The Top 20 Must-See Places in South Carolina
They say that South Carolina has "smiling faces and beautiful places." Indeed, South Carolina is a beautiful state, and the Southern hospitality makes you want to come back again and again. From the mountainous foothills of the Upstate to the sandy beaches of the coastal zone and everything in between, South Carolina is well worth the visit.
Where to Start?
When planning a trip is it always nice to have a starting point. Ask yourself, "Where should we go?" and "What should we see?" Whether you are planning to vacation in South Carolina, or you are a resident looking to visit some new places, this will get you started.
As a Carolina native, I have visited nearly all of these attractions and can say without a doubt that they are worth seeing. The list isn't nearly exhaustive, because there are many more than 20 cool places in the state, but this will whet your appetite. The list features historic sites, educational museums, theme parks, state and national parks, zoos, and more. They all have one thing in common: They are all family-friendly. The prices range, but for the most part they are fairly affordable, even for a large family.
Please enjoy and be sure to let me know what is your favorite place in South Carolina.
SC: A Beautiful State
#20 Spartanburg Art Museum
The Spartanburg Art Museum is a great place experience art and culture at an affordable price. Families can visit the museum all day for just $7. Hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm. In addition to the gallery of exhibits, the Spartanburg offers art camps and art school. Visit their website for more information. You might also be interested to know that the Spartanburg has an outreach program designed for at-risk youth in the area. The VisitSpartanburg.com site is a great place to identify attractions, activities, events, lodging, and more.
#19 Greenville Zoo
Enjoy a 14-acre zoo with many wildlife species including giant tortoises, elephants, and giraffes. The admission is reasonably priced and groups get a special discount. The Greenville Zoo also has a lot of education programs for school-age children. Programs targeting homeschoolers are also advertised on their website: GreenvilleZoo.com.
#18 Myrtle Waves Water Park
What's better than a day splashing around at the beach? Enjoy the thrills and family fun of the slides, raft rides, and large pools. Visit their website here.
#17 Dupont Planetarium
The Dupont Planetarium, which opened in 1995, makes for a great education and learning experience. It is part of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center and is located at the University of South Carolina, Aiken. The Planetarium boasts a 30-foot dome which displays projected images for the viewing pleasure of the audience. More information and public showing schedule can be found at their website. In addition to offering public showings, the planetarium offers K-12 school programs and more information is available online.
#16 South Carolina State Farmer's Market
Find produce from local farms at the SC State Farmer's Market. The fresh food is well worth the trip. You can find more information at Experience Columbia.
#15 The Plantations of South Carolina
South Carolina is home to more than 2,000 Southern plantations that were once operated using slave labor. Today they serve as historical and cultural landmarks. Many of the plantations are located near the coast, not far from cities like Charleston and Myrtle Beach. Wikipediaprovides a list of plantations with links that provide more information for specific sites.
#14 The South Carolina State Capital Building
Visit the State House of South Carolina. This resilient building survived Sherman's march in the Civil War, however, bronze stars now cover six different spots where artillery shells blew holes in the structure. Construction began in 1851 but was not completed until 1907. The Capital houses the SC General Assembly (legislature) and the office of the Governor.
Enjoy the quaint, small-town feel of Georgetown, located along the beautiful Pee-Dee River. Known for great shopping, scenic river walks, and beautiful historic neighborhoods, Georgetown is the third oldest city in the state. Check out these sites for more about the town here: Seaportgeorgetown.com.
#12 Lake Hartwell State Recreation Area
Lake Hartwell features 962 miles of shoreline. It is located just two hours from both Charlotte and Atlanta and less than three hours from Columbia. There are lots of activities and things to do, and lodging is available at the state park. This is one of the most peaceful, tranquil, and majestic locations in the state. More information can be found here: Lake-Hartwell.com.
#11 Carowinds Theme Park
Have a blast at one of the areas largest and most attractive theme parks. As with any amusement park, look for coupons to avoid paying the listed website or door price. Check out one of their newest rides, the Intimidator, a 232-foot tall roller coaster that runs a speed of 75 MPH. Visit Carowinds website here.
#10 Ceasar's Head State Park
Perhaps some of South Carolina's most majestic views can be found here at Ceasar's Head State Park. The park features hiking, camping, fishing (with a license), bird-watching, picnicking, and more. This website has more detailed information about the state park including location, directions, and amenities.
#9 Myrtle Beach
A classic tourist spot for vacationers headed to the beach, this area has an incredible number of hotels, dining, shopping, activities, and attractions.
#8 King’s Mountain National Military Park & State Parks
There are three parks located on the border of North and South Carolina. They feature a combination of amenities, military history, and natural beauty.
King's Mountain State Park (South Carolina)
Crowders Mountain State Park (North Carolina)
Kings's Mountain National Military Park (South Carolina)
#7 Historic Charleston
There is a lot to do in Charleston, but the historic areas of the city are the most incredible. Charleston is one of the oldest major cities in the United States, now ranking 75th in the nation for population (in 1690, it was the 5th largest city). The Battery, known for the location of some of Charleston's most beautiful homes, is named after the wall that once served as a city defense. Visit historiccharleston.com for pictures and more information on Charleston's historic wonder.
#6 South Carolina Aquarium
A visit to the SC Aquarium is a great way to round out a vacation to this beautiful state. Located in Charleston (whereas you know, there are many other things to see), the aquarium is a classic family destination. Visit the Aquarium website to learn more and buy your tickets or membership.
#5 Congaree National Park
Visit one of the United State's newest national parks (the 57th) and the only National Park in the State of South Carolina. The Park is surrounded by the Congaree Swamp. Among the park's features are daily ranger-guided walks. If you have kids, be sure to check out the Junior Ranger Program!
#4 Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
Riverbanks is one of the Southeast's most remarkable zoos. But it isn't just a fantastic zoo. It's fascinating botanical garden with bog, shade, walled, old rose, and dry gardens. The zoo is fun for everyone in the family. Their website has all the information you need to plan your visit.
#3 USS Yorktown and Patriots Point
What could be a more awesome family adventure than touring a WWII Essex-class aircraft carrier? In addition to the Yorktown, Patriots Point in Charleston is home to the Cold War Sub Memorial, Vietnam Support Base, The USS Clamagor (submarine), The USS Laffey (destroyer), and the Medal of Honor Museum.
#2 Fort Sumter
Visit the site where the Civil War started. A classic island fort that you don't want to miss. Get more information from the Fort Sumter National Monument website.
#1 Hilton Head
Unlike, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head is not a tourist trap. There are few high-rise hotels and trees cover most of the island, hiding the commercialism found at most beaches or islands. There are plenty of fun family attractions, however, and the Island is perfect for bike riding because there are lots of bike paths and lanes all over the town. Town of Hilton Head website.
The Regions of South Carolina
Thanks for reading! I hope this has been helpful. Please feel free to comment and mention your favorite place in SC.