South Carolina is known for its stunning Atlantic Ocean coastal destinations, including world-renowned Hilton Head Island, known for its family-friendly beaches and championship golf courses. Area visitors and residents can day trip to many excellent island getaway destinations, ranging from the romantic St. Simons Island to the historic St. Helena Island, known as a hub for African-American Gullah culture. Charming towns like Kershaw, Santee, and Beaufort are known for their historic attractions, art galleries, and amazing outdoor recreational opportunities. Nearby in Georgia, visitors can day trip to cities like Savannah, known for its historic downtown district, and Augusta, home to the annual Masters Golf Tournament.
1.Angel Oak Park
Angel Oak Park is known as the home of the ancient Southern live oak of the same name, which stands on Johns Island near the city of Charleston. The tree is estimated to be at least 400 years old and is believed to be one of the oldest trees east of the Mississippi River. It stands 66.5 feet tall and has grown outward as extensively as it has grown upward, providing shade for more than 17,000 square feet around its circumference. It is named in honor of Justus and Martha Waight Angel's estate, though urban legends claim that the spirits of former African-American slaves in the region are known to populate the tree, giving its name a double meaning. It has withstood many hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods throughout its life and is registered with the Live Oak Society today for its historical significance.
3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455, Phone: 843-559-3496
Augusta is Georgia's second-largest and second-oldest city, known throughout the world as the famed home of the prestigious Masters Golf Tournament. The city, which sits near Georgia's border with South Carolina, is an easy day trip distance from the cities of Charleston, Savannah, and Atlanta, located along the state's Piedmont region on the banks of the Savannah River. Major attractions include the Augusta Museum of History, which showcases exhibits on area native James Brown, and the preserved Boyhood Home of United States President Woodrow Wilson. Visitors can check out cultural exhibits at the Morris Museum of Art or walk along the city's beautiful Augusta Riverwalk and 1845 Augusta Canal trails. Excellent Lowcountry, Creole, and Cajun cuisine are showcased at the city's acclaimed restaurants. Unique city tours abound, including Petersburg boat tours through the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area or trolley tours of the city's major landmarks.
Beaufort is a charming city on Port Royal Island, known for its gorgeous preserved Antebellum-era mansions and landmarks in its beautiful downtown historic district. The city, which is located within South Carolina's Lowcountry region, has been named as the South's best small town by Southern Living and has been acclaimed as one of the nation's top adventure towns by National Geographic. Notable historic landmarks include the John Mark Verdier House Museum, which showcases splendid 19th-century Federal-style architecture. Art galleries and cultural attractions abound, including major annual special events like the Beaufort International Film Festival, which is held on President's Day weekend. The city is also acclaimed as one of America's top fishing towns, home to ample spots for redfish, trout, and tarpon fishing.
Bee City is a unique family-operated bee farm and interactive zoo, located in the charming city of Cottageville. The interactive zoological park celebrates the importance of honeybees in international ecosystems, letting visitors of all ages observe bees in their natural honeycomb habitats. A children's petting zoo area also showcases exotic animals such as wallabies, coatimundis, ringtail lemurs, alpacas, and llamas, along with domestic farm animals like turkeys, goats, pheasants, and miniature horses. Visitors can observe South Carolina native reptiles at the zoo's reptile center, which is home to baby alligators, turtles, snakes, and frogs. A plethora of bee-based products are sold at the center, including high-quality pure raw honey.
1066 Holly Ridge Ln, Cottageville, SC 29435, Phone: 843-835-5912
Bluffton is a charming Lowcountry town in Beaufort County, located just minutes from popular Hilton Head Island along the banks of the May River. The lovely town has been named as the Huffington Post's top non-beach summer getaway spot, known for its stunning live oak trees and gorgeous Antebellum-era historic homes and buildings. Visitors can explore the city's vibrant downtown district, which has been compared to Austin, Texas for its young, hip populations and delightful art galleries, boutiques, and Lowcountry restaurants. Fishing and kayaking opportunities abound along the river, while many area oceanfront beaches are only a short drive away. Unique attractions include the 18th-century Church on the River, known as one of the American South's most beautiful churches, and the Bluffton Oyster Factory, South Carolina's only operating oyster factory, which hosts oyster roasts throughout the autumn months.
