If you’re looking for a state with southern charm, beaches, and fun, then you will love South Carolina. I moved to the state when I was in elementary school, and I haven’t looked back since. Considering I grew up near the beach, all of my recommendations are of coastal cities to visit. When you’re looking for a seaside getaway, here are my favorite coastal towns to visit in SC:
Picture from VisitMyrtleBeach.com
Did you think I would make a list without including my hometown? Myrtle Beach is a major tourist town, and people come from all over the U.S. to visit. The city is famous for its beaches and golf courses, so it’s a staple tourist location for many East Coasters. When you’re heading to Myrtle Beach, the first thing I recommend to do is to visit the beach.
Depending on where you’re staying, it’s best to park your car where you see a public beach parking lot. Myrtle Beach used to offer free parking near the beach, but now beachfront access parking lots feature meters that cost around $2/hr for parking. Once you purchase your parking, head to the ocean and take in the sun.
After the beach, walk down the boardwalk to view a variety of tourist shops. You can tell Myrtle Beach is a beachside tourist town, but it’s fun to explore if you’ve never been. Afterwards, make sure to go to the Sky Wheel. The Sky Wheel is a giant ferris wheel facing the beach that has panoramic views of the ocean. This is a great family friendly attraction to see. Tickets are $14 for adults and $9 for children.
Photo featured on Murrells Inlet’s Marshwalk.com website.
Next on the list is Murrells Inlet, which is about 30 to 40 minutes outside of Myrtle Beach. The town is known for its marshes and seafood. The first thing I recommend doing in Murrells Inlet is walking down the Marsh Walk. There are many restaurants along the Marsh Walk, so you can easily find parking nearby for free. Once you’ve parked, take in the views of the walk, and maybe even stop by a waterfront dining restaurant for some freshly caught seafood.
Next on the list is South Carolina’s Huntington Beach State Park located in Murrells Inlet. The park is a great family activity. I suggest parking at the park, and then walking around to explore the outdoors. Admission is only $5 for adults and $3 for children, so it’s very affordable. While you’re at the park, there are many activities to take part in such as walking and hiking trails, swimming at the beach, fishing, and bird watching.
Photo of Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park taken from SeasideMB.com.
However, one of the best features of the park is Atalaya Castle. Atalaya features the ruins of Archer M. Huntington and his wife’s winter home that had over 30 rooms. Even though none of the rooms are furnished or decorated, the ruins are still so it’s worth checking out if you plan on visiting the park, especially since admission into the castle is only $2!
Photo from https://hammockshopsvillage.com/
A little bit outside of Murrells Inlet is the beautiful town of Pawleys Island. Even though I’m from Myrtle Beach, I actually prefer Pawleys Island because it has beautiful mossy trees and less crowded beaches. As you’re driving down SC’s coast, stop make sure to stop by Pawley’s Hammock Shop Village. The Village has a bunch of one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants to scope out, including Pawley’s original Hammock Shop, which was opened in the 1800s.
About an hour and a half away is Charleston, SC. I may be a little biased, but Charleston is hands down my favorite city in the state, maybe even in the entire U.S. I went to College of Charleston, which is in the middle of historic downtown, and it’s consistently ranked among the most beautiful colleges in the U.S. If you love mossy trees, southern food, and history, then Charleston is the city for you. When visiting the city, here is my go-to list of places to check out:
South of Broad and The Battery
The Battery in Charleston, SC, photo by Willie Harper
When you think of Charleston, images of historic homes from the 1700 and 1800’s probably come to mind. If this is the type of Charleston you want to explore, then you need to start your trip South of Broad and head to the Battery. You can easily drive through the area, however I suggest parking your car for free near the Battery. Part of the experience of being in Charleston is walking down the cobblestone roads while taking in the views of the water and historic mansions.
Rainbow Row photo by Presley Leopard
As you walk through the Battery, make sure to stop by Charleston’s Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is on East Bay Street and is comprised of 13 brightly colored homes that were first built in 1740. It wasn’t until 1931 that all of the homes were purchased and painted the assortment of colors that you see today. You can’t tour the insides of any of the homes, but they’re the perfect setting for a photo.
After checking out Rainbow Row, you should head toward Tradd Street. Tradd Street features a variety of historic homes, which makes it ideal for a walking tour. It’s hard to have a favorite when each home is unique. Tradd Street has that quintessential southern charm, and it was even featured in scenes from the movie “The Patriot.”
