From the beautiful beaches of Charleston to the stunning scenery of the Upstate, there’s no shortage of unique places to visit in South Carolina, the Palmetto State. To help narrow your choices, we’ve compiled a list of the 17 best places to see in the southern state of South Carolina. So, whether you’re looking for an exciting city break or a relaxing beach vacation, you’ll find something to suit your taste on our list. So, without further ado, here are the 17 best places to visit in South Carolina!
Charleston – Known for its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and antebellum architecture
Nestled in the coastal lowlands of South Carolina, Charleston is a beautiful city steeped in history and charm. Experience what feels like a step back in time when you stroll down its cobblestone streets, take in the stunning antebellum architecture and take a picturesque carriage ride aside swishing horse tails.
The temperate climate and beaches are a bonus for visitors! Explore centuries-old sites like the Battery, known for its commemorative monuments, then enjoy waterfront dining on local seafood creations crafted from the fresh catch of the day. Make sure to experience where American grit meets southern hospitality: Charleston!
Also See: Top Things To Do In Tybee Island: Your Go-To Guide and Top 13 Hotels with Waterparks and Attractions in Myrtle Beach, SC
Myrtle Beach – A popular beach destination with plenty of restaurants, shops, and attractions
Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular beach destination spots in the United States. With miles of coastal beaches, it’s easy to understand why visitors come from all over to experience the natural beauty and enjoy various activities.
In addition to soaking up the sun and sand, Myrtle Beach offers plenty of restaurant options to satisfy any palate, from local seafood favorites to international cuisines. Shopping opportunities are also abundant, from antiques and souvenirs to designer fashion and beach apparel.
There are also many attractions ranging from carnival rides, mini golf courses, and watersports to performances by world-renowned singers and comedians. So whether you’re looking for a relaxed beach vacation or an action-packed getaway, Myrtle Beach has something for everyone.
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Hilton Head Island – A beautiful resort area with world-class golf courses and tennis facilities
Whether looking for a luxurious seafront escape or an outdoor-oriented adventure, Hilton Head Island provides an unforgettable experience. It is nestled between the Savannah and Port Royal Sounds. This idyllic resort is known for its golf courses and tennis facilities – some of the best in South Carolina.
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As part of the Lowcountry region, visitors have access to miles of pristine beaches, delicious food options at world-renowned restaurants, endless opportunities to explore flora and fauna, and some of the best shopping and nightlife around. So whether you decide to take on one of Hilton Head’s championship golf courses or spend your day free-diving off the coast, this enchanting Caribbean getaway will be one you’ll never forget.
Greenville – Home to the Greenville Zoo, Falls Park on the Reedy River, and the Upcountry History Museum
Greenville, South Carolina, is a beautiful city to explore and experience all that it has to offer. From the charming and accessible Greenville Zoo to the scenic beauty of Falls Park on the Reedy River and offering historical perspective at their Upcountry History Museum, there is something for everyone in the family.
Whether you are visiting from out of town or looking for a local adventure opportunity, the attractions in Greenville are sure to please all ages. So spend some time getting lost in nature within Falls Park on the Reedy River with family and friends, learn about local culture and tradition at the Upcountry History Museum, or bring your kids along for an afternoon at the Greenville Zoo.
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Columbia – The state capital, featuring the South Carolina State House, The Vista district downtown, and Riverbanks Zoo
Columbia, the state capital of South Carolina, has something for every visitor. Established in 1786, Columbia is full of varied historical and cultural experiences. Downtown visitors will enjoy exploring The Vista district with its locally-owned restaurants and boutiques or touring the magnificently renovated and architecturally unique South Carolina State House.
Alternatively, those looking to explore Columbia’s vibrant wildlife scene can journey to Riverbanks Zoo, over 70 acres along the Saluda River. Its stunning gardens and interactive animal experiences make it easy to see why Riverbanks Zoo is one of Columbia’s top attractions.
One of my favorite things about Columbia is the fantastic breweries and restaurants. No matter what you choose to do during your stay, there’s no denying the fact that Columbia stands out as an even better vacation spot than you ever anticipated.
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Mount Pleasant – A suburb of Charleston with historic homes, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, and Shem Creek Park
Mount Pleasant is a Charleston, South Carolina suburb known for its historic homes, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, and Shem Creek Park. Visitors will step back when exploring the gardens and classic architecture on display in Mount Pleasant’s residential neighborhoods.
The Patriots Point, Naval and Maritime Museum, is unique in that it serves as a commemoration of America’s servicemen and women with its impressive collection of vessels, aircraft, monuments, and interactive attractions; for a picturesque waterfront experience while in Mount Pleasant, head to Shem Creek Park where you can find a community boat ramp as well as nature trails perfect for sightseeing.
So whether you’re visiting Mount Pleasant for its rich history or outdoor activities, there are plenty of attractions to explore.
Pauley’s Island – One of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast
Pauley’s Island, located in South Carolina, is a perfect destination for those looking to explore the best of the East Coast. It is one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast and offers something for everyone.
Pauley’s Island offers golf courses and outdoor adventure to historic sites and beautiful beaches. In addition, visitors can take advantage of its natural beauty by exploring Congaree National Park or visiting Brookgreen Gardens, which are nationally recognized as Historic Landmarks.
There’s also Folly Beach and Huntington Beach State Park, where visitors can enjoy live music and stunning ocean views. So whether you’re seeking an outdoor adventure or a relaxing family vacation, Pauley’s Island has it all!
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Spartanburg – Home of BMW
Spartanburg is best known as home to BMW and its sprawling manufacturing plant. But there’s much more to this city than just automotive production. From outdoor activities like golfing and hiking to historical sites such as Drayton Hall Plantation, Spartanburg has something for everyone.
