South Carolina is a state steeped in history.
It was once the state with the most slave trade activity, was the first to secede from the Union, and was the eighth in ratifying the U.S. Constitution.
Today, many of the famous places from its history remain, from plantations to jailhouses and from sites-turned-museums to ruins and forts.
Many of its built-up cities are immensely popular with guests, especially Charleston, Greenville, Columbia, and Florence.
South Carolina is also well-known as a vacation spot for tourists.
It has gorgeous coastlines, verdant wooded areas and parks, golf courses and recreation spots, museums, and many historic points of interest along the way.
Though it’s one of America’s smaller states, it’s still packed with options for exploration and enjoyment.
To help you decide where to visit and where to go, here are our picks for the 40 best things to do and places to visit in South Carolina.
Things To Do In South Carolina
1. South Carolina State Museum
The South Carolina State Museum sits in what was once the Columbia Mills Building of downtown Columbia, the world’s first electric mill for textiles.
It is a state-of-the-art location packed with showcases and displays on natural history, art, science, culture, history, modern lifestyle, and technology of the region.
Opened in 1988, it’s also the state’s biggest museum, a fitting title given its name, and retains much of its original textile mill features.
This museum is home to four exhibit floors that showcase both permanent and temporary displays.
There are four categories of displays – cultural history, natural history, art, and science and technology – that allow you to view replicas, artifacts, and local art in turn.
Some of the most fun and popular exhibits are the megalodon shark sculpture and a life-sized replica of the Best Friend of Charleston, or the first entirely American-built locomotive.
Temporary exhibits are similarly state-themed, with exhibits and pop culture showcases of all varieties.
Modern exhibit styles mean that many displays come with multimedia or interactive information.
There is also a 4D theater fitted with air blasts, vibrating seats, and even leg ticklers.
An observatory, bookstore, digital dome planetarium, and a gift shop add to the many other ways to enjoy one of the main South Carolina attractions!
Address: 301 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201, United States
2. Charleston Historic District
If you’re looking for vacation spots in South Carolina, a great place to start is in Charleston Historic District.
It is so named for being one of the city’s earliest established districts – and yet it remains one of its busiest today!
More than 1400 different buildings, including churches and “single house” homes, that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries make up the area.
The atmosphere is delightfully relaxed and there’s something charming about the antebellum-era whimsy that remains.
As a National Historic Landmark, the neighborhood is teeming with attractions that make up many of the key places to visit in South Carolina.
A carriage ride can bring you around and clue you in to the most tourist-worthy spots while teaching you a little about the district’s history.
Walking streets make sightseeing easy, which is good since there’s so much to do that it’ll take up all your time this weekend!
Among the historic structures to tour in Charleston’s Historic District are the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, the Cathedral of St. Luke and St. Paul, the Charleston County Courthouse, the Old Exchange Building, and the Aiken-Rhett House.
You can also simply wander Meeting Street, Broad Street, and King Street to enjoy a merging of history with modern but quaint shops and eateries.
3. Fort Sumter National Monument
The Fort Sumter National Monument is one of the best tourist attractions in South Carolina for history buffs and war academics alike.
It is made up of two locations: the fort itself and a special Visitor Education Center where you can learn more about the historic monument.
It is located on an island and requires a half-hour ride on a boat to get to.
Arranging for a ride a day in advance is required, or you can use a personal vessel and anchor it on the fort’s western side.
Fort Sumter in Charleston is the location where the very first shot was fired in the Civil War, in the year 1861.
The National Monument, as it is now preserved, allows you to take a walking tour and relive this significant point in the fight for civil rights in America.
Many parts of the monument are only accessible via stairs, but they’re rewarding to climb to.
Caverns still hold cannons from the Civil War era and the Visitor Center provides detailed information about the fort’s importance as well as a number of artifacts.
Address: Charleston, Columbia, SC 29412, United States
4. Huntington Beach State Park
If you’re looking for fun things to do in South Carolina that involve nature and the great outdoors, look no further than Huntington Beach State Park.
