Planning a vacation along America’s southeastern coastline but haven’t found a suitable destination yet? Head to South Carolina. Known for its scenic beaches, sparkling islands, museums, and beautiful cobbled streets in Charleston, the state has countless places worth exploring.
Although South Carolina enjoys warm weather year-round (up to 230 days of sunshine), knowing the best time to visit helps you get the most out of this charm-filled city. In the next part, we explain the best time to visit South Carolina and the worst and cheapest times.
Why You Should Visit South Carolina
Whether you’re an art lover, a history buff, an outdoors person, or looking for fun things to do with kids, you’ll love visiting South Carolina. Besides its warm weather year-round, South Carolina has numerous activities to help you relax and enjoy your vacation.
Most tourists’ first stop is at the famous Charleston Historic District. It comprises 1,400 old churches, homes, and buildings which line the street and make up the famous cobblestone street.
Riding a carriage is the best way to explore this famous street, but if you want to take a peek into some buildings, join a walking tour. Your next stop should be the Magnolia Plantations and Gardens to see thousands of beautiful plants and flowers.
Magnolia Plantation is the oldest public garden in the country, dating back to 1672. The garden features a Roman-style garden featuring, among the last gardens to use this garden style.
Art lovers may head to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, where emerging and mid-career artists showcase their work. If you’re lucky, you may find one of its 5-7 exhibitions in progress.
You may also hop in the Charleston Music Hall to enjoy a live music performance of upcoming artists. Charleston is also an excellent destination for foodies. You can try different dishes, including shrimp and grits, the town’s staple dish, fried chicken, and the famous South Carolina barbeque.
The traditionally cooked meat is smoked over hardwood and topped with a yellow Carolina Gold sauce setting it apart from the regular barbeque. If traveling with kids, Myrtle Beach is the perfect place for a family day out.
It combines fun beach activities with interesting attractions to entertain adults and kids. Your first stop should be at Broadway at the Beach, the largest entertainment venue in the state.
The venue features a movie area, rides, a maze, a boat ride, a theater, and more, all designed to keep kids busy. The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk is another popular spot worth visiting. It provides a picture-perfect scene for lovers and couples and is the best place to watch the sunset.
And if you’re a watersports fanatic, you can enjoy various watersports activities, including kayaking, paddling, sunbathing, and canoeing. Off the Beach are countless family attractions like the Family Kingdom Amusement Park, Backstage Mirror Maze, and Ripley’s Wax Museum.
A few miles from Myrtle Beach is Pawley’s Island, another family-friendly destination and home to one of the oldest summer resorts in South Carolina.The four-mile-long island has a laid-back vibe characterized by rope hammocks, wide virgin beaches, and dunes.
Natives love fishing, crabbing, and telling ghost stories to keep you entertained on cold nights when camping at the Apache Family Campground, located near Apache Pier.
It’s the longest pier on the East Coast and remains open every day of the year. You can walk the length of the pier, and if visiting during summer, you may be lucky to find live music performances.
In addition, if visiting with kids, make a stop at Applewood House of Pancakes, a buffet-style bar known for serving the best breakfast and weekend buffet, serving foods like traditional breakfast, fresh fruit, cereal, and pancakes.
There’s also an impressive selection of omelets like the Awesome Amy’s Shrimp Omelet.
Overall Best Time to Visit South Carolina
The best time to visit South Carolina is March-May. April and May mark the beginning of the spring season experiencing mild, sunny weather, perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and beach walking.
Temperatures range between 47 F- 70 F in March, 53 F- 76 F in April, and 62 F- 83 F in May. This is also the perfect time to participate in most South Carolina festivals, e.g., the Hilton Head Wing Fest.
The celebration is held in March and is marked by lots of food, wine, and live music. The Artisphere celebration is another great festival you should attend if you visit South Carolina in April.
The three-day festival gathers talented visual artists across the country to display their metalwork, glassblowing, pottery, and printmaking skills. The feast also has a Kidsphere program for kids to showcase their crafts.
Wine lovers also have an opportunity to try out wines from across the globe. Another South Carolinian feast held during this period is the Gullah festival. The feast is held in May to celebrate the language, history, and achievements of the Gullah people.
The Gullah are African-Americans who live on the southeastern coast of America. You can taste their foods, dance with them, and check out their arts, crafts, and presentations.
Cheapest Time to Visit South Carolina
The cheapest time to visit South Carolina is in September- November. Crowds are smaller than the previous summer season, so tourists will likely enjoy affordable rates.
The temperature is pretty warm despite the arrival of fall, recording an average of 67 F- 85 F in September, 57 F- 77 F in October, and 47 F- 70 F in November. It’s also the perfect time to enjoy many outdoor activities on a budget.
You can go sightseeing, hiking, mountain biking, and on picnics. Come October; the Oyster season kicks off. It’s the best time to attend the Oyster Roast festival, held annually, and enjoy many seafood delicacies.
However, mid-October can get a little busy, and if you’re all about the budget hotel and flight rates, it’s best to postpone your vacation to early November.
Many festivals are held during this period, including the famous Octoberfest and the South Carolina Craft Beer Festival, Hotel rates and flight costs could spike and resume normalcy toward the end of October.
Come November, the weather becomes a little chilly and wet, receiving rainfall of 62 mm. However, it’s the perfect time to attend art and cultural experiences like the vintage automobile show.
Vintage car lovers may head to Hilton Head Island to attend the Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival, which features new car displays of vintage cars, car-themed exhibits, and test drives.
If you aren’t a vintage car fan and are visiting with family, a day out at the South Carolina Pecan Festival is the best way to keep warm and entertained.
Guests and locals participate in marathon races, bike rides, cook-offs, and chalk art competitions. Moreover, there’s a free kids’ zone with live entertainment, craft, and food vendors.
