Best Things to do in South Carolina

The 25 Best Things To Do in South Carolina

From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the sunny shores of the Lowcountry, South Carolina is full of natural beauty and historic gems. You’ll find a wide variety of attractions in the Palmetto State to explore, including stately antebellum mansions, world-class golf courses, and sun-soaked beaches.

Experience true Southern hospitality as you stroll the atmospheric streets in Charleston, put a towel down on the white sand beaches in Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island, or practice your golf swing on Kiawah Island. Hiking, biking, boating, and paddling are popular in South Carolina’s beautiful state parks, while Congaree National Park is a hotspot for wildlife watching. 

Best Things to do in South Carolina: World Famous Golf Courses

Take your pick of charming small towns in South Carolina, where you’ll discover fascinating historic museums, art galleries, thrilling roller coasters, and nature parks to explore. Wherever you decide to go, don’t miss out on South Carolina’s thriving culinary scene showcasing classic Southern cooking and freshly-caught seafood.

With so many things to see and do in the Palmetto State, it’s hard to know where to begin. So, we’ve compiled a list of the absolute best things to do in South Carolina so you can take full advantage of this year-round destination. Our unique South Carolina bucket list highlights some of the top cities, beaches, and outdoor adventures you can enjoy in this Southern state. 

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The Best Things To Do in South Carolina

25 Cool and Unique Things To Do in South Carolina

1. Explore Charleston’s Quaint Historic District

Best Things to do in South Carolina: Explore Historic Charleston

No trip to South Carolina is complete without visiting Charleston’s Historic District. Dotted with 1,400 historic homes, churches, and other beautiful buildings, this walkable area offers a chance for history buffs to explore one of the oldest cities in America. 

There’s a reason why this charming area is considered one of the top things to do in South Carolina. You can wander down the cobbled streets and take a tour of historic homes, such as the early 19th-century Aiken-Rhett House and the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House, which showcases a priceless collection of artwork. 

Cool Things to do in South Carolina: Explore Historic Charleston

Afterward, tour The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon to hear about those imprisoned by the British during the American Revolution or visit the Old Slave Mart Museum to learn about the city’s slave history. The Historic District is also where you’ll find the iconic Charleston City Market

If you’re after a romantic experience, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the area to admire the historic mansions and church towers. After you explore the Historic District, head to the famous Pineapple Fountain overlooking the Charleston Harbor for picture-perfect sunset views.


2. Tick Off Charleston’s Top Attractions

Unique Things to do in South Carolina: Hit Popular Charleston Destination Pineapple Fountain

Charleston is home to a long list of fun attractions where you can soak up the ambiance of this well-preserved Southern city. Waterfront Park is a popular place to start. The park stretches for more than 1,000 feet along the waterfront near the Historic District.

If you’ve got the kids in tow, add the South Carolina Aquarium to your itinerary. One of the top family-friendly things to do in Charleston, this unique attraction features all kinds of underwater creatures, in addition to touch tanks, interactive shows, and a chance to say hello to a 220-pound loggerhead sea turtle named “Caretta.” 

One of the oldest museums in the United States, the Charleston Museum appeals to history enthusiasts with its collection of historic artifacts, including early weaponry, an Egyptian mummy, and George Washington’s christening cup. Alternately, opt for a tranquil stroll through White Point Garden

Fun Things to do in South Carolina: Hit Popular Charleston Destinations Aquarium

You can also explore The Battery, a paved walking path dotted with charming antebellum homes. The picturesque promenade offers gorgeous views of Fort Sumter and has plaques highlighting some of the area’s most significant historic structures. 


3. Buy a Souvenir or Two at the Historic Charleston City Market

South Carolina Bucket List: Charleston City Market

A staple on most itineraries of what to do in Charleston, the Charleston City Market is where to go to pick up unique souvenirs. This busy indoor market showcases an array of unique items to browse, including crafts, jewelry, clothing, sweets, and artwork to name a few. 