It is a stunning coastal natural preserve that is most famous as a birding and bird-watching location.
It covers 3 miles of a land stretch and hosts many nature programs.
More than 300 different bird species can be seen at Huntington Beach State Park.
There is also a freshwater lake where you can spot alligators, programs where you can get up-close with endangered species like loggerhead turtles, and a Nature Center that showcases live animals and historical information.
You can even head out on the trails to look at the rare local flora!
If nature-focused attractions aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy a unique part of South Carolina’s history by checking out the Atalaya Castle, which is where the Huntingtons themselves lived.
The Atalaya Visitor Center hosts interesting exhibits and the “castle” home is available to tour and relive.
And, of course, the beach area is perfect for rest and relaxation!
Finally, in September, you can go up to the Atalaya Castle to attend to Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival.
Address: 16148 Ocean Hwy, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576, United States
5. Middleton Place
Middleton Place is the site of the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States, so it’s no wonder that this is one of the top 10 sites in South Carolina.
A former plantation, it began operations in 1755 and is an authentic glimpse into the 18th and 19th-century life on these 65 acres of beautiful gardens.
Middleton Place is also a National Historic Landmark, though only one of the original mansion’s buildings remains standing.
That portion is packed with many of its initial, genuine furniture and is a museum of sorts that you can tour.
Portraits, porcelain, and other rarities make for interesting finds.
The gardens are in a traditional French style and filled with camellias, magnolias, azaleas, and other stunning flowers.
Carriage tours are available to bring you around the gorgeous grounds.
You can also check out the Plantation Stableyards, which house heritage-bred animals, and the Middle Place Restaurant, which serves delicious meals.
Address: 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414, United States
6. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is one of the most fascinating things to do in SC, especially if you love history, the army and its components, and water vessels of all sorts.
Located in Charleston Harbor of South Carolina, it is home to an impressive three different museum ships that you can tour, with two of them being the USS Clamagore and the USS Laffey.
The most famous of the ships at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier of Essex class that was completed in 1943.
It was the US Navy’s tenth aircraft carrier and, in World War II, earned 11 battle stars before earning five more in the Vietnam War.
It is also the starring set of The Fighting Lady, a documentary from 1944.
In 1968, the USS Yorktown aided in the retrieval of astronauts from the Apollo 8 mission.
In 1975, it was retired to the museum where it now rests.
The USS Yorktown is now the site of 25 displayed aircraft and a Medal of Honor museum, among other exhibits.
Meanwhile, the USS Clamagore is a soon-to-be artificial reef and is actually a submarine.
The USS Laffey continues further the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum’s theme of showcasing decommissioned naval ships and maritime history.
All three ships can be walked through and explored in fun self-guided or docent-led tours.
The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum also has exhibits onshore.
This includes a Civil War cannon, two helicopters, and interactive displays of Vietnam War and World War II artifacts.
You can also eat at the snack shack or cafe and stop by the gift shop for souvenirs before you leave!
Address: 40 Patriots Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464, United States
7. Brookgreen Gardens
As far as things to see go, the Brookgreen Gardens are certainly one of the places of interest in South Carolina that you shouldn’t miss.
The name “gardens” may evoke the idea of a small area, but it’s actually a mass of land stretching across 9,100 acres with many interesting places to check out within.
The Brookgreen Gardens are award-winning and famous for housing more than 2,000 figurative sculptures, making it the most comprehensive and biggest collection of its kind in America.
More than 430 different artists have their works displayed here, which is no surprise considering that Anna Hyatt Huntington, a notable sculptor, was one of the founders of the gardens in 1932.
It was also the country’s first public garden of sculptures.
Interestingly, the grounds of the Brookgreen Gardens were once four different rice plantations.
Sculptures are arranged throughout a number of different themed areas, including the Palmetto Garden, Kitchen Garden, a terrace garden, and even a children’s garden.