6.Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve
Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve is one of Edisto Island's premiere tourist attractions, protecting more than 4,600 acres of beautiful undeveloped beachfront stretches. The South Carolina state preserve is anchored around the 1930s-era Botany Bay Plantation facility, which was opened to the public as a living history facility in 2008. Three outbuildings from the 1840s-era Bleak Hall Plantation are preserved and listed on the National Register of Historic Places for their splendid Gothic Revival-style architectural design by John Townsend. The remnants of Townsend's Japanese garden are also preserved, along with the prehistoric Fig Island Shell Rings, believed to date back as far as 5,000 years. In total, 21 registered historic sites are located within the preserve.
1066 Botany Bay Rd, Edisto Island, SC 29438, Phone: 843-869-2713
Edisto Island is one of the final remaining unspoiled beach communities in the United States, easily accessible via a 40-minute drive from the city of Charleston. The lovely Sea Islands region serves as a more relaxed, picturesque alternative to many of the region's more heavily-developed tourist islands, including renowned Hilton Head Island. Major attractions include the 4,600-acre Botany Bay Plantation, which preserves a number of National Register of Historic Places-listed buildings connected to 18th and 19th-century era plantations, and the 14-mile Edisto Island National Scenic Byway. A top regional golf course is also located on the island, along with the unique Edisto Island Serpentarium, which showcases exhibits related to the region's native wildlife. Visitors can enjoy eco-touring opportunities, bike trails, and fishing charter excursions, along with delightful restaurants and shops throughout the island's business district.
42 Station Ct, Edisto Island, SC 29438, Phone: 843-869-3867
Elloree is a quaint historic town in Orangeburg County, located along the banks of beautiful Lake Marion. The town is named for an indigenous American word for "the home I love," known as a major regional business hub since the Civil War era, when its rural settlements were transformed by businessman William J. Snider. Today, visitors can peruse its historic downtown district, which is home to lovely antique shops, art galleries, boutiques, and delicious Southern-style restaurants. The Elloree Heritage Museum and Cultural Center showcases exhibits on South Carolina's rural past, including its founding and development by Snider. Each year, the town hosts a number of annual special events, including an Arts and Antiques Festival, a Pork Fest, and a November Festival of Lights.
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Georgetown is one of South Carolina's oldest cities, located between the cities of Myrtle Beach and Charleston within the state's Lowcountry region. The quaint waterfront community is lined with gorgeous live oak trees and is a must-do for history buffs, home to attractions such as the Georgetown Lighthouse, one of only two federally-operated lighthouses that remain in operation in the state. The lighthouse, which was constructed in 1811, guards the entrance to beautiful Winyah Bay. A number of historic plantations are preserved throughout the city, along with the 16,000-acre Hobcaw Barony research reserve. The city's historic downtown district is home to lively shopping and dining destinations, including excellent Lowcountry restaurants. Nearby, Huntington Beach State Park showcases three miles of stunning unspoiled beachfront, along with areas of maritime forest and salt marsh.
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10.Givhans Ferry State Park
Givhans Ferry State Park is a beautiful state park in the city of Ridgeville, originally created in 1934 following the donation of lands by ferry master Phillip Givhan. The park was one of the original facilities developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, showcasing a number of preserved historic structures today. Visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for fishing, picnicking, boating, canoeing, and geocaching. Beautiful copper marl limestone bluffs along the banks of the gorgeous Edisto River are preserved as a Heritage Trust Site, noted for their prehistoric origins. Visitors can swim in the Edisto River or hike along its River Bluff Trail and Old Loop Trail, which showcase native landscapes and habitats. Historic cabins constructed by the CCC are available for overnight rental, along with the spacious Riverfront Hall, which can accommodate up to 100 guests.