One of the highlights of visiting this market is the famous “basket ladies,” who produce one of the nation’s oldest and most beautiful handicrafts of African origin. These women have been weaving sweetgrass baskets for centuries. The craft originated in West Africa and has been passed down through generations. 

South Carolina Things to do: Charleston City Market

Begin your visit in front of the Greek Revival-style Market Hall and take your time perusing the various shops selling everything from sterling silver jewelry and artwork to home decor and accessories. There’s also a collection of open-air sheds, while a Night Market features over 100 local artists and craftspeople selling locally-made items. 

Feeling hungry? Don’t miss some of the best eateries in the Charleston City Market, including Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits, which aims to keep the tradition of Southern biscuits alive. You can also dig into beloved Lowcountry recipes at Hank’s Seafood Restaurant, rated one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. 

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4. Experience Civil War History at Fort Sumter

What to do in South Carolina: Civil War History Fort Sumter

As the location where the first shot of the Civil War was fired in 1861, Fort Sumter National Monument is a significant part of America’s history. See where it all happened by taking a ferry ride to this historic fort located on a small island. 

Take one of the concession-operated tour boats departing from Liberty Square or Patriots Point in Charleston. The ferry ride is relaxing and offers views of Battery Park, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, and Fort Moultrie – an added bonus for visiting this attraction. You might even spot dolphins splashing in the waters!

Must do Things in South Carolina: Civil War History Fort Sumter

Once you arrive, take your time to wander around the stone caverns that still house numerous Civil War-era cannons. Knowledgeable National Park Rangers recount fascinating stories of some of the heroes in action during the Civil War’s first battle and offer an immersive historical experience. 

To learn more about the historic site, visit the on-site museum to get more insight into the fort’s role in the Civil War through interpretive and visual exhibits. There’s also a gift shop selling unique souvenirs for history buffs.


5. Hop Aboard the Iconic USS Yorktown

Best Things to do in South Carolina: Airline Carrier USS Yorktown

Touring the USS Yorktown in Charleston is one of the most unique things to do in South Carolina, as this legendary aircraft carrier served in World War II and the Vietnam War. The 888-foot naval ship earned a host of battle stars and now lies in the waters off Patriots Point in the Charleston Harbor. 

This historic ship is open to the public as a memorial and a museum, where you can learn about its history as the 10th aircraft carrier to serve in the U.S. Navy. Commissioned in 1943, it was involved in the sinking of enemy battleships and offered support to troops landing at Okinawa, Japan. 

You’ll get a first-hand look at what life was like on the ship, which housed up to 3,500 personnel and 90 aircraft. Explore the flight deck, peer into the engine rooms, and get an up-close look at the vintage airplanes in the hangar. 

Your admission to Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum also includes access to two other historic ships, the destroyer USS Laffey and the submarine USS Clamagore. History lovers will also want to add a visit to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Museum to their itinerary. 

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6. Discover South Carolina’s Past in Historic Plantations 

South Carolina Things To Do: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Images courtesy of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens (Photo by Guenter Weber)

For a look into South Carolina’s past, take a step back in time at one of its historic plantations. You can get a glimpse into the Lowcountry’s storied past and learn how they were central to the state’s wealth and power while touring these sprawling properties. 

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston is famous for its romantic gardens covered in azaleas and camellias, as they’re one of the largest in the United States. There’s also an on-site zoo, a rice field boat tour, and a plantation train tour through the marshes, forests, and lakes. 

Fun Things to do in South Carolina: Visit the Plantations Drayton Hall
Drayton Hall

Drayton Hall is an 18th-century plantation and one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in the US. You can even take guided tours of the well-preserved 1738 house. Highlights of the tour cover the Revolutionary War, African American history, and decorative arts. 

Another historic landmark in Charleston, Middleton Place features America’s oldest landscaped gardens and a house museum. To see one of the oldest continually operated farms in America, head to Boone Hall Plantation to learn about how it has produced food for more than 320 years.


