10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in South Carolina
Whether you're interested in history or just out to make some memories, South Carolina tempts with engaging tourist attractions and fun things to do. Take your pick from high-quality stage shows, golf, and water parks in Myrtle Beach, or relax at the fashionable holiday resorts on Hilton Head Island.
The central city of Columbia is the state capital, but historic Charleston is the center of charming antebellum streets and plantations with moss-covered ancient oaks. The state is also known as a premier golf destination in the United States.
1 Myrtle Beach
Miles of pristine sands line the coast of Myrtle Beach. But equal draws are the varied tourist attractions - from award-winning productions and golf, to shopping and great food. Families love the slides, splash rides, pools at local water parks and major hotels, and of course, relaxing at the beach. This city is perfect for vacations with the kids, romantic getaways, golfing weekends, and fun trips with friends.
Visitors can immerse themselves in the history and grandeur of this port city, which helped shape the United States. Grand homes and architecturally astounding churches line the charming streets in Charleston's Historic District, while plantations give a sense of the south in yesteryear.
During a stay in Charleston, visitors can tour the stronghold of Fort Sumter and the immense deck of the USS Yorktown. The South Carolina Aquarium, another big state attraction, is also located in this lovely coastal city.
3 Hilton Head Island
While Hilton Head Island doesn't have the glamorous stage shows of the Grand Strand, this low country paradise offers laid-back relaxation and smaller crowds. They come for activities like biking, shopping, dining, and golfing. Wildlife-watchers can spot rare and common species up-close at the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.
4 Huntington Beach State Park
With over 300 bird species, Huntington Beach is considered by many to be the best birding location in South Carolina. Guests can usually spot alligators at the park's freshwater lake. Art lovers enjoy the juried Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival held every September in the former residence of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. The philanthropist and sculptor are also responsible for the neighboring Brookgreen Gardens.
Address: 16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet
5 South Carolina State Museum, Columbia
The South Carolina State Museum is the state's largest museum, with four floors covering the areas of natural history, science and technology, art, and cultural, as they relate to South Carolina. The museum features educational hands-on exhibits, a science theatre, a planetarium, and changing exhibits. People of all ages will find this museum intriguing.
Address: 301 Gervais Street, Columbia
6 Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia
As if kangaroo joeys or koala cubs aren't enough, Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia is home to over 2,000 animals representing more than 350 species. The African Plains exhibit introduces giraffes and zebras. The park's other large residents include African lions, Siberian tigers, and grizzly bears. Attractions at the zoo include a botanical garden, daily animal demonstrations, and zip lines.
Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia
7 Caesars Head State Park
Cleveland's Caesars Head State Park presents a multitude of photo ops, including the Overlook and its breathtaking view of Table Rock. There are hiking trails within the state park as well as rivers suited to fishing. For treasuring hunting enthusiasts, several geocaches are hidden within the park - but you will need a GPS device to find them.
Address: 8155 Geer Hwy, Cleveland
8 South Carolina Plantations
Walking in some of South Carolina's 2,000-plus plantations is like entering a dream. The grand historic homes and spectacular grounds are scattered throughout the state. If you're planning a statewide plantation tour (or if you only have time for one stop), put Charleston at the top of the list as it is home to some of the state's most beautiful properties.
9 Dupont Planetarium
Explore the night sky during public shows at the Dupont Planetarium in Aiken. While the planetarium's main focus is astronomy, other shows may take watchers into wild weather events or the molecules of a living cell. The planetarium encourages visitors to make reservations.
Address: 471 University Pkwy, Aiken
10 Greenville Zoo
If you're in upstate South Carolina (perhaps checking out Caesars Head State Park), swing by the Greenville Zoo to meet exotic and North American animal species. Elephants, monkeys, leopards, and toucans have a home at the zoo. Special features offer educational opportunities, family adventures and programs, and overnight stays.
Address: 150 Cleveland Park Dr, Greenville