- Magnolia Plantation, Huntington Beach State Park, and Brookgreen Gardens are breathtaking showcases of South Carolina’s natural beauty.
- Of course, history buffs won’t want to miss Fort Sumter, Middleton Place, or Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.
- Families visiting South Carolina will want to see the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Alligator Adventure, and Myrtle Beach.
South Carolina is located on the southeastern coastline of the United States. It’s best known for its shoreline, which features beautiful subtropical beaches and marshlike islands. While this may be what South Carolina is best known for, beaches and islands are far from all it has to offer.
The state is also rich in history and features unique botanical, architectural, and educational sightseeing opportunities. Additionally, there are even a few oddities you won’t want to miss. Here are 12 things to do on your next trip to South Carolina.
1. Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is best known for its 60 miles of white sand beaches. You can relax on the sandy shoreline or play in the bright blue water. If you need fresh air, sand, and sunshine, then there are places where you can camp right off the beach.
There are plenty of activities to enjoy near the beach. For instance, there’s a water park, boardwalk, and rides. The boardwalk features local eateries. So, stop and grab a bite to eat with friends or family.
2. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
This Charleston attraction was established in 1676 and more or less remains the same as it was originally. Since Magnolia Plantation is the oldest public garden in America, it’s a must-see for history buffs and nature lovers alike.
The massive gardens are landscaped in a romantic style and feature a diverse array of local flora. A lake is lined by flowering bushes and tall trees dripping with Spanish moss. Wooden boardwalks span the gardens. And you can even spot abundant wildlife, especially various local birds.
3. Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter played a defining role in the Civil War when the Union and Confederacy fought one another. The national park surrounding the historic fort provides visitors with valuable and fascinating information about that period in America’s history.
Learn why and how the Civil War started and how Fort Sumter was involved. Besides the fort itself, you can also view old cannons and other artifacts leftover from the Civil War era. So, it’s a fascinating stop for history buffs.
4. Huntington Beach State Park
Huntington Beach State Park features three miles of shoreline where you can fish, swim, exercise or relax by the water. There are camping sites available to those who want to rough it without being too far from modern amenities.
Dogs are welcome at this state park, making it the perfect place to visit for families traveling with their canine companions. Bird-watchers will also adore how many species they’ll find. More than 300 types have been previously spotted along this pristine shore.
5. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden cares for animals from all over the world. Additionally, it has a botanical garden you can stroll through and enjoy. The price of admission is reasonably low, making it the perfect stop for families traveling on a budget.
You can see endangered animals like tigers and rare exhibits like koalas during your visit. Of course, there are also plenty of animals from North America, including otters, grizzly bears, and sea lions, among others.
6. Charleston’s Historic District
You could make a stay in Charleston’s Historic District your entire vacation and not run out of things to do. The historic district features gorgeous antebellum architecture everywhere you look, making it feel like you’ve taken a step back in time.
Rainbow Row is a must-see, aptly named for the vivid paint colors of this street’s homes. Stunning coastal beaches are nearby if you’re looking for some fun in the sun. Quaint stores (many locally owned) provide ample shopping opportunities, while old-fashioned eateries serve delicious Southern food at every corner.
7. Middleton Place
History comes alive at Middleton Place. This historic plantation has been preserved and lets you take a glimpse at what life would have looked like back then. You can tour the manor house or explore the expansive grounds.
You’ll find a fully functioning stable yard and a blacksmith shop that offers regular craft demonstrations on your walks around the site. Finish your exploration with a stroll through the botanical gardens or visit the quaint historic cabin outside the fields.
8. Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum features the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier, as its centerpiece. You have the opportunity to tour the aircraft carrier and get an insider look at what life may have been like for the soldiers who called the ship their temporary home during the war.
There are many other ships you can visit here, too. Additionally, there’s a Vietnam exhibit and Cold War Memorial here. The official Medal of Honor Museum is here, too, which honors the recipients of the prestigious award.
9. DuPont Planetarium
The DuPont Planetarium provides public showings every Saturday, which is something you want to work into your South Carolina trip’s itinerary. Dive into astronomy and learn more about the solar system in a massive tilted aluminum dome.
You’ll have the opportunity to see the planets, moons, and stars in a way otherwise impossible. While viewing the vastness of outer space, you’ll have some of your most pressing questions about the galaxy answered. During the summer months, the planetarium provides special showings during the day every Friday.
10. Alligator Adventure
Alligator Adventure is the self-proclaimed reptile capital of the world, with most of its facility dedicated to educating the public about alligators. Several species of alligator can be seen here, including American, Albino, and Chinese alligators as well as their close cousins, crocodiles.
Learn more about these beautiful, ferocious reptiles while watching them in their watery enclosures. Alligators and crocodiles aren’t the only things you’ll have the opportunity to see. You can also view bobcats, flamingos, owls, and kookaburras.
11. UFO Welcome Center
South Carolina’s UFO Welcome Center is a roadside oddity you won’t find elsewhere. It’s open to anyone willing to brave the saucer-shaped building’s dilapidated frame. Less brave visitors can experience the unique structure from the outside, which is still well worth the view.
The UFO Welcome Center was designed in 1994 by Jody Pendarvis with the intention of being a place where brave aliens and humans could meet in peace. The only downside is there aren’t reliable tour hours. Instead, Pendarvis accepts visitors at his own discretion.
12. Brookgreen Gardens
Brookgreen Gardens was named one of the top 10 gardens in the U.S. by Tripadvisor. You’ll quickly see why if you manage to visit during your South Carolina trip. The gardens are filled with gorgeous native flora, interspersed with elegant art statues.
You have the opportunity to explore the gardens on your own or take a guided tour to learn more about the plants and art pieces. There are also several programs and exhibits that focus on art or history for those visitors who’d like to learn more on those topics.