If you’re here at the right time, you may be able to catch the Nights of a Thousand Candles event, which happens once a year and involves the garden’s full decoration with candles and lights.
Address: 1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576, United States
8. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
The Magnolia Plantation & Gardens are a must-see for any fun-loving nature enthusiast.
Found in Ashley River, Charleston County, South Carolina, the plantation was established in the 1670s by the rich and renowned Drayton Family.
In 1870, it opened to the public and became America’s first public garden.
Despite its age, it has been tended to by the same family, which also owns it, for the last three centuries and beyond!
With its age, a lot of the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens predate even the Civil War, providing an interesting glimpse into the common flora of that time – magnolias especially!
The romantic atmosphere is further aided by the fact that the blooms remain all through the year, with camellias in winter and azaleas in spring.
Tours are varied with different themes, with the most popular one being “From Slavery to Freedom: The Magnolia Cabin Project Tour”.
If you’d like, you can also tour the house of the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, which, while less ornate than common plantation homes, is spectacularly beautiful nonetheless.
Still, few can deny that the true draw is the gardens themselves.
Wildlife is teeming about, with the Audubon Swamp Garden boasting turtles, otters, and even gators, and the waterfowl refuge being packed with local birds.
A horticultural maze, multiple trails, and a nature center also provide fantastic insights into the gardens.
Address: 3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414, United States
9. Caesars Head State Park
Caesars Head State Park is one of the best places to go and one of the best things to do in South Carolina for sightseeing and natural atmospheres.
It is situated in Cleveland, South Carolina, and spans 13,000 acres of gorgeous, lush green land with views that encompass the Carolinas and Georgia.
It’s also packed with photo ops, largely thanks to its Blue Ridge Escarpment portions within.
At Caesars Head State Park, you’ll find mountain landscapes and an elevation of more than 3,200 feet.
Wildlife, such as black bears, falcons, and hawks, are commonplace.
Among the things you can enjoy here are swimming at the swimming holes of the Jones Gap Trail, hiking to the state’s tallest waterfall known as the Raven Cliff Falls, and the Overlook viewpoint that provides majestic panoramas of Table Rock.
You’ll also find fishing rivers, geocaches for treasure hunting, and the Foothills Trail that covers 77 miles into the next state park!
While you’re here, don’t forget to check out Devils Kitchen.
It is made up of a gneiss rock formation and earned its name due to a legend stating that the devil himself carved the unique geological feature.
The stairs of Devil’s Kitchen descend into the very small gap in the rocks that was made due to water freezing and expanding on the mountain thousands of years prior.
Address: 8155 Geer Hwy, Cleveland, SC 29635, United States
10. Riverbanks Zoo and Garden
The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a fantastic and fun option for what to do with kids or family in South Carolina.
Covering 170 acres of land, it is home to an impressive number of over 2,000 different animals across 8 uniquely designed habitats that mirror natural spaces.
More than 350 animal species are presented here, as well as 4,200 species of plants in a sectionally divided, 70-acre botanical garden!
Among the animals you can see here are koalas, kangaroos, elephants, meerkats, gorillas, giraffes, zebras, baboons, ostriches, African lions, lorikeets, California sea lions, grizzly bears, Komodo dragons, Siberian tigers, and more.
Habitats encompass the African Plains exhibit of two acres, a Ndoki Forest for Asian species, and more.
Some of the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden’s activities are ziplines, animal-feeding, a carousel, a vertical rope course, a climbing wall, and even a play area that spans 3 acres.
In other words, it’s more than just a zoo – and it’s even one of America’s greatest, at that! – and it’s well worth a visit!
Address: 500 Wildlife Pkwy, Columbia, SC 29210, United States
11. DuPont Planetarium
The DuPont Planetarium is a part of the University of South Carolina Aiken and is one of the best South Carolina attractions for those intrigued about space and the heavenly bodies.
The educational space prides itself on a mission of inspiration, aiming to showcase the wonders of the sky and beyond to visitors of all ages.
