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The 20 Best Places to Visit in South Carolina in 2023

The 20 Best Places to Visit in South Carolina in 2023

South Carolina is often only thought about for Clemson or their sister state of North Carolina. However, it is jam-packed with adventures, beautiful nature, and welcoming cities for those willing to explore.

20 of the Best Places to Visit in South Carolina

South Carolina offers all kinds of fun and natural to any taste with soft beaches, mountains, and flat plains in between. This state is one of the best places to visit if you love nature, biking, hiking, or anything outdoorsy.

Even if the great outdoors is not your favorite place, South Carolina is rich in museums, art galleries, cultural centers, and indoor experiences. It is a top-tier vacation spot for anyone who wants to relax, explore, play golf, shop, or sit in nature.

1. Charleston

Neat view of the historical downtown area in Charleston, a top pick for must-visit places in South Carolina


One of the most popular cities in South Carolina, Charleston has tons of stuff to do and beautiful things to see. There is a prominent historic district with memorabilia and places left from the Civil War and Revolutionary war.

Streets overflow with stores and high-end shops, and the city feels like an idyllic southern coastal town. Charleston also has war museums and gardens for people of any age.

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Charleston in 2023

2. Myrtle Beach

For a roundup of the best places to visit in South Carolina, a giant amusement park and the large boardwalk and several hotels along the beach pictured in the evening

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Myrtle Beach is a tourist destination in South Carolina. Myrtle Beach covers a large area of beach on the northern coast and is overflowing with attractions and good food. The beaches are well-kept if a little packed in the busy season.

Broadway at the Beach, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, House of Blues, and Alligator Adventure are just a few of the many things to do there. You can shop at the local boutiques or the Tanger Outlet mall or relax at the spas with your toes in the sand.

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Myrtle Beach in 2023

3. Columbia

Amazing low shutter view of vehicles driving by the park in Columbia, South Carolina

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The state capital of South Carolina is ham packed with attractions and scenic parks to be fun for any age. Some places to explore are the state museums, Edventure, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, and the South Carolina Museum of Art.

Columbia is home to many gardens, museums, Historical sites, and tours. Explore the history of South Carolina in the capital city with many attractions for people of all ages.

4. Hilton Head Island

Boats in the marina in one of South Carolina's best places to visit, Hilton Head, with its red and white lighthouse

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Hilton Head is not as famous as Myrtle Beach, but that also means it is less touristy. It is still a part of those beautiful Carolina beaches with great places to stay and relax. Hilton Head has a stacked line-up of shops, restaurants, and hotels to make a stay here pleasant and worry-free.

Famous for its bicycle trails and the occasional dolphin sighting, Hilton Head is the place to go for outdoor adventures. Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge also provides a fun activity with exciting animal sightings.

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Hilton Head in 2023

5. Congaree National Park

Boardwalk leading through some extremely tall trees on the Boardwalk Loop Trail in Congaree National Park, one of the best places to visit in South Carolina

Hopkins, South Carolina / United States – October 25 2019: Congaree National Park – Boardwalk Loop Trail/Michele Korfhage/Shutterstock

Just outside of Columbia sits Congaree National Park. This park spans about 26,000 acres and overflows with natural wildlife and protected species such as trees, animals, and plants. Hike, canoe, kayak, camp, fish, and follow all the trails Congaree offers.

Congaree does its best to be accessible and offer educational material to teach visitors about the land and history of the park. It is a great place to visit, whether you have a day to explore or a weekend.

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Congaree National Park in 2023

6. Beaufort

Empty concrete promenade in one of South Carolina's must-visit places, Beaufort

Stephen B. Goodwin/Shutterstock

Since 1512, the Lowcountry area of Beaufort, South Carolina has drawn in visitors for its charm and natural beauty. Port Royal and The Sea Island are one of the most prominent attractions of Beaufort, but there is an overabundance of things to do.

Besides relaxing on the beach, you can golf, shop, visit the local museums and art galleries, and learn the city’s history on various tours.

7. Greenville

Picturesque scene of the Liberty Falls bridge illuminated in downtown Greenville, SC

Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

If the taco trail is not the most inviting thing about Greenville, South Carolina, the list of available activities and things to do might be. Festivals occur all year long for about anything you could imagine in Greenville.

Not everything in Greenville costs a lot; there is plenty to explore without having to pay. The local food in Greenville is some of the best in South Carolina, and the multiple parks, museums, and outdoor adventures are exciting for any visitor.

