Whether you are interested in history, like to relax on the beach or looking for interesting things to do with children, you will find it in many interesting tourist attractions in South Carolina. Choose from high-quality stage shows, golf and water parks on Myrtle Beach, or relax at the fashionable vacation resort on Hilton Head Island.
Explore the atmospheric streets of Charleston by taking a romantic train or a tour of some of the most beautiful plantation homes in the south nearby.
You can visit the fortress at the port of Charleston, where the Civil War began, or enjoy the stunning scenery and quiet footpaths at Caesars Head State Park. Take the kids to two large zoos or planetariums to learn about the stars. Whatever you choose, you will surely enjoy South Carolina.
Use this list of most popular attractions in South Carolina to plan your trip:
- Myrtle Beach
One of the most popular things to do in South Carolina in the summer is a retreat to the miles of pure sand lining the coast of Myrtle Beach. As interesting as the beach itself is the many pleasures of traditional beaches to choose from here. Carolina Opry produces musical performances, and Myrtle Beach SkyWheel takes visitors 10 minutes up the beach and boardwalk.
Broadway at the Beach is the largest entertainment and shopping area in the state, with rides, miniature golf, Ripley’s Aquarium, movies, specialty shops, eateries and other attractions in pedestrian-only areas around Lake Broadway. Families love slides, splash rides, and swimming pools in water parks and big hotels.
- Historic District of Charleston
Immerse yourself in the graceful atmosphere of the pre-war south in Charleston, where more than 1,400 historic homes, churches, and other buildings line the streets. Train trips will give you an overview and a bit of history too, or you can join a walking tour that includes a peek at some of them. You can visit several historic homes, including Aiken-Rhett House and 1808 Nathaniel Russell House, which holds a collection of decorative and high-value art.
Exhibits at the Old Exchange Building and the Old Slave Mart Museum reveal more about the city and its long history and be sure to visit the Charleston City Market to watch “women’s baskets” weaving sweetgrass baskets, a long-cherished tradition here.
- Hilton Head Island
While Hilton Head Island does not have the luxurious Grand Strand stage show at Myrtle Beach, this low-cost beach town offers less relaxation and crowds. You will find beautiful biking trails at Hilton Head, along with shopping, dining and golf courses, and of course the vast sandy beach. Wildlife observers can see rare and common species up close at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
- South Carolina Plantation
Walking on some of the more than 2,000 estates in South Carolina is like entering a dream. Magnificent historic homes and spectacular land are scattered throughout the state, but Charleston is home to some of the most beautiful states, and many are located amid extraordinarily beautiful parks. Middleton Place is located above the oldest landscape park in America and is furnished in an authentic style. Magnolia Plantation is the oldest publicly accessible park in America, starting in the early 1700s and first opened for visitors in 1870. They are unique as America’s last magnificent romantic style parks. Boone Hall Plantation at Mt. Pleasant is one of the oldest plantations in the country that still operates as a working farm and is famous for its beautiful Avenue of Oaks and is three-quarters of a mile away. You get a glimpse of rare 18th-century original workmanship in the interior ornamentation details of Drayton Hall, which is the oldest plantation home in America that is open for tours.
- Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor
The attack on Fort Sumter, the federal fortress guarding Charleston Harbor, by Confederate forces on April 12, 1861, began the American Civil War. The extraordinary interpretation of National Park Rangers here today brings these events to life clearly and sets the stage for a better understanding of the history of the Civil War. You can visit the well-preserved island and castle ruins by boat from the Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square, or Patriots Point. Or you can get a beautiful view of the fort from a 90-minute tour by boat that will take you down the Cooper River to the Fort Sumter National Monument. This tour is fully narrated to provide historical background for Charleston’s role in the Civil War and other eras in its history. It also provides a good view of other fortifications, the Civil War prison at Pinckney Castle, USS Yorktown, and Ravenel Bridge.
- The State Museum of South Carolina, Colombia
The South Carolina State Museum is the largest in the state, with four exhibition floors covering South Carolina’s natural history, art, culture, science, and technology. Many educational exhibits are direct, which makes this museum very attractive for young visitors. The museum also has a changing theater of science, a planetarium, and special exhibits.
- Huntington Beach Park
With more than 300 species of birds, Huntington Beach is considered by many to be the best bird watching location in South Carolina. Guests can usually see crocodiles in the park’s freshwater lake. Philanthropists and sculptors are also responsible for the adjacent Brookgreen Gardens.
- Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia
As if kangaroo joe and koalas are not enough, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is home to more than 2,000 other animals, representing more than 350 species. The two-hectare Africa Plain display reproduces an African savanna, where you can see giraffes, ostriches, and zebras along with African lions and baboons in their separate natural habitats. The Ndoki Forest Area is a sanctuary for gorillas, elephants, and meerkats. Siberian tigers and Komodo dragons, among other species, represent Asia, while North American species include grizzly bears and California sea lions. The zoo includes botanical gardens and ziplines.
- Greenville Zoo
If you are in northern South Carolina (maybe check out Caesars Head State Park), stop by the Greenville Zoo to meet exotic North American animal species. Elephants, monkeys, leopards, and toucans have homes in zoos. Special features include family adventures and programs, as well as an overnight stay.
- Caesars Head State Park
Caesars Head State Park in Cleveland covers the height of Blue Ridge Escarpment and is filled with photos of ops. The most impressive is from The Overlook, with an amazing view of Table Rock. The Raven Cliff Falls Trail leads to the highest waterfall in South Carolina, and the Jones Gap Trail leads to a series of swimming holes. The cliffs attract eagles on their migration route to South America, and the Emperor Hawk Head Site is a calculation site along the Atlantic Flyway. There are river fishing in the park, and for treasure hunters, some geocaches are hidden, to be found by GPS.
More Destinations to See Near South Carolina
Although the Myrtle Beach sand and historic Charleston charm will keep you busy here in South Carolina, don’t overlook the attractions in North Carolina. Just across the border in the southwestern part of the state is the largest city in North Carolina, Charlotte, and also close to the border on the coast not far north of Myrtle Beach in Wilmington, with a historic district of prewar houses. North Charlotte, Winston-Salem is considered one of the best romantic vacation spots in North Carolina. Just across the southern border of South Carolina in Georgia is the beautiful prewar Savannah, and in the center of the state is Atlanta with all its lively cultural attractions.