Are you on the hunt for some of the best things to do in South Carolina? You’ve come to the right place!
From stunning waterfalls to the Sky Wheel on Myrtle Beach (and even a few haunted spots for the more courageous traveler), there are plenty of places to visit in South Carolina.
Whether you’re visiting with family and seeking some rest and relaxation or you packed your hiking gear and you’re ready for some adventure, there are plenty of South Carolina activities to try.
If you’re heading to the Palmetto State, we’ve made you a South Carolina bucket list to help you explore this historic state! We wanted to make sure you wouldn’t miss out on the best this state has to offer.
Just a warning: some of these must-see spots are spread out around the state, so get ready to jump in the car for some day trips and make sure to pack your favorite road trip snacks.
Here’s our list of what to do in South Carolina!
25 Best Things To Do In South Carolina: The Ultimate SC Bucket List
Photograph Issaqueena Falls
South Carolina has no shortage of stunning natural attractions. From national parks to animal preserves, there’s plenty this state has to offer, and Issaqueena Falls is no exception.
One of the most gorgeous places to visit in South Carolina, the falls are located near Walhalla about an hour west of Greenville. Visitors can park at Stumphouse Tunnel Park (make sure you have $5 cash for the entry fee dropbox) and take a leisurely 0.3-mile walk to see this 100-foot cascade.
Visiting Issaqueena Falls and the surrounding railroad tunnels from before the Civil War is one of the best things to do in South Carolina with kids.
If you’re looking to go chasing waterfalls, this is the state for you! Make sure to check out our guide to the best waterfalls in South Carolina.
Stroll the Historic District in Charleston
One of the most fun things to do in Charleston is to take a stroll or a guided carriage tour around the city’s Historic District. With more than 1,400 historic homes that have graced the city since 1670, there is plenty to admire.
If you take a walking tour of the area, you can have the chance to tour some of these stately manors. We recommend visiting the Aiken-Rhett House. Here, the lives of enslaved people are central to the tour of the house. These are the people who were the backbone of life at the beautiful home.
Explore Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
There are plenty of things to do in Hilton Head, but one of the most unique may be visiting the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
With over 4,000 acres of protected land, it’s a great spot for the avid (or the beginner) birding enthusiast. Over 250 different species of birds have been spotted here! If you visit in the summer keep an eye out for the multicolored Painting Bunt, which is a species at risk of endangerment.
Visitors can take a moment to escape the hustle and bustle of Hilton Head and explore 14 miles of peaceful hiking and biking trails in the refuge’s salt marshes and maritime forests.
It’s a great spot for some unique sightseeing in South Carolina!
Visit the South Carolina State Museum
A visit to the South Carolina State Museum is one of the must-do things to do in Columbia. Since its opening in 1988, the state’s biggest museum has housed both temporary and permanent state-themed exhibits on four floors.
Visitors can also experience a viewing at their 4D theater (complete with vibrating seats and blasts of air). Admire the skies from the observatory or lay back for a show at the planetarium.
Luckily, the exhibits you’ll want to see are on permanent display! Make sure to check out the megalodon shark sculpture and a life-size replica of the first-ever American-built locomotive. Don’t miss out on one of the best things to do in South Carolina for adults and kids alike.
Discover the Angel Oak
Fantasy nerds may not think there is much waiting for them in the Palmetto State, but they would be wrong!
The Angel Oak is estimated to be 400-500 years old and has survived many hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. Its largest branch spans almost 200 feet!
Don’t miss out on the otherworldly South Carolina attraction waiting for you to step into a fantasy worthy of Middle Earth.
Hike in Table Rock State Park
A must-have item on anyone’s South Carolina bucket list, Table Rock State Park offers visitors some of the most stunning views during the fall. The oranges and yellows of the turning foliage and the brisk autumn air are sure to take your breath away.
For a truly awe-inspiring sight, head to either Foothills Trail or Pinnacle Mountain Trail to enjoy the best leaf-peeping the park has to offer!
