Nestled on the southeastern coast, South Carolina is an epic state to visit in the USA. With historic cities like Charleston and the most beautiful beaches to explore, it’s a state where you can spend many weeks… and still not see everything! Better still, there are so many of the best places in South Carolina to visit that are dotted all across the state.
This all means that you can visit any corner of South Carolina and find some epic things to do and places to see.
So, to help you get the most out of your time travelling through South Carolina, we’ve popped some local gems we love. This way, you can get less bogged down with the planning and more in tune with the exploring!
Have the best time exploring the best places in South Carolina. It’s such a beautiful state.
Probably one of South Carolina’s most famous cities, Charleston is a place you can’t miss when visiting the state. Trust me, the charm and beauty of Charleston is well worth a few days exploring… and not just because of its history.
It’s got mountains of restaurants, bars and seasonal events to experience.
That being said, you have to visit Charleston’s Historic District, which is picture-perfect. Take a stroll through the streets and explore the centuries-old buildings and cobbled streets that make this place so special.
Of course, you’re not going to forget a stroll around The Battery, Rainbow Row and Broad Street but also make some time to explore other spots in the historic district, too.
For a tasty brunch, hop over to Toast All Day for their delicious French toast and homemade biscuits.
Finally, if you fancy some time on the sea, head to the Isle of Palms and Folly Beach to relax and bond with the sun and water.
That being said, this luxury dinner cruise from Charleston is just beautiful to experience. Not only will you explore Charleston Harbor but also try some homely southern cuisine that South Carolina is so famous for.
2.) Myrtle Beach
Known for its family-friendly nature, Myrtle Beach is a great spot to visit when visiting South Carolina with the family. That being said, it’s just as good if you’re travelling alone or with friends, too.
Of course, you’ve got the firm favourites like its epic miniature golf course and the Family Kingdom Amusement Park, too. The latter can get a little pricey if you’re there all day – but it’s certainly worth it (especially for the rollercoaster).
This all being said, Myrtle Beach isn’t just about sinking some money in all the attractions. The beachfront is also totally gorgeous. It’s the perfect place to go paddle boarding, fishing or kayaking or even just soaking up the sun.
One thing to note, Myrtle Beach can get a little crowded at peak times or holidays, so it’s worth planning your visit for another time if you prefer and more chilled beach. Though, you can easily head to Myrtle Beach State Park where you can find trails, a fishing pier to stroll and relax.
Plus, it’s a great place for sunrise and sunset, too.
Although Charleston is an epic city to visit, Columbia is South Carolina’s largest city and capital. This makes it a totally vibrant and fun city to visit in South Carolina.
Once here, make sure to check out Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park which is incredible for bike rides or trails through this historic area. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, check out the iconic South Carolina State Museum that’s spaced over 4 floors. The planetarium is just incredible, too.
For the tastiest cocktails, pop into Bourbon for their incredible cocktails and delicious Bourbon Gumbo Bowl. They have also shrimp and grits which are so good with their added chilli oil.
After filling up, check out the Hampton-Preston Mansion and Gardens, too. It’s well worth exploring to learn more about the history of the building.
4.) Caesars Head State Park
Caesars Head State Park is one of the best places in South Carolina if you want to head out into the great outdoors. It is in the state’s northernmost part.
Caesars Head alone is a gigantic rock formation and it is an interesting and beautiful thing to see in the area.
Now, most people visiting Caesars Head State Park go hiking -and it’s such a great spot for this. A short one would be the Raven Cliff Falls, and this is also perfect if you want to be introduced to the landscape. Just be sure to take some good shoes, twisted ankles aren’t fun on the hike.
Oh, and don’t forget to check out the nearby Table Rock State Park and Pinnacle Lake, too. It’s just down the road and totally beautiful to visit. Also, you’ve got the Table Rock Summit Trail that’s well worth joining if you’re fancying a ramble.
Finally, pop into Aunt Sue’s Country Corner for their roast pork and their creamy milkshakes.
5.) Hilton Head
If you fancy staying away from the crowds, you’ll want to head to Hilton Head. Situated across Savannah (in Georgia) and is famous for its magnificent oceanfront resorts.
