South Carolina is the 23rd most populous state in the US and home to the most Sabal Palmetto trees, hence its nickname, The Palmetto State.
This state is not only known for its golfing, beaches, and major plantations, but it also played an important role in the US Revolution.
Today, South Carolina is one of the country’s most visited states, especially its several cities including Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston.
The state offers a wide range of activities for every kind of visitor, from experiencing its natural landscapes to discovering its history and culture.
We have listed South Carolina’s top attractions according to their history, natural beauty, and recreational value.
Whether you like history or breathtaking views, this list shows all the options to explore.
Table of Contents
- Learn Its Historical Influence
- Immerse Yourself in Its Natural Beauty
- 10. The Angel Oak Tree
- 11. Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens
- 12. Brookgreen Gardens
- 13. Caesars Head State Park
- 14. Congaree National Park
- 15. Falls Park on the Reedy
- 16. Huntington Beach State Park
- 17. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
- 18. Middleton Place
- 19. Myrtle Beach
- 20. The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden
- 21. White Point Garden
- Enjoy Endless Recreational Activities
Home to numerous buildings existing since the 18th and 19th centuries, Charleston Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District in the US.
Some of its oldest buildings worth visiting are St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, the Aiken-Rhett House, and Charleston County Courthouse.
If you’re ever in the city, visit the picturesque Charleston Harbor and Rainbow Row or the Waterfront Park, – both are free.
For all tea lovers, the Charleston Tea Garden is a paradise. It’s the only tea garden in the country and spans 127 acres with more than 320 types of teas.
Visitors can go on a tour, take home souvenirs from the gift shop, and even bring their pets!
Built in the 18th century, Drayton Hall has been around since 1738. It includes historical artifacts, the historical main house, and galleries of fine arts.
Moreover, the house is one of the most preserved Palladian architectures in the country.
Fort Moultrie National Historical Park is located on Sullivan’s Island and dates back to 1776.
The fort has been through several restorations and modernization due to war and hurricanes. This is a great place to come and learn a little about history while wandering through beautiful scenery.
Fort Sumter can only be reached by ferry via Liberty Square Visitor Education Center and Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.
Private boats are not permitted at Fort Sumter, so it can only be visited through Fort Sumter Tours.
The fort is the best place in the state to learn about the Civil War and has cannons and several artifacts to see.
A National Historic Site in the United States, Old Sheldon Church Ruins was once known as Prince William’s Parish Church.
It is blanketed with magnificent oaks and Greek revival architecture. A peaceful walk around the grounds here will take you back in time.
McLeod Plantation was built in 1851 and spans 37 well-preserved acres. Visitors can tour the homes, see the 600-year old McLeod Oak, and learn about the community before and after the time of slavery.
Since 1976, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum has opened its doors to the public, with over 300,000 visitors annually.
It is one of the best tourist attractions to learn about USS Yorktown, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and more US maritime history.
The South Carolina State Museum is one of the largest in the state, containing four floors filled with exhibits.
On top of that, it even has planetarium shows and a 4D Theater.
To describe the state’s history, the museum features four aspects: South Carolina Art, Natural History, Science and Technology, and Cultural History.
It was established in 1988 and currently showcases over 70,000 artifacts
Located on John’s Island in the Angel Oak Forest, The Angel Oak Tree is a famous historical site and among the longest-living trees – about 500 years old.
Although it has been hit by hurricanes, it still stands tall with a height of 187 feet. If tales interest you, the Angel Oak Tree holds stories about ghosts of enslaved people in the form of an angel since it used to be the tree where they were hanged.
Established in 1681, the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens is another must-see attraction in Charleston.
Black history, majestic gardens, and the Avenue of Oaks are all part of the plantation. Plus, visitors can tour the mansion (built in 1936), go on a motorized tour, and see the butterfly pavilion.
Spanning 9,100 acres of colorful land, Brookgreen Gardens is a place to see American sculptural art, Lowcountry history, and botanical gardens.
It was established in 1931 and has been awarded as the ninth Best Botanical Garden, Best Public Garden, and Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights, among others.
For hikers and trailers, Caesars Head State Park offers a great hiking experience with mountainous regions, over 60 miles of trails, and more than 400 waterfalls.
