Want to find some of the best places to visit in South Carolina? If you are looking for gorgeous sun-drenched shores, alluring scenery, and lack of skyscrapers, then you should point your compass needle to the direction of South Carolina.
Because of the palmetto trees lining its coast, South Carolina is often called Palmetto State. And it is particularly known for its beautiful gardens, such as famous Cypress Gardens and Middleton Place Gardens.
South Carolina has a captivating history and used to be the leading state in the Old South full of slave plantations. In fact, the oldest city of South Carolina – Charleston, was known as the slave capital of America. It served as one of the main trade points for enslaved Africans in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Below are some of the best places to visit in South Carolina for history and natural scenery where you can explore the most beautiful destinations in the Palmetto State, which is also one of the smallest states in the U.S.
Charleston is one of the friendliest cities in the U.S, known for its incredible gardens, its history, liveability, and kind of a unique romantic appeal.
Here you can admire beautiful palmetto palm-lined avenues, the famous Charleston Historic District, Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, which are among some of the country’s oldest landscaped gardens.
This beautiful waterfront city is also close to Fort Sumter National Monument, a small island in Charleston Harbor where the first shot of the Civil War was fired back in 1861.
Hilton Head Island
Famous amongst golfers, Hilton Head is a barrier island in South Carolina which is regularly voted as one of the world’s best vacation destinations. Although nowadays the island often welcomes a wealthy clientele, most of its residents are the descendants of slaves that were freed and settled in the area.
The island is known for its incredible sandy beaches, world-class golf courses, and natural wonders, such as the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and Coastal Discovery Museum. The most famous beaches on the island are North and South Forests and the Sea Pines.
Caesars Head State Park
Here is where you can admire the most dramatic panoramas of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the secluded valleys of the region. Caesars Head State Park is a must-see destination in Upstate South Carolina offering majestic views year-round.
The park can be explored by hiking through more than 50 miles of designated easy to strenuous trails. Each fall the Hawk Watch program takes place here when visitors can marvel the impressive sight of hundreds of soaring migrating raptors.
Also, another reason to visit the park in the fall is that the cooler autumn temperatures increase the visibility of the majestic panoramas.
Extending from the North Carolina border to Georgetown, Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the East Coast. With 60 miles of wide sandy beaches, a huge selection of golf courses, amusement parks, excellent restaurants, and shopping activities,
Myrtle Beach welcomes millions of visitors year-round and provides a carefree and convenient oceanfront vacation for them. The sandy beaches and sun-kissed waters are not the only pride of Myrtle, travelers can also enjoy Myrtle Beach’s downtown, which is full of history and many other entertainments.
This picturesque seaside destination is more relaxed and calm than nearby Myrtle Beach and still remains untouched by mass tourism. It’s known to be one of the state’s unspoiled and best-kept secrets.
Pawleys Island has only around 100 permanent residents and it’s originally a summer resort, offering delightful stretches of wide beaches and sand dunes. The island is also best known for its iconic Hammock shops.
In Murrell’s Inlet, which is a laid-back fishing village just up the road from the island, you can find great seafood restaurants, charming cottages and lots of well-preserved natural areas. Or why not stop and hear some alluring ghost stories of the Pawleys.
Founded in 1732, Georgetown is the state’s third oldest city and known for its rich history, live oak-lined streets, beautiful neighborhoods, and many other charms.
This old harbor town is full of historical attractions, antique shops, galleries, and offers featured attractions such as the South Carolina Maritime Museum, where you can learn more about the state’s remarkable maritime history.
If you visit the town in October, you can enjoy the annual Wooden Boat Show, which is one of a kind event in the country – nearly 150 classic wooden boats are exhibited both on land and water.
Congaree National Park
South Carolina’s only national park, Congaree covers nearly 20,000 acres of gorgeous wilderness. This floodplain forest is known for its giant old-growth trees, which also include some of the tallest in the world.