7. Take a Relaxing Day Trip to Folly Beach

South Carolina Bucket List: Go to Folly Beach

When you’re ready for a break from visiting Charleston’s historic attractions, take a day trip to Folly Beach. Located just 12 miles from downtown Charleston, this beautiful beach features a long stretch of sand overlooking the Atlantic. 

It’s a great spot to kick back and bask in the Southern sunshine, while active travelers can try their hand at surfing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. Fishing off the pier is another popular activity! If you’re hungry or thirsty, there is a collection of beachfront bars and casual eateries lining the sand. 

You can rent a fat wheel bike and cruise the area on two wheels. Head to the west side of the beach, which turns into Folly Beach County Park. Take a quiet beach stroll and enjoy the spectacular views across the Stono Inlet to Kiawah Island. 

Don’t miss some of the popular local specialties in the area, from fried shrimp platters at The Crab Shack to flounder po’boys at LoLo’s. Dating back to 1946, Bowens Island is a family-run joint that serves up some of the best seafood platters in town.  


8. Marvel at the Natural Beauty of Kiawah Island

South Carolina Things to do: Kiawah Island

Located just off the coast, 25 miles south of Charleston, Kiawah Island is one of South Carolina’s most beautiful destinations. It’s known for its untouched natural beauty with 10 miles of golden beaches, maritime forests, and picturesque marshland home to turtles, white-tailed deer, and seabirds. 

It’s the perfect spot to unwind and you’ll find it easy to embrace the barrier island’s laid-back Lowcountry vibes. The only commercial development is found in Freshfields Village, a charming town center dotted with quaint shops and restaurants. 

Pull up a chair on the beautiful beach at Beachwalker Park or hop on a bike and follow one of the island’s scenic bike paths. You can paddle on the open waters around Kiawah Island, while sunset sailing cruises and fishing are also popular activities. 

Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of the biggest lures to Kiawah Island, as it plays host to the 2021 PGA Championship. You’ll find five public courses on the island to choose from, while Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course is arguably the most famous with its epic water views. 


9. Bask in the Sunshine at Myrtle Beach

Must do Things in South Carolina: Relax at Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is one of the top family-friendly travel destinations in the United States. Sun-seekers flock here from around the world to enjoy its 60 miles of picture-perfect coastline. The Myrtle Beach area, also known as the Grand Strand, is a great place to fly a kite, search for seashells, or make a splash in the sparkling Atlantic Ocean waters. 

The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is the top attraction along this shoreline and is where you’ll find many of the area’s top hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Multiple stages are set up along the picturesque promenade for concerts and festivals, while some of the top kid-friendly attractions are also located here, including Ripley’s Aquarium

Kids will love soaring 200 feet in the sky on the famous SkyWheel, while the I Love Sugar shop is a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth. If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, head to Gay Dolphin to browse Myrtle Beach’s largest gift shop.  

Beachgoers looking for a thrill can take their vacation up a notch by trying one of the popular water sports available. While many beach bums prefer to kick back and bask in the sunshine with a good book, you can also try surfing, parasailing, jet-skiing, and windsurfing at this beach.

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10. Plan a Fun-Filled Family Day in Myrtle Beach

Unique Things to do in South Carolina: WonderWorks Myrtle Beach
Image courtesy of WonderWorks

While the sun-soaked beaches are the star attraction of Myrtle Beach, the fun extends beyond the shoreline to the area’s other exciting activities. When families need a break from the sunshine, they have their pick of kid-friendly attractions.  

Ripley’s Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions, giving families a chance to explore a giant aquatic habitat. You can get up-close with thousands of fish, as well as sea turtles and giant sharks, thanks to its tunnel that winds through the aquarium. You can also meet penguins, hold a horseshoe crab, or pet a jelly, stingray, or bamboo shark. 

WonderWorks Myrtle Beach is another firm favorite with families and makes science fun with more than 100 interactive exhibits. Alternatively, opt for a round of friendly competition on the tiki-themed mini-golf course at Mount Atlanticus Miniature Golf.