The theater is relatively small, seating only 45 people and measuring a mere 30 feet in diameter.
However, what it lacks in size it makes up for in information and entertainment.
It renders a beautiful projection of the night sky for the audience.
Regular public shows are held on Saturday nights, making for the perfect way to spend time this weekend, focusing on topics such as astronomy, biology, and the weather.
There are also themed seasonal shows, such as the Seven Wonders of the Earth.
On the first floor, you’ll find an observatory, a camera obscura, a pair of sundials, and even a walk-in kaleidoscope.
The public telescope at the observatory may give you the opportunity to see planets, star formations, and more.
Address: 427 Scholar Loop, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
12. Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens
The Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens are yet another South Carolina plantation.
The plantation itself was founded in 1681, beginning as a site for the growth of pecans and cotton.
It has not ceased operations since its start over three centuries ago and has now widened its scope to incorporate vegetables and fruits that it sells at its market.
In 1983, the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens were registered on the American National Register of Historic Places.
With 738 acres to its name, it’s one of the most fun places to visit in South Carolina for a mix of exploration, history, and nature.
Gorgeous oak trees, a lovely rose garden, and a stunning butterfly pavilion make it ideal for sightseeing.
You can also head to the mansion itself to explore the house’s antiques and take a step into the past.
Address: 1235 Long Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464, United States
13. McLeod Plantation Historic Site
The McLeod Plantation Historic Site is a crucial part of the history of America and the Gullah, which has earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
It was created in 1851 and covers 37 acres of land, with a specific 9.2-acre area perfectly preserved for tours and education.
It’s one of the best places to see in the state of South Carolina for those seeking insight into the region’s history.
Tours of the McLeod Plantation Historic Site last 45 minutes and bring you through a number of well-kept buildings that retain much of their original features.
The main plantation home, a riverside pavilion outside, a cotton-processing shed equipped with machinery of the era, and even 6 slave cabins made of clapboard are included in the tour.
Address: 325 Country Club Dr, Charleston, SC 29412, United States
14. Greenville Zoo
Seeking fun things to do in South Carolina – one of the most beautiful states in the US?
The Greenville Zoo is a great option!
It opened in 1960 and covers 14 acres of land.
Founded with the intention of providing community education and fostering appreciation of wildlife and nature, it has since become a key attraction in South Carolina.
Different habitats at the Greenville Zoo provide showcase spaces for all sorts of different animals.
You’ll see monkeys, giant anteaters, African lions, snakes, turtles, toucans, lizards, giraffes, frogs, Amur leopards, domestic animals, and farm animals alike.
There is also the incredible Quarters for Conservation research program that helps fund endangered species protection.
A range of bike and walking paths gives you an easy way to explore the Greenville Zoo.
You can even stop for activities like sports at the volleyball and tennis courts, snacks at the picnic sites and concession stand and play at the playgrounds.
Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop or check out the programs and events!
Address: 150 Cleveland Park Dr, Greenville, SC 29601, United States
15. Drayton Hall
Drayton Hall is largely considered one of the best places to go in the state for a mix of history and authentic Georgian Palladian architecture.
It was built for John Drayton over the span of four years, with construction completed in 1742 with a mixture of free and slave labor.
The house, which sits on land measuring 630 acres, remained within the family until 1974.
In that time, disasters in the late 19th century destroyed two of the outbuildings, but since then more than 260 years of preservation have allowed it to remain the same.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation received the building in 1974, 14 years after its National Historic Landmark designation.
The South Carolina Department of Archives and History considers it one of America’s finest remaining plantation houses.
It was also the only one in the area that survived both the Civil War and the prior American Revolution and earned its National Trust recognition for its full wood paneling, elaborate entrance hall ceiling, and breathtaking double stairs.
Professionally guided tours of the house and self-guided tours of the gardens give you tremendous glimpses into the culture and times of the building’s most active years.
