, roadside attractions, scenic overlooks, and state parks such as Devils Fork, Table Rock, and Caesars Head State Park, one of the best South Carolina places to visit for nature lovers.

See Related: Best Tours in Charleston, South Carolina

3. Devils Fork State Park

Address: 161 Holcombe Cir, Salem, SC 29676

Hikers, kayakers, and nature enthusiasts will enjoy the day at Devils Fork in upstate South Carolina. Located along the Cherokee Foothills Highway, the park has campsites and cabins as well as a campground that can only be accessed by boat.

The park is also the only way to access the dive sites and crystal-clear water of the 7,500-acre Lake Jocassee, which is popular for fishing. Only a certain number of boats are allowed on the lake per day, which offers a relaxing and peaceful way to spend the day.

The 1.5-mile Oconee Bell Natural Trail offers the chance to see the unique Oconee bellflower, which blooms around mid-March to April.

For convenient access to Devils Fork, and other places to visit in South Carolina, this Lake Jocassee vacation cottage is an excellent choice. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as a full kitchen, a dining area, a washer and dryer, and a gas log fireplace.

See Related: Best Things to do in Charleston, South Carolina

4. Caesars Head State Park

Caesars Head State Park View

Address: 8155 Geer Hwy, Cleveland, SC 29635

Waterfalls, backcountry campsites, migrating hawks, more than 60 miles of hiking trails, and the stunning overlook at the Blue Ridge Escarpment await at Caesars Head State Park.

Visitors will want to check out Raven Cliff Falls, a 420-foot waterfall, within the Caesars Head State Park. It’s a four-mile out-and-back trail leading to an overlook at the falls. The hike is considered moderately strenuous, but the views make it worth it. There’s also a suspension bridge that crosses the falls. It’s accessible via a 6.6-mile round-trip hike

5. South Carolina Children’s Theater

South Carolina Childrens' Theatre, building and entrance.

Address: 153 Augusta St, Greenville, SC 29601

In Greenville, the South Carolina Children’s Theater offers school programs, workshops, educational classes, musicals, symphony shows, and theatre classes for ages three to 18.

Designed to educate and stimulate the minds and imaginations of children and families through theater and education, it’s the largest year-round children’s theater in the area.

See Related: Best Museums in Charleston, South Carolina, to Visit

6. Greenville Zoo

Address: 150 Cleveland Park Dr, Greenville, SC 29601

The 14-acre Greenville Zoo opened in 1960 and features a fun array of spider monkeys, giant anteaters, kunekune pigs, red pandas, ocelots, and much more. Take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the animals and the zoo’s conservation efforts and get up close to your favorite animals.

Cleveland Park is next door to the zoo. The 120-acre area is the city’s largest park and makes a terrific spot for picnics and recreational activities. There are tennis courts, a softball field, volleyball courts, a playground, and a fitness trail with workout stations.

The Museum & Library of Confederate History is located next to the park. Peruse exhibits and artifacts from the 1860s. Items include firearms. Currency, letters, clothing, photographs, and books. Museum admission is free.

To get a closer look at South Carolina’s past, consider taking a Civil War and Street Art Tour. You’ll visit sites like the South Carolina State House, the Robert Mills House & Gardens, the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, and Trinity Episcopal Church as well as popular murals and street art.

For a hotel near this area, check out the Hyatt Place Greenville Downtown. Enjoy an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, complimentary breakfast, a bar, and a restaurant. It’s also near the Peace Center, Sirrine Stadium, and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

7. Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library

Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum and Baseball Library

Address: 356 Field St, Greenville, SC 29601

The house that legendary outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson and his wife lived in and died in serves as the museum. It’s across from Fluor Field (the house was originally at a different location during the time Shoeless Joe lived there), which has a statue of Shoeless Joe.

