There are several states in the US that make great travel destinations. From the fast-paced life of New York to the glitz and glamour of L.A, we’ve heard about it all. However, there’s one state that serves as a great mix of both entertainment and tranquility, and that’s South Carolina. Of course its long and varied coastline is its most enduring feature, but this can also be coupled with its beautiful wilderness, classic Southern charm, and majestic cities. Whether you’re looking for beachfront properties and barbecues or the alluring beauty of the mountains, South Carolina has a little something for everyone. Moreover, the blissfully sunny vibes lend it the title of the state with the best weather all-year round.
South Carolina boasts 180 miles of fabulous coastline. It’s composed of five geographic areas, the boundaries of which parallel the Atlantic coastline of the southeastern US. So, whether you’re planning to live there, or just planning a vacation or a weekend getaway, read on to find out about some of the most gorgeous coastal towns in the state to look out for.
The oldest town in South Carolina, Charleston was founded in 1670 and continues to draw tourists to this date owing to its historical significance. The Southern Living magazine has even voted it as the most polite and hospitable city in America, and it has also been bestowed the tag of America’s Most Friendly City by Travel + Leisure magazine.
Filled with a plethora of famous restaurants, a chic nightlife, remarkable hospitality, and a charming waterfront, the local Low Country cuisine of Charleston, with its English and French influences, is one you just can’t miss. If you visit the town during late spring, you will also be able to catch the Spoleto Festival USA, which is one of the world’s biggest performing arts festivals.
Abounding in enchanting edifices, Beaufort is the second oldest town in South Carolina. Lovers of art are sure to appreciate this town for the numerous cultural festivals that are held throughout the year. If you’re a water baby who loves water sports, Beaufort is the place to be in.
In fact, National Geographic even named it the seventh-best waterfront adventure town. The canopied streets are the best for leisurely walks, be it by yourself or with your friends, while you look around and pop in to one of the stores for art, books, decorations, antiques, and the like. Make sure to visit the Chambers Waterfront Park and also try the delectable meal of classic shrimp and grits at one of the eateries.
Imagine a town with clear blue waters and a pace of its own; that’s Edisto for you. Rent an exquisite beach cottage, and enjoy the beach vacation you’ve always dreamed of, complete with oceanfront scenery, saltwater marshes, and Low Country oaks.
Apart from the serene beach, you can also book a boat tour to explore the creeks curving through the landscape. Or maybe just sit under an umbrella in front of the water and read a novel in peace. While you’re there, you absolutely must visit the souvenir shops to grab some locally-made pottery, jewellery, and art.
Hilton Head Island
There’s so much to do at Hilton Head Island, depending on how much time you have. You can walk through the waterfront village of Harbour Town, perusing through its boutique shops and restaurants, and then head to the Sea Pines Forest Preserve to explore the protected wildlife habitat that attracts so many tourists to this part of South Carolina and is home to several animals such as birds and alligators.
Visitors can even check out the Cultural Discovery Museum, or head over to the Harbour Town Lighthouse to get a panoramic view of the Calibogue Sound and the neighboring Daufuskie Island. The events at Hilton Head Island range from golf tournaments and chili-eating contests to the Dove Street Festival of Lights around the time of Christmas.
Renowned as having one of the fastest growing economies and populations in the state, Greenville’s natural landscape and cultural attractions make it a town worth visiting. Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, the beauty surrounding it is a sight to behold, and one can go to Falls Park on the Reedy located downtown to take in the lush green view.
Those with a predilection towards architecture can also witness one of the last creations of Frank Lloyd Wright. One can spend time around the revamped downtown area or the West End Historic District, which was earlier a cluster of abandoned warehouses and truly reflects how much Greenville and changed and developed in the past few years.
Georgetown is not only one of the state’s most important ports, but also one of its oldest cities. One of the focal points of Georgetown is the historic waterfront. The Harbor Walk is the ideal place for a long walk and provides a great angle to view the watercraft from all over.
A favourite stopping point along the Intercoastal Waterway, you can also take a cruise from here and take a tour where you can go shelling, see a lighthouse, go dolphin spotting, bird watching, and learn the nautical history. Many fishing expeditions begin from this coast, too. Georgetown is blessed with a varied history and heritage, and it’s all displayed in the five museums located in the heart of downtown that you can go to to learn more about the town’s past.
McClellanville is proud of its history, and that’s reflected in every corner of the town and displayed valiantly in its historical sites and museums. One can take a ferry to Bulls Island and explore the oceanfront wilderness of Cape Romain, along with the famous Boneyard Beach.
The Hampton Plantation State Historic Site serves as a point for tourists to find out more about the time when McClellanville was a coastal retreat for wealthy rice and indigo planters. For a casual day out, you can stroll around Pinckney Street to try the local cuisine and take a look at some of the souvenir shops as well.
Those with an interest in military or naval history will appreciate Mount Pleasant for it’s the resting site of several US Navy vessels. Nature lovers can pay a visit to Shem Creek and Francis Marion National Forest, both of which are famous spots for kayaking, paddle boarding, camping, hiking, and just relishing the feel of nature and wildlife.