The main house, built from red brick, has barely changed from its initial structure.
The African American Cemetery, Ashley River and marsh, and Gates Gallery all provide more ways to learn about the history of the location, and the National Trust’s many programs supplement that well.
Address: 3380 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414, United States
16. Charleston City Market
The Charleston City Market has a sobering history that, while not fun to learn much of, makes it a crucial place among South Carolina destinations for those who want the full, unfiltered truth of the state’s history.
It was built in 1859 and earned the nickname of the “Old Slave Mart” for obvious reasons.
As slavery laws tightened, the Charleston City Market of South Carolina was seen as a means to provide space for private auctions.
Congress has banned any international slave trade participation beginning 1808, but it wasn’t until 1865 that it declared the domestic slave trade outlawed.
This meant that this actually caused the peak of the slave trade of America, and up to 40% of all enslaved African people were brought through Charleston and sold to one of the South’s many plantations.
When public auctions were outlawed by the city in 1856, the Charleston City Market was created.
The Charleston City Market’s dark history has seen it auction enslaved individuals, farmland, and livestock.
When the Union Army put a stop to much of the industry’s existence upon its occupation of the city, auction houses were slowly destroyed until none but the Charleston City Market remained.
The building saw new lives as a tenement, then a museum, then a car dealership, and today an actual market with a museum on site.
You can purchase leather goods, toys, souvenirs, and clothes here, as well as the works of the “basket ladies”, who are of West African descent.
Address: 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
17. Congaree National Park
The Congaree National Park is relatively new in the span of South Carolina’s length history, having only been designated a national park in 2003, but it’s one of the best things to see and is a pride of the state.
Swampy and wide-reaching with 20,000 acres of verdant wilderness, it contains one of America’s biggest old-growth forest tracts.
You can explore the stunning Congaree National Park by walking on the boardwalk, or you can try taking a canoe or kayak out.
Boardwalk Loop is an easy way to explore on foot while Cedar Creek offers water vessel excursions that get the adrenaline pumping.
Birds, snakes, synchronous fireflies, bobcats, and more call the park their home and may be spotted along the way.
Congaree National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and is made up of floodplains from the titular Congaree River.
It has the country’s highest deciduous tree canopy and some of the tallest trees in general on this side of the Mississippi.
More than 100,000 visitors come by annually to check out the flora and fauna.
Address: 100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC 29061, United States
18. The Angel Oak
The Angel Oak looks like it came right out of a fairytale.
It’s one of the oldest oak trees still living on this side of the Mississippi River and can be found in Johns Island, South Carolina.
It’s a bit of a hidden gem but it’s a fun must-do that’ll take your breath away.
With a 17,000 square-foot shaded area around it, a 28-foot circumference, and a 65-foot or 6-story height, the Angel Oak is impressive, magnificent, and a sight to behold.
Its biggest branch spans a whopping 187 feet!
The Angel Oak is believed to be between 400 and 500 years old and is a Southern live oak, which is a kind of flora native to the coastal Carolinas’ lowland country area.
It has seen a lot of disasters in its time, from earthquakes to hurricanes to floods.
It even suffered damage in 1989’s Hurricane Hugo but recovered very well and proceeded to grow on.
The name comes from the Angel Estate, and it’s rumored that former slaves appear as ghosts in its vicinity.
It has since become Charleston City’s property and the local Coastal Conservation League has fought long and hard to protect it from potential damage from development activities.
Address: 3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455, United States
19. The Peace Center
The Peace Center is situated in the heart of Greenville’s downtown area and is largely considered the upstate’s cultural hub.
The multipurpose venue is capable of seating 2,100 people in its concert hall, 1,400 people in its amphitheater, and 400 people in its theater.
It has event spaces, rehearsal spaces, different stages, and more, making it incredibly versatile for acts of all kinds.
300 or so events are held at the Peace Center on an annual basis, with genres suiting many different tastes.