The museum is home to some of his personal belongings, photos, original artifacts, and more than 2,000 baseball-related books. This is one of the best free things to do in South Carolina for sports and history fans.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina

8. Falls Park on the Reedy

Address: 601 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601

Falls Park, located on the Reedy River in Greenville, has a waterfall, public art, and riverfront gardens. A pedestrian and bicycling bridge makes this one of the best South Carolina attractions to get stunning photos of the falls at Falls Park.

9. Calhoun Falls State Park

Sunset at Calhoun Falls State Park

Address: 46 Maintenance Shop Rd, Calhoun Falls, SC 29628

Pine forests and the Lake Russell reservoir are the highlights of Calhoun Falls. Located in the western part of the state, you can go fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking. You’ll have the convenience of picnic shelters, rental boat slips, and tennis courts. The campground has RV and tent sites.

If you’re not into the camping scene, the Belmont Inn by OYO, in Abbeville, features antique furniture, exposed brick walls, and a modern ambiance. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi and business facilities with easy access to the park.

See Related: Best Breweries in Charleston, South Carolina

Midlands Region

Congaree River

The Midlands Region of South Carolina is in…well…the middle of the state. Check out roadside attractions, native wildlife, and outdoor recreation along the Congaree River as well as cities like Columbia, Florence, Aiken, Santee, and Newberry.

The Midlands region is home to the University of South Carolina Aiken, the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame & Museum, and the Santee National Golf Club.

10. Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

Address: Visitor Contact Station 23734 US-1, McBee, SC 29101

Established in 1939, the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge was created to provide refuge for migratory birds, homes for native wildlife, and nature-related recreation. Visitors to this wildlife preserve can enjoy activities such as hiking, biking, camping, fishing, snowmobiling, and horseback riding.

Habitats at the wildlife preserve include wetlands, ponds, hardwood forests, and swamps. Species at home in the refuge range from bald eagles and bats to gray wolves, grizzly bears, and manatees.

11. South Carolina State Museum

South Carolina State Museum Front view
Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock.com

Address: 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201

The South Carolina State Museum features four floors of permanent and changing exhibits, a 4-D interactive theater, an observatory, and a digital dome planetarium.

Peruse displays on history, art, technology, photography, and science, including prehistoric fossils, the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and more. The South Carolina State Museum is in downtown Columbia along the Congaree River.

See Related: Best Charleston Walking Tours: Explore South Carolina on Foot

12. EdVenture Children’s Museum

EdVenture Children’s Museum Exterior
Nolichuckyjake / Shutterstock.com

Address: 211 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201

Located near the South Carolina State Museum, the EdVenture Children’s Museum holds more than 350 exhibits on nature, biology, careers, and inventions. Kids can explore in a hands-on environment as they pretend to be firefighters, chefs, teachers, scientists, and more.

For easy access to both of the above museums and the Congaree River, Springhill Suites by Marriott Columbia Downtown is an excellent choice for vacations in South Carolina. Guests can enjoy rooms with free Wi-Fi, iPod docks, daily breakfast, a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a coffee/tea maker. Amenities include a pool and a bar.

13. Saluda River Rafting and Paddling

Take advantage of South Carolina’s rivers, lakes, and streams. Haul those canoes and kayaks to the Edisto River for a day of paddling. Likewise, you can take to the Saluda River for rafting adventures.

Looking for accommodations near the Saluda River and South Carolina activities? The Embassy Suites by Hilton Columbia Greystone is just off Interstate 126 and the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is across the street…now that gives me an idea…

Guests at this pet-friendly South Carolina hotel can enjoy a fitness center, an indoor pool, a business center, meeting rooms, free airport transfers, and free daily breakfast. Guest rooms have a microwave, a mini-fridge, and a coffee maker.

The Tru by Hilton Columbia Greystone is another excellent choice for Saluda River rafting trips. There’s a fitness center, free Wi-Fi, a business center, and a game room with a pool table.

See Related: Best South Carolina Beaches | Top Getaway Options

14. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, SC 29210

The 170-acre Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, located in Columbia along the Saluda River, offers a zoo, aquarium, and botanical gardens to nature-loving visitors. Visit penguins, turtles, alpacas, African lions, giraffes, sloths, California sea lions, and many more.

