South Carolina is a popular playground for vacationers from all over the United States.
Filled with pristine beaches, towering sand dunes, and dense maritime forests, the state boasts several famous resort areas.
Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach are some of the most well-known beach destinations in South Carolina, but beach lovers can find plenty of other spots to soak in some stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Here are the best South Carolina beaches.
1. Best South Carolina Beaches: Isle of Palms
2. Folly Beach, South Carolina
3. SC Beaches: Hilton Head Island
4. Best South Carolina Beaches: Huntington Beach State Park
5. Edisto Beach, South Carolina
6. South Carolina Beaches: Kiawah Island
7. Romantic SC Beaches: Murrells Inlet
8. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
9. Seabrook Island Beach, South Carolina
10. SC Beaches: Surfside
What are the 10 Best South Carolina Beaches?
The 10 Best South Carolina Beaches according to local experts are:
- Best South Carolina Beaches: Isle of Palms
- Folly Beach, South Carolina
- SC Beaches: Hilton Head Island
- Best South Carolina Beaches: Huntington Beach State Park
- Edisto Beach, South Carolina
- South Carolina Beaches: Kiawah Island
- Romantic SC Beaches: Murrells Inlet
- Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
- Seabrook Island Beach, South Carolina
- SC Beaches: Surfside
Attraction Spotlight: Brookgreen Gardens
Located near the popular Murrells Inlet in South Carolina, Brookgreen Gardens is a 15 mile stretch of art collections and wildlife. Between Brookgreen Gardens’ seamless mixture of art, wildlife, and horticulture, it’s easy to understand why they are one of the top gardens to visit in the United States.
The current Brookgreen Gardens sits on the site of what used to be known as the following rice plantations: Brookgreen, Laurel Hill, The Oaks, and Springfield. Joshua John Ward, who is regarded as the person who owned the most slaves within America, owned and operated the Brookgreen Plantation. Currently, only a few artifacts remain from the plantations. These relics include the Alston cemetery, which is located on The Oaks grounds, and the Laurel Hill rice mill.
In 1929, Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington visited the property of what would become Brookgreen Gardens. Soon after visiting the property, the Huntingtons fell in love with it and decided to purchase the land. Initially, the land was going to be used to build a vacation home for their family, but Archer and Anna decided the landscape would be the perfect place to display Anna’s sculptures.
Brookgreen Gardens is known for their diverse display of gardens, sculptures, and mini zoo. While not much information is available about what the exact gardens layout is, prospective visitors can look on the Gardens’ website for information about seasonal blooms. People planning to travel to the Brookgreen Gardens during spring 2017 can expect to see:
· Atamasco Lilly
· Native Azalea
· Banana Shrub
· Chinese Fringe Tree
· Grandaddy Graybeard
· Native Wisteria
· Evergreen Clematis
Throughout the gardens, visitors can explore a variety of architectural elements, as well as a wide variety of renowned sculptures. Some of the sculptures displayed throughout Brookgreen Gardens include:
· “Griffin” by Paul Howard Manship
· “Reaching” by William EvAngelos Frudakis
· “Tortoise Fountain” by Janet Scudder
· “Diana” by Augustus Saint-Gaudens
After touring the gardens and sculptures, visitors can explore the zoo. Here is a quick overview of the habitats and animals within the zoo:
Native Animals is home to a variety of animals that call the Lowcountry home. These animals include; alligators, bald eagles, owls, and grey foxes.
Dalton and Linda Floyd Domestic Animals is home to an array of animals who are considered “historic rare breeds”. These animals help tell the history of Brookgreen. Some of the animals within this habitat include; marsh tacky horses, tunis sheep, wild turkeys, and Dominique chickens.
Cypress Aviary is home to a variety of wildlife that live around a natural cypress swamp. This exhibit is the only aviary of its kind, as it didn’t have to build a man-made cypress swamp. Some of the animals within this habitat include; egrets, black-crowned night herons, hooded merganser, great blue herons, and ibises.
Brookgreen Gardens offers a variety of educational opportunities on a daily basis. The educational programs at Brookgreen Gardens are divided among three categories: animals, gardens and sculpture, and history.
Every day, Brookgreen Gardens offers two presentation workshops in which visitors can interact with and learn more about the animals at the Gardens. Mother Nature’s Café is a complete walkthrough of the Zoo, in which a specially trained employee interprets and explains the behaviors of some of the animals within the Zoo, as they give the animals their daily snacks. Right after Mother Nature’s Café, visitors can participate in Meet the Animals, in which they have the opportunity to learn more about a few animals in a close and personal way.
As for gardens and sculptures, garden tours occur on a daily basis. Since garden tours give visitors an opportunity to learn more about the gardens and sculptures, and they are free with admission, every visitor should take advantage of them. Other than garden tours, visitors are encouraged to participate in one of the workshops or classes at the Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. Center for American Sculpture. The classes within this Center are geared for people who are interested in sculpture and art, and want to perfect their skills.
Lastly, visitors can participate in one of the numerous options for learning more about Brookgreen Gardens’ history. Three of the main historical educational opportunities are the; Pontoon Boat Rides, Lowcountry Trail, and Oaks Plantation History and Nature Excursion. Each tour allows visitors to learn more about the history of Brookgreen Gardens, the former plantations it sits on, and Southern history in general.