Jazz, Broadway, musical concerts, comedy, political events, and celebrity acts all arrive here to take the stage.
There’s also the South Carolina Children’s Theater and the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, which call the Peace Center their home.
With all its variety, there’s no surprise that watching a show here is one of the top things to do in South Carolina!
Address: 300 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States
20. Hilton Head Island
Not sure what to do in South Carolina that’s laid-back and down-to-earth?
Head to Hilton Head Island this weekend, one of the points of interest perfectly suitable for thinner crowds and low-country activities.
It is one of South Carolina’s many beach towns but boasts entertainment that will keep things cool and chilled out during your stay.
Sandy beaches, cycling trails with informational signs and lovely views, dolphins at low tide, golf courses, eateries, and shopping opportunities make Hilton Head Island a sheer delight.
It’s a glorious island retreat without the stress of an overly packed tourism hotspot and is one of the state’s most beautiful places.
Planning a trip to Charleston? Known for its robust tourism industry, Charleston is home to famous historical landmarks and sites! If you do plan the trip, here’s what to do in Charleston, SC!
21. Charleston Tea Garden
The Charleston Tea Garden is North America’s only tea plantation, which means it’s extremely one-of-a-kind and definitely among the greatest South Carolina attractions.
Owned by Bigelow Tea Company, the plantation has an interesting start to life.
In the late 1700s, French botanist Andre Michaux brought the Camellia sinensis plant, central to all tea, to North America.
In 1888, Dr. Charles Shepherd successfully produced plants capable of growing tea in the climates of America and set up a highly successful farm in Summerville, South Carolina, known as the Pinehurst Tea Plantation.
When he died in 1915, his plantation was abandoned.
The Thomas J. Lipton Company purchased the dying plantation in 1960 and moved the remaining tea plants to Wadmalaw Island near Charleston, placing them in a research facility.
17 years of hard work and experimentation led to the creation of over 300 tea varieties, but Lipton didn’t think tea would be successfully grown in America due to climate and labor costs.
Finally, in 1987, a man named Bill Hall – the son and grandson of tea tasters – purchased the research site.
He reviewed old research and developed eight tea varieties onsite in what would become the Charleston Tea Garden.
Bigelow Tea Company finally bought it in 2003 and took Hall’s tea and distributed it nationwide.
The rest, as they say, is history!
The plantation now offers guided trolley tours of its grounds and a gift shop with many tea varieties and souvenirs.
Address: 6617 Maybank Hwy, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487, United States
22. Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is one of the key places to visit in South Carolina and is one of its most fun vacation spots, especially in the summer.
It welcomes 13 million annual visitors and a ton of beach excitement, with many activities to enjoy and try out.
Aside from relaxing on the shore, you can explore this South Carolina getaway by visiting some of its key attractions.
Broadway at the Beach offers numerous entertainment and shopping opportunities separated into charming themed areas.
The Ripley’s attractions bring the bizarre and unique to light in museums, aquariums, and other enjoyable outlets.
Finally, the 187-foot Myrtle Beach SkyWheel gives you a 10-minute ride in a lovely gondola to view the stunning panorama of the world outside.
23. The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden
The Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden is one of South Carolina’s free things to do, and better yet, it’s also one of the state’s tourist attractions.
Its tale begins in 1981 when the titular Pearl Fryar and his wife got a hold of their very first yard area with their new home.
After facing racial discrimination and fears of their white neighbors over their supposed inability to maintain a yard, Fryar became determined to win the local Gardener’s Club Yard of the Month award – and be the first Black man in Bishopville to do so in the process.
To do so, he started to rescue plants thrown into nursery compost piles.
Fryar had no knowledge of horticulture but taught himself what he could, and his plants grew under his careful hands.
He ignored advice to use fertilizer and pesticide and even didn’t water them almost at all, and yet they grew and grew!
He then started making his plants into abstract shapes with an electric hand saw, slowly working through all three acres of his land until it boasted 300 topiaries.
