South Carolina Travel Guide

Southern hospitality will find you in South Carolina whether you are strolling along the streets of a colonial city, staring up at a 1,000-year-old oak tree, or sunbathing on the beach. South Carolina vacations may be diverse, but the unifying factor is the friendliness of local people, charm of small towns, and good old-fashioned southern cooking! Think outside of the box this year when planning your vacation and head to the mountains, lakes, or lowcountry of South Carolina.

Your next South Carolina family vacation can be spent exploring Charleston, getting cozy on a sandy beach, or seeking adventure. will prove to you that no matter what type of South Carolina getaway you imagine, there is the perfect rental to match!

What to Do in South Carolina

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Fun for the Whole Family

A South Carolina beach vacation will have the whole family running for the car! Myrtle Beach has long been satisfying the summer urge for some sun, surf, and sand. Beyond beaches, South Carolina offers a variety of vacation choices for families. Mix up your vacation routine this year by leaving beaches behind for other kinds of family adventure.

Take the plunge in one of South Carolina’s crystal clear lakes during your next vacation. Fulfill your fresh-water fantasies with a week of swimming, tubing, boating, and lounging in the sun. Looking for a more active getaway? Head straight for the mountains in the northwest corner of the state where you’ll enjoy horseback riding, hiking, rafting, and fishing.

From children’s museums to fishing piers and old-fashioned bakeries to thrilling theme parks, your South Carolina family vacation won’t have a dull moment. Whether you choose well-known spots such as Hilton Head Island or Charleston, or are venturing out to try somewhere new, South Carolina vacations will deliver on fun for the whole family.

The Wild Side of South Carolina

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of South Carolina is by hopping in your car. There are a few scenic byways and back roads that will reveal wonders you would never see if you stayed put. Begin with a drive along Ashley River Road in South Carolina Lowcountry where you will pass battlefields from both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

south carolina vacationsNo South Carolina family vacation would be complete without a picnic, so pack up a gourmet lunch and head for the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. Keep your eyes peeled for the peach orchards, historic battlefields, and quaint villages. There are plenty of opportunities for scenic hikes and picnicking, so bring your adventurous spirit and hit the road!

Stretching from the Atlantic Coast to the Blue Ridge Mountains, South Carolina is full of wilderness to explore. Get a burst of adrenaline rafting class IV rapids, go kayaking on blackwater rivers, or take an alligator swamp tour. From waterfalls to wildlife, a South Carolina family vacation will be full of natural beauty.

The Charm of History

The most popular reason for planning South Carolina vacations is to see the state’s famous historical cities. The port city of Charleston has retained charm with its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and laid-back attitude. If you’re looking for a vacation with a slower pace but still in close proximity to dining and nightlife, look no further than Charleston!

The capital city of Columbia is also home to a historic center where museums, zoos, and galleries attract many visitors. From colonial architecture to tours of historic homes, visiting these South Carolina cities will provide an understanding of 19th century America. Visit former plantations, take walking tours, and browse antique shops to complete the picture of the historic south.

south carolina vacations

Hit the Beach

If you want to plan a South Carolina beach vacation you will have over 300 miles of coastline to choose from. Myrtle Beach has been attracting families for several decades because of white-sand beaches, fresh seafood, ocean side state parks, and excellent fishing. There are also over 100 golf courses in the area. Choose a vacation rental on the beach and be steps away from the sand and surf!

Do you have a romantic South Carolina beach vacation in mind? Head for the historic Charleston beaches where you can stroll by lighthouses at sunset and explore South Carolina’s coastline on horseback. You’ll be in close proximity to the fine-dining and nightlife of Charleston as well if you choose beaches in this area. A great blend of sophistication and relaxation, this location is an ideal choice for couples.

The lowcountry beaches, including Hilton Head, Edisto, Hunting Islands, and Fripp, are all popular choices for a South Carolina beach vacation. Known for a family-friendly atmosphere, spectacular opportunities for golfing, and even surfing, this area of South Carolina has it all! Don't forget your golf clubs or, if you don't play, get ready to spend an indulgent afternoon at the day spa.

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What to See in South Carolina

south carolina vacationsBeyond beaches, mountains, and historical cities, South Carolina is full of important landmarks. Give your kids a little education during South Carolina vacations by squeezing a few sites into your itinerary. Begin with the Woodrow Wilson Family Home in Columbia where the President spent his teenage years.

Visit Hampton-Preston Museum and Gardens in Columbia to grasp what antebellum life was like for wealthy residents of South Carolina. This impressive mansion features period furnishings and antiques. The Columbia Museum of Art and Riverbanks Zoo and Garden are also worth a visit.

Hilton Head Island is home to some interesting landmarks including Fort Mitchell, built by the Union soldiers during the Civil War. The Sandbox Children’s Museum will be a great place to spend a rainy day with kids. Charleston is home to the South Carolina Aquarium while Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach will bring you up close and personal to these fascinating reptiles.