The Park Manager recommends a hike out to Carrick Creek Falls if you’re a first-time visitor for a dip in the wading pool beneath the falls in the warmer months.
Spot Ghosts on St. Helena Island
Visitors looking for something more spine-chilling to enjoy during the South Carolina fall months should take a road trip to St. Helena Island.
This is one of the more unique South Carolina tourist attractions. The Chapel of Ease makes for an eerie afternoon of ghostly sightseeing.
The abandoned church is enough to raise the hairs on anyone’s necks, but make sure to keep an ear open for mysterious whispered prayers carried on the wind and the sight of a lady shrouded in white strolling among the tombstones with a child in her arms. Can you say spooky?
Tour the Charleston Tea Garden
As the only tea plantation in North America, this one-of-a-kind SC attraction should be on everyone’s list of best activities in South Carolina.
Take a guided trolley tour around the garden and visit the greenhouse to learn about how they cultivate over 320 varieties of tea on 127 acres of land.
While you’re on the island, you can also stop by the Angel Tree and Deep Water Vineyard for an afternoon of wine tasting at the only domestic winery in South Carolina. This is definitely one of the best things to do in SC.
Admire the Georgetown Lighthouse
Despite the building not being open to the public, the Georgetown Lighthouse is a must-see South Carolina tourist attraction!
The old-timey landmark is only accessible by boat so it’s the perfect day activity if you’re looking for things to do in South Carolina with kids.
There are a couple of local boat tour companies that will take you out on the water to drive by the 85-foot high tower which has stood in the same spot since the late 1790s.
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to ride on a shaded 40-ft pontoon boat, this is your chance to find out!
Explore Congaree National Park
If you’re a nature lover and looking to get some serious hiking in, make South Carolina’s only national park the focus of your trip.
Whether you’re looking to spend a few nights outdoors camping or just to take a quick day trip and explore the state’s wildlife, Congaree is one of the most fun things to do in South Carolina.
You may want to stay around for more than a day to see as much of the park’s 11,000 hectares before heading to your next destination. With so much to do from birding to kayaking, it’s worth sticking around to explore!
For a special treat, you can visit the state park in May for the annual Firefly Festival!
Shop at Palmetto Peddlers Antique Mall
Spending an afternoon in Florence? This 38,000 sq. ft treasure trove is one of the must-stop places in South Carolina!
Shoppers will be able to find anything from original antiques, unique furniture, and jewelry to funny vintage oil paintings of cats being mischievous and cute.
The mall is conveniently open seven days a week 10 am to 6 pm, with limited hours on Sundays. It makes a great daytime activity for anyone wanting to see the quirky side of South Carolina.
Palmetto Peddlers also makes a great stop during the hot summer months the temperature is always cool to keep the goodies intact.
Drive the Cherokee Foothills Byway
For the wandering traveler, we recommend hopping in the car and taking a drive down the idyllic Cherokee Foothills Byways. You’ll enjoy all the best sightseeing South Carolina has to offer!
Start your day in Walhalla, a small town with charm, then head to Sassafras Mountain. Make sure to stop at some of the scenic overviews along the way.
Afterward, stop at Campbells Covered Bridge which is an idyllic view in the fall. Finally, end the day at Strawberry Hill USA to enjoy some fresh, local produce at this massive farm.
If you’re looking for other road trips to can take around the gorgeous state, take a look at our Fun South Carolina Road Trips For Your Bucket List.
Stop by the Citadel
Another cool thing to do in Charleston is to stop by the Citadel which is a public senior military college that has been in the city since 1842.
The building was recently rebuilt in 2004 complete with spiral staircases on each side, turrets, and a guard room. Like the Angel Tree, the Citadel will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale.
The building is only accessible to students and staff, but the castle-like facade is worth a stop if you’ve got some time in the city.