For more information about any of the educational opportunities at Brookgreen Gardens, visit the Gardens’ official website, or contact them during their hours of operation.
1931 Brookgreen Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576, Phone: 843-235-6000
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Attraction Spotlight: Freshfields Village
Freshfields Village, situated just beyond the gates of Seabrook Islands and Kiawah, provides everything visitors may need to make their vacation complete. The Village Market, a grocery store in the village, serves as an anchor for Freshfields Village. This store combines thoughtful selection of food and Southern hospitality for people with refined tastes. Along with daily essential, the remarkable Village Market offers select cuts of meat and a variety of fresh local produce, making “cooking in” a much more attractive choice during visitors’ stay on Kiawah Island than many other vacation spots.
Freshfields Village on Kiawah Island in South Carolina also consists of a broad array of one-of-a-kind shops, including many clothing stores, shoe stores, and shops that sell accessories. Visitors will also find stores selling various home decor items, a toy store, a sporting goods shop, and a bookstore among several other shops. There are retail options for just about everyone.
An array of dining options can also be found within Kiawah Island’s Freshfields Village, including a fine dining restaurant, a sports bar, an Italian restaurant, a deli, and a coffee shop. There is just about any service-oriented businesses that visitors may need in the Village as well. Such necessary establishments include a pharmacy, a gas station, a medical facility, a wine shop, a carway, banks, a hair salon, and a liquor store. More the sixty events are held at Freshfields Market as well every year. With events that include cultural performances, the season Farmers Market, outdoor movies and concerts, and cultural festivals, the Village is well known for its family-friendly, dynamic, and fun atmosphere.
Kiawah Island, as well as the islands that surround it, offer some great opportunities for shopping. Visitors and locals alike will find anything from designer clothes to outdoor furniture to antiques from Europe. Bakers, butchers, and even candlestick makers can be found in the Freshfields Village, as well as offices of doctors, home service experts, engineers, dentists, architects, builders, lawyers, accountants, bankers, and decorators. Visitors interested buying a home on the island can stop by the Kiawah Island Real Estate offices. Kiawah Island Real Estate is the only real estate company on the entire island.
For visitors who enjoy outdoor recreation, anything from golf clubs to bicycles can be repaired by experts on Kiawah Island. Visitors celebrating a birthday can purchase a specially made birthday cake, made by an actual pastry chef. For weddings, or simply just a night out, guests can step into the hair salon at Freshfields Village and maybe try a new hairstyle for the event.
An original print or piece of art makes a great souvenir from a visit to Kiawah Island. A variety of artwork can be found at the shops at Freshfields Village, and visitors can have the art framed or shipped to their house without having to leave the island. Visitors won’t have to drive all the way to Charleston in order to find a quality piece of unique pottery, designer clothing, jewelry, and sculpture. Freshfields Village has easily become the new mecca for shopping in the area with its numerous new stores.
165 Village Green Lane, Kiawah Island, South Carolina, Phone: 843-768-6491
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Attraction Spotlight: Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge in Hardeeville
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge in South Carolina was named after the Pinckney family, who established a successful cotton plantation here. The land later became a nature preserve in 1975 after the family donated it to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which dedicated the island to conservation.
The refuge itself spans 4,053 acres and is made up of a diverse range of different habitats, such as freshwater ponds, fallow field, forestland, salt marsh, and bushland, which are home to over 250 different species of bird throughout the year. Several types of these shorebirds can be spotted wading in the salt marsh near the entrance.
The refuge does not have any form of facilities or a visitor centre, but it does provide many opportunities for observing wildlife and there are well over 14 miles of bicycling and hiking trails for you to explore. There are often guided walking tours of the island by trained local groups, who offer environmental education as well a history of the refuge. Another popular activity on the island is wildlife and landscape photography and hundreds of budding photographers visit every year to do just that; you can even enter the photographs you take in a free yearly competition. There are 3 levels to enter at, namely professional, amateur, and beginner and there are prizes for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, so get snapping.
Some of the animals you may encounter during your hike include the white ibis, a freshwater bird you will most likely spot wading around the salt marsh. The salt marsh itself makes up 67% of the island. The white ibis’ distinctive features include their white feathers and a long, curved beak.
A rare, but not completely out of the ordinary, sight on the islands are bobcats, a large nocturnal cat that is one of the many predators at the refuge. The bobcat has very big paws and can bounce up to 10 feet; they are well known for catching prey much larger than they are.
Another popular sight are the painted bunting birds and, due to their brightly colored feathers, they are very hard to miss. Sadly, the population of these beautiful songbirds is on the decline due to them being illegally captured and traded as well as the loss of their habitat during land development. However, the refuge provides some hope for the species, as it offers a protected environment for the birds to breed in.
Visitors are advised to be aware while exploring the refuge as it is not just the flies, gnats, and mosquitos that will want to bite you. There are also snakes that may be hiding amongst the undergrowth, not to mention the fact that you may even come face to face with an alligator, so be sure to keep your eyes open and keep your distance if you do see any.
The site opens every day at sunrise closes at sunset. No overnight stays are permitted.
694 Beech Hill Lane, Hardeeville, SC 29927, Phone: 843-784-2468