The much-loved and fiercely proud state southeastern state is mostly known for its fine stately mansions, Palmetto trees, elegant cities filled with pastel-colored buildings, historic plantations, college football games, fried green tomatoes, and its fun beach resort.
It’s also a state known for its extraordinary landscapes which consist of a long shoreline of wide subtropical beaches, rolling mountains, marshlike sea islands, intriguing Cypress swamps, and moss-draped oaks. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in South Carolina…
1. Charleston – a beautiful and elegant historic port city which is one of the best places to visit in South Carolina
Soak in the southern ambiance in Charleston’s aristocratic homes with cobble-stoned streets, a quaint and elegant atmosphere and lush foliage.
Walk downtown to explore the historic homes including the Nathanial Russell House, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and the Middleton Place Plantation.
Explore Charleston’s gleaming history in the Patriot’s Point and Fort Sumter where the first gunshots of Civil War were fired.
Discover miles of radiant shorelines in Sullivan’s Island Beach and Kiawah Island with peaceful waves and pristine waters. Watch the sunsets by the Waterfront Park or explore the Charleston Museum, the vintage city of Charleston is sure to leave you dazzled.
2. Myrtle Beach – South Carolina’s favorite fun vacation spot
A classic summer vacation haven, the coastal city of Myrtle Beach is a part of Horry County. With 60 miles of lovely coastline, lush forests, and grand new adventures, Myrtle Beach offers a subtropical climate with an excellent culinary scene.
Soak up some sun on the Grand Stand’s many beaches or indulge in water sports, every day is a fun day in this dazzling coastal city.
Relax by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, take a walk along the boardwalk, hike the nature trails in the Myrtle Beach State Park, or camp on the cozy sites, Myrtle Beach is a happy place for travelers of all ages.
3. Table Rock State Park – one of the most stunning spots to explore in South Carolina
Tucked away in the Northern Pickens County, the Table Rock State Park in South Carolina’s delightful getaway with magnificent views. The iconic feature of the mountain is the table-shaped ledge.
The 3,083-acre park includes the tallest mountain of the state, Mount Pinnacle along with several streams and dense forests.
Get mesmerized with the arresting beauty of the park’s Lake Pinnacle and Lake Oolenloy with stunning overlooks.
Built in the 1930s, the state park offers a plethora of recreational activities including swimming, hiking, camping, kayaking, canoeing and much more in this surreal in the lap of the Appalachians. Easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in South Carolina.
4. State Capitol building Columbia – one of the finest buildings in Columbia
One of the most visited tourist destinations in the state, the capital city Columbus exudes history and heritage. Centered in downtown Columbia in the Gervais Street is South Carolina State House.
A classic example of Greek revival architecture, the vast capital tower with a 180 feet high copper dome is an architectural marvel.
The capital still wears the six bronze stars to highlight Sherman’s cannons during the Civil War. Explore the vast capitol grounds brimming with fascinating statues and memorials including the Revolutionary War Generals Monument, Confederate Monument and American-Mexican War Monument.
5. Hunting Island State Park – an alluring barrier island with beautiful vistas
A semi-tropical barrier island located 15 miles east of Beaufort, Hunting Island State Park offers panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Coast.
With five miles of pristine beaches, thousands of acres of marshes, maritime forests, a saltwater lagoon, and ocean inlet, the park provides habitat to diverse wildlife.
The centerpiece of the park is the only publicly accessible lighthouse in South Carolina. Built-in 1859, the distinctive lighthouse standing 130 feet above the ground provides panoramic views of the surrounding ocean and ecosystem.
With miles of hiking trails, camping sites, and walkways, the state park offers a quaint escape to the secluded island.
6. McLeod Plantation Historic Site – an important historic site to visit in South Carolina
A significant heritage site, the McLeod Plantation is located on James Island in Charleston County. Named after William Wallace McLeod, this historic site was acquired in 1851.
A witness to the nation’s history, the 37-acre Gullah heritage site is a tribute to the efforts of people to achieve freedom and justice.
The vast grounds of the Plantation include a riverside outdoor pavilion and the 600 years old McLeod Oak. Built on the riches of Sea Island cotton, the plantation provides an in-depth view of the past and culture of the Southern plantation. Take a guided tour to learn the robust history of this classical site.
7. Lake Jocassee – the gorgeous blue heart of the Jocassee Gorges
Shaped like a hand with three fingers extending outwards, Lake Jocassee is a man-made lake in the South Carolina Mountains. The 7,565-acre lake is formed by the Whitewater, Thompson, and Toxaway Rivers.
Known for its undeveloped shorelines, Jocassee gorges, countless creeks and surrounding waterfalls cascading directly into the lake, this mystical place is a hotspot for diversity.
Part of the Devils Fork State Park, the crystal clear waters of Lake Jocassee makes it a popular destination for scuba diving, swimming, kayaking, camping, and much more.
8. Historic Campbell’s Covered Bridge – the last remaining covered bridge in South Carolina
Spanning more than a century, Campbell’s Covered Bridge is the only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina. Located in Greenville County near the town of Gowensville, the 38-feet long wooden bridge spans over the Beaverdam Creek.
Built by Charles Irwin in 1909, the bridge was named after Alexander Campbell, a nearby grist mill owner who donated his land for the construction of the bridge.
Explore the bridge and the surrounding park with the foundation of the old grist mill to learn more about the bygone era.