Take a look at our roundup of other castles around the South in this roundup of Fairytale Castles In The South USA You Must Visit! Maybe it’s time to go castle hunting this summer!
Ride the Sky Wheel
The Sky Wheel in Myrtle Beach has been exciting visitors for over ten years. Celebrate a decade of fun with a ride on this 200ft-tall South Carolina attraction. You will also want to check out our list of the Best Beaches In Myrtle Beach!
If you are looking for one of the cool things to do in South Carolina at night, time your ride for the evening when you can see the boardwalk lit up below you.
Make sure to buy tickets ahead of time from the Sky Wheel’s official website to ensure a ride on one of the city’s most popular attractions.
We recommend spending some time by the waves or walking around Myrtle Beach Boardwalk for some delicious vacation food and drinks (it’s always a good time for a margarita) before sitting back and marveling at the city from the sky.
Don’t forget to check out some of the other best things to do in Myrtle Beach during your visit!
Eat at Yogi Bear Honey Fried Chicken
The only remaining survivor of what once was a successful chain all around South Carolina, this nostalgic bastion of a time gone by serves up some of the best fried chicken in all the land. Take a trip to Hartsville, SC, and enjoy a “pic-a-nic” basket a-la-Yogi Bear.
The menu still has a lot of the original offerings like the Boo Boo Basket, the Beehive, and the Jellystone Box of Chicken.
You’ll know you’re at the right place when a giant roadside Yogi Bear neon sign greets you! It’s definitely one of the most unique South Carolina attractions!
Hike in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area
If you find yourself in South Carolina during autumn, you’ll definitely want to stop at the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. The views you can take in give the phrase “sightseeing in South Carolina” a whole new definition.
Take a hike to Jones Gap Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the whole state. Keep an eye open for white-tail deer.
You can also stop by Caesars Head for a color-coded trail map and pick one based on your group’s preferences.
With over 11,000 acres of beautiful hardwood forest, babbling streams, waterfalls, and wildlife, any hike or stop will have plenty to offer. This is truly one of the Best Weekend Getaways In South Carolina!
Visit the Gullah Museum
One of the most special places to visit in South Carolina is the Gullah Museum. Its collection of buildings preserves and interprets the Gullah culture that existed on Hilton Head before 1965 and is unique to the Lowcountry South.
It was established by Louise Miller Cohen, a native islander, who is a direct descendant of the cabin’s original owner. She is known to give tours and help visitors learn what life on the island was like before a bridge to the mainland was built in 1956.
Visitors should note that the museum isn’t open on holidays.
Wander the Brookgreen Gardens
Built on the site of four rice plantations, this sculpture garden collects and preserves original art by American sculptures.
With 9,100 acres and plenty of paths to follow visitors won’t be surprised to learn that there are about 1,400 original pieces of art to admire.
Open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., these stunning gardens are divided into three main areas with a complimentary shuttle that takes visitors from one to the next.
Want to hear some great news? Entry tickets are valid for 7 consecutive days!
Play a Round at the Ocean Course Golf Kiawah Island
You might not know this, but South Carolina is a well-known golf destination!
Add a day on the green to your South Carolina bucket list and you’ll quickly understand why. The blue skies and calm weather really make a perfect golf setting.
The state has lots of golf courses from which to pick, but The Ocean Course Golf Kiawah Island might be the most special. With its holes right next to the seaside the views from your game will be unforgettable.
Make sure to bring your A-game because the course’s beauty is only rivaled by its difficulty. The seaside breeze is no joke! This is truly one of the best beach towns in South Carolina!
Take a Step Back in Time at Middleton Place
This stately home is one of the most beautiful South Carolina attractions! From its red brick exterior to the acres to its stable yards, the picturesque scenes shared with visitors do nothing to diminish its true history.
As one of the great homes of the past, Middleton Place retells history as accurately as possible and unlike many stately homes in the South, they include experiences and realities many would rather ignore.