Pearl Fryar continues to tend to his yard every single day till now, further decorating his land with homemade “junk-art”.
You’ll see fantasy forms in the plants, or fish skeletons, or even letters, and you can tell that Fryar puts a lot of love into every single detail.
The Garden Conservancy and the Friends of Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden partnered in 2006 with the aim of preserving the garden for a long, long time to come.
You’re welcome to visit and explore!
Address: 145 Broad Acres Rd, Bishopville, SC 29010, United States
24. Alligator Adventure
Alligator Adventure isn’t just the biggest reptile zoo in South Carolina; it’s also one of the world’s largest!
Spanning 15 acres, it aims to let visitors learn more about these deadly reptiles safely but up-close.
You get to watch alligators get fed and even touch one in a controlled environment.
Aside from alligators, Alligator Adventure surprisingly holds over 200 animal species, ranging from birds to mammals, from other reptiles to amphibians, and even an array of exotic creatures.
The alligators still take the cake, though!
Regardless of what you’re here to see, a trip to Alligator Adventure is one of the most fun things to do in South Carolina.
Address: 4604 Hwy 17 S, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582, United States
25. UFO Welcome Center
The UFO Welcome Center is one of the most unique places to go in the state of South Carolina.
It is entirely homemade by local resident Jody Pendarvis and is made out of random junk materials, metal, and scrap wood.
The design is meant to look like a pair of silver UFOs balanced on top of each other behind a fence of metal scraps.
The lower UFO structure is fitted with a television, toilet, shower, bed, sofa, and even air conditioning, designed to be a good home to an interstellar traveler who needs a place to rest.
Pendarvis himself even stays in it when it gets too hot, as the structure boasts better air conditioning than his own trailer!
The UFO Welcome Center was completed in 1994 and measures 42 feet in width.
The entry fee increases relatively regularly, so it’s a bit of a novelty and may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it rests in Pendarvis’ backyard and proclaims its name loudly, spray-painted with the words “UFO Welcome Center” on the scrap fence.
Address: 4004 Homestead Rd, Bowman, SC 29018, United States
26. Falls Park on the Reedy
Falls Park on the Reedy is situated in Greenville, South Carolina, and is a stunning urban space packed with lush green – a fun city park that should be on your list of things to do in SC!
It is home to the annual Upstate Shakespeare Festival and provides amenities for picnics, trails for cycling, and even a man-made waterfall.
Falls Park on the Reedy was finished in 1967 and spans 32 acres.
It is decorated with public sculptures and art, charming stonework, and the rather architecturally interesting Liberty Bridge.
There’s even a trail that leads into Cleveland Park called the Swamp Rabbit Trail that you can hike!
Address: 601 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601, United States
Planning a trip to Columbia? Affectionately known as the “Soda City” Columbia was named after Christopher Columbus! If you do plan the trip, here are some of the best things to do in Columbia, SC!
27. White Point Garden
Since 1837, White Point Garden has been one of South Carolina’s things to see.
It is a public park spanning 5.7 acres that can be found in Charleston, right on the peninsular tip.
It’s a great space for photography and relaxation, and the views of Fort Sumter and the Charleston Harbor from here are wonderful.
One of the main draws of White Point Garden is the fact that it was used as a Civil War fortification.
This means that cannons, mortars, and other military relics still remain scattered about the area.
You can find them as you walk on the pathways beneath the oak tree shade, and there is also a gazebo and some benches to relax in when you need a break.
Address: 2 Murray Blvd, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
28. Poe’s Tavern
You may not know this, but Edgar Allen Poe spent some army time on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, from 1827 to 1828, under the name Edgar A. Perry.
Some locals of Charleston believe that his story, The Gold Bug, written in 1843, is set on Sullivan’s Island.
This would eventually lead to poets and writers telling tales of Poe’s so-called southern roots, even going to the lengths of saying that Poe’s ghost remains wandering the beaches of the state.
There are even some who think Annabel Lee is about a local woman Poe met here!