Least Busy Time to Visit South Carolina
December, January, and early February are the least busy times to visit South Carolina. They mark the beginning of South Carolina’s off-season as there are fewer crowds.
The temperatures are a bit low, settling at 62 F- 40 F, which is tolerable compared to other places experiencing freezing winter temperatures. South Carolina provides the perfect warm-weather getaway for tourists looking to celebrate Christmas away from home.
The city comes to life during Christmas with festive lights and decorations adorning the streets. You may attend the annual boat parade at the harbor and the James Island Festival of Lights, a three-mile-long display of glimmering lights to make long-lasting memories.
Alternatively, enjoy various outdoor activities, including playing golf, scenic bike riding along the sea islands along Charleston, and tennis. Come January, the crowds grow even smaller.
Temperatures also drop to lows of 38 F, the perfect snow weather. It’s the best time for winter sports like snowboarding, skiing, snowball fights, and sledding.
You may also visit in early February if you don’t want to meet the large crowds and take advantage of low hotel rates. The weather is warmer, with highs of 63 F and lows of 41.
However, towards mid-February, the state gets crowded as festivals gain momentum and the weather gets warmer. Tourists visit South Carolina to attend chef experiences, music festivals, and shows like the Aiken Show.
Worst Time to Visit South Carolina
July and June are the worst times to visit South Carolina. These are the year’s hottest months, with temperatures rising to 70 F in June and 95 F in July.
Trust me — my wife and I went to Charleston in the middle of June, and it’s no fun. But it was also very affordable and not busy at all, so that was a plus. We just tried to stick to indoor activities during the day. By the time the sun went down, it was much more managable.
The scorching heat makes the state somewhat inhospitable, but families with kids still visit South Carolina to have a good time. Beach activities like surfing, swimming, parasailing, jet skiing, water skiing, and boogie boarding should keep you busy while warding off the heat.
If you aren’t a water sports fan, you may go for a picnic at the beach, ride the Ferris wheel at Myrtle Beach or attend the South Carolina Festival of Flowers. It’s the state’s summer celebration held in June and attracts gardeners countrywide.
The festival has grown incredibly famous for its Juried Art Show, featuring local artists’ works, live vegetation, a flower show, and a photography exhibit. The event also has kid-friendly activities like Cessna flights, an amusement park, a pet show, and a jazz concert for adults.
Other Things to Consider
Knowing the best time to visit South Carolina helps you plan your vacation at the right time. However, other details go a long way in ensuring you get the most out of this Palmetto State.
Our top tips include:
- Make hotel reservations in advance. Most upscale restaurants are filled to the brim during the peak season, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, so you need to make reservations early.
- Southerners hardly use public transportation. Be ready to use free trolleys running through the city to access different tourist attractions.
- Be ready to meet college students. Charleston’s Upper King Street has many bar-hopping college students on Fridays and Saturdays. Ask locals about the best bars for the type of experience you want.
- Try South Carolina’s biscuits. Making biscuits is a time-honored tradition in the South. Be sure to have a taste of these buttery cakes served in many restaurants.
- South Carolina is a ripe ground for bugs. Extreme heat and humidity breed many mosquitoes and small flies, so you want to bring a bug spray.
- Be cautious when visiting the city’s best attractions. Avoid leaving any visible valuables in the car or visiting areas around Beaufort County at night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the commonly asked questions about the best time to visit South Carolina:
Does South Carolina experience hurricanes?
South Carolina experiences hurricanes in the months of August-October. If you must visit the coast during this period, it’s best to have an emergency plan.
When was the last time South Carolina experienced a hurricane?
South Carolina experienced a hurricane recently (30th September 2022) near Georgetown. Dubbed Hurricane Ian, it was a category one hurricane characterized by flash floods and strong gusts of wind.
Which is the warmest month in South Carolina?
July is the hottest month in the state. Temperatures rise to 95 F, but coastal areas experience milder temperatures (71 F- 91 F) than South Carolina’s midland region. Precipitation is also high along the coast, recording 101-178 mm rainfall.
Which is the highest tourist season in South Carolina?
South Carolina marks the highest tourist season in June-August. It marks the beginning of the summer season when most families go on vacations. This season’s warm weather and a vast range of entertainment options attract many tourists.
Which city has the best weather in South Carolina?
Charleston has the best weather in South Carolina. It’s sunny most of the year, and the winter season doesn’t have much snow. Like the rest of South Carolina, July is the hottest month in Charleston, with temperatures rising to 90 F. However, the cold months are pretty warm as the city has temperatures of 42 F- 60 F.
Why is South Carolina famous?
South Carolina is famous for its golf courses, beaches, rich cuisine, and historic districts. The first golf course was constructed in South Carolina (Harleston Green) in 1786. Its unique cuisines with Gullah-Caribbean influences also make this state stand out.
Which seafood is popular in South Carolina?
Oysters, shrimp, and crabs are the most popular seafood in South Carolina. They are particularly abundant in October when fried seafood makes up most hotels’ menus.
A fish platter loaded with golden-fried shrimp, oyster, flounder, and crab cakes served with baked potatoes, and creamy slaw is the best menu item to help you enjoy South Carolina’s seafood.
So, What’s the Best Time to Visit South Carolina?
The best time to visit South Carolina is in March-May. These months have the most pleasant weather to explore the state, and the numerous festivals during this period bring your vacation to life.
However, if you’re traveling on a budget, it’s best to schedule your vacation around September-November or December-February. You want to avoid visiting South Carolina in June and July as they are the hottest and busiest months of the year.
When combined with crowded streets, high hotel and flight rates, and packed hotels, it is best to plan your vacation in calmer months, like during the fall season. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to South Carolina today!