1. Charleston’s Historic District
In Charleston, where more than 1400 historic mansions, churches, and other buildings line the streets, you may fully experience the opulent antebellum south. You can take a carriage ride to get an overview and some background information, or you can sign up for a walking tour that includes a glimpse inside some of them.
Several historic residences, like the Aiken-Rhett House and the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House, also provide guided tours. A magnificent collection of fine and decorative arts is held by both.
More information about the city and its lengthy history is provided through the exhibits in the Old Exchange Building and Old Slave Mart Museum. Additionally, it is worthwhile to stop by the Charleston City Market to observe the “basket ladies” create sweetgrass baskets, a long-appreciated craft.
2. Myrtle Beach
Retreating to the miles of immaculate sand that border the shore at Myrtle Beach is one of the most well-liked summer activities in South Carolina. The numerous classic coastal delights available here are just as tempting as the beaches themselves. The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel offers passengers 10-minute rides over the beach and boardwalk, while the Carolina Opry hosts musical performances.
The largest entertainment and retail complex in the state is called Broadway at the Beach. It is a pedestrian-only section surrounding Lake Broadway with rides, mini golf, Ripley’s Aquarium, movies, specialized stores, eating, and other activities. At water parks and upscale hotels, families like the slides, splash rides, and swimming pools.
Whether you enjoy fishing or not, Apache Pier should be on your list of Myrtle Beach attractions. It is the longest wooden pier on the East Coast, measuring just under 1,200 feet, and a well-liked fishing location. If you just want to walk it all, stop at Croakers for a fresh fish sandwich and take in the breathtaking views of Myrtle Beach. Every night throughout the summer there is live music, and kids may have fun in the arcade.
3. South Carolina Plantation Gardens
There are more than 2,000 estates in the state, many of which are available to tourists. The plantations around Charleston are particularly well-known for their magnificent gardens. With construction beginning in the early 1700s and the first public entrance in 1870, Magnolia Plantation is one of America’s oldest publicly accessible gardens. As the last large Romantic-style garden in America, they are distinctive. America’s oldest planted gardens are located above Middleton Place, which is completely furnished in period style.
One of the oldest estates in the country that is still in use as a functioning farm is Boone Hall Plantation in adjacent Mt. Pleasant. It is most renowned for its magnificent, three-quarter-mile Avenue of Oaks. The interior decorative elements of Drayton Hall, the oldest unrestored plantation mansion in the United States, provide an unique sight of authentic 18th-century craftsmanship.
These plantations currently feature exhibitions, tours, and programs on the lives of the enslaved people who made the plantation lifestyle possible throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries in addition to displaying how the owners and their family lived.
Discussions on the Middleton family as well as the enslaved people and freedmen who served them are part of the guided tours of Middleton Place. At Drayton Hall, ongoing archaeological investigations are finding objects that provide light on these unrecorded lives.
The 45-minute session on African-American history at Magnolia’s Cabin Project, which maintains historic slave homes, emphasizes not just the lives of enslaved people but also their subsequent contribution to maintaining and conserving the estate’s gorgeous gardens.
4. Hilton Head Island
Although the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach has more glitzy stage acts than Hilton Head Island does, this low-country beach community provides relaxed recreation and fewer tourists. There are many enjoyable activities available in this area, including fantastic dining, golfing, and shopping, as well as the lovely, expansive sandy beaches.
One of the greatest spots in South Carolina for biking is Hilton Head, which boasts miles of flat, clearly designated paths, beautiful scenery, and signs highlighting fascinating information and monuments. Since the majority of bike rental businesses now provide bikes with extra wide tires that perform well on the firm, packed sand, you may even ride along the beaches during low tide.
You could be fortunate enough to see dolphins playing in the surf not too distant from you in certain locations, especially along the Intracoastal Waterway’s coastlines. At the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, wildlife enthusiasts may get up close and personal with both uncommon and common marine and birds.
You could be lucky and catch a glimpse of dolphins playing in the surf not too distant from you in some locations, particularly along the Intracoastal Waterway’s coasts. The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge offers close-up views of both uncommon and common marine and avian species.
5. Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor
The American Civil War started on April 12, 1861, when Confederate soldiers attacked Fort Sumter, a government fort protecting Charleston Harbor. These events are brought vividly to life by the superb National Park Rangers’ interpretations, which lay the groundwork for a deeper comprehension of Civil War history.
You may take a boat to the island and the fort’s well-preserved remains from Patriots Point or the Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square. Alternatively, a 90-minute excursion on a tourist boat that travels along the Cooper River to Fort Sumter National Monument can provide you superb views of the fort.
The whole trip is narrated to offer background information on Charleston’s historical periods, including the Civil War and other periods. Additionally, it offers excellent views of adjacent forts, the USS Yorktown, the Ravenel Bridge, the Civil War prison at Pinckney Castle, and other forts.
6. USS Yorktown and Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant
You may take a tour of the storied Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown at Patriots Point, which is on the opposite side of the harbor from Charleston’s Historic District. It was the eleventh aircraft carrier in the US Navy, and it was built in 1943. It served in World War II, earning 11 battle stars, and subsequently added five more for duty in Vietnam. The Fighting Lady, a 1944 documentary movie, also “featured” the USS Yorktown.
More recently, in 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts’ recovery by the USS Yorktown attracted attention on a global scale. The ship joined submarines and other navigable displays when it was decommissioned to Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in 1975.