French Quarter and the Market
Charleston City Market, picture from Traveler of Charleston
Once you’ve taken in the South of Broad area, you should make your way to Charleston’s French Quarter and Market. You can access the area by car, but I suggest walking again. Charleston is a very walking friendly city, and it’s often difficult to find parking for free, so if you don’t mind, explore the area by foot. The French Quarter is where you may have the most trouble walking through the cobblestone streets, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes. (Side note: If you trip, don’t worry, we’ve all been there before!) As you walk through the French Quarter, make sure you’re heading north to Market Street.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits, photo from Basil and Bubbly
Once you’re at Market Street, go into Charleston’s City Market. The Market is typically open from 9:30am-6pm everyday and features a variety of local vendors. If you’re looking to take home a handcrafted souvenir like a sweetgrass basket, then this is the place to find it. Charleston’s City Market has been around since the 1790’s, so it’s a well known part of the city. The Market also features Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, which is a Charlestonian favorite. Even if you’re not hungry, make sure to grab a box for later. I recommend ordering Callie’s 3 biscuit box with a blackberry, cinnamon, and cheese and chive biscuit.
Nearby Charleston Beaches
Photo of Folly Beach, SC taken from Charleston Magazine.
Charleston is also nearby many incredible beaches. It’s hard to pick one to recommend since each one is special in its own way. If you want a more laid back, bohemian beach vibe, then I suggest going to Folly Beach. Folly is a popular place for surfers and locals because it’s more casual compared to the other beaches.
Picture of Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island from the blog Magnolia & Main.
Another great nearby beach is Sullivan’s Island. Sullivan’s is perfect for paddleboarding, and if you’re an Edgar Allan Poe fan, then you must dine at Poe’s Tavern on the island. The restaurant has themed burgers based on Poe’s popular stories, such as the Raven, Tell-Tale Heart, Pit and the Pendulum, and Annabel Lee.
The Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island, as featured on the Angel Oak website.
When you’re looking for an island with gorgeous scenic mossy tree views, I suggest heading to Wadmalaw or John’s Island. John’s Island is the home of the Angel Oak Tree. According to the Angel Oak website, the tree is over “400-500 years old, stands 66.5 ft tall, measures 28 ft in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet.” It’s a must see for nature lovers.
Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island, as seen on Thrillist.
Wadmalaw Island is perfect for individuals that want to tour a SC plantation. The island offers tours of its Charleston Tea Plantation, which produces Bigelow Tea. I recommend the trolley tour because it takes you all over the plantation and only it takes about 40 minutes. During the spring and summer, this is the best option because Charleston can get very hot. The tours are $14 for adults and $6 for kids.
After you’ve visited the plantation, drive over to Deep Water Vineyard and Firefly Distillery to try some of SC’s homegrown wine and spirits. At Deep Water, self-guided tours are $7 and come with a complimentary wine tasting and wine glass. You can’t go wrong taking in the sunshine while sipping on a drink!
Hilton Head Island
Picture from The Crazy Crab of Harbour Town Marina and Lighthouse
Farther down the SC coast is Hilton Head Island, home to the Harbour Town Lighthouse in Sea Pines Resort’s Harbour Town Marina. When you head to Hilton Head, I suggest parking by the Marina, then walking around the area so you can take in the shops and restaurants. Next, go to the Harbour Town Lighthouse and walk to the top. There are over 100 steps to the top, but along the way you can view pictures of the lighthouse’s history. For only $4.50, the views of Hilton Head from the top of the lighthouse are well worth it.
Daufuskie Island picture by Michael Harding
Once you’re finished touring Hilton Head Island, head over to Daufuskie Island. At the foot of the Hilton Head bridge is Buckingham Landing where the ferry to Daufuskie leaves. Tickets are $17.50 each way. While visiting Daufuskie, you’ll need to rent some form of land transportation such as a bike or golf cart. The island doesn’t have sidewalks, so it’s not walking friendly, but you can easily find rentals on the island through the Daufuskie Island Ferry website. You may be concerned since no cars are on the island, however it actually makes your trip more peaceful and quiet. Also, when you’re on the island, make sure you tour the historic lighthouse, peruse the unique shops, and swim at the beach. Daufuskie is a beautiful island you won’t want to miss!
After reading this list, I hope you’ll be inspired to visit SC’s coastal towns. Whether you’re looking to travel solo, with a family, or on a girls trip, SC has something to offer everybody. It’s a great state, and I have no doubt that you will be overwhelmed by the southern hospitality and beautiful beaches! If you have any questions about any of the information I included, or about traveling in SC, feel free to contact me via the links below. I look forward to seeing what you all think of SC’s attractions in the comments 🙂
Bio: Presley is a lifestyle blogger for the website Adulting Queen, which is focused on empowering women all over the world as they struggle with the pressures of adulthood. She currently resides in Myrtle Beach, SC with her family and two cats.
Presley I think I have fallen in love with South Carolina! Oh my gosh, the beautiful tree’s and beaches! What more could you ask for!
Funny story about tree’s when my husband and I first started dating we were on our way to our son’s baseball game and I noticed a really pretty tree and was like HEY LOOK we should come back here and take some photo’s by this pretty tree. So we sit down and started watching the baseball game and then my husband said something about how the clouds looked puffy and good for photo’s so we always joke that he is the cloud finder and I am the tree finder.