You can escape the crowds at Myrtle Beach State Park and enjoy nature trails and camping, while Huntington Beach State Park is a popular spot for surf fishing. Brookgreen Gardens is a tranquil oasis with beautiful botanical gardens and Family Kingdom Amusement Park boasts roller coasters, go-karts, and kiddie rides. 


11. Go Birdwatching at Huntington Beach

Unique Things to do in South Carolina: Myrtle Beach Family Activities Huntington State Park

Huntington Beach State Park is one of the top bird-watching destinations on the East Coast. This park is an oasis for nature lovers, where more than 300 species of birds can be spotted within its 2,500 acres. 

Before you get out and explore, visit the park’s Education Center and pick up a bird checklist and see the logbook to find out what other birders have spotted lately. Start your journey at the causeway, where it’s not uncommon to spot bald eagles nesting in the marsh. 

South Carolina Bucket List: Huntington Beach State Park Bird Watching

Other highlights include a variety of waterfowl, including blue-winged and green-winged teal, in addition to ring-necked ducks and red-breasted mergansers. Head to the jetty for a chance to spot razorbills and black guillemots, both relatives of puffins, as well as red-throated loons and purple sandpipers. 

Although you might not expect it, winter is the best time for bird-watching adventures. During this time, you can sometimes see the federally endangered piping plover as you make your way toward the beach and its resident shorebirds. 


12. Enjoy the Small-Town Charm of Georgetown 

Must do Things in South Carolina: Haunted Hampton Plantation Georgetown

Georgetown is one of South Carolina’s oldest cities. It’s believed to have been founded in 1526 by Spanish explorer Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón. It’s now an important port, while the beautiful cobblestone streets and charming atmosphere make this tiny town a worthy addition to your growing South Carolina bucket list.

Explore the picturesque streets in the downtown area where you’ll find quaint cafes, boutique shops, and history museums, then wander around the waterfront. You can see the historic homes that offer a glimpse into its colonial past, then take to the water for a scenic boat tour. 

South Carolina Things to do: Haunted Hampton Plantation Georgetown

Visit Hopsewee Plantation, a former rice plantation and estate that dates back to 1740. You can also take a guided tour of the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site and see its 600-year-old Washington Oak Tree that was saved by George Washington. 

Learn about 18th-century Southern life in the Kaminski House Museum, which is housed inside an old antebellum home and offers guided tours. Alternately, opt for a visit to the Rice Museum to see how rice played an important role in Georgetown’s development. 


13. Stroll the Charming Downtown of Greenville

What to do in South Carolina: Take a Trip to Downtown Greenville

Nestled in South Carolina’s picturesque Upstate, Greenville features a charming downtown area, excellent eateries, and nature parks. This hidden gem appeals to outdoor lovers, history enthusiasts, and foodies alike. Plus, most of its main attractions are within walking distance of each other. 

Fun Things to do in South Carolina: Children's Museum of the Upstate
Image courtesy of the Children’s Museum of the Upstate

Head to Heritage Green to find some of the city’s top attractions, including the kid-friendly Children’s Museum of the Upstate. Browse a beautiful collection of watercolors and contemporary works at Greenville County Museum of Art or see the master paintings at Bob Jones University Museum and Gallery

If you’re shopping for souvenirs, Downtown Greenville has more than 100 shops and boutiques dotted along its walkable, tree-lined streets. Mast General Store sells everything from old-fashioned candies and knickknacks to outdoor gear, while O.P. Taylor’s Toy Store has tons of fun toys for the little ones. 

Falls Park on the Reedy is a popular spot to enjoy the outdoors and boasts walking trails, picnic areas, and beautiful gardens in the heart of downtown. If you enjoy cycling, hop on two wheels and cruise the 20-mile-long Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail.


