5 Itineraries to the Best Places in South Carolina

Honeymooning? Traveling with kids? Craving the beach? Whatever you’re after, these 5 itineraries cover the best places in South Carolina to visit.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, city skyline. ©Sean Pavone, Dreamstime.

Lowcountry Romance

Spanish moss, balmy beaches, good food—the Palmetto State is a great place for a romantic getaway. This trip centers on Charleston and the Lowcountry.

Day 1

Spend your first morning walking or biking around peaceful downtown Beaufort. In the afternoon, take a short drive to Hunting Island State Park and walk on the windswept beach. Then enjoy a tasty dinner at Saltus River Grill on the scenic waterfront. Spend the night at one of Beaufort’s many classic B&Bs, such as the Beaufort Inn or the Rhett House Inn.

Day 2

Drive to Old Town Bluffton, walk down to the beautiful May River, and browse the many local art galleries around Calhoun Street. Visit the relaxing Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge before going into Hilton Head proper. Walk on the beach and enjoy live music and a great meal at The Jazz Corner. Head up to Charleston and check into a romantic room at The Vendue or the Andrew Pinckney Inn.

Narrow cobblestone street and old buildings in Charleston, South Carolina. ©Jon Bilous, Dreamstime.

Day 3

Start your day in Charleston in its bustling heart, Marion Square. Maybe do a little shopping on King Street and at Old City Market afterward. Take a sunset stroll around the Battery and admire Rainbow Row before diving right into a great meal at one of the city’s fine restaurants—maybe the Peninsula Grill.

Day 4

Today you put your historian’s hat on and visit one of Charleston’s great house museums, such as the Aiken-Rhett House or the Edmondston-Alston House. Have a hearty Southern-style lunch, then take an afternoon trip to Fort Sumter. After another fantastic Charleston dinner at Husk, take a stroll or carriage ride through the French Quarter to close the evening.

Old, antique civil war cannon at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, USA. ©Martina Birnbaum, Dreamstime.

Day 5

Have a cozy brunch at Poogan’s Porch downtown. Then make the 20-minute drive over the Ashley River to gorgeous Middleton Place, where you’ll tour the gardens. Then stop at adjacent Drayton Hall and see one of the oldest and best-preserved plantation homes in the nation. Return to downtown Charleston for a late afternoon carriage ride through the French Quarter before dining at romantic McCrady’s.

Family Fun on the Grand Strand

This long weekend gives you a taste of life in Myrtle Beach and the rest of the Grand Strand. The area is small enough to stay in one place for both nights, but so popular that travel along the 60-mile-long Strand can be slow. Be sure to leave enough time to get from place to place.

cloudy sky over a clear pool of water at Huntington Beach State Park
Salt marsh at Huntington Beach State Park. Photo © James Kirkikis/Dreamstime.

Day 1

Begin the day at historic Hampton Plantation before taking a guided kayak tour around Winyah Bay or Hobcaw Barony. Have an early dinner on the waterfront in nearby Georgetown, then drive up to Myrtle Beach for the night. If you want to stay away from the resorts, camp at Huntington Beach State Park.

Day 2

In the morning explore Brookgreen Gardens, one of the most unique sights in the Grand Strand. Spend the afternoon in Myrtle Beach: Shop at Broadway at the Beach. After dinner go for a fun, cheesy round of miniature golf under the stars. Or perhaps take in a show at the Carolina Opry, or learn to dance the shag at old Ocean Drive Beach.

Day 3

Spend the morning on the beach. After lunch visit one of the Ripley’s attractions or take in a concert at the House of Blues in Barefoot Landing.

Southern Living in the Midlands

Sandwiched between the coast and the mountains, the Midlands are easily overlooked, but not for lack of attractions. This central section of the state is large and spread out. To fully experience the breadth of the area, bunk one night in Columbia and the next in Camden.

statue in front of the South Carolina state house
The South Carolina State House. Photo © Americanspirit/Dreamstime.

Day 1

Devote a full day to touring South Carolina’s capital, Columbia. Downtown sights include the South Carolina State Museum, the South Carolina State House, and the University of South Carolina. In addition, don’t miss the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. Have dinner in the trendy Vista area and finish with a nightcap in boisterous Five Points. Spend the night at the venerable Inn at USC.

Day 2

Get up bright and early and drive out of town to Congaree National Park to walk along its primordial cypress swamp and old-growth forest. If you have time, go down to Orangeburg to see the Edisto Memorial Gardens. Head east and end the day in Camden. Explore the picturesque historic district with its many antiques shops.

Day 3

Drive up U.S. 1 to Cheraw to see its charming historic district and visit the nearby Dizzy Gillespie home site and park. Scoot over to Darlington and check out Darlington Raceway, the grandfather of all stock car tracks. Spend the rest of the afternoon near Florence at Woods Bay State Natural Area, enjoying the well-preserved Carolina Bay.

High Times in Horse Country

You don’t have to own a horse to enjoy a weekend in Aiken. If you’re here in spring, you can aim to see a polo match on Sunday.

lush flora surrounding Carolina Bay in Aiken South Carolina
Carolina Bay Nature Preserve is Aiken’s most underrated attraction. Photo © Jim Morekis.

Day 1

Explore Aiken’s historic Winter Colony district and racetracks. After lunch, check out the Carolina Bay Nature Preserve. Stay in Aiken at the classy Willcox or the old Hotel Aiken.

Day 2

Get up bright and early to explore Aiken’s Hitchcock Woods on a long, relaxing hike. If you’re here in the fall and it’s a Saturday, you might even catch a fox hunt. Or, if you’re here in the spring and it’s a Sunday, grab lunch after your hike and aim to catch a polo match at Whitney Field.

In the Shadow of the Blue Ridge

This weekend trip highlights the best of the Upstate, from the beautiful natural setting to city life and early American history. Spend one night in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains and another in cosmopolitan Greenville.

people playing in the water at Falls Park on the Reedy River
Falls Park on the Reedy in Greeneville. Photo © Jim Morekis.

Day 1

Begin at the South Carolina Botanical Garden in Clemson before heading over to little Pendleton and enjoying lunch on the Village Green. Head up to Walhalla in the afternoon and check out the unique Stumphouse Tunnel and Issaqueena Falls. Stay in a B&B or camp at Oconee State Park.

Day 2

Spend the day in Greenville: enjoy Falls Park on the Reedy; do some shopping on restored Main Street; and maybe check out artworks by the great masters at the Bob Jones University Museum and Gallery. In the evening, take in a minor-league baseball game at Fluor Field. Splurge for the night at the classy Westin Poinsett downtown.

Day 3

Drive to Cowpens National Battlefield outside Spartanburg to learn about this pivotal Revolutionary War battle. After a classic greasy-spoon lunch at Spartanburg’s Beacon Drive-In, head over to York County to check out Historic Brattonsville and its excellently restored upcountry homestead site, complete with living-history demonstrations.

Jim Morekis

About the Author

Maybe its because he was born in the same hospital as Flannery O'Connor, but there's no doubt that Jim Morekis has writing in his blood. As longtime editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Connect Savannah, the University of Georgia graduate has written about and experienced pretty much every cultural happening in the area. He credits his love of travel to his mother, Elizabeth, who was John Berendt's travel agent during his stint in Savannah while writing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

As for the ongoing debate over which city is better, Charleston or Savannah, Jim calls it a tie: Charleston has better long-term planning, but Savannah has to-go cups (allowing anyone to explore the Historic District with a beer or cocktail in hand).

Learn more about this author

Pin For Later