Whether you’re South Carolina is a coastal southern state well known for its delicious food, beautiful beaches, and historic landmarks, making it a perfect choice for your next US-based-trip — and that’s just scratching the surface.
And don’t get us started on all the hidden gems like unique roadside attractions, notable architecture, and roaming wildlife.
We’re certain that as soon as you discover all the wonderful sights, bites, and adventures awaiting you in the Palmetto State (the official nickname for South Carolina referring to the state palmetto tree), you’ll be planning your visit.
Before you book your travel, keep in mind that because of the heat and humidity that states in the Sun Belt Region experience over summer—just like the other southern states—it’s typically recommended that visitors plan their trips in spring (between March and May) or fall (between September and November).
Whether you’re visiting for your annual family trip or are checking out the lay of the land before applying to colleges, you can count on having plenty to do.
Are you thinking of road-tripping through South Carolina? If so, you’re in luck because there is plenty to see, especially off the beaten path.
Depending on your interests, you can create your own adventure as you travel throughout the state, or even through just one city. To help you find the best interest-based travel recommendations, we’ve broken down activities into several groups:
If you’re an avid camper, you’ll want to take advantage of the beauty that awaits you in the great outdoors of South Carolina.
Whether you’re seeking out a water-side venue or a mountain view, one of the 47 State Parks will have what you want. From rustic cabins in Table Rock State Park to lakeside villas at Dreher Island State Park, the unique camping experiences that await will win over any nature-lover’s heart.
You probably know about the many famous museums and widely visited historical sites that Charleston is known for, but why not add a few less-crowded stops to your list.
Make time to visit Fort Fremont (which was abandoned and said to be haunted), the Bertha Lee Strickland Cultural Museum (and other sites that are part of The Green Book Tour), and the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site.
Of course, the Angel Oak is on your must-see list, but there are many other natural wonders to make time for.
The “Tunnel of Trees” on Botany Bay Road is something you have to see if you like to bask in the beauty of nature.
And don’t forget to make your way to the Canyon Lake in Devil’s Fork State Park where plenty of hiking trails, waterfalls, and some of the best South Carolina trout fishing in Lake Jocassee await you.
Next stop by at Boneyard Beach, one of the best secret beaches in South Carolina. It’s located near the northern end of a little known South Carolina island called “Bull Island”.
Lastly, visit the ACE Basin, one of the largest undeveloped estuaries along the Atlantic Coast of the United States.
Driving through South Carolina, you’ll see there are a variety of attractions that will give you an excuse to pull over and stretch your legs. Nostalgic Station will take you back in time with vintage eats, memorabilia, and more.
Looking for more of a thrill? The Alligator Adventure Animal Park in North Myrtle Beach is worthwhile.
If you’re a fan of House of Cards, don’t forget to stop by the Peachoid in Gaffney.
Then there are the quirky roadside stops that you won’t see anywhere else like the:
- World’s Smallest Police Station in Ridgeway — roughly the size of a bathroom (in use until 1990)
- UFO Welcome Center in Bowman — consists of a 42-foot-wide flying saucer built out of wood, fiberglass, & plastic
- Kazoo Museum in Beaufort — one of the largest collections of kazoos in the world
Side view of the UFO Welcome Center
You know when you go to the South, eating is a major part of your trip, and luckily, South Carolina has plenty of variety. From classics like good southern BBQ and fresh seafood to more modern fare like noteworthy vegan cuisine, you can find a delicious meal wherever you end up.
BBQ Charcoal Grill
Good Southern BBQ
If you’re craving some of the best barbeques in the country, you’re heading to the right place. South Carolina boasts countless BBQ establishments (there are hundreds of them) that are sure to please.
Did you know that South Carolina has a reputation for being the only state to offer all four types of barbeque sauces (mustard, vinegar and pepper, light tomato, and heavy tomato)? If you didn’t even know there were four types, then you’re in for a real treat.
While you may have heard of Lewis Barbecue in Charleston or Swig & Swine in Mount Pleasant, there are plenty of other BBQ spots to explore outside of their popular cities. Seek out smaller roadside establishments like Belly’s Southern Pride in Lexington, Big Bill’s Low Country Bar-B-Que in Georgetown (which is known for its buffet), or Cannon’s BBQ & More in Little Mountain.
Like most coastal states, South Carolina also serves up a delicious plate of fresh seafood. From Po’ boys to Shrimp platters, your tastebuds will be delighted pretty much anywhere you decide to go, but if you want to find some little-known spots that have great reputations, start with these restaurants:
- Flowers Seafood Co. (Edisto Island)
- Lee’s Inlet Kitchen (Murrells Inlet)
- Dave’s Carryout (Charleston)
- Vegan Cuisine (Greenville)
Fried Shrimp Platter
As you can probably imagine, traveling through the South can be difficult when you have dietary restrictions, so you may have to search a little harder for your food options.
However, if you’re vegan, you’re in luck because we have the scoop on Greenville (also known as G-Vegas) which has become a hot-spot for vegan cuisine. You’re covered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Try a refreshing smoothie at Kuka Juice to start your day, some jackfruit tacos at White Duck Taco for lunch, and end the night with delicious vegan pizza at Sidewall Pizza.
Plan Your Trip to the Palmetto State
In recent years, tourism has been breaking records as visitors flock to this beautiful southern state. According to the Courier and Post, over 7.3 million visitors explored South Carolina in 2018 alone.
Hopefully, these tips for seeing South Carolina off the beaten path have inspired you to add the Palmetto State to your travel bucket list and create an itinerary that’s carefully curated to suit your interests (and taste buds).
Sunset in Charleston
However you choose to spend your time in South Carolina, you can expect to find three things to be true, southern hospitality will follow you wherever you go, the food will be some of the best you’ve had, and the experiences you have will stick with you forever.