These champion trees attract many visitors throughout the year who can explore the marvelous forest landscapes either by foot, canoe, or kayak. Although Congaree forest is sometimes associated with the word “swamp” to many, it is actually not, as it doesn’t contain standing water throughout most of the year.
Table Rock State Park, Pickens
Before becoming a state park, centuries ago the area of Table Rock State Park was inhabited by Cherokee Indians, who referred to the place as “Great Blue Hills of God” and believed that their god sat down to feast here.
Centuries later, Table Rock State Park remains one of the most beautiful places to visit in South Carolina. It features inviting natural environments in the state and continues to impress its visitors with wonders of the Blue Ridge escarpment.
The park also has two lakes, a campground, mountain campsites, and a historic lodge, providing an opportunity to have a great recreation and taste a truly rustic experience.
Located just south from Charleston, this 68-square-mile sea island is one of South Carolina’s most secluded and picturesque destinations. The island is known for its natural beauty, pristine waters, and beaches, as well as its rich cultural heritage. Taking a leisurely drive through
Edisto Island National Scenic Byway will lead you to paradise in an appearance of oak and palmetto-lined streets. Another famous activity of the island is dolphin and whale watching, which are organized through eco-tours on a boat.
Last but not least, here you can visit one of the largest wetland ecosystems of the Atlantic Coast – the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge.
Columbia is not only considered as one of the best places to live in the state but also offers a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers. The city represents an urban and suburban mix that is packed with thrills in every corner of it.
It’s full of historic sites, one of which is the former home of slaves, who bought their freedom here. Another must-visit place in Columbia is the famous University of South Carolina, which flourished before the Civil War and has a rich history of more than 200 years.
Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens
Remember the impressive scenes of beautiful oak tree avenues from the famous movie “The Notebook”? This is the filming location. The Boone Hall Plantation is over 320 years old and is one of the oldest working plantations in the country.
It has been named as one of the African American Historic Places in South Carolina, due to its role and use of slavery. The owners have preserved many of the original structures, including the slave cabin.
Known for the iconic Avenue of Oaks, it’s located just above Charleston, and its beautiful views also serve as a beautiful setting for wedding ceremonies to create lifelong memories within the surroundings of 270-year-old giant live oaks.
Beaufort is the second oldest city in the state after Charleston, and is continuously being featured as the best small Southern town, appears in the top lists of small city arts destinations by National Geographic, New York Times, and many other prestigious magazines.
The key charm of the city is the well-preserved antebellum architecture and its historic spirit. Beaufort is also a destination full of beautiful Lowcountry beaches, where you can admire alluring sunrises and sunsets, enjoy fresh crabs and shrimps right from the ocean, and have many other slow-paced beachside enjoyments.
With its beautiful shores lined with blooming trees and plants, its clear waters, graceful waterfalls cascading directly into it, it’s sometimes hard to believe that Lake Jocassee is a man-made lake initially built for the generation of electricity.
It is nearly 7500-acre large and is fed by cold Appalachian mountain rivers, which keep the lake’s waters clear and cool year-round. Lake Jocassee is within the area of Devils Fork State Park and is surrounded by beautiful views of the mountains and the Jocassee Wildlife Area.
Huntington Beach State Park
Huntington Beach State Park is perhaps the most well-preserved beach on the Grand Strand. Its outstanding coastal environment provides great habitat for numerous wild birds over the seasons, which makes the beach one of the best birding venues along the East Coast.
The park’s three miles of undeveloped beaches are an unusual treat on South Carolina’s heavily developed shores, which together with finest bird-watching spots on the coast, attracts over 500,000 visitors a year.
It’s one of the best places to visit in South Carolina to experience wildlife, especially birdwatching or seeing American alligators in the wild.
Travelers seeking unique small-town hospitality feel combined with a rich heritage and architectural affection must indeed consider visiting York city in South Carolina.
York’s history dates back to mid 18th century and it’s packed with many historic attractions. The majority of these historic streets and buildings are concentrated in the Historic District of the city, which includes the York County Courthouse and the famous former jail building Wilson House.
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