Whether you’re interested in history, want to relax on the beach, or are looking for interesting things to do with kids, you’ll find it in South Carolina’s many attractive tourist attractions. Choose from high-end shows, golf and water parks in Myrtle Beach or relax in the fashionable resorts of Hilton Head Island. Explore the atmospheric streets of Charleston on a romantic carriage ride or visit some of the area’s most beautiful plantation homes nearby. You can visit the fort in Charleston Harbor where the Civil War began, or enjoy the breathtaking views and tranquil trails of Caesars Head State Park. Take the kids to two large zoos or a planetarium to learn about the stars. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy South Carolina.
Use this list of top attractions in south carolina to plan your trip:
1 Charleston’s Historic District
Immerse yourself in the gracious atmosphere of the antebellum South in Charleston, where more than 1,400 historic homes, churches and other buildings line the streets. A carriage ride will also give you an overview and a bit of history, or you can join a walking excursion where you can take a look at some of them. You can visit several historic houses, including the Aiken-Rhett House and the 1808 Nathaniel Russell Housewhich holds priceless collections of fine and decorative arts.
Exhibitions on the Old Exchange Building and Old Slave Mart Museum reveal more about the city and its long history, and be sure to visit the Charleston City Market to see “basket ladies” weaving sweetgrass baskets, a long-held tradition here.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Charleston, South Carolina: Best Areas and Hotels
2 Myrtle beach
One of the most popular things to do in South Carolina in the summer is retreat to the miles of pristine sandy expanses of the coast near Myrtle Beach. As attractive as the beaches themselves are the many traditional seaside pleasures to choose from. The Carolina Opry produces musical shows, and the Myrtle Beach SkyWheel takes visitors on 10-minute rides above the beach and boardwalk.
Broadway on the beach is the state’s largest entertainment and retail venue, with rides, miniature golf, Ripley’s Aquarium, movies, specialty shops, restaurants and other attractions in a pedestrian-only area around Lake Broadway. Families love water slides, watercraft and pools in water parks and large hotels,
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Myrtle Beach
3 South Carolina Plantations
Walking into one of South Carolina’s more than 2,000 plantations is like entering a dream. The grand historic homes and spectacular grounds are spread throughout the state, but Charleston is home to some of the state’s most beautiful, and many are set amid equally exquisite gardens. Middleton Place is located above the oldest landscaped gardens in America and is fully furnished in the original style. Magnolia Plantation is located in America’s oldest publicly accessible gardens, begun in the early 1700s and first opened to visitors in 1870. They are unique as America’s last great Romantic garden. Boone Hall Plantation in nearby Mt. Pleasant is one of the country’s oldest plantations and still operates as a working farm and is best known for its picturesque, three-quarter-mile Avenue of Oaks. You get a rare glimpse of original 18th century craftsmanship in the decorative details of the interior of Drayton Hallthe oldest unrestored plantation house in America open for tours.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Charleston, South Carolina: Best Areas and Hotels
4 Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island doesn’t have the glamorous shows of the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach, but this Low Country beach town offers laid-back relaxation and smaller crowds. You’ll find beautiful bike trails at Hilton Head, next to shops, restaurants and golf courses, and of course the wide sandy beaches. Wildlife walkers can get up close and personal with rare and common species at the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Hilton Head
5 Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor
The attack on Fort Sumter, the federal fort guarding Charleston Harbor, by Confederate forces on April 12, 1861, began the American Civil War. National Park Rangers’ excellent interpretation here today brings these events vividly to life and sets the stage for a better understanding of Civil War history. You can visit the island and the well-preserved ruins of the fortress by boat from the Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square or from Patriots Point. Or you can get good views of the fort from a 90-minute tour on a tour boat that takes you along the Cooper River to Fort Sumter National Monument. The tour is fully narrated to provide historical background for Charleston’s role in the Civil War and other eras of its history. It also gives a good view of other forts, the Civil War prison at Pinckney Castle, the USS Yorktownand the Ravenel Bridge.
Official site: www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm
6 Huntington Beach State Park
With more than 300 bird species, Huntington Beach is considered by many to be the best birding location in South Carolina. Guests can usually spot alligators in the park’s freshwater lake. Art lovers enjoy the jury Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival held each September at the former residence of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. The philanthropist and sculptor are also responsible for the neighboring Brookgreen Gardens.
Address: 16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
Official site: https://www.southcarolinaparks.com/huntingtonbeach/introduction.aspx
Where to Stay: Where to Stay near Huntington Beach State Park
7 South Carolina State Museum, Columbia
The South Carolina State Museum is the state’s largest, with four floors of exhibits on South Carolina’s natural history, art, culture, science and technology. Many of the educational exhibits are hands-on, making the museum especially attractive to young visitors. The museum also features a science theater, a planetarium, and changing special exhibits.
Address: 301 Gervais Street, Columbia
Official site: https://www.museum.state.sc.us/
8 Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia
As if kangaroo joeys and koala cubs weren’t enough, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 other animals, representing more than 350 species. The two-hectare African Plains exhibit reproduces an African savannah, where you can see giraffes, ostriches and zebras along with African lions and baboons in their own natural habitats. The Ndoki forest area is a sanctuary for gorillas, elephants and meerkats. Siberian tigers and Komodo dragons, among others, represent Asia, while North American species include grizzly bears and California sea lions. The zoo has a botanical garden and cable cars.
Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, South Carolina
Official site: https://www.riverbanks.org/
9 Caesars Head State Park
Caesars Head State Park in Cleveland spans the heights of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and is filled with photo ops. The most impressive is from The Overlookwith its breathtaking view of Table Rock. The Raven Cliff Falls Trail leads to The tallest waterfall in South Carolinaand the Jones Gap Trail leads to a series of swimming holes. The slope attracts hawks on their migration route to South America, and Caesars Head Hawk Site is a counting site along the Atlantic Flyway. There are fishing rivers in the park and for treasure hunting enthusiasts, several geocaches are hidden, to be located with GPS.
Address: 8155 Geer Hwy, Cleveland, South Carolina
Official site: https://www.southcarolinaparks.com/caesarshead/introduction.aspx
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Greenville, near Caesars Head State Park
10 Greenville Zoo
If you’re in northern South Carolina (perhaps at Caesars Head State Park), head to the Greenville Zoo to meet exotic and North American species. Elephants, monkeys, leopards and toucans have a home at the zoo. Special features include family adventures and programs, as well as overnight stays.
Address: 150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville, South Carolina
Official site: https://www.greenvillezoo.com/
11 Dupont Planetarium
You can explore the night sky during public shows at Dupont Planetarium in Aiken. While the planetarium emphasizes astronomy, other shows can take viewers into wild weather or the molecules of a living cell. The planetarium encourages visitors to make reservations for shows as seating is limited.
Address: 471 University Pkwy, Aiken, South Carolina
Official site: https://rpsec.usca.edu/planetarium/
More Must-See Destinations near South Carolina
While the sands of Myrtle Beach and the charms of historic Charleston will keep you busy here in South Carolina, don’t overlook the North Carolina attractions. Just across the border in the southwestern part of the state is North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte, and also close to the border on the coast, not far north of Myrtle Beach, is Wilmington, with its historic district of antebellum homes. North of Charlotte, Winston-Salem is considered one of the best romantic getaways in North Carolina. Just across the southern border from South Carolina in Georgia lies beautiful antebellum Savannah, and in the center of the state lies Atlanta with all its vibrant cultural attractions.