If you’re planning a trip and looking for the best places to visit in South Carolina, then look no further! We have 17 of the best places to visit, as well as some very unique vacation spots to check out while you’re there. South Carolina is a very unique state with a rich history, gorgeous cities, and lots of unique and fun options when it comes to vacationing here.
Our list has some stunning cities that we love, nature you don’t want to miss, and some of the most instagrammable places you’ll need to snap pics of while visiting. South Carolina is full of history and amazing scenic views, and this list is too! Some of these vacation spots will teach you the rich history of The Palmetto State, and others have some of the most beautiful, breathtaking views.
We hope you’re going to find your new favorite South Carolina vacation spot on this list!
17 Best Places to Visit in South Carolina (+Unique Vacation Spots)
This 170-acre preserve and garden in Mancks Corner is a great vacation spot if you’re looking to escape and enjoy nature. Cypress Gardens has to be one of the prettiest places to visit in South Carolina, and you can’t miss the 80-acre tupelo swamp and bald cypress trees.
There are boats to rent and foot trails to just enjoy the peacefulness here. If you’re a fan of romantic movies, you may recognize the swamp from a scene in “The Notebook.” Rent a boat and take a ride through the swamp, and we think you’ll love Cypress Gardens and know why it’s one of the best places to visit in South Carolina.
Where to Stay: Lakefront Home
Rainbow Row in Charleston
Rainbow Row is an iconic spot in Charleston, and these 13 colorful, historic homes are something you have to see! These colorful houses have all been renovated and restored, and make for beautiful photos, and are, of course, totally instagrammable! They were all first built around 1740, and since they were renovated and repainted in the 1930s, they have been a very popular tourist destination.
The 13 houses that makeup Rainbow Row are located on East Bay Street, north of Tradd Street and south of Elliott Street. If you’re visiting Charleston, you can’t miss these houses, and this is one of the most beautiful places in South Carolina. Rainbow Row is on our list of unique things to do in Charleston, and we think you’re going to love visiting these stunning little houses.
Where to Stay: Emeline
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’ve stepped right into a “Lord of the Rings” movie, then you need to visit the Angel Oak. This live Southern Oak is located in Angel Oak Park on Johns Island and is believed to be between 400 and 500 years old.
The Angel Oak has survived many natural disasters, including several hurricanes, and is an amazing sight to behold. The tree is 66.5 feet tall, and 28 feet in circumference. The largest branch is almost 200 feet long and this tree alone offers about 17,000 square feet of shade.
Angel Oak Park is also rumored to be haunted by ghosts, and others have spotted angels around the tree. Not only is this one of the best places to visit in South Carolina, but also one of the most unique places to visit too.
Where to Stay: The Sleepy Shack
Fred W. Symmes Chapel
Fred W. Symmes Chapel is one of the buildings at the YMCA Camp Greenville in Cleveland, South Carolina. While this main seem like a weird place for us to recommend for you to go, just one trip here will tell you why the chapel is more commonly referred to as the “Pretty Place.”
This chapel sits upon a mountaintop and offers the most unbelievable views. You can see out across the valley and other mountains and catching golden hour here is magnificent. Even though getting up to the mountain is quite the drive, everyone who visits says it’s absolutely worth it.
Where to Stay: Kanuga Inn & Lodging
Table Rock State Park
If you love leaf-peeping and fall foliage, then you have to visit Table Rock State Park in the fall. This 3083-acre park is located at the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has the most epic fall foliage for viewing the seasonal color changes. It’s on our list of the best places to catch fall foliage in South Carolina.
There are two trails here to walk on and enjoy nature and see the leaves, Foothills Trail Park and Pinnacle Mountain Trail. Table Rock State Park is also home to the tallest mountain in South Carolina, Pinnacle Mountain. If you plan on visiting Pickens County or will be near it, you need to make time to visit Table Rock State Park. This is one of the best places to visit in South Carolina, and it’s definitely a beautiful choice for sightseeing in South Carolina.
Where to Stay: Gorgeous Peaceful Cabin
Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms is a city in Charleston County, and is a small, quaint town that you need to visit while in South Carolina. It’s a barrier island on the coast of South Carolina and offers 7 miles of sandy beach with 57 public beach access paths.