14. Hike the Scenic Trails in Table Rock State Park

Fun Things to do in South Carolina: Hike Table Rock State Park

Best known for its 3,100-foot namesake granite dome, Table Rock State Park is perched at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You’ll find incredible scenery and opportunities for family-friendly outdoor fun, as this mountain retreat has nature trails, a children’s playground, and lakes for fishing, swimming, and canoeing.

The hiking trails at this picturesque park lead you to scenic views of Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain. The 1.9-mile loop Lakeside Trail is a family-friendly option that passes a swimming beach, while the more moderate 2-mile Carrick Creek Trail rises up to 1,520 feet in elevation and features an observation deck with waterfall views. 

South Carolina Bucket List: Hike Table Rock State Park

You’ll need a hearty breakfast before embarking on the strenuous Table Rock Trail, which ascends 2,000 feet to the summit of the imposing dome. With spectacular views from its higher rock outcrops, this calf-burning trail is worth the reward. 

Boasting views of Mill Creek Falls, the 4.2-mile one-way Pinnacle Mountain Trail is another option for serious hikers. Follow the steep ascension up the sloping Bald Knob outcrop for epic mountain views and Greenville in the distance. 

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15. Savor the Nature Views at Caesars Head State Park

Unique Things to do in South Carolina: Hike Caesars Head State Park

For postcard-worthy nature views, add the long-time favorite Caesars Head State Park to your South Carolina bucket list. It gets its name from the park’s outcropping atop the dramatic Blue Ridge Escarpment, which offers stunning year-round vistas that extend into North Carolina and Georgia. 

Get out and explore on foot via the four-mile, round-trip Raven Cliff Falls Trail. This popular hike leads to a scenic overlook where you can marvel at the 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls as it plunges into the mountain cove below. If you’re feeling adventurous, there’s a 6.6-mile round-trip hike that crosses a suspension bridge above the falls.  

If you’re interested in wildlife watching, time your visit with the annual Hawk Watch program held each fall. This program is timed perfectly so that you can see hundreds of soaring and migrating raptors, including hawks, falcons, and eagles, from the 3,208-foot-high perch. 

Caesars Head State Park connects to Jones Gap State Park and creates what is known as the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. This 13,000-acre forested area is popular for hiking and camping. The Middle Saluda River runs through this park and offers some of the best trout fishing in South Carolina. 


16. Ride Roller Coasters at Carowinds

Best Things to do in South Carolina: Carowinds Amusement Park
Images courtesy of Carowinds Amusement Park

While the Carowinds amusement park has an official North Carolina address, it’s technically located along the South Carolina border with a portion of it in Fort Mill. The popular family-friendly attraction is a hit with all ages, offering everything from world-class roller coasters and live shows to a 12-acre children’s area. 

Thrillseekers have their pick of 14 hair-raising roller coasters, with Fury 325 being one of its most celebrated rides. With a height of 325-feet, it reaches speeds up to 95 mph and is the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster.  

If you’ve got the little ones in tow, they will love the Camp Snoopy area with kid-sized rides. They can take a spin on a classic teacup ride, soar 20 feet in the air at the Kite Eating Tree, and play on the interactive climbing area. Kids of all ages will also love the park’s lineup of live shows. 

Summer in South Carolina gets hot, so beat the heat at the on-site Carolina Harbor. Included with admission, this fun-filled water park has towering water slides, wave pools, and a two-acre children’s area. 


17. Sample Incredible Southern Cuisine

South Carolina Bucket List: Husk Restaurant Charleston
Husk Charleston (Image courtesy of NDG & Squire Fox)

You can’t visit South Carolina and not sample some of its tasty Southern cuisines. With grits, hushpuppies, and pimento cheese making an appearance on most menus, there’s something to appeal to all taste buds. Don’t forget to wash down your meal with sweet tea, as South Carolina has self-proclaimed itself the birthplace of this classic Southern beverage.

Husk Restaurant in Charleston serves their changing menu of Southern favorites in a restored Victorian-era home, while Wade’s Restaurant in Spartanburg is known for its Southern comfort food, including its famous fried chicken. 