If your interests run to the botanical side, check out rose, shade, Asian, desert, and bog-themed gardens. The Walled Garden features seasonal blooms such as forsythia, larkspur, hibiscus, hollies, and mums. There’s also a Waterfall Junction section for kids to splash and play at the Riverbanks Zoo.

The Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbia Downtown is about a five-minute drive from the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. The Carolina Coliseum, the South Carolina State Museum, and the Columbia Museum of Art are also nearby.

Guest rooms have a microwave, a mini-fridge, and a coffee maker. Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool.

15. Congaree National Park

Address: 100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC 29061

If you haven’t already, it’s time to put Congaree National Park on your national park bucket list. Located southeast of Columbia, it has the largest intact area of old-growth hardwood forests in the United States. Camping, hiking, fishing, and canoeing are all popular.

Most of the land is flat and even (it lies in a floodplain), which amounts to relatively easy hiking terrain. Begin your adventure at the Harry Hampton Visitor Center where you can take off on several trail loops.

Congaree National Park also has a unique occurrence of synchronous fireflies. These light-emitting insects are also found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The light patterns they perform set the forest ablaze with twinkling light that can be seen during mating season in spring.

This Cottage Tree House B&B is just three miles from South Carolina’s Congaree National Park. It sits on two acres of wooded forest for a peaceful South Carolina vacation. Cozy furniture and décor make you feel right at home.

There are two bedrooms, one full bath, a kitchen, a dining area, and an outdoor seating space with a grill and campfire space. Pets are welcome and there is free Wi-Fi.

See Related: Best Things to do in Outer Banks, North Carolina

16. The Columbia Museum of Art

Columbia Museum of Art
Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1515 Main St, Columbia, SC 29201

The Columbia Museum of Art (or CMA), in downtown Columbia, features a myriad of colorful and aesthetically pleasing art, sculpture, photography, and paintings. Regional, local, and international artists can be seen in traveling and permanent exhibits.

StayBridge Suites Columbia, an IHG Hotel is a great choice for art enthusiasts wanting easy access to the Columbia Museum of Art. It’s about two miles from the University of South Carolina. There’s an indoor pool, a fitness center, a convenience store, and outdoor grill facilities. Suites have a small kitchen area and extra seating.

17. UFO Welcome Center

Address: 4004 Homestead Rd, Bowman, SC 29018

The UFO Welcome Center roadside attraction in Bowman is out-of-this-world [chortle]. The 42-foot flying saucer, found in Bowman, is made of scrap metal, wood, and other random items (some might say junk). It’s located in a private backyard, but visitors can pay a fee and tour it. Some may just prefer the exterior selfie shot (especially since the owner sometimes actually stays in it…).

The structure is designed as a welcome center for extra-terrestrial travelers (rather than the human variety). There’s even a sign that says, “Space People Only.” They can use restrooms, watch TV, take a shower, and enjoy the air conditioning at this South Carolina tourist attraction. Just not you. No humans allowed.

See Related: What is Space Tourism? Here’s What to Know About the Industry

18. Swan Lake Iris Gardens

Swan Lake Iris Gardens

Address: 822 W Liberty St, Sumter, SC 29150

Located in Sumter, Swan Lake Iris Gardens features a beautiful setting of Japanese iris flowers, swans, ducks, geese, and turtles. You’ll find all eight species of swan, including black Australians, trumpeters, royal white mutes, and whistlers.

Wishing to stay near the beauty and charm of Swan Lake Iris Gardens? Check into Hyatt Place Sumter Downtown. There’s an outdoor pool, a fitness center, meeting rooms, and a bar. Guest rooms have a kitchen, a seating area, and free Wi-Fi.

South Carolina Coast

From North Myrtle Beach to Hunting Island, Hilton Head Island, and Daufuskie Island, the coastal section is the largest ecoregion in the state and one of the best places to visit in South Carolina. Other coastal towns include Charleston, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, and Mount Pleasant.   