This little town has less than 5000 people as permanent residents and is definitely more of a vacation town. There are lots of vacation homes, resorts, and plenty of beach activities to do while on vacation here. We think you’ll love Isle of Palms, and it’s a great beach vacation spot in South Carolina.
Where to Stay: The Palms Oceanfront Hotel
Sullivan’s Island is another section of Charleston County and is a small town and island. It’s located at the entrance to the Charleston Harbor and is even smaller than its neighbor Isle of Palms. A bridge connects Sullivan’s Island to Isle of Palms as well.
There are less than 2000 people as residents here, and it’s a very affluent island. It’s a great choice for a beach getaway, especially since it’s so quaint. Sullivan’s Island also has a very rich history that’s worth exploring while here, and that’s why it’s one of the best places to visit in South Carolina and one of our favorite vacation spots in South Carolina as well.
Where to Stay: Beautiful Sullivan’s Island Home
Camellias Champagne Bar
If you’re looking for a unique place to visit in South Carolina, then you need to go to Camellia’s Ladies Bar. This is the first and only bar that’s been inspired by the concept of the Charlestonian woman. This is a gorgeous, instagrammable pink-themed champagne bar located in the Hotel Bennett in Charleston.
The champagne lounge offers champagne-inspired cocktails, desserts, and afternoon tea. They are most famous for their signature Camellia’s Cake – a light lemon and strawberry cream dessert. Camellia’s is perfect for a ladies night, special occasion, bachelorette weekend. Do note, there is a dress code here, as well as reservations are required for tea services and brunch.
This beautiful, plush champagne bar is certainly one of the most beautiful places in South Carolina and one of the best places to visit in South Carolina, and it’s also on our list of the best places to visit in Charleston.
Where to Stay: Stunning House in Prime
Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area
If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful places to see in South Carolina, you need to visit Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. Here there’s over 11,000 acres of wildlife, forest, streams, and waterfalls. It’s home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls, and during fall this area has some of the best autumnal viewing.
“Mountain Bridge” is actually a piece of land that connects two of the state parks, Table Rock State Park and Poinsett Park. This park and the wilderness area is great for nature lovers and lovers of outdoor activities – the park is perfect for hiking, leaf-peeping, camping, and fishing.
Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area is located in Cleveland, and since it’s in between two state parks, we think it’s one of the most beautiful places to see in South Carolina.
Where to Stay: Spectacular Views
Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway
South Carolina has no shortage of scenic views and beautiful nature. And the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway is no exception. It’s a 130-mile scenic byway that runs parallel to the North Carolina border.
From the byway, you have access to over 120 different waterfalls and mountains, as well as some of the most stunning views in the state. It only takes three hours to drive the entire byway, and it follows Route 11 through 5 different counties. You don’t want to miss the byway and the gorgeous nature all around it, and we think you’ll agree that this is one of the best places to visit in South Carolina.
Where to Stay: River Front Cottage
Greenville is the 6th largest city in South Carolina, and is located halfway between Atlanta, Georgia and Charlotte, North Carolina. Greenville is located along Interstate 85 and is one of the best South Carolina vacation spots.
Greenville regularly hosts theater groups, major concerts, and lots of popular annual festivals. The city is full of museums, the arts, and historic sites. When visiting Greenville, you don’t want to miss Falls Park on the Reedy, the Greenville Zoo, and the Greenville County Museum of Art.
Because of all the history and art here, Greenville is one of the best places to go in South Carolina. You’ll be able to visit the Blue Ridge Mountains and the floating symposium bridge as well here, and the number of things to do in Greenville makes it one of the best places to visit in South Carolina.
While visiting, be sure to check out the best restaurants in Greenville!
Where to Stay: The Westin Poinsett Greenville
One hour west of Greenville is Issaqueena Falls. It’s located near Walhalla, and is a unique type of South Carolina tourist attraction.
Issaqueena Falls is a 100-foot cascade waterfall that you can’t miss. It’s just $5 cash to get in, and you want to park at Stumphouse Tunnel Park and walk the 15 minutes to the falls. The falls are surrounded by history – there are lots of railroad tunnels leftover from the Civil War, as well as lots of Native American history to learn while visiting the park.