746 County Rd S-18-30, Ridgeville, SC 29472, Phone: 843-873-0692
11.Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary
Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary, formerly known as the Great Swamp Sanctuary, is the premiere natural attraction of Walterboro, located within South Carolina's ACE Basin in the state's Lowcountry region. Visitors can explore the 600-acre nature sanctuary, which is home to the nation's only publicly-accessible braided creek swamp. More than four miles of biking and hiking trails are showcased throughout the sanctuary, along with a number of canoeing trail areas along the sanctuary's lovely creeks. Trails include a living history trail, which showcases the colonial-era Charleston-to-Savannah Stagecoach Road. Day-use picnic sites are available for visitor use, along with a children's playground and wheelchair-accessible trails and amenities.
Box 709, Walterboro, SC 29488, Phone: 843-549-2545
12.Hampton Plantation State Historic Site
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Hampton Plantation State Historic Site preserves an historic 1735 plantation located just north of the city of McClellanville, known for its beautiful temple front domestic architecture. The plantation, which was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1970, is considered to be one of the nation's finest examples of a preserved intact Georgian-style plantation house. Visitors can explore the site's 300 acres, which are located along the banks of scenic Hampton Creek, and view its 2.5-story wood frame house structure, which showcases lovely architectural elements like eight Doric columns and a decorative Adamesque frieze and pedimented gable. The mansions is open to the public as a living history facility, showcasing extensive plantation grounds that have been mostly reclaimed by nature. Lovely trails showcase native wildlife such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and sites like the historic African-American Cemetery.
1950 Rutledge Rd, McClellanville, SC 29458, Phone: 843-546-9361
13.Hilton Head Island
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Hilton Head Island is one of the Atlantic Seaboard's top tourist destinations, located within South Carolina's Lowcountry region. The 42-mile barrier island, which is located less than 20 minutes from the city of Savannah, is home to 12 miles of beautiful pristine beachfront, which are populated by lovely boardwalks and family-friendly attractions like miniature golf courses, boutiques, and delicious dining options. 33 world-class championship golf courses have given the island a reputation as a top international golfing destination. Visitors can explore cultural attractions such as the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum and the Coastal Discovery Museum or attend performances by arts organizations such as the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge protects salt marsh habitats between the island and the mainland.
14.Huntington Beach State Park
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Huntington Beach State Park is a charming coastal preserve near Murrells Inlet, located within Georgetown County. The preserve and park are known for their spacious sandy Grand Strand beach, which is known as one of South Carolina's most recognizable natural landmarks. Visitors can enjoy opportunities for swimming, surf fishing, and sea-breeze camping throughout the year, along with excellent opportunities for birdwatching. The 1930s-era Moorish-style Atalaya Castle, which was formerly home to the park's namesake family, is showcased on guided tours throughout the summer months. Visitors can also stroll along the lovely Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail and the Kerrigan Nature Trail, which traverse lagoons and ponds and are home to picturesque boardwalks. Each September, the Atalaya Castle hosts the juried Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival.
16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576, Phone: 843-237-4440
Kershaw is a lovely historic mining town in Lancaster and Kershaw Counties, originally developed following the 1887 establishment of a Southern Railroad station in the region. The town is best known for its proximity to the historic Haile Gold Mine, which was the Appalachian region's largest producer of gold throughout much of the 19th century. Visitors can enjoy excellent horse racing-related attractions throughout the region, including the National Steeplechase Museum, North America's only museum dedicated to the history of Steeplechase racing. Each year, the Carolina Cup International Steeplechase Races bring in more than 70,000 tourists. Outdoor recreational opportunities are offered at Lake Wateree, which is known as a popular site for fishing and water sports. Historic Boykin is home to quaint restaurants and historic gift shops, while Camden is known for its lively antique and arts district.