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Where to Shop and Eat in South Carolina

south carolina vacations

A Southern Shopping Hot Spot

It would be difficult not to have a shopping craving during South Carolina vacations. From department stores to antique shops to outlet centers, you will find many opportunities to satisfy your shopping urge. Begin in Charleston, where a blend of boutiques and open-air markets will show the city’s charms. Head for King Street for designer boutiques or Market Street for high-end brands.

If you’re looking for discounts during South Carolina vacations, then explore one of the many outlet centers. Prime Outlets in Gaffney offers 80 brand-name stores and there is a Tanger Outlet Center boasting designer options in Blufton, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston. Find your own favorite antique store as you pass through towns and villages during your driving adventures.

Bring Your Appetite to South Carolina!

During a South Carolina family vacation you are sure to taste southern country cooking. But beyond traditional recipes, you will also experience a more modern side to South Carolina. You won’t leave a restaurant hungry with all of the South Carolina barbeque, she-crab soup, gumbo, and variety of seafood being offered.

If you’re a real foodie, don’t miss the Charleston Food & Wine Festival held each March. Take the opportunity to learn some culinary tricks from the city’s top chefs during this annual event. Local favorites in Charleston include Hominy Grill, Poogan’s Porch, and Magnolias. In Myrtle Beach, don’t miss Parson’s Table or Webster’s. Serving a variety of classics and more modern takes on southern cooking, you will be impressed by the sophistication of South Carolina dining.

Restaurant temptations continue in Hilton Head. Old Fort Pub has over 100 wines to choose from and boasts great views while Redfish showcases the area’s fantastic seafood. If you’re in Columbia, try Hennessey’s or Solstice Kitchen and Wine Bar. You will discover during a South Carolina family vacation that southern cooking has a range of cultural influences from European to Creole to African.

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When to Visit South Carolina

South Carolina vacations can be planned year-round. Winters are known for being mild and summers for being long and hot. If you’re planning a South Carolina beach vacation, ideal times to visit include the spring, summer, and fall. The most popular time of year to visit is the summer, when families and golf enthusiasts flock to South Carolina’s shores. If you’re looking for a quieter beach experience, plan your trip during the spring or fall when mostly retirees and golfers are enjoying the mild weather.

If you’re looking to travel on a budget, the low season for South Carolina is from December through February. During these months discounts may be available. If you are looking for someplace quiet to relax, take advantage of the out of season discounts! While high season lasts from May through August, visitors may want to be aware that hurricane season lasts from June through October. Hurricanes don't often reach this far north along the coast, but storms can be unpredictable.

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What to Bring to South Carolina

Depending on the time of year, what you need for South Carolina vacations will vary. During the summer months, it will be an effort to stay cool, so remember your bathing suit, hat, sunglasses, and beach umbrella. If you’re planning on enjoying hiking, horseback riding, and white water rafting, remember to bring good footwear and breathable clothing. It is important during the summer months to stay hydrated, so bring along a water bottle and drink up!

During the spring and autumn temperatures can vary greatly over the course of a day. Plan ahead by packing layers, light jackets, and rain gear in case of showers. Part of the pleasure of visiting South Carolina is the scenic drives, so be sure to bring some entertainment in the car for the kids. Other essential items include insect repellant, sunscreen, and your golf clubs!

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Local Services in South Carolina

If you’re planning a South Carolina beach vacation during the summer months expect local services to be widely available. In the shoulder season of the spring and fall, and especially in the off season, you might find limited hours and closures for some shops and restaurants along the shoreline. In the cities of Charleston and Columbia, you will be able to depend on local services.

Banks, ATMs, and post offices are available in each town in South Carolina. Bring any essential prescriptions with you, although pharmacies are common. Don’t miss out on the farmer’s markets and seafood markets in South Carolina. You might just pick up a recipe or two during your trip to try out in the kitchen of your own private vacation rental!

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What to Know About South Carolina

If you’re planning a trip to Charleston, you’re probably interested in history. You might not know that Savannah, Georgia is in close proximity to Charleston with a car. This historic city, with its romantic hanging moss, beautiful parks and squares, and river walk, is a natural complement to Charleston. Start early in the morning and take a daytrip to see the highlights of Savannah.

Many families are forced to plan South Carolina vacations around school schedules. If you are not under this schedule, consider September for a South Carolina beach vacation. The ocean is still warm enough for swimming, the sun is still strong for sunbathing, and the crowds have all left to get back home in time for the first day of school!

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Getting to South Carolina

South Carolina is a state that begs to be explored by car. Whether you hit the highways to reach your South Carolina destination or arrive by air and rent a car at the airport, you will be glad to explore this beautiful state independently. The biggest airport is Charleston International Airport, followed by Greenville, Myrtle Beach, and Columbia. If you find an affordable fare into Savannah, it is possible to rent a car and begin your journey from there.

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Why South Carolina Vacation Rentals?

When you envision your perfect South Carolina beach vacation, surely it includes a large deck overlooking the crashing surf, and not a view over the parking lot at a crowded hotel. Make every moment of your vacation a relaxing one by reserving a vacation rental. Let your family spread out and enjoy the space, stop fighting over a single bathroom, and most importantly, be in the type of environment where you can spend quality time together. From beachfront properties to mountain hideaways, a vacation rental is the natural match to a South Carolina family vacation.

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