You’ll find it among South Carolina’s many interesting tourist attractions, whether you’re interested in history, want to relax at the beach, or want to entertain your children. Choose between relaxing on the beach and at family-friendly vacation resorts on Hilton Head Island or attending one of Myrtle Beach’s top-notch stage performances, golf courses, or water parks. Keep reading for the best Things To Do In South Carolina.
Take a romantic carriage ride through the atmospheric streets of Charleston or visit some of the nearby most stunning plantation homes in the South. You can explore Caesars Head State Park’s serene trails and breathtaking views, or you can go to the fort in Charleston Harbor where the Civil War first broke out.
Take the kids to a zoo or planetarium, enjoy some of the best deep-sea fishing in the South, or bike Hilton Head’s trails. Whatever your interests, this list of South Carolina’s top tourist destinations and places to visit will provide you with a ton of things to do.
1. Things To Do In South Carolina: South Carolina Plantation Gardens
The state has over 2,000 plantations, many of which are open to tourists. The magnificent gardens of the plantations near Charleston are particularly well-known. Magnolia Plantation is one of America’s oldest publicly accessible gardens, with construction beginning in the early 1700s and the first public entrance in 1870. They are notable as America’s last large Romantic-style garden. Above Middleton Place, America’s oldest landscaped gardens are fully furnished in period style.
One of the oldest active plantations in the nation is Boone Hall Plantation, located close by in Mount Pleasant. The picturesque three-quarter-mile Avenue of Oaks is its most famous feature. Drayton Hall, the oldest plantation house in America that is still standing and open for tours, offers a distinctive glimpse at original 18th-century craftsmanship in its interior ornamental details.
Guided tours of Middleton Place include discussions not only about the Middletons, but also about the slaves and freedmen who worked for them.
2. Things To Do In SC: Hilton Head Island
Although the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach has more glitzy stage shows than Hilton Head Island does, this low-country beach town offers relaxed recreation and fewer tourists. There are many enjoyable activities available in this area, including fantastic dining, golfing, and shopping, as well as the lovely, expansive sandy beaches.
One of the best places in South Carolina for bicycling is Hilton Head, which has miles of flat, clearly marked trails, beautiful scenery, and signage highlighting interesting facts and landmarks. Since the majority of bike rental businesses now offer bikes with extra wide tires that handle well on the firm, packed sand, you can even ride along the beaches during low tide.
3. Things To Do In SC: Fort Sumter National Monument
One of South Carolina’s top tourist destinations for both history buffs and students of the American Civil War is the Fort Sumter National Monument. It consists of the fort itself and a unique Visitor Education Center where you can find out more information about the historic landmark. It is on an island and can only be reached by boat, which takes 30 minutes.
You must make transportation arrangements a day in advance, or you can use your own boat and anchor it on the fort’s western side. The first shot of the American Civil War was fired in Charleston’s Fort Sumter in the year 1861.
You can take a walking tour of the National Monument in its current state and relive this pivotal moment in the struggle for civil rights in America.
4. Things To Do In South Carolina: Middleton Place
It is not surprising that Middleton Place is one of the top 10 sites in South Carolina because it is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the country. It was a former plantation that started operating in 1755 and offers a genuine look into life in the 18th and 19th centuries on these 65 acres of lovely gardens. Despite the fact that only one of the original mansion’s buildings is still standing, Middleton Place is also a National Historic Landmark.
That area is filled with a lot of its original, authentic furniture and can be toured like a museum. Interesting discoveries include portraits, porcelain, and other rare items. The gardens are designed in the classic French style and are brimming with gorgeous flowers like camellias, magnolias, and azaleas.
5. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is one of the most fascinating things to do in South Carolina, especially if you enjoy learning about SC’s military history and various types of watercraft. The USS Clamagore and the USS Laffey are two of three impressive museum ships available for tours in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
The most well-known ship at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier of the Essex class completed in 1943. It was the tenth aircraft carrier in the United States Navy, earning 11 battle stars during WWII and five more during the Vietnam War.
6. Things To Do In South Carolina: Brookgreen Gardens
In terms of things to see, the Brookgreen Gardens are unquestionably one of the must-see attractions in South Carolina. The name “gardens” may conjure up images of a small area, but it is actually a mass of land spanning 9,100 acres with many interesting places to visit.
The Brookgreen Gardens are award-winning and well-known for housing over 2,000 figurative sculptures, making it America’s most comprehensive and largest collection of its kind. More than 430 different artists’ works are displayed here, which is not surprising given that sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington was one of the gardens’ founders in 1932.
7. McLeod Plantation Historic Site
The McLeod Plantation Historic Site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 because it played a significant role in both American and Gullah history. It was built in 1851 and now occupies 37 acres, with a special 9.2 acres that has been meticulously preserved for tours and education.
For those interested in learning more about the history of the area, it’s among the top attractions in South Carolina. The 45-minute tours at the McLeod Plantation Historic Site take you past a number of beautifully preserved structures that still have many of their original features.
8. Things To Do In South Carolina: Drayton Hall
Most people agree that Drayton Hall is among the top destinations in the state for a mix of history and genuine Georgian Palladian architecture. It took four years to construct for John Drayton, and a combination of free and slave labor was used to get the job done. The home, which is situated on 630 acres of land, was kept by the family up until 1974.
Two of the outbuildings were destroyed during that time by disasters in the late 19th century, but more than 260 years of preservation have allowed it to stay the same. The structure was given to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974, 14 years after it was designated a National Historic Landmark.
9. Things To Do In SC: The Angel Oak
The Angel Oak appears to be a fantasy-inspired structure. Johns Island, South Carolina, is home to one of the oldest oak trees that is still alive on this side of the Mississippi River. It’s a little bit of a hidden gem, but it’s a thrilling activity that you simply must try.
The Angel Oak is magnificent and a sight to behold, with a 17,000 square foot shaded area surrounding it, a 28-foot circumference, and a 65-foot or 6-story height. Its largest branch has a staggering 187-foot spread! The Angel Oak is a Southern live oak, a species of plant that is indigenous to the lowland countryside of the coastal Carolinas, and is thought to be between 400 and 500 years old.
10. Old Sheldon Church Ruins
One of the eeriest places to visit in South Carolina may be the Old Sheldon Church Ruins. They have gothic architecture and are from the middle of the 1700s. Although the circumstances of its creation are unclear, it is thought to have once been a part of the Prince William Parish Church, a place of worship.
It was nearly destroyed by British forces prior to the Revolutionary War, then left to rot. Reconstruction efforts started in 1826, but when the Civil War started, General Sherman’s troops entered South Carolina and burned it down. Since then, the Old Sheldon Church Ruins have remained in that condition, giving visitors a strangely beautiful and depressing experience.