Kiawah Island is a charming resort island located approximately 20 miles off the coast of the city of Charleston, home to more than 10 miles of gorgeous Atlantic Ocean beachfront. The island has been named as one of America's top island getaway destinations by Conde Nast Traveler, renowned for its delightful South Carolina Golf Resort, which is home to five acclaimed championship golf courses that have hosted international competitions like the Ryder Cup and the PGA Championship. 30 miles of beautiful hiking and biking trails traverse the island's interior, protects as part of the island's natural preservation and ecology initiatives. Marsh Island Park is home to a lovely observation tower showcasing prime views of the Kiawah River. Visitors can also enjoy delightful guided nature walks, which are presented by the Heron Park Nature Center.
4475 Betsy Kerrison Pkwy, Johns Island, SC 29455, Phone: 800-774-0006
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McClellanville is a quaint rural fishing town in Charleston County, located directly adjacent to the Francis Marion National Forest. The lovely village was once known as a retreat area for wealthy plantation owners in the region, but has been transformed into one of South Carolina's top fishing destinations today, home to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Visitors can hike, horseback ride, and bike at the National Forest or enjoy excellent opportunities for fishing and kayaking along the region's creeks and rivers. Eco tours are offered to nearby Bulls Island, which is home to over 300 native and migratory bird species. Charming Pinckney Street is home to delicious restaurants like T.W. Graham and Co., known for its crab pot specials. Each May, the town hosts the annual Lowcountry Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet.
Port Royal is a charming town on Port Royal Island, the most populated island in Beaufort County, which has been continuously inhabited since at least the 1520s, when Spanish explorers established the Santa Elena fort on the island. The lovely Lowcountry island is named after the 1562 French settlement of the same name, which was led by Jean Ribault. Today, the name refers to both the island and its main city, which showcases a lovely Old Village historic center that hosts annual events like the Soft Shell Crab Festival and periodic street music events. Nearby in Beaufort, visitors can explore historic Antebellum mansions and dine at excellent gourmet Lowcountry restaurants.
700 Paris Ave, Port Royal, SC 29935, Phone: 843-986-2211
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Santee is one of Orangeburg County's most beautiful resort towns, known as an "oasis of recreation" in the Santee River Valley region. The region is home to the scenic Santee National Wildlife Refuge, founded in 1941, which is located along the shores of Lake Marion and protects significant wintering areas and habitats for ducks, geese, American alligators, raptors, and wading birds. Visitors can explore the refuge's visitor center, which showcases educational exhibits and walking trails, or enjoy opportunities for fishing, hunting, and nature photography. The picturesque Santee South Carolina State Park spans nearly 2,500 acres, offering world-class opportunities for catfish and bass fishing. The city's Town Hall Complex is also home to a fantastic family aquatic center, which showcases water thrill rides.
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Savannah is one of the American South's most historic cities, originally developed according to a unique master plan by Georgia colony founder James Oglethorpe throughout the 1730s. Today, the city is one of Georgia's top tourist destinations, known for its gorgeous Spanish moss and live oak trees, cobblestone streets, and horse-drawn carriage tours. The city's lovely historic downtown center has been preserved as one of the United States' largest urban historic districts, noted for its unique public town squares, which are laid out according to a unique grid style. Visitors can explore historic sites such as the birthplace of Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low and the Telfair Academy, one of the American Southeast's oldest museums. Cultural attractions like the Savannah Theatre and the Savannah Ballet present regular performances, while delicious restaurants serve up some of Georgia's best gourmet Southern cuisine.
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21.St. Simons Island
St. Simons Island is home to the beautiful town of St. Simons, which is known as one of Georgia's top romantic getaway destinations. The town, which was voted as America's top romantic town by Travel and Leisure, showcases stunning live Southern oak trees draped in Spanish moss throughout its lovely downtown district, which makes for unparalleled photo opportunities. Visitors can explore the reconstructed St. Simons Lighthouse, which dates back to 1872 and is open to the public as a living history facility. Pier Village is home to the historic St. Simons Pier, known as a top area in the region for fishing. Visitors can also dine at local favorite restaurants ZuZu's and Sal's Neighborhood Pizzeria or explore the island as part of bicycle and charter boat tours. East Beach is known as a prime spot for swimming and body surfing throughout the summer months.