Sport fishing charters, sightseeing cruises, water sports, and historic sites are just a few of the many things to do in the South Carolina “Lowcountry,” which refers to the area from Pawleys Island to the Savannah River and the Georgia state border.

19. Myrtle Beach Nightlife

Myrtle Beach Nightlife View

Famous for its world-class golf courses (it’s actually known as the Golf Course Capital of the World), Myrtle Beach can’t be beaten for its nightlife and live entertainment – or golf. Enjoy everything from dinner theater, seasonal shows, and live music to magic shows, an Elton John Tribute Show, and more things to do in South Carolina.

Check out The Bowery for line dancing and local musicians, the House of Blues for Sunday gospel brunch, Fat Harold’s Beach Bar for dance lessons, or Malibu’s Surf Bar for classic oldies and modern tunes in Myrtle Beach.

While Myrtle Beach really comes alive after dark, not everyone is a night owl. Top daytime activities include the Myrtle Beach Skywheel, Ripley’s Aquarium, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and deep-sea fishing excursions.

See Related: Best Party Cities in Europe | Top Nightlife Destinations

20. Alligator Adventure

Alligator Adventure Image

Address: 4604 Hwy 17 S, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582

Located in North Myrtle Beach at Barefoot Landing, Alligator Adventure is an excellent (and safe) way to learn about alligators like caiman, albino, Chinese, and American, as well as crocodiles and other animals.

Live shows at this North Myrtle Beach attraction include alligator lectures, snake handling, and alligator feedings. Visit other cool creatures like sea turtles, bobcats, and flamingos at this Myrtle Beach, South Carolina getaway.

21. Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum

Address: 40 Patriots Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

One of the most popular things to do in South Carolina, Patriots Point Naval Maritime Museum is in Mount Pleasant. Point Naval Maritime Museum is just across the Cooper River from historic Charleston.

Patriots Point Naval Maritime is home to the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, the USS Laffey Destroyer, and historic aircraft such as a stubby F4F Wildcat, a wide-winged A-6E Intruder, and a sleek A-4C Skyhawk. Other exhibits at Patriots Point Naval Maritime include the Vietnam War, Cold War submarines, and a Medal of Honor museum.

Travel across the Cooper River via the scenic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, which connects Charleston to Mt Pleasant (you can see it in a couple of Charleston native Darius Rucker’s videos), to get to Point Naval Maritime Museum. The bridge is also accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists and is an excellent way to enjoy views of downtown Charleston.

See Related: The 2nd Longest Bridge in Europe | Ponte Vasco da Gama

22. Charleston Ghost Tour

Charleston Ghost Tour
Image via GetYourGuide

A Charleston Ghost Tour is one of the best things to do in South Carolina if you enjoy history and spooky stories. You’ll ride a carriage past churches, cemeteries, dark alleys, a dungeon, and other sites from Charleston’s storied past.

Tours last about 40 minutes and are led by experienced local guides. Sites include the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, Charleston City Market, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, and other sites around Charleston’s historic district.

See Related: Charleston Safe To Visit? Things To Know

23. Charleston City Market

Charleston City Market
Photo by Sandy Allen

Address: 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

For arts and crafts, souvenirs, and specialty items like sweetgrass baskets (the SC state handicraft), you won’t want to miss the Charleston City Market, which operates both a day and a night market! The market was established in the 1790s and features four blocks of covered space for local artisans. The original section is used for meetings and other events.

The market is also home to The Museum at Market Hall, better known as the Confederate Museum. Set up by the neo-Confederate United Daughters of the Confederacy, this small museum tells the story of Charleston and South Carolina’s mission to maintain slavery during the American Civil War.

Joe Riley Waterfront Park
Photo by Sandy Allen

The market is near Charleston Harbor, Charleston’s historic district, and Joe Riley Waterfront Park, which is home to the city’s famous pineapple water fountain.