It is the complete nature escape package where you can go fishing, camping, and see wildlife.
Adventure seekers will surely enjoy what Congaree National Park has to offer. Visitors can go kayaking and canoeing, explore wildlife, camp out, and view fireflies.
Located in the city of Greenville, Falls Park on the Reedy is a parks and recreation attraction offering tons of activities to do.
From summer camps for children to the 20-acre park and 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Tails, you’ll never run out of places to explore.
The Huntington Beach State Park has a three-mile beach for swimming, fishing, and more.
Campers can visit more than 170 campsites and six tent sites. Plus, it is a perfect place for the birdwatching of more than 300 bird species.
Another must-visit plantation is the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, owned by the Drayton family. It now has several attractions such as the Wildlife Observation Tower and the Bamboo Garden.
It was established in 1676 and opened to the public in 1870. Today, visitors can take a historic garden walk, visit the Zee and Nature Center, and even have a wedding.
Middleton Place has thousands of stories to tell with its House Museum, stable yards, and the famous Eliza’s House.
It is a National Historic Landmark completed in 1937 since its restoration, making it one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the country.
A trip to South Carolina won’t be complete without stepping onto its famous beach, Myrtle Beach.
It’s the most popular beach in the state, with more than 13 million visitors every year. Not only is it a place for water activities, but it’s also excellent for shopping and entertainment.
If you’re looking for free entrance attractions, then you shouldn’t miss the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in Bishopville.
The garden spans three acres of land filled with over 150 topiaries and sculptures. It is indeed a work of art that has been maintained with dedication for over 20 years.
Located in the heart of Charleston, White Point Garden is the best place to get a glimpse of the harbor and Fort Sumter.
This park is over 5,700 acres and is covered by old oak trees. Plus, visitors can also learn a thing or two about history with the park’s gazebo, which is filled with artifacts and monuments.
Face your fear of reptiles at Alligator Adventure, home to one of nature’s most powerful animals.
Alligator Adventure is located in North Myrtle Beach and houses several types of alligators, as well as other wild animals including mountain lions, hyenas, and bobcats.
It is a perfect family-fun attraction where you can witness live shows such as Alligator Live Feedings and Snake Handling.
Established in 1807, Charleston City Market is the city’s number one attraction. Visitors can enjoy a day or night market and get to know local entrepreneurs.
The market has several specialty shops and walking tours, as well as events such as live music.
Located in the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken, DuPont Planetarium holds weekly Saturday public shows.
Science and astronomy enthusiasts will surely enjoy a unique way of enjoying the night sky with the planetarium’s upgraded Digistar 6 Planetarium System.
The planetarium only has 57 seats available, so an advanced reservation is a must.
Another zoo great for witnessing wildlife is Greenville Zoo established in 1960. It is a 14-acre land offering a variety of experiences including Zoomobile, Zoo Overnights, Zoo Camp, and Safari Adventure Packs.
It is also a promoter of conservation where visitors can attend conservation lectures for free!
Hilton Head Island is an adventure paradise packed with historical sites, superb restaurants, amazing golf courses, and pristine beaches.
Visitors can relax at Coligny Beach Park, have a bite to eat at the Harbor Town, or discover the history of Pinckney National Wildlife Refuge.
Located in Greenville, the Peace Center is the best place to witness the culture and performing arts.
Catch a variety of events and shows from dance companies like the Carolina Ballet Theater to famous musicians and Broadway performances.
Poe’s Tavern is a must-visit if you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, a famous American poet.
The place is a gastropub with a theme all about Poe, including decorations of his excerpts and pictures.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a 170-acre zoo filled with over 2,000 wild animals. It also has a Botanical Garden featuring various attractions such as the Asian garden, Waterfall Junction, and Old Rose Garden.
Visitors can also go on a walk-through history of its several historical sites such as the Saluda River Factory Ruins and the Covered Bridge Abutments.
Believers in ET or aliens will not be disappointed in South Carolina since it boasts the UFO Welcome Center.
However, don’t expect the artifacts to be real since all are man-made by Jody Pendarvis. The most notable attraction of the center is the 42-foot UFO saucer built in 1994.