If you’re craving BBQ, go for the whole hog in Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston or visit Greenville and Simpsonville to taste the slow-roasted ribs at Henry’s Smokehouse. Some of the best Southern soul food can be found at Bertha’s Kitchen in Charleston, while the family-owned Lizard’s Thicket restaurant is beloved for its authentic Southern home cooking.

Mixed with fresh crabmeat, South Carolina’s famous she-crab soup is done well at Sea Captain’s House in Myrtle Beach. Seafood lovers also won’t want to miss the delectable oysters at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks on Hilton Head Island.


18. Tee Off at a World-Class Golf Course

What to do in South Carolina: World Famous Golf Courses

With its beautiful stretch of coastline, the Palmetto State is one of the best places for golfing. It’s one of the top things to do in South Carolina for a reason, as you’re spoiled for choice with its collection of top championship golf courses. 

Two of the top destinations for golf in South Carolina are Kiawah Island and Hilton Head, which both boast golf courses that have hosted an array of professional tournaments. Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course offers the soothing sound of the Atlantic from its greens, while the Palmetto Dunes, Fazio Course in Hilton Head is one of the most challenging courses on the island. 

Golf enthusiasts also love Myrtle Beach, which is renowned for having one of the most densely packed selections of golf courses in the United States. There are close to 90 designer golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area, designed by famous architects as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Greg Norman.

Tidewater Golf Club is a favorite with golf enthusiasts, known for its manicured fairways and pristine greens. Alternately, Myrtle Beach National – Kings North and Love Course at Barefoot Resort are two favorites in Myrtle Beach. 

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19. Spend a Day Fishing, Kayaking, or Boating on a Pristine Lake

Cool Things to do in South Carolina: Visit Pristine Lakes and Parks

South Carolina has got it all – beautiful oceans, mountain vistas, and family-friendly recreational lakes. At these gorgeous lakes, you can enjoy fun activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming as well as hiking, biking, and camping nearby. 

Lake Marion is the largest in South Carolina and is home to 315 miles of shoreline and Santee State Park, which is a popular spot for fishing and boating. Lake Murray is another favorite with some of the best striped and large-mouth bass fishing spots. It is also home to Dreher Island State Park

Best Things to do in South Carolina: Pristine Lakes and Parks

South Carolina’s cleanest lake is the mountain spring-fed Lake Jocassee, which is part of Devils Fork State Park. It’s here you’ll find some of the state’s best trout fishing. If you want to try water sports like wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing, Lake Hartwell is one of the most popular places when it comes to recreational water activities.  

Swimmers can take a dip in Pinnacle Lake while admiring the incredible escarpment of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Table Rock State Park. Those with kids can also swim in Lake Oconee in Oconee State Park, as it’s well-equipped with lifeguards, picnic tables, and diving boards. 


20. Zipline and Feed Giraffes at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Fun Things to do in South Carolina: Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

One of the best things to do in South Carolina for families, the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens in Columbia is a 170-acre attraction that’s home to more than 2,000 animals. In addition to its gorgeous botanical garden, families can enjoy hands-on interactive activities such as feeding giraffes, mingling with marsupials, and petting farmyard animals. 

Explore the various zoo districts, including the two-acre African savanna, the 20,000-square foot Aquarium Reptile Complex, and the Grizzly Ridge where you can spot bears. Afterward, say hello to furry friends from Down Under in the Koala Knockabout area and marvel at colorful birds in the walk-through lorikeet aviary. 

The Botanical Garden is a treat for nature-loving families. The area features 70 acres of foliage-filled scenery and seasonal displays in its Asian Garden, Old Rose Garden, and Walled Garden. Kids will love the Waterfall Junction area, which is a three-acre children’s garden that has a Dino dig, a giant treehouse, and a splash zone.  

If you’ve got a need for speed, try the ziplining excursions at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens. You’ll have the chance to climb through cargo nets, zip through the treetops, and take a 1,000-foot flight over the scenic Saluda River. 