The Meeting Street Inn offers convenience to the market and a variety of other attractions around Charleston. This luxury hotel features 19th Century-style décor with modern amenities. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, daily continental breakfast, an enclosed garden courtyard, and complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres each evening.

See Related: Where to Stay in Charleston, South Carolina

24. Gibbes Museum of Art

Front view of Gibbes Museum of Art
Imge by Aude/ CC BY-SA 2.5

Address: 135 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

Art and culture lovers will want to head on over to the Gibbes Museum of Art while in Charleston. Take self-guided tours of 18th and 19th Century American art, paintings, and sculptures. Visit a contemporary gallery and miniature portraits, which are part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Past galleries have included 21st Century photography, unique art installations, still life paintings, artists painting artists, and Mexico and the Charleston Renaissance. It’s located just a few blocks from the Charleston County Courthouse.

25. South Carolina Aquarium

Exterior of South Carolina Aquarium

Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401

The South Carolina Aquarium is located on the harbor in Charleston. It’s one of the best tourist attractions in town. Visit habitats like mountain forests, the piedmont, coastal plains, a salt marsh aviary, the ocean, and backyard habitats. Visit American alligators, Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, nurse sharks, tropical fish, barracuda, and more on a walking tour of the aquarium.

The aquarium specializes in conservation initiatives such as the rescue, rehab, and release of sea turtles. Attractions near the aquarium include the SC Maritime Museum, the Charleston Maritime Center, and Charleston’s historic district.

The Dewberry Charleston is a historic mid-20th Century hotel in the heart of Charleston’s historic district. It’s located in the Mendell Rivers Federal Building. Amenities include a spa, a fitness center, a library, a brasserie-style restaurant, and a cocktail bar. It’s the perfect luxury space with close proximity to a variety of attractions, restaurants, and activities.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Charleston? Things to Know

26. Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens

Address: 1235 Long Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

The 1681 Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens features a mansion, gardens, and a ¾-mile row of oak trees draped in Spanish moss. This South Carolina plantation is in Mt Pleasant along Wampacheone Creek. Movie-goers may remember it from The Notebook as Allie’s family’s summer house.

Take tours, visit historic exhibits, and learn about the Gullah culture and local cultural history at this South Carolina plantation. You can also take a 30-minute tractor tour around the grounds of the property to learn about the gardens and the current working farm.

27. Brookgreen Gardens

Beautiful Brookgreen Gardens

Address: 1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Located in Murrells Inlet, the 9,000-acre Brookgreen Gardens is filled with sculptures, reflecting pools, flowering plants, and extensive botanical gardens. Theater and live music performances are often held at Brookgreen Gardens. There’s an education center, a sculpture garden, a butterfly garden, and a pathway of live oak trees from the 1700s.

To be near the sculpture garden at Brookgreen Gardens and the Atlantic Ocean beach, check out Litchfield Beach and Golf Resort on Pawley’s Island. There is an outdoor pool, an indoor pool, a lazy river, a fitness center, and a restaurant that serves breakfast.

Guest rooms have a mini-fridge and a microwave.  Some rooms have kitchens and seating areas, which is a terrific option for larger families and extended stays near Brookgreen Gardens.

See Related: Best Cheap Places to Travel in the US

28. Angel Oak Tree

Kids playing under Angel Oak Tree
Photo by Sandy Allen

Address: 3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455

The Angel Oak Tree, located on Johns Island near Charleston, is one of South Carolina’s most popular sites. The massive tree is more than 60 feet tall with a circumference of about 25.5 feet.

The largest live oak tree east of the Mississippi River, it’s approximately 300 years old. You can’t climb on the massive branches, but you can walk around, admire, and take tons of selfies with the amazing structure.