22.St. Helena Island
St. Helena Island is known as an epicenter of African-American Gullah culture in South Carolina's Lowcountry, noted as the inspiration for popular 1990s children's television series Gullah Gullah Island. The lovely Sea Islands community is connected to the mainland at the city of Beaufort, spanning a total area of 64 square miles. It is home to the charming communities of Lands End and Frogmore, which showcase art galleries and historic attractions like the 18th-century Chapel of Ease. Visitors can explore beautiful Fort Fremont Historical Park and Beach, which preserves the remains of a fortress from the Spanish-American War, or view educational exhibits on the region's unique African-American culture at the Penn Center.
713 Craven St, Beaufort, SC 29902, Phone: 843-525-8500
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Wadmalaw Island is a charming six-by-10-mile island along the banks of the North Edisto River and Church Creek, connected to mainland South Carolina via bridge. Visitors can explore the island's historic attractions, which include the Charleston Tea Plantation, the largest operating tea plantation in the United States. More than 320 varieties of delicious Camellia sinensis tea is produced at the plantation, which is open to the public daily for free guided tours. The state's largest distillery, Firefly Distillery, is also located on the island, offering a public tasting room showcasing tastings of its famed sweet tea vodka and presenting outdoor music performances throughout the year. Other attractions include the historic Ambrose Family Farm, which offers a seasonal pick-your-own orchard, and the lovely Irvin House Vineyards, South Carolina's only domestic winery.
6617 Maybank Hwy, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487, Phone: 843-559-0383
Walterboro is a lovely hub for the arts in Colleton County, located approximately 45 minutes west of the city of Charleston. The delightful Lowcountry town showcases gorgeous historic homes dating back to the 19th century in its historic district, which is known as a top antiquing destination in the American South. Visitors can explore the South Carolina Artisans Center, which showcases the work of more than 300 juried artists, or peruse the stalls of the seasonal Colleton Museum and Farmers Market. The 800-acre Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary is home to lovely walking, biking, and canoeing trails, along with a 10,000-square-foot Discovery Center. Each year, the Colleton County Rice Festival celebrates the history and heritage of the city's staple crop.
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24 Best Day Trips in South Carolina
- Angel Oak Park, Photo: peteleclerc/stock.adobe.com
- Augusta, Photo: paulbriden/stock.adobe.com
- Beaufort, Photo: sbgoodwin/stock.adobe.com
- Bee City, Photo: peter/stock.adobe.com
- Bluffton, Photo: Rosemarie/stock.adobe.com
- Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Edisto Island, Photo: Merry/stock.adobe.com
- Elloree, Photo: baggiovara/stock.adobe.com
- Georgetown, Photo: Laura Ballard/stock.adobe.com
- Givhans Ferry State Park, Photo: suman/stock.adobe.com
- Walterboro Wildlife Sanctuary, Photo: Halfpoint/stock.adobe.com
- Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, Photo: Steve Byland/stock.adobe.com
- Hilton Head Island, Photo: PETER LAKOMY/stock.adobe.com
- Huntington Beach State Park, Photo: Laura Ballard/stock.adobe.com
- Kershaw, Photo: pio3/stock.adobe.com
- Kiawah Island, Photo: federica/stock.adobe.com
- McClellanville, Photo: Raymond B. Summers/stock.adobe.com
- Port Royal, Photo: dmsphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Santee, Photo: alexsokolov/stock.adobe.com
- Savannah, Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com
- St. Simons Island, Photo: Travel_Bug/stock.adobe.com
- St. Helena Island, Photo: sbgoodwin/stock.adobe.com
- Wadmalaw Island, Photo: ThierryDehove/stock.adobe.com
- Walterboro, Photo: digidreamgrafix/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com