7. Congaree National Park, Hopkins
Congaree National Park, which spans more than 26,000 acres and is just a 30-minute drive from Columbia, is a well-liked location for South Carolina outdoor enthusiasts. This breathtaking region, which has the biggest concentration of tall bottomland old-growth forest in the USA, is also one of the top wilderness regions in the nation. More than half of the park is regarded as an undisturbed environment that is home to a variety of animals.
It is noteworthy for being a UNESCO biosphere reserve as well. It should come as no surprise that the park is home to a variety of ecologically significant plants and wildlife. Wildlife watchers may expect to witness a wide variety of animals, including bobcats, deer, armadillos, and several amphibians.
There is also a ton of other entertainment available here. Extensive hiking paths, kayaking, canoeing, and guided interpretive experiences are just a few examples of outdoor activities.
8. Watch Wildlife at Huntington Beach State Park, Murrells Inlet
Huntington Beach is regarded as the top birding spot in South Carolina due to the more than 300 different kinds of birds that can be seen there.
But travelers who enjoy nature are drawn to more than just birds. At the park’s freshwater lake, visitors may frequently see alligators, and a variety of park programs gives visitors the chance to see loggerhead turtles and other endangered creatures while also learning about some of the uncommon local vegetation.
The annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival, which is judged, takes place in the Huntingtons’ former winter home in September. The nearby Brookgreen Gardens were also created by the artist and philanthropist.
9. South Carolina State Museum, Columbia
The largest such facility in the state is the South Carolina State Museum. This well-liked attraction has four levels of displays showcasing the natural history, art, culture, science, and technology of South Carolina.
The hands-on nature of many of the educational exhibits makes the museum particularly appealing to young visitors. The museum also has a planetarium, a 4-D interactive science theater, and a rotating selection of special exhibitions.
10. Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet
Brookgreen Gardens, located south of Myrtle Beach on more than 9,000 acres of old rice plantations, incorporates a sculpture garden, the Lowcountry Zoo, and a wildlife preserve with a variety of habitats. A vast array of themed gardens, including the Kitchen Garden, Palmetto Garden, and a children’s garden, include the sculpture.
A terrace garden with perennials, roses, and blooming plants is also present. The 250-year-old Live Oak Allée was planted during the early 1700s’ plantation era. More than 2,000 pieces by 430 artists are on exhibit in three galleries and across the grounds, making up the biggest and most complete collection of American figurative sculpture in the nation.
The first public sculpture garden in America, the gardens were established by Archer Huntington and his wife, the renowned artist Anna Hyatt Huntington, in 1932. During the Night of a Thousand Candles in December, they are turned into a mystical realm of colourful lights.
11. Deep Sea Fishing
Deep sea fisherman go to South Carolina from April to November as this is when the best conditions exist for catching sailfish, amberjack, cobia, gigantic blue marlin, barracuda, and other game fish.
More than 40 artificial reefs, all of which are situated off the state’s 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline, make its waters unique. The underwater constructions provide home for a variety of marine creatures by being constructed from scrap metal, including abandoned equipment, barges, concrete bridges, and military vehicles.
There are three very excellent coastline fishing locations. Eight fishing piers, including Apache Pier, the largest wooden fishing pier on the east coast, and 18 artificial reefs make up the water close to Myrtle Beach.
The greatest place to start exploring the central coast waters is from Charleston, where 13 man-made reefs provide home for a variety of species, including blue marlin. Hilton Head Island and Beaufort are convenient starting sites for exploring the southern coastal waterways.
All of these areas offer a lot of charter businesses, places to rent equipment, and places to launch private boats. If you want to use charter services, make sure to reserve early because South Carolina is known for its deep sea fishing opportunities.
12. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia
The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 other creatures, representing more than 350 species, as if kangaroo and koala joeys weren’t enough. You may view giraffes, ostriches, zebras, African lions, and baboons in their own distinct natural habitats in the two-acre African Plains exhibit, which replicates an African savanna.
The Ndoki Forest region is a haven for meerkats, elephants, and gorillas. Asia is represented by, among other things, Siberian tigers and Komodo dragons, whereas North America is represented by grizzly bears and California sea lions. There are ziplines and a botanical garden in the zoo.
13. Caesars Head State Park
There are several photo opportunities at Cleveland’s Caesars Head State Park, which includes the Blue Ridge Escarpment’s heights. The Overlook, with its stunning perspective of Table Rock, offers the most impressive vantage point. The Jones Gap Trail leads to a number of swimming holes, while the Raven Cliff Falls Trail goes to South Carolina’s largest waterfall.
On their approach to South America, hawks are drawn to the escarpment, and Caesar’s Head Hawk Site is a count location along the Atlantic Flyway. In the park, there are rivers for fishing, and various geocaches that may be found using a GPS are concealed for treasure hunters.
14. Columbia Museum of Art
Any art lovers traveling to South Carolina should include a visit to the Columbia Museum of Art on their itinerary. With over 25 galleries displaying local, national, and international artwork, it’s a wonderful way to kill a few hours.
There are many additional European Masters’ works and examples from the Baroque and Renaissance eras among the highlights. A substantial collection of furnishings and ornamental objects created by American artisans is also present.
Along with a wonderful array of seminars and other activities, guided tours are also offered.
15. EdVenture, Columbia
This one is only for children. The EdVenture Children’s Museum is an exciting, cutting-edge attraction that completely emphasizes making learning enjoyable. The pleasure is also quite hands-on, from the wonderful interior play spaces to the outside attractions, which include a full-scale airplane.
There are lots of Lego bricks to play with, a science and invention lab, a pet section, and entertaining exhibitions like a fire engine and grocery shop. There is also a café there.