29. Enjoy some Lowcountry Cuisine

Lowcountry Cuisine
Photo by Sandy Allen

If you’re wondering “what is South Carolina known for,” it would have to be regional cuisine. Any trip to South Carolina calls for a meal or two (or three or four) of Lowcountry favorites. Whether it’s the seafood boil (also known as “frogmore stew”), gumbo, shrimp and grits, oysters, or catfish stew, coastal region menus are sure to add new flavors to a traveler’s palate.

Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar is on the Downtown Charleston waterfront and offers a wide array of seafood dishes, including she-crab soup, seared salmon, Charleston Shrimp and grits, burgers, and shrimp po-boy sandwiches.

Open in 1987, California Dreaming overlooks the Ashley River on Johns Island. The castle-like structure has a full menu of steaks, seafood, baby back ribs, and Lowcountry favorites such as the Lowcountry boil, fried seafood platters, and shrimp and grits.

Cake from Carmella’s Café & Dessert Bar
Photo by Sandy Allen

Carmella’s Café & Dessert Bar in Charleston is a sweet treat at any time of day. Along with cookies and an always full menu of desserts, you can enjoy organic coffee, gelato, sorbet, sandwiches, and cocktails.

Stella’s features a menu filled with rustic and modern Greek specialties such as dolmades, souvlaki, Kostopoulos, avgolemono, and roast leg of lamb. For traditional Lowcountry cuisine in an elegant setting, head to 82 Queen for shrimp and grits, Carolina crab cakes, jambalaya, Lowcountry gumbo, and Southern tomato pie.

See Related: Strange Foods in America You Should Try

30. Mcleod Plantation Historic Site

Mcleod Plantation Historic Site

Address: 325 Country Club Dr, Charleston, SC 29412

McLeod Plantation Historic Site, on James Island, is a 37-acre site dedicated to preserving Gullah/Geechee heritage. Learn about daily life, worship and spirituality, the cultivation of sea island cotton, and the parallels of past and present Americans.

Don’t miss the McLeod Oak. This South Carolina attraction is believed to be 600 years old.

See Related: Things to Do in Rock Hill, South Carolina

31. Fort Sumter National Monument

The first shots of the Civil War were fired from Fort Sumter National Monument in 1861. Fort Sumter is in the middle of Charleston Harbor and dates to the War of 1812. Built to protect Charleston from naval invasion, Fort Sumter National Monument is part of the National Park Service.

Fort Sumter is only accessible by a ferry tour ride, which makes for fun things to do in Charleston for history, military, and Civil War enthusiasts.

Book a Fort Sumter ferry ride to tour the historic fort, check out the visitor education center, and learn from knowledgeable park rangers. Head to the visitor center to take guided tours to get an in-depth look at the site.

See Related: Most Famous Historical Landmarks in the USA

32. Fort Moultrie National Monument

Cannon Fort Moultrie National Monument

Address: 1214 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482

Also situated at the entrance to Charleston Harbor (on Sullivans Island), Fort Moultrie is another historic thing to do in SC. Soldiers defeated the Royal Navy from the fort in 1776. Today, it’s a great opportunity to explore American history from the Revolution to the Civil War.

The Charleston Harbor fort was abandoned for Fort Sumter (which was a stronger fortification) after the Civil War began. Fort Moultrie was modernized in the 1870s and then again in 1885. Today, visitors can explore a time frame of the Fort’s history from World War II back to that original 1776 log fort.

33. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

The building of Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

Address: 3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414

The historic house and garden at Magnolia Plantation, on the Ashley River, are on the National Register of Historic Places. Founded in 1676, the beautiful Magnolia Plantation is one of the oldest plantations in the South and the oldest public garden in America. Enjoy large-scale Romantic-style gardens filled with seasonal blooms such as azaleas, camellias, roses, and daffodils at Magnolia Plantation.

See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit

34. Middleton Place

Live Oak at Middleton Place Plantation

Address: 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414

Middleton Places is just across the Ashley River from North Charleston. The National Historic Landmark is one of America’s oldest landscaped gardens, making it one of the top things to do in South Carolina. At 65 acres in size, these oldest landscaped gardens feature a working stable yard, a house museum, a garden market, and a museum shop.