Truthfully, much of Poe’s connection to South Carolina has shrunk into myth material more than fact.
But that doesn’t mean that Poe’s Tavern isn’t a must-see near the shore of the Atlantic!
The fun little eatery and pub is quirky, colorful, and full of quotes by Poe and portraits of the late great author.
It’s a cool place to grab a snack and chat with some locals while experiencing some of the legendary legacy of Poe!
Address: 2210 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482, United States
29. Fort Moultrie National Monument
Another Sullivan’s Island spot, the Fort Moultrie National Monument earned its monument status in 1948 thanks to its 171-year protection of Charleston from the Revolutionary War to World War II.
It was built in 1776 and retains much of its original appearance thanks to restorative efforts.
Guided tours of the Fort Moultrie National Monument are among the best things to do in South Carolina, offered twice daily and earning you a special and fun look into the past.
Interpretive signs and informational plaques also allow for self-guided tours.
Address: 1214 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482, United States
30. Old Sheldon Church Ruins
The Old Sheldon Church Ruins may be one of the most haunting places to visit in South Carolina.
They date back to the mid-1700s and boast gothic architecture.
Details surrounding its creation are fuzzy, but it is believed that it was once a part of a worship house known as a Parish Church of Prince William.
When the Revolutionary War came about, it was nearly destroyed by British forces, then lay abandoned.
In 1826, attempts to rebuild began, but then the Civil War broke out and General Sherman’s troops burned it down when they entered South Carolina.
The Old Sheldon Church Ruins have remained in that state ever since, creating an oddly beautiful and melancholy experience for visitors.
With tall oaks and old graves, it’s commonly used for photoshoots and photography, and it is also one of the free things to do in the state.
Address: Old Sheldon Church Rd, Yemassee, SC 29945, United States
31. Old Charleston Jail
The Old Charleston Jail was erected in 1802 and served as the South Carolina city’s jailhouse until 1939.
The front interior of the jail is all that remains from its initial design, as rebuilding in 1855 provided a more threatening appearance with towers, an octagon, and an arched facade.
Each floor was designed to hold a different kind of inmate – ground floor for “gentlemen”, second floor for minor criminals, and third floor for hardened criminals.
Most of the prisoners who were locked up in the Old Charleston Jail were petty criminals, though the worst offenders were hanged in the yard.
Many who weren’t hanged passed away from disease or natural causes.
When the Civil War came around, hundreds of Union soldiers were kept here, with total numbers being so large that some POWs had to stay in tents in the jail yard.
An earthquake in Charleston in 1886 destroyed parts of the jail and some parts were demolished or reduced significantly.
In 1911, the last hanging occurred here, then the jail declined in the 1930s as apartment buildings were set to be constructed opposite its grounds.
In 1939, it was decommissioned and used for storage until the 1970s, when it was turned into a museum.
Finally, today, it is one of the most unique South Carolina attractions and is owned by the American College of the Building Arts, which is restoring and renovating it.
Address: 21 Magazine St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
32. The Button Museum
The Button Museum is one of the many fun things to do in South Carolina.
It was created by Dalton Stevens, who experienced severe insomnia that reached its height in 1983.
Desperate for something to do, he started sewing buttons into a suit repeatedly.
In two years, 16,000 buttons had been glued or sewn onto it, and Stevens moved onto button-ing his guitar shoes, and even more.
Though this didn’t exactly help his insomnia, this gained Stevens quite a bit of fame.
This hobby gave him more stuff to do, and he became “Button King” by his own proclamation and started adding buttons to the most exotic and eccentric things he could find.
He would then rent out a space close to his home to house all these items in, and this would become the Button Museum.
Stevens passed away in 2016 in South Carolina’s Bishopville, but the Button Museum lives on.
You can find all sorts of things covered in buttons here, such as caskets, an outhouse, hearses, and more.
Address: 53 Joe Dority Rd, Bishopville, SC 29010, United States
Planning