9. Greenville – a great city to explore known for its craft beer and nearby outdoor activities
Seeped in rich Southern traditions, American history, and natural attractions, Greenville is a welcoming retreat for explorers of every age.
A thriving cultural center, the Peace Center for the Performing Arts is a hub of varied events throughout the year.
Let the Greenville County Museum of Art and Upcountry History Museum tell you the legendary story of this beautiful state. Enjoy great outdoors with spectacular hiking trails at the Paris Mountain State Park and the Lake Conestee Nature Park with striking overlooks along the winding paths.
Explore the charming downtown with lush tree-lined streets and take in the views of lovely Reedy River Falls in Falls Park.
10. Beaufort – known as the Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands
A beautiful historic city which was founded in 1711, Beaufort was also recently named America’s Happiest Seaside Town, Beaufort strikes the right chord with its rich history and coastal glory.
Located on Port Royal Island, one of South Carolina’s coastal Sea Islands, this historic downtown Beaufort is home to antebellum buildings one of which is the well-preserved John Mark Verdier House Museum which dates from the early-1800s and still has period furniture.
Some of the iconic landmarks of this charming small town in South Carolina include the Woods Memorial Bridge, the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, the Beaufort Historic Museum, and the Spanish moss-covered scenic trails.
Learn about the Marine Corps and the history of this beautiful island in the Parris Island Museum and then head to the striking historic Parris Island Lighthouse. Many famous movies have been filmed in Beaufort including Forrest Gump, The Big Chill, and The Prince of Tides.
11. Caesars Head State Park – a beautiful must-see in the South Carolina Upstate
Named for its dramatic rock outcropping perched atop the Blue Ridge Mountains, Caesars Head State Park in South Carolina’s most popular natural landmark.
The pristine mountain woodlands with scenic waterfalls and lush greenery provide a panoramic view of the state park.
Located in northern Greenville County, the park is home to swirling hawks, falcons, and eagles. King of South Carolina waterfalls, the Raven Cliff Falls cascades at a height of 420-feet.
Take a hike along the suspension bridge to get the best vistas of the dramatic waterfall or camp under the stars, this pristine landscape is worth the stop to enjoy the unspoiled nature.
12. Folly Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches to visit in South Carolina
Overlooking the Atlantic just 12 miles south of downtown Charleston is the beloved beach town of Folly Beach.
Take some time to relax and enjoy the Southern sun in Folly Beach’s massive stretch of coastline and the captivating maritime forests.
From painted sunrises to sunsets, rich history, good food, and expansive beaches, Folly Beach is one of the best beaches on the East Coast.
Explore the adjoining Morris Island with the iconic lighthouse that served as a strategic point during American Civil War. A mecca for surfers and swimmers, Folly Beach offers a range of recreational activities including biking, boating, eco-tours and much more.
13. Bluffton Old Town – a quintessential Southern town great for historic buildings and shopping
A quaint town tucked away in the heart of the Lowcountry, Bluffton is just a short drive away from Beaufort. Nestled on the banks of the peaceful May River, Bluffton is an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts.
Explore some of the best galleries of the town in the Le Petite Gallerie and Society of Bluffton Artists with curated paintings and sculptures. There is also a great collection of boutique shops and independent stores.
Discover the culture and history of Bluffton in the Heyward House and Museum and the Church of the Cross. A refreshing change from the heat of Lowcountry, Bluffton offers a serene maritime adventure in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.
14. Hilton Head Island – a pretty semi-tropical paradise on Carolina’s southernmost tip
A blissful resort town is known for its white-sand beaches and natural beauty, Hilton Head Island is located 95 miles southwest of Charleston.
The most recognizable landmark of the Island is the Harbor Town Lighthouse with a historic museum and gift shops.
One of the most memorable destinations of Hilton Head is the Coastal Discovery Museum with beautiful gardens and trails. Step onto the sand in Coligny Beach Park for family time on one of the best vacation destinations in the world.
Experience low country up close in the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy great outdoors from sunrise to sunsets.
15. Congaree National Park – preserves the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest in North America
A sprawling and unique park consisting of 11,000 hectares, this wonderful place is in fact the largest expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the country.
It’s known for its amazing trees in the form of giant hardwoods and towering pines and the flooded forest is also home to one of the highest canopies in the world.
It’s a tranquil and scenic place to visit in South Carolina as well as being a sanctuary for plants and animals.
16. Wildcat Falls – a great beauty spot surrounded by scenic wilderness
A fun roadside attraction along the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, Wildcat Wayside Falls is a part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.
Part of the Greenville County, the tumbling Wildcat waterfall at 30-feet is visible from the road before landing into a shallow granite pool.
A beautiful stop along the way, the Wildcat Falls offers gorgeous views of the myriad little waterfalls. Take a short hike to the waterfall or explore the nearby Bald Rock Heritage Preserve with stunning vistas.
A gorgeous spot to explore in South Carolina.
We also have posts on…
- The most beautiful places to visit in North Carolina
- Places to visit in Georgia
- The most beautiful places to visit in Tennessee
- The most beautiful places to visit in Alabama
- The most beautiful places to visit in Virginia
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Scott Balaam – writer and photographer
Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Australia, Ireland, UK and the USA but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting thirst for culture, good food and great football. In his spare time Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, the rest of Italy, Amsterdam, USA, Athens, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Find Scott on Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter.