Amazing Things to do in South Carolina

Post Summary: A round up of amazing things to do in South Carolina

Millions of visitors are drawn every year because of the dizzying amount of things to do in South Carolina. It should be no surprise due to its charming historic towns, enchanting barrier islands, world-renown golf course, great weather, and plenty of Southern Charm.

Things to Do in South Carolina

Mind the Gap at Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park is the largest outdoor preserve in South Carolina, with breathtaking views, a variety of hikes, and abundant waterfalls. The number of activities in this park means there’s something for the whole family.

A variety of activities culminates in the summer months, where hikers can find swimming holes along the Jones Gap trail to help beat the heat. In the fall, Hawk Watch festivities allow visitors to watch raptors as they head down south. The tallest waterfall in South Carolina awaits hikers year-round.

Walkthrough the Loblollies at Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park

Although Congaree National Park is one of the smaller national parks in the system, it packs plenty of breathtaking views in its small size. The park preserves some of the country’s oldest Chestnut Oak trees and Loblolly Pines. Some of these trees are over 400 years old. 

Springtime brings rainy conditions to the park, which supports its unique floodplain ecosystem. This weather pattern provides a home for a variety of animal species and exotic fauna. If you take a break from staring up into the wonder of the Loblollies, you’ll find unique plant life marking the entirety of the trail system on the forest floor.

Take the Scenic Route

South Carolina Scenic Byway

South Carolina has marked several highway routes as Scenic Byways, each one offering a unique look at the state geography. Anyone not in a rush will find themselves driving through scenic and historical wonders on their way to their final destination. 

The Byways pass through rivers, mountains, and islands with widely varying scenery. Map out your route after you have planned your stops to find which Byways will take you where you need to go.

Soak in the sun at Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is one of the East Coast’s most popular summer destinations. It is a widely developed beachfront with attractions, beachfront hotels, and souvenirs for everyone on the shopping list. 

Its 60 miles of beaches are all packed with activities. If there’s something you want to do while on vacation, chances are you can find it at Myrtle Beach. Look a bit further from the heart of Myrtle Beach if you want a quiet night while still being easy driving distances from the state’s tourism epicenter.

 Start a War at Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter During the Day

There is no piece of American History more relevant in South Carolina than Fort Sumter. The U.S. Army built the fort to guard Charleston Harbor against enemies from abroad, but the Confederate Army stormed the fortress in a surprise attack. 

This conflagration marked the start of the Civil War, one of the most devastating conflicts in American History. The area is a National Park, and visitors can visit the island and find a guided tour to see firsthand where it all began.

See the growth of Greenville

Greenville South Carolina

Not too long ago, Greenville was a small, struggling, southern town. The area has reinvented itself, carving out its entire downtown area for better pedestrian access while embracing the area’s natural beauty. Mainstreet trails take you through dogwood paths to outdoor theaters, and quaint restaurants with fine southern dining facing the river that runs through the city. 

It’s a great base camp for exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains and retains just enough of its small-town charm to ensure you feel at home. Check out the public park and public art spaces for an afternoon to get a taste of the city’s growth. 

Find a time for 18 holes at Hilton Head

Hilton Head Island Golf Course

Hilton Head has also been called golf island in a nod to the sheer number of options available on its shores. Professional Golfers have viewed the island as a playground, and courses crafted by legends like Jack Nicklaus stand awaiting your tee time. 

You’ll find yourself on one-of-a-kind courses flanked by mossy oak trees and beachfront views, culminating with the Harbour Town Golf Links. The home of the RBC Heritage Classic, this golf course is always stocked with professional caddies and is a pilgrimage for the most passionate amateur golfers.

See it all at the South Carolina State Museum

Columbia South Carolina

There’s always something new at the South Carolina State Museum, which keeps a constant flow of temporary exhibits alongside permanent installments to keep your family keen to head back for more. See art, history, and futuristic technologies all in one place.  

Established as the state’s largest museum, head to Columbia to find a planetarium, megalodon shark exhibits, and a tour through the first cars ever built in America.

Find refuge at Pinckney Island

Heron in the Pinckney Island Refuge

This 4,053 island exists as a National Wildlife Refuge, making it a perfect stop if you’re looking to get out there. More than 14 miles of hiking and biking trails don’t disturb the wildlife, making Pinckney Island an explorer’s dream. 

Frequented by birdwatchers, you can also find alligators, deer, and majestic heron feeding in its waters. For a combination of open ocean views and old-growth forests, not many hikes in the country can beat this area. There are over 100 historic sites marked throughout the refuge, so your amble through the wild will be marked with history.

Feel Gorgeous at the Eastatoe Gorge

Part of a Heritage Reserve, this gorge packs in ancient growth hemlocks, rare fauna, and rock cliffs. Fisher’s delight at the rainbow trout dotting the rivers of this 374-acre preserve that culminates at Eastatoe Creek at the bottom of the gorge.

The combination of streams and cliffs makes the area unique, as the spray from the river allows the rare ferns often seen in the area to thrive. Invasive species have done their share of damage to the site’s Hemlocks, but there is still enough greenery for everyone to enjoy.

Feel Colonial at Middleton Place

Middleton Place

Arthur Middleton’s name is on the Declaration of Independence, and he made his home in the Palmetto State. His 65-acre garden still replicates its appearance in the 18th century, and the mansion exists to take visitors back in time.

Wandering through the mansion allows a glimpse at how the upper class lived 300 years ago, with intact period furniture and historical re-enactments of the United States founders’ dress and culture.