21. Browse Columbia’s Fascinating Museums

Unique Things to do in South Carolina: Visit Columbia Museums

With its compact walkable streets, Columbia is a delight to explore. Steeped in history and culture, this city is not only home to the University of South Carolina, but it also boasts an array of fascinating world-class museums. 

Start your visit at the South Carolina State House. Built in a Greek Revival style, the impressive building houses a list of notable monuments, including the Revolutionary War Generals Monument, American-Mexican War Monument, and African-American History Monument.

Take either a self-guided or a free guided tour of its interior to learn about both the state senate and house chambers. Before you step inside, take note of the five stars located along the building’s exterior where Union cannonballs struck during the Civil War. 

Fun Things to do in South Carolina: Visit Columbia Museums

The South Carolina State Museum is another worthy stop if you’re looking to learn more about the state’s rich history. History, science, and interactive exhibits are spread across four floors, while there’s also a planetarium, an observatory with telescopes, and a 4D theater onsite. 

Lastly, art lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to the Columbia Museum of Art. Featuring over 25 galleries, this award-winning museum showcases an internationally renowned collection, with Claude Monet’s View of the Seine considered its crown jewel. 


22. Enjoy Outdoor Adventures in Congaree National Park

What to do in South Carolina: Congaree National Park

Having an outdoor adventure in Congaree National Park is one of the must-do things in South Carolina if you’re a nature lover. Not only is it the largest national park of virgin bottomland forest in the United States, but it’s a great spot for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and camping. 

Hiking trails vary, from the easy Boardwalk Trail that takes you into the hardwood forest to the seven-mile Oakridge Trail that follows a subtle ridge. If you want to see the Congaree River you can hike the River Trail, while Kingsnake Trail is a favorite with birdwatchers. 

Another way to experience the Congaree River is by canoeing or kayaking its waters. The 15-mile route takes you past some of the most scenic spots in the park and next to some of the tallest trees in North America. Keep your eyes peeled for river otters, deer, turtles, and wading birds. 

One of the biggest highlights of visiting Congaree National Park is seeing its synchronous fireflies. Every year between mid-May and mid-June, you can catch a glimpse of this stunning phenomenon. It’s so special that there are only a few known places in the Western Hemisphere where this occurs! 

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23. Explore the Starry Skies at Dupont Planetarium

Unique Things to do in South Carolina: Dupont Planetarium
Image courtesy of Dupont Planetarium

Located in Aiken, the Dupont Planetarium offers digital and live full-dome planetarium shows that bring the cosmos to life. It’s one of the coolest things to do in South Carolina, where an immersive theater is transformed into a realistic simulation of the starry sky. 

It’s an exciting experience for all ages and is designed to stimulate all senses. Discover the wonders of the night sky during the daily planetarium shows. One of the shows highlights the engineering of the International Space Station and the other takes you on a journey to the Seven Wonders of the World.

Housed at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center on the campus of USC-Aiken, the 45-seat theater has a 30-foot diameter tilted dome. The centerpiece is the Digistar II graphics projector, which displays more than 9,000 stars. 

In addition to night sky explorations with an enthusiastic presenter, a few highlights of the attraction include two large sundials and a variety of telescopes. It also features the only known camera obscura that displays real-time images of a planetarium dome. 


24. Stroll the Sandy Beaches in Hilton Head Island 

South Carolina Bucket List: Hilton Head Island

Another top travel destination in South Carolina for beach lovers, Hilton Head Island is beloved for its 12 miles of beautiful coastline. In addition to its top-rated hotels and resorts, it’s also home to protected nature preserves and legendary golf courses. 

You don’t have to go far to find a pristine stretch of sand to while the day away on Hilton Head. Some of the top beaches in this area are Coligny, Mitchellville, Driessen, and Folly Field beaches, while Burkes Beach is a great spot to explore the laid-back coastline on a beach cruiser. 