The Inn at Middleton Place is within easy access to Middleton Place. It has an outdoor pool, a restaurant, a garden, and a business center.

See Related: Best Parks in South Carolina

35. Wadmalaw Island

Wadmalaw Island is one of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands on the Atlantic Coast. Near Johns Island, Kiawah Island, and Folly Beach, Wadmalaw Island offers an array of family and commercial farms, including a variety of u-pick farms and America’s only tea plantation, the Charleston Tea Plantation.

Owned in part by R.C. Bigelow & Company, the Charleston Tea Plantation is the only North American farm that commercially produces black tea (the rest are all in Asia, Africa, and South America).

Tea lovers can take guided tours via trolley to the greenhouses and tea bushes and visit the production building at the Charleston Tea Plantation. Purchase tea in the gift shop to remember your visit to the tea plantation.

See Related: Best Islands in the US to Visit

36. Hunting Island State Park

Address: 2555 Sea Island Pkwy, St Helena Island, SC 29920

The 5,000-acre Hunting Island State Park is east of Beaufort and near Harbor Island and Fripp Island. It’s one of the state’s most popular parks and offers beaches, marshes, a saltwater lagoon, and a coastal forest.

The park has campsites, restrooms, a fishing pier, a playground, a nature center, and beach walkways. Climb 167 steps to the top of the Hunting Island Lighthouse (built in 1859 and then rebuilt in 1875).

37. Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park

Address: 16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Huntington Beach State Park, found at Murrells Inlet, is a great place to go hiking, kayaking, birdwatching, fishing, or geocaching. There’s also a three-mile beach if you prefer to just relax in the sand. Within Huntington Beach State Park, you’ll find the Moorish-style Atalaya Castle (on the National Register of Historic Places) and the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail.

The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn makes the perfect place to combine beach and Huntington Beach State Park visits. There’s an oceanfront pool, three on-site restaurants, a meeting space, and a bar. Rooms have a coffee maker, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.

See Related: Best National Parks in the USA to Visit

38. Hilton Head Island

One of the best islands in the U.S. to visit, Hilton Head Island offers a laid-back coastal ambiance in a resort-style setting. Along with secluded beaches, pristine golf courses, and boutique shopping, Hilton Head attractions include the Coastal Discovery Museum, the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum, the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, and deep sea fishing charters.

The luxury Sonesta Resort – Hilton Head Island is located on Hilton Head Island Beach. There’s a spa, a fitness center, two swimming pools, free Wi-Fi, and on-site dining at this pet-friendly hotel. Spacious guest rooms have a mini-fridge, cable TV, and either balconies or patios, which is a wonderful way to relax after experiencing the best things to do in South Carolina.

For great rates on flights, check out Kayak or Skyscanner. If you’re looking for hotels, and car rentals, Kayak is a good option. For more accommodation options I’d trust VRBO or Booking.com as excellent ways to find the perfect vacation rental, beach cottage, or urban condo for your South Carolina vacation.

FAQ

What are the best tourist attractions in South Carolina?

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, the Angel Oak Tree, and the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach are some of the most popular tourist attractions in South Carolina.

What are some fun things to do in South Carolina?

Check out Devils Fork State Park, Calhoun Falls State Park, or Congaree National Park for hiking, biking, and nature watching. Golfers will want to head to Myrtle Beach for pro courses.

What are the best things to do with kids in South Carolina?

Alligator Adventure, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!, the Myrtle Beach Skywheel, or any number of arcades and amusement parks on the boardwalk loop in Myrtle Beach are great ideas for kid-friendly trips to South Carolina.

What are some fun things to do in South Carolina when it’s raining?

When it’s raining, head to a history or art museum such as the Columbia Museum of Art, the Gibbes Museum of Art, or the South Carolina Aquarium. The Charleston City Market is a covered location, which makes it a great place to go when it’s raining.

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