8. Kiawah Island

Pin and flag on a green in Kiawah, one of the best places to visit in South Carolina

Elizabeth Foley/Shutterstock

About twenty-five miles south of Charleston is  Kiawah Island. An oasis of protected beach and forestry, the island is home to many animals native to South Carolina, such as sea turtles, alligators, seabirds, whitetail deer, and bobcats.

Kiawah includes ten miles of beach along with maritime forests, dunes, and marshes where people can fish, golf, boat, bike, and tour the island. People live in Kiawah, so it has all the comforts of home, but they are focused on preservation.

9. Spartanburg

Cool outdoor fountains pictured in the summer in Spartanburg

Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

Close to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Spartanburg is the home of the South Carolina Arts Commission cultural district. Spartanburg provides art on every street, along with art galleries, studios, museums, and music venues to explore.

Everything in Spartanburg brings something new and beautiful, from the buildings to the hotels to the food. The community is very welcoming, especially during the festival season.

10. Mauldin

Mauldin pictured on a map of South Carolina


Located in the Northwest of the state near the border to North Carolinas, Mauldin overlooks the Appalachian Mountains and is what used to be one of the agricultural and textile centers. Mauldin is one of the many expertly preserved historic cities in the state.

Mauldin, like Spartanburg, offers many cultural experiences like ballet, theater, and symphony. A few parks are scattered around the city in the mountains and surrounding foothills with freshwater lakes.

11. Caesars Head State Park

Elevated lookout with pay-per-use binoculars at the top of a hill in Caesars Head State Park, one of the best places to visit in South Carolina

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

In Cleveland, South Carolina, Caesars Head State Park overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains. It spans about 7,467 acres acquired by the state over the last fifty years. There are plenty of spots in the park to fish, swim, hike, run, and even bird-watch.

If you are up to it, you can hike the Raven Cliff Falls trail to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the state. However, it is a bit of a hike at about four miles long.

12. Falls Park on the Reedy

Featured as one of the best places to visit in South Carolina, a pictured of the Reedy River Falls pictured at dusk

Kevin Ruck/Shutterstock

Greenville is already a great destination, but just a little north is Falls Park. This small town is idyllic and has one of the most beautiful waterfalls in South Carolina, only behind Raven Cliff Falls in size.

This park may be small, but it offers that charm that welcomes and draws people in. There are many walking and biking trails and a downtown filled with shops and restaurants.

13. Clemson

Picture of Tillman Hall in Clemson, one of the best places to visit in South Carolina

CLEMSON, SC – APRIL 8, 2014: Tillman Hall at Clemson University. The landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places/Rob Hainer/Shutterstock

Known for its college, Clemson may seem like a college town at first glance, but there is so much more to discover when you visit. Clemson is in the perfect location to enjoy the mountains and lake while not too far from the beach.

Clemson is deeply connected to their college, though, with memorabilia everywhere. There are golf courses, comfy lodgings, and plenty of shops and restaurants to enjoy during the on and off seasons.

14. Sea Pines Forest Preserve

Close-up view of a Blue Heron in the Sea Pines Preserve pictured on a sunny morning

Chris Klonowski/Shutterstock

In Hilton Head, explore the 400-acre nature preserve on the boardwalks built over the marshy swamp. Seas Pines Forest is one of the marshiest preserves and parks in the state.

The wetland is a part of Hilton Head Island but also offers an equestrian center, as well as, various historic sites like Shell Ring, Liberty Oak, Stoney Baynard Ruins, and Lighthouse Keeper Cottage.

15. Georgetown

River walk along the Georgetown marina with boats floating in the river for a piece on the best places to visit in South Carolina

Joe Herlong/Shutterstock

Georgetown sits between Myrtle Beach and Charleston. It was just named “America’s Best Coastal Small Town.” Do not be fooled, Georgetown has all you could want or need, despite its smaller size.

Also called the Hammock Coast, Georgetown offers places to fish, eat, shop, sleep comfortably, and see the wildlife. Georgetown is a popular wedding destination and golf stop.

16. Middleton Place

Photo of an old brick house on the Middleton Place plantation in South Carolina

CHARLESTON SC USA JUNE 23 2016: Main house Middleton Place is a plantation in Dorchester County, directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston, in the U.S. state of South Carolina/Meunierd/Shutterstock

Middleton Place is a national historic landmark that was a plantation on the banks of the Ashley River. It is about fifteen miles from Charleston in Dorchester County. Originally owned by a key player in the war for American independence, it was a summer residence until it burned down in the Civil War.

