Many families implement the annual tradition of taking a vacation, separating themselves from their normal everyday lives in an effort to reconnect and build memories that will last a lifetime. However, a difficult economy and struggling family finances may make you wonder if this year’s getaway will happen. Assuredly, there are plenty of affordable family vacations in South Carolina for you to choose from and continue the tradition.

family beach vacations in south carolina

Glorious Beaches

The best thing about South Carolina beaches is that visiting them is free (with the exception of a possible parking fee), including Myrtle Beach. So, you could easily plan your entire trip around sand and surf and spend a minimal amount on vacation expenses. Beach activities abound, such as playing in the waves, hunting for beautiful seashells, burying your kids in the sand or building fantastic sandcastles together.

If you have a bit of room in the budget, rent some water sports equipment and go surfing or kayaking. Spend a few bucks and snorkel together as a family, watching the fish swim in the coral beneath you. Bring your favorite tackle and experience inshore fishing or splurge a little and take the family on a deep sea fishing excursion.

There are a wide range of beaches to choose from for South Carolina affordable family vacations. The Grand Stand beaches are, of course, the most frequented, which includes Myrtle Beach. In addition to enjoying the sand, you can take interesting historical tours of the area, enjoy state park facilities, browse in eclectic shops and visit Brookgreen Gardens, strolling through the largest collection of American sculptures in the world.

While you're here, check out our guide to the best South Carolina beach towns.

south carolina farmers market


While it has its fair share of name brand and expensive shops, there is one attraction that no one looking to enjoy affordable family vacations in South Carolina will want to miss. The South Carolina State Farmers Market, located near Dixiana in Lexington County on the Charleston Highway (Highway 321), not only has traditional farmers market booths and items, but is an upgraded marketplace complete with a children’s play area, amphitheater, exhibition kitchen, a fish market, a meat market, a full bakery and specialty shops and restaurants.

History and Culture

Why not make affordable family vacations in South Carolina educational as well as enjoyable? There are plenty of inexpensive activities throughout the state that will not only provide your family with memories, but will also allow you to broaden your family’s horizons. The landscape is dotted with more than 1,200 historical sites listed in the National Register of Historical Places.

Charleston, South Carolina used to be an urban slave-trading center and the Old Slave Mart Museum recounts this history so well that it is one of the most frequented attractions in the state. Of course, Charleston has more to offer than a museum. Noted for its old world charm, this contemporary city has all of the modern conveniences accompanied by traditional carriage rides across cobblestone streets.

Charles Towne Landing is the site of the first permanent English settlement in the state, complete with beautiful English gardens and colonial plantation homes preserved in their original state. Check out the Redcliffe Plantation House Museum in Beach Island to see a beautiful Greek-Revival mansion built in 1859.

Don’t forget about culture and the arts. Check out the Beaufort International Film Festival held in Beaufort, South Carolina every year. It not only houses a film festival, but also includes an art walk, art shows and festivities. There’s also the Columbia Museum of Art and The Artist’s Colony located in Sumter, just to get you started.

Whatever you choose to see and do while planning South Carolina affordable family vacations, you’re certain not to fall short on fun or memories.