This is why we recommend you visit and go back in time to learn not only about the family who lived in the house, but just as importantly the enslaved people who made life in Middleton Place possible.
Those who work at Middleton Place all agree they aspire to share “an essential American experience with a mission” with visitors.
Get Spooked at Old Sheldon Church Ruins
If you want to explore one of the coolest haunted places in the South, head to the Old Sheldon Church Ruins.
Built in the mid-1700s, these ruins were once the beautiful Prince William Parrish Church. It did not stand for long before being burned down during the Revolutionary War. The church was eventually rebuilt only to be destroyed again during the Civil War.
With such a sordid history, it makes sense that legends of hauntings now mark this place. Eerie sounds have been recorded and a ghost has been spotted crying over a child’s grave.
Despite the dark past, this is a great South Carolina attraction for photography. The tall oak trees are covered in Spanish moss adding to the creepy atmosphere.
This is surely one of the most interesting places in South Carolina!
Find Peace at Cypress Gardens
Cypress Gardens is one of the best places to go in South Carolina for nature lovers and movie buffs alike. This 170-acre preserve is a gorgeous place to become one with nature.
Glide through the swamp in a canoe as you admire the bald cypress trees and look for alligators and turtles in the water. This is a fantastic area for birdwatching too.
Visit the Swamparium to learn about the native reptiles, fish, and amphibians found in the swamp. The Butterfly House is a large greenhouse with flowers, birds butterflies, and more.
Interestingly, many TV shows and movies have been filmed here including The Patriot and The Notebook.
Island Hop Near Charleston
There are many pretty islands in South Carolina and two of the best are found just outside of Charleston. If you are looking for a beachy day trip in the South, this is where you should go!
Sullivan’s Island offers plenty of sightseeing as well as a beautiful 2.5-mile-long beach. After chilling in the sand, check out the many lighthouses and historic sites on the island, including the Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park.
Isle of Palms sits right next to Sullivan’s Island and is a great place for luxury and delicious dining. The island is dotted with resorts, golf courses, and some of the best restaurants in the Charleston area.
This is one of the best beaches near Charleston. It has a lovely pier and plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas to rent. Have fun swimming and building sandcastles.
Camp at Huntington Beach State Park
If you want to visit another of the best beaches in South Carolina, pack up the kids and a picnic and head to Huntington Beach State Park.
There are three miles of pristine beaches perfect for a family vacation or romantic getaway in the South. Walk the trails to the freshwater lake where you might spot alligators.
Visit the Nature Center to learn about the park’s flora and fauna. Birdwatching is very popular here as well. Over 300 species of birds have been recorded!
History buffs will want to tour the historic Atalaya Castle. This Moorish-style house was the winter home of the Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington.
If you want to stay longer in this beautiful area, the park has a large campground with over 170 sites. You will be able to feel the sea breeze as you fall asleep.
Check Out Falls Park on the Reedy
Falls Park on the Reedy is one of the best things to do in Greenville, SC! This 32-acre urban green space is one of the best free things to do in South Carolina with kids.
You will have a lot of fun walking the trails. Enjoy views of gardens, sculptures, and the Reedy River with its waterfalls. Cross the Liberty Bridge, a suspension footbridge, for the best vantage point of Reedy River Falls.
The park also hosts the annual Upstate Shakespeare Festival. Watching a play in the park is a great idea for a date night.
Other nearby attractions in South Carolina include the Peace Center Concert Hall, the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, and the beautiful downtown Greenville.
And there it is, our ultimate South Carolina bucket list! From the stunning leaf-peeping opportunities to premiere golf courses, South Carolina has a bit of something to offer any traveler.
You could really spend a lifetime exploring the Palmetto State so if you need a place to start these are the best things to do in South Carolina!
Check out our list of Best Airbnbs in South Carolina for some of the most unique places you can stay while exploring the state!
We promise South Carolina won’t let you down!