What to do in South Carolina: Visit Hilton Head Island
Harbour Town

Snap a photo from the top of the iconic red and white striped Harbour Town Lighthouse in the heart of Harbour Town. Afterward, you can explore the area’s quaint selection of boutique shops or practice your swing at one of the nearby championship golf courses, such as Harbour Town Golf Links, Arthur Hills Golf Course, and Heron Point

One of the most unique things to do in South Carolina, the sprawling Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is an ideal spot for a wildlife-watching adventure. Covering more than 4,000 acres, this park is home to a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as deer, alligators, and armadillos. Sign up for one of the guided nature tours for the best chance at seeing local wildlife. 


25. Admire Historic Buildings in Beautiful Beaufort

Best Things to do in South Carolina: Visit Beaufort

Beaufort is actually the second-oldest city in South Carolina and is home to beautiful buildings and notable historic spots. Overflowing with charm, it’s hard to resist the allure of this laid-back Southern town, where centuries-old antebellum buildings and historic inns look as if they were plucked from a historic postcard. 

Founded in 1711 by British colonists, this area is known for its picturesque waterfront and buzzing cultural scene. Take a leisurely stroll around the small town under the shade of massive live oaks or enjoy the serene waterfront setting along the popular boardwalk. 

Cool Things to do in South Carolina: Visit Beaufort

Active travelers can spend an afternoon kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on the waterways, while cultural attractions come in the form of historic museums and sites. If you’re a history buff, explore the remains of Fort Fremont, which dates back to the Spanish American War, or get up-close to the fascinating artifacts in the Beaufort History Museum

After a long day of sightseeing, sit down at one of the local cafes for some classic Southern cuisine. Afterward, burn off some calories by biking or walking along the paved Spanish Moss Trail, which offers beautiful views of the water and marsh. 

There you have it! 25 of the best things to do in South Carolina. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Palmetto State?


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best thing to do with kids in South Carolina?

If you’ve got the kids in tow, add the South Carolina Aquarium to your itinerary. One of the top family-friendly things to do in Charleston, this unique attraction features all kinds of underwater creatures, in addition to touch tanks, interactive shows, and a chance to say hello to a 220-pound loggerhead sea turtle named “Caretta.”

What is the best beach in South Carolina?

Myrtle Beach is one of the top family-friendly travel destinations in the United States. Sun-seekers flock here from around the world to enjoy its 60 miles of picture-perfect coastline. The Myrtle Beach area, also known as the Grand Strand, is a great place to fly a kite, search for seashells, or make a splash in the sparkling Atlantic Ocean waters.

Where can you get the best views of South Carolina?

For postcard-worthy nature views, add the long-time favorite Caesars Head State Park to your South Carolina bucket list. It gets its name from the park’s outcropping atop the dramatic Blue Ridge Escarpment, which offers stunning year-round vistas that extend into North Carolina and Georgia.

What is the best amusement park in South Carolina?

While the Carowinds amusement park has an official North Carolina address, it’s technically located along the South Carolina border with a portion of it in Fort Mill. The popular family-friendly attraction is a hit with all ages, offering everything from world-class roller coasters and live shows to a 12-acre children’s area.

What is the best attraction in South Carolina for outdoor enthusiasts?

Having an outdoor adventure in Congaree National Park is one of the must-do things in South Carolina if you’re a nature lover. Not only is it the largest national park of virgin bottomland forest in the United States, but it’s a great spot for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and camping. One of the biggest highlights of visiting Congaree National Park is seeing its synchronous fireflies. Every year between mid-May and mid-June, you can catch a glimpse of this stunning phenomenon.

What is the best historical landmark in South Carolina?

As the location where the first shot of the Civil War was fired in 1861, Fort Sumter National Monument is a significant part of America’s history. See where it all happened by taking a ferry ride to this historic fort located on a small island. To learn more about the historic site, visit the on-site museum to get more insight into the fort’s role in the Civil War through interpretive and visual exhibits.


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