This is one of the best places to visit in South Carolina if you’re looking to learn a little bit more about the history, and to catch a beautiful waterfall. Issaqueena Falls is on our list of the most beautiful waterfalls in South Carolina too!
Where to Stay: Lofts over Main
Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island is one of the most famous places to visit and is a popular vacation destination in South Carolina. This is a resort town located on the barrier island in Beaufort County. It’s also conveniently located just 20 miles from Savannah, Georgia, making it a great choice for day trips.
Hilton Head offers 12 miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront, and there are many parks and public access beaches to enjoy. This resort town is very popular for golf and vacationing. There are over 20 resorts and hotels here to stay at, including Disney’s Hilton Head Resort. If you’re looking for a great beach vacation getaway, this is one of the most fun places to go in South Carolina.
While visiting Hilton Head, check out some of our favorite places to grab a bite to eat!
Where to Stay: Mariott’s Barony Beach Club
Myrtle Beach is a coastal city in South Carolina, with a 60-mile stretch of beach known as the “Grand Strand.” This is a traditional beach town, with lots of restaurants, hotels, vacation homes, and shopping. It’s a great place for family locations and is very touristy.
You can just lounge on the beach and get in the ocean here, but you can also take advantage of all the other tourist attractions here as well. There are waterparks, the Sky Wheel, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Wonderworks, and a Hollywood Wax Musuem.
You don’t want to miss out on Myrtle Beach if you’re looking for the quintessential beach vacation, and it’s definitely one of the best places to visit in South Carolina. And you don’t want to miss the best restaurants here; you don’t want to get stuck eating awful tourist food!
Where to Stay: Ocean Dream Vacation
Folly Beach is a city on Folly Island, located in Charleston. It’s called the “Edge of America” by locals and is a charming small town. The island is rich with history, and a great place to visit for Southern food and those looking for a little more of an eclectic and less touristy beach town.
Folly Beach is known for its surfing, and the surf spot The Washout – which is also known as “Hollywood.” 10 Street and the Folly Beach Pier are also popular for visiting and for surfing.
This is a cute little beach town, popular for vacationing. It’s very different from the other beach towns, and that makes it one of the best places to visit in South Carolina.
Where to Stay: Dog-Friendly Beach Home
St Helena Island
St Helena Island is part of the Beaufort Sea Islands, and this is the place to visit to learn the rich history of the lowcountry life and the Gullah Geechee people. St Helena Island offers a glimpse of what lowcountry life used to look like, as well as what it’s like today.
The island is home to the Penn Center – which was one of the first schools for children of freed slaves. The Penn Center is one of the most important African American historical and cultural institutions in America and is a can’t miss when visiting St Helena Island.
The island is full of great restaurants, and since shrimping and fishing are part of everyday life here, you’re sure to find some of the freshest seafood around. The island has beautiful parks and trails to visit, as well as Gullah Tours and Gullah/lowcountry events throughout the year. The uniqueness of this island makes it one of the best places to visit in South Carolina, and we think you’ll learn a lot while visiting here.
Where to Stay: Modern, Waterfront Home
Huntington Beach State Park
Located on Murrells Inlet, Huntington Beach State Park has over 2500 acres of park for visitors to enjoy. There’s 3 miles of beach for swimming, sunning, fishing, and relaxing as well as almost 200 campsites.
But what truly makes Huntington Beach State Park one of the best places to visit in South Carolina is that it’s THE park for bird watching! Over 300 species of birds have been spotted here, and that’s thanks to the unique makeup of this park. There is a salt marsh, tidal waters, forest, freshwaters, marshes, and the beach all in one place. Mullet Pond is one of the best areas here to spot birds from.
What makes this such a unique place to visit in South Carolina is that we don’t recommend you visit here during warmer months like almost every other place on this list – you want to visit this park in the winter! That’s the best time to bird watch and see the wildlife here. During winter you’ll be able to see many different types of waterfowl, including several species of ducks, herons, and even eagles.
Where to Stay: Marshfront Million Dollar View
We hope that you found some places to visit in South Carolina on this list, and that your next trip will include one or more of these unique places in South Carolina. Whether you’re interested in the beach, history, or natural beauty, this state has a lot to offer and there’s something for everyone.
Are you planning a trip to one of the best places to visit in South Carolina now? Or is one of your favorites already on our list? Let us know in the comments!