Later an earthquake destroyed what was left and, it sat vacant until restoration began in 1916 by a distant relative. In 1971, it began to be shown and registered as a historic landmark.

17. Brookgreen Gardens

Idyllic azalea garden in the Brookgreen Gardens, one of our top picks for must-visit places in South Carolina

Craig Zerbe/Shutterstock

Near Murrells Inlet, Brookgreen Gardens feature botanical gardens, sculptures, and a Lowcountry zoo. It spans about 9,100 acres south of Myrtle Beach. Tickets are affordable, and the gardens offer special exhibits for holidays.

Primarily a sculpture garden and wildlife preserve, the Brookgreen Gardens are working on a new exhibit for the next generation. The gardens are called the Jewel of the South Carolina coast.

18. Aiken

Oak tree tunnel in Aiken, South Carolina, a must-visit place in the state

Denton Rumsey/Shutterstock

The planetarium is just one of the many attractions Aiken offers. It is one of the smaller cities in South Carolina but still a nice place to visit for the food, culture, and accommodations.

Aiken offers outdoor adventure with the Hopelands Gardens, Hitchcock Woods, Aiken State Park, and Boyd Pond Park. Stop at the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum and Center of the Arts when indoor fun is needed.

19. Magnolia Plantation

Girls walking under an oak tree on the Magnolia Plantation, one of the must-visit places in South Carolina


One of the oldest public gardens in the U.S., Magnolia Plantation has been open since 1870, though it was built in 1676 by the Drayton family. Magnolia Plantation is dedicated to building gardens around the nature, not the other way around.

The tour includes historic gardens, a conservatory, a zoo, a nature center, a Horticulture Maze, and a Wildlife Observation Tower. The plantation also has the home, boat, and tram.

20. Huntington Beach State Park

View from a walkway across the marsh in Huntington Beach State Park, one of the best places to visit in South Carolina


South Carolina undoubtedly has many places to explore the great outdoors in wonder. Huntington Beach State Park is one of them. It is known for the ample opportunities to bird-watch and explore the coast.

At a little over three miles long, about three hundred bird species are found on the beach, along with alligators and even endangered turtles protected by the park.

Things to Consider

  • South Carolina is typically a pretty laid-back destination. However, that does not mean that it will be all smooth sailing or that you do not need to think a little ahead. The weather, culture, and business are part of that Southern charm.
  • The heat is not only oppressive but can become an issue. Plan your vacation when you know you will appreciate the weather or be prepared. Pack the sunscreen and dress accordingly, as South Carolinians are not the most formal lot.
  • Another thing to think about is tourism. The South, especially South Carolina, sees many people in the summer and the busy seasons. Hotels and restaurants will be thoroughly booked, so you may have to plan when visiting popular places like Charleston, Clemson, and Greenville. Trust me — I’ve been here in June, and it gets HOT!
  • The South has a bit of a different culture than the North and West. Foods are a little more fried, tea comes sweet, and people are generally more personable. It is good to be willing to try the foods and drinks and open to the possibility of living life in the south.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gorgeous wooden boardwalk in Hilton Head pictured for a piece on the best places to visit in South Carolina


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about visiting South Carolina:

What’s the prettiest place in South Carolina?

There are many pretty places in South Carolina, but some of them are Falls Park on the Reedy, Congaree National Park, Caesars Head State Park, and Hilton Head Island.

What is the coolest thing in South Carolina?

Hilton Head Island and Myrtle beach are some of the places with cool things to do. Many of the state parks and museums are also cool adventures.

What are the two most popular vacation spots in South Carolina?

Charleston and Myrtle Beach are the most popular vacation spots in South Carolina. They both have many things to do, and places to stay, and are used to a lot of tourism.

What is the best month to visit South Carolina?

South Carolina is a great place to visit in almost any season, but March through May is the best time to go. June or July would be the best month to go, though the whole spring and summer season will be nice.

What is the nicest part of South Carolina?

Most of the state is nice and well taken care of, but the nicest parts would either be Clemson, Columbia, Greenville, or Charleston. Most of these places are either along the coast or the mountains of South Carolina.

So, What Is the Best Place to Visit in South Carolina?

South Carolina is a busy place, full of tourism, nature, and great places to visit. It offers a lot of fun things to experience and places to explore within the borders of the state.

There are many parks and outdoor adventures along with the amazing beaches lining the coast. South Carolina towns offer great shops and eateries to enjoy throughout any stay. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!