The city also offers a variety of luxury accommodations ranging from resorts to beachfront villas, making it an ideal destination for a family vacation or romantic getaway. With its rich history and diverse attractions, Spartanburg is undoubtedly worth exploring on your next trip!
Aiken – Horse Country on the western side of SC
Aiken, South Carolina, is the ultimate destination for horse lovers. As the “Horse Country” of the state, Aiken is world-renowned for its equestrian events, such as horse racing and fox hunting. With its long history of horsemanship, visitors can experience various equestrian activities, including carriage and trail rides.
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Aside from horse-related activities, there’s plenty to explore in Aiken. Visit the beautiful Hopelands Gardens and take a walking tour of the city’s historic district. Also, don’t miss out on visiting Raven Cliff Falls and Oconee County State Park for their breathtaking views. Aiken is the perfect destination for you if you’re looking for a unique outdoor experience!
Kiawah Island – Golfing paradise
Kiawah Island is a popular vacation destination in South Carolina and is known for its excellent golf courses.
Situated along the Atlantic Ocean, Kiawah Island offers miles of white sand beaches, stunning natural beauty, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. From biking trails to tennis courts, there’s something for everyone on this barrier island.
Visitors can also explore the local wildlife at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge or take a horse-drawn carriage tour through historic downtown Charleston. With so much to offer, Kiawah Island is perfect for history buffs and nature lovers alike!
Beaufort – Home to The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park
Beaufort, South Carolina, is best known for its rich history and stunning natural beauty. Located along the Atlantic Ocean on Port Royal Island, Beaufort has a unique landscape with miles of waterways and marshland and plenty of outdoor activities to explore.
It’s also home to historic buildings such as Fort Sumter and Loggerhead Turtles at Hunting Island State Park. In addition, visitors can take advantage of its great outdoors by exploring Congaree National Park or visiting Brookgreen Gardens, which are nationally recognized as Historic Landmarks.
The Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort offers picnic areas, waterside walkways, and a playground. In addition, you can easily walk to their historic downtown area.
Mauldin – Conestee Lake and the Blue Ridge Mountains
Mauldin, SC, is a small Palmetto State town best known for its rich history and stunning natural beauty. Situated along the Blue Ridge Mountains, Mauldin offers visitors a chance to explore miles of trails and Conestee Lake; there is plenty of green space for outdoor enthusiasts. Mauldin is becoming a popular destination for performing art lovers, nature enthusiasts, and families looking for outdoor adventure!
North Charleston – Upbeat cultural scene
North Charleston, South Carolina, is best known for its vibrant culture and lively cultural scene. North Charleston offers a unique experience for visitors with its rich history, museums, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
You can visit the H.L. Hunley Museum, see a recovered 1864 submarine, and learn about its pivotal role. Then move on to see the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial in River Park. There’s something for everyone in this charming city. North Charleston is sure to provide an unforgettable experience with its great outdoor atmosphere and live art culture!
Huntington Beach State Park – A top camping hot spot!
Huntington Beach State Park is a popular destination for taking the family camping. This beautiful beach park offers visitors miles of pristine white sand beaches and stunning natural beauty. In addition, visitors can explore the local wildlife and marine life at the Nature Center.
With its great outdoor atmosphere and plenty of activities, Huntington Beach State Park is perfect for families looking for an unforgettable beach vacation!
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Clemson – Home of the Tigers and Lake Hartwell
Clemson, South Carolina, is best known as the home of the Clemson Tigers. But this charming town has much more to offer than just a great college football team. Clemson is located in Oconee County and gives visitors a unique experience with its rich history and stunning natural beauty.
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From historical sites such as Fort Hill to outdoor activities such as hiking trails at nearby Todd Creek Falls Trail, there’s something for everyone in this small town. One of my favorite spots is Lake Hartwell, where you find fishing tournaments throughout the year.
You can also explore the local wildlife at Raven Cliff Falls or take a walking tour through downtown Clemson to see some of its best-known attractions like The University Chapel and Tillman Hall. With so much to offer, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time visiting Clemson!
Fripp Island – Natural beauty and award-winning golf courses
Fripp Island, located off the coast of South Carolina, is a barrier island best known for its stunning natural beauty and the perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities. In addition, it is known as one of the best beaches in South Carolina. Located near historic Beaufort, Fripp Island offers miles of white sand beaches and plenty of opportunities to explore.
There are also golf courses on-site, making it an ideal destination for those looking to relax and play some golf in one of the best places in North America. For history buffs, there is plenty to explore at Fort Sumter or Loggerhead Turtles at Hunting Island State Park in close proximity. With its rich maritime history and abundance of wildlife, including endangered species like Bald Eagles and Loggerhead Sea Turtles – Fripp Island makes for a perfect family vacation destination!
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Port Royal Island – Beaufort County’s most populated island.
Port Royal Island is best known as the most populated island in Beaufort County, South Carolina. Located near historic Beaufort and Fripp Island, Port Royal offers visitors a unique experience with its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
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From biking trails and water sports to low-country delights like their famous shrimp, crab soup or low-country boil, there’s something for everyone on this beautiful barrier island. With miles of white sand beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, Port Royal Island is a great place to relax, and soak up the sun.
Though often overshadowed by its more famous neighbor to the north, South Carolina has plenty to offer visitors of all ages and interests. From the historic city of Charleston to the sunny beaches of Myrtle Beach, there is something for everyone in South Carolina. Have you been to any of these places? What are your favorite spots in the Palmetto State? Let me know in the comments!
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