Here, you can sail, snorkel or just enjoy the surf. Just be sure to always listen to the lifeguard’s advice on the changing currents on the day you visit.
You’ll also be able to check out the heaps of world-class golf courses in the area. Trust me, if you love golfing, you’ll find it one of the best places in South Carolina to visit.
Getting peckish, check out the Salty Dog Cafe; their seafood pot pie is everything. We loved it.
In lots of ways, I think of Aiken as one of South Carolina’s Aiken hidden gems. Once the go-to place for people wanting to be seen in the 19th century, it quickly became a spot for the rich to enjoy. This all helped the equestrian industry to be a huge part of the town’s character; which can still be seen today.
Just be sure to check out the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame & Museum. It’s one of the best places in South Carolina to visit if you want to find out about winning horses and the history of the area.
Oh yeah, and in February, you can also catch the famous Battle of Aiken which is held yearly to recreate the 1865 world.
Dating all the way back to 1753, Spartanburg is one of the more historic cities in South Carolina.
To know about its history and culture, take a stroll around the Historic Downtown area and learn about Spartanburg’s role in the First and Second World Wars. To make things easier, you can also take the Spartanburg Music Trail if you’re into music or head to the Chapman Cultural Center and the Spartanburg Art Museum if you’re into arts.
Meanwhile, if you love cars, you surely need to tour BMW Zentrum, and for nature lovers, you can hike, bike, walk or stroll around the arboretums in Spartanburg.
For a tasty bite to eat, pop into The Kennedy for its crawfish and dumplings. It’s such a gem.
8.) Mauldin and Greenville
Perched upstate is Mauldin, one of the best places in South Carolina to visit if you’re already in nearby Greenville.
Overlooking the Appalachian Mountains, it’s a relatively small city that’s got lots going for it. This is especially true when partnering an afternoon trip to Mauldin with a longer trip to Greenville, too. Between them, they’ve got everything from symphony, ballet and theatre events that make Mauldin such a creative city.
When planning your itinerary, don’t forget to add the Peace Center Theater, Liberty Bridge, Falls Park, and Greenville County Museum of Art.
Not only that, Mauldin and Greenville have a lot of green space which is perfect for outdoor activities. You can hike, bike, visit parks, go to arcades or just explore the town. Pelham Mill Park is one famous riverside park in the area, so you might want to check it out.
Plus, nearby, you have Saluda Lake where you can rent kayaks from Saluda River Adventures and explore the water. It’s so much fun.
Afterwards, head to the pretty informal eatery of Mutt’s BBQ. It has a relaxed vibe and is well worth going for their ribs alone.
9.) Huntington Beach State Park
If you love getting out and about in the great outdoors, then Huntington Beach State Park is the perfect place for you. It’s one of the best places in South Carolin for its trails, campsites, birdwatching, and fishing. Plus, it’s totally beautiful too.
Trust me, if you want to chill, this is a great place to go – especially on its unspoiled coast. However, If you want to still stay active, you can join the trails around Atalaya Castle.
You’ll have a great time and it’s really easy to visit from, nearby, Myrtle Beach (which we mentioned earlier).
10.) Middleton Place
The United States’ oldest landscaped gardens can be found in Middleton Place. If that’s not enough reason to visit, then I don’t know what is!
Middleton place was formerly a plantation which began all the way back in 1755. Although only one of the buildings of the original mansion is standing today, Middleton Place is still considered a National Historic Landmark and well worth taking a gander around.
However, for me, the gardens may be the best part of the mansion. It is in a traditional French style with azaleas, camellias, magnolias and more. It’s just stunning to see.
Plus, it’s so easy to visit after exploring Charleston as it’s on the fringes of the city itself.
11.) Lake Hartwell
It might be manmade, but regardless, Lake Hartwell is still a gem and one of the best places in South Carolina to visit.
Crossing the state boundaries of South Carolina and Georgia, you’ll be able to check out Sadlers Creek State Park and visit River Forks Recreation Area. The latter has some gorgeous swimming areas that is perfect in the hotter months.
Oh, and stop by El Manzanillo for some of the best Mexican food in all of South Carolina. It’s totally unfussy and very relaxed with yummy dishes.