Our list of the best things to do in South Carolina, including attractions, events and experiences.
It’s easy to have a good time in South Carolina, with much to see and experience:
Entertain the Kids
The only Smithsonian-affiliated kid’s museum in America is The Children’s Museum of the Upstate, located in downtown Greenville on the city’s Heritage Green cultural campus. A total of 20 interactive exhibits let children explore, design, pretend and imagine with fun programs in the areas of arts, science, health and the environment.
Bike riding is good exercise, and beautiful scenery makes Hilton Head Island Bike Trails even nicer. Riders can bike along several different routes that feature wildlife and other natural wonders as well as manmade amenities such as a lighthouse and cafes. Bikes rent for about $9 a day, or weekly at around $25.
Ride the Nighthawk
Adjacent to Interstate 77 on the South Carolina-North Carolina state border is Carowinds, a huge amusement park with 65 rides and an eight-ride Boomerang Bay water park. Carowinds has attractions like the Intimidator and Nighthawk roller coasters, while Boomerang Bay features a wave pool and lazy river.
Climb 167 Steps
The only lighthouse in South Carolina that the public can enter is the Hunting Island Lighthouse in Beaufort, which has 167 steps that patrons can climb. A few lookout landings are accessible throughout the climb, and views of the Atlantic Ocean are excellent. Also on the grounds is a gift shop with several South Carolina-related items.
Pet a Stingray
On the historic Charleston Harbor is South Carolina Aquarium, with 385,000 gallons of water that contain 700 animals along with thousands of plants. On display are alligators, herons, owls, jellyfish, eels, sharks and pythons, and the aquarium has a Touch Tank where visitors may touch stingrays, horseshoe crabs and other marine creatures.
Root for the Gamecocks
The University of South Carolina Gamecocks play their home football games at Williams-Brice Stadium, adjacent to the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia. On game days, the atmosphere is raucous and the stadium is often called “The Cock Pit” by Gamecock fans. The 80,250-seat facility also hosts concerts and state high school football championships.
Return to 1861
Hundreds of artifacts from both the Union and Confederacy are on exhibit in Florence at War Between the States Museum, which even has a table model of a hometown Florence Stockade used during the Civil War. Also showcased are uniforms, camp items, weapons and soldier diaries, and a gift shop sells items from flags to model cannons.
An ideal warm weather attraction in Myrtle Beach for parents with younger children is Myrtle Waves Water Park, open May through September. The park includes a toddler’s area with three slides and a huge volcano that sprays and splashes water. Also on the grounds is a water pool, lazy river, Bubble Bay, and Snake Mountain inner tube slides.
Smell the Magnolias
Tourists from around the world have been traveling to Charleston ever since Magnolia Plantation & Gardens first opened to the public in the early 1870s. Historians say the plantation dates to 1676, and tours today include the mansion along with gardens that grow year-round flowers like azaleas, camellias and daffodils.
The first shots to start the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, situated in Charleston Harbor and accessible via a 30-minute ferry ride from the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center. The Center features a museum that details many disagreements between the North and South. The fort was actually constructed in 1811 for the War of 1812.