Stop for a photo at Brasstown Falls

Brasstown Falls South Carolina

The Brasstown valley’s highlight is this falls system, where water cascades over 120 feet across rocky cliffs to the valley below. The easy access to these falls makes it an iconic photo location for the State and a must-stop if you find yourself in the area.  

It is less than a half-mile from the parking lot to the overlook, where visitors will also find a calm swimming hole carved out by the falls. The water splits its tumble between three equally special sections at the southern edge of Sumter National Forest.

Get your fill of Fixins

BBQ Smoker

South Carolina is undoubtedly part of the south, and the food offerings state-wide reflect that history. Roadside BBQ joints can be found state-wide, with everything from fried gator to biscuits and gravy ready to eat in the Palmetto State. 

If it’s your first venture into the south, be sure to try out grits, hush puppies, and sweet tea. South Carolina has taken its abundant coastline into play and has combined southern cuisine with the large amounts of shrimp, oyster, and crab found offshore for a unique cuisine blend. Of course, no dish is more synonymous with Carolina Cuisine than shrimp and grits — my personal favorite dish.

Spend a day on the Lake 

Shoreline Lake Jocassee

The entire state has a connection to the water, and heading inland doesn’t mean you’ll be far away from space to take a dip. Jocassee Lake is the largest lake in South Carolina, 7,500 acres around and 300 feet deep.

The Lake has the most transparent water in the state and plenty of recreational activities. Rent a boat for the day and have your fill of exploration at the edge of the mountain.

Don’t Jump at Jumping Off Rock Overlook

At the edge of Lake Jocassee is Jumping Off Rock, where visitors can soak in natural and human history together. The overlook provides a vantage point over an artificial hydro project that flooded rivers in the area to create a reservoir system. 

The mountains surrounding this hydro-project provide an alternate reality, being largely untouched by human development. This combination has led to Jumping Off Rock Overlook to receive recognition in National Geograph. It is worth a weekend’s journey to get lost in the quieter side of South Carolina.

Spend Gameday at Clemson

College Football is a Southern Tradition, and fall weekends in Clemson are a shining jewel of this tradition. The entire city prepares for the big game by a day full of outdoor fun. The team has an esteemed history and is on the hunt for the national championship every year, creating an electric atmosphere city-wide. 

Rabid fans spend the day tailgating across the campus, known to show up by 8:00 AM on game day. The festivities culminate in the most exciting 90 seconds in football,’ when the entire football team roars down ‘the hill’ straight into the stadium before kickoff. For a taste of College Football’s finest traditions, there’s no place better to be on Saturdays. 

Grab a seat at Table Rock 

Caesar Head State Park

Caesar Head State Park is all about Table Rock. Hiking trails through the park system lead to breathtaking views of the unique formation, and the rivers found along the way are ready for fly fishing. 

The park has also come to be known for its geocaching. A natural scavenger hunt, anyone with a GPS device becomes a wilderness explorer on the hunt for buried treasure. Geocaching gives your hiking trip an entirely new purpose and allows you to spend the entire afternoon searching for a payoff.

Enjoy the peace of Pawleys Island

Sunset over the dock in Pawleys Island

If Myrtle Beach sounds a bit too action-packed for your vacation, look for the tranquility of Pawleys Island. You can traverse the entire Island on a bicycle, and they leave most of the partying to the mainland. 

Packed full of houses available for rent instead of resort properties, Pawleys Island can feel like home. There’s plenty of fishing available from the pier, and there’s enough crab in the marshes nearby to feed the whole family. The island is a quick drive away from some of the more popular areas, so staying here will give you the best of both worlds.

Feel young at The Angel Oak

The Angel Oak

This tree is older than the United States and broader than the U.S.A.’s largest human inhabitant. At 500 years old, 65 feet tall, and 28 ft in circumference, this tree has survived great natural disasters to bring shade to the area. 

Some of its branches reach 187 feet, meaning there’s plenty of room for everyone to take in the Angel Oaksshade. Its components rest and spread across the ground and are ripe for exploration.

Acknowledge the past at the McLeod Plantation

The McLeod Plantation pulls no punches as it provides visitors with a tour of the nation’s dark history. Many southern plantations now serve as wedding venues and convention halls, but the McLeod Plantation serves to give visitors an understanding of how slavery built this nation. 

The slave cabins are still intact, and the sites’ tours describe the gruesome conditions on site for generations.

Shop at the Charleston City Market

An example of the retrofitted history of slavery, the Charleston City Market used to function as a human trading ground. Today, it acts as a widely respected flea market full of unique crafts. Close to Charleston Harbor and downtown, the market is a must-see stop in the historic city.

Items available onsite include everything from handmade jewelry to spices and jams you can’t find anywhere else. The site is known to get crowded, so head there early to be first in line for its unique wares.

Check the tides at Folly Beach

Folly Beach Pier

If it’s summertime, and the living is easy, you’re probably soaking in the sunset at Folly Beach. Home to the inspiration for those popular lyrics and a DuBose Heward novel, the island has long served as a creative muse. 

Today, it is best known as one of the best surf beaches in South Carolina. Head there during the fall to get a glimpse at the area’s best surfers doing what they do best and unwind with a pina colada after a good day in the sun.

About Cameron

Cameron grew up in Union County, NC. His days were spent fishing, swimming at the beach, hiking in the mountains, and enjoying blueberry cobbler or cornbread. After finishing school at UNCW, he traveled the world with his partner Natasha as they documented their travels on The World Pursuit. After, many years of travel they launched Lost in the Carolinas to share their experiences about these great states.

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