The town also has sites registered on the National Register of Historic Places for those who want to learn more about America’s history, one of them being the Boone Hall Plantation that has details of black history and the Gullah culture.
A collection of gardens, historic plantations, and scenic parks make Summerville a great town to visit and live in. The scenic Azalea Park and Sculpture Garden serves as a quiet getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, with its selection of marvelous flowers and bronze sculptures.
To delve a little deeper into the history of America, pay a visit to Drayton Hall which serves a testament to the wealth and power of the early American plantation owners. You can also stop by Middleton Place, which is not only a National Historic Monument, but also the oldest landscaped garden in the country.
Folly Beach is basically your dream beach vacation come true. One of the most popular beaches of South Carolina, visitors love to indulge in watersports including surfing, kayaking, and boating while they’re at Folly Beach.
The local scene comes alive in places such as the Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier and the Morris Island Lighthouse, the former being a favourite spot for fishing. If you’re looking to spend a day gorging on delicacies, you can head out to Center Street, that has a wide array of restaurants and bars.
Every year, Kiawah Island’s natural beauty attracts visitors who’re both tourists as well as locals. It has emerged as a popular go-to holiday destination for families, couples, and even solo travelers.
The Maritime forests and the rolling sand dunes are considered as some of the chief attractions. Kiawah Island also has one of the best golf courses in South Carolina, known as the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, for those of you who like to unwind with some golfing, and is also home to a beach that’s pet-friendly.
Containing 50 mini golf courses, Myrtle Beach is a favourite especially among families. Its numerous long beaches are crowded by tourists throughout the year, with several water activities available for you to indulge in namely jet skiing, paddle boarding, para-sailing et al.
You can also take your kids to the Family Kingdom Amusement Park as well as Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, both of which they’re bound to love. If you’re in the mood for some delicious seafood, there are plenty of restaurants along Kings Highway that serve a buffet for you to satiate your craving for shrimps, lobsters, and the like.
The beach at Seabrook Island was voted as the country’s ‘Best Restored Beach’ by The American Shore & Beach Preservation Association, and is one of the many reasons that makes it a beach worth visiting.
The Seabrook Island Property Association have been striving to protect the wildlife and nature around, as a result of which you can see sea turtles, alligators, Bottlenose dolphins, deer, and birds coexisting in this lush green ambience. The one thing you absolutely can’t miss while at Seabrook Island is the breathtakingly beautiful sunset that you can view from a dock overlooking the tidal marshlands.
Isle of Palms
An upscale resort area, Isle of Palms houses nearly 3,000 acres of beaches, parks, and homes. Its beaches are perfect for water activities, a cold swim, or just relaxing and strolling around. You can hop on a golf cart to explore the island or visit the Isle of Palms County Park to enjoy the spectacular sunset with your friends.
The Barrier Island Eco Tours showcases nature at its best, and you can also head to Patriots Point, which is the final resting place for the WWII warship and was called the USS Yorktown. It also contains the Patriots Point Museum and a fleet of National Historic Landmark ships, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and the agency’s official Medal of Honor Museum.
Sullivan’s Island is one of those places you can escape to when you just need to enjoy the calm sound of beach waves. Visiting the national monument, Fort Moultrie, will take you back to the era of World War II and the Revolutionary War, and post this, you can see the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, which is one of the last lighthouses that was built in the United States.
If adventure is on your mind, then you can rent a stand-up paddle-board and cruise the intracoastal waterway, or even rent a bike and ride through the island, savoring the views.
The amalgamation of rich history, rugged terrains, and salt marshes make the coastal towns of South Carolina ideal for both holidays as well as residential purposes. Whether you’re looking to relax on a beach, munch on scrumptious seafood, traverse through America’s history, or see yourself amidst wildlife, South Carolina’s coastal towns have a lot to offer.
Not only are they safe and friendly to live in, these towns make the perfect way to escape the noisy life of the big, concrete jungles. So, if you wish to relax and fill your Instagram feed with immensely drool-worthy photos, plan a trip to one of these coastal towns of South Carolina soon.
List of Image Sources
- Charleston in South Carolina: Jason Persse/Flickr
- Beaufort in South Carolina: BeaufortSC/Facebook
- Edisto Island in South Carolina: townofedistobeach/Facebook
- Hilton Head Island in South Carolina: Lee Coursey/Flickr
- Greenville in South Carolina: Kevin Oliver/Flickr
- Georgetown in South Carolina: georgetown.s.carolina/Facebook
- McClellanville in South Carolina: Henry de Saussure Copeland/Flickr
- Mount Pleasant in South Carolina: tompsc/Facebook
- Summerville in South Carolina: Davey Borden/Flickr
- Folly Beach in South Carolina: Jeremy Taylor/Flickr
- Kiawah Island in South Carolina: Kat/Flickr
- Myrtle Beach in South Carolina: David Cooper/Flickr
- Seabrook Island in South Carolina: Saif Alnuweiri/Flickr
- Isle of Palms in South Carolina: Dania/Flickr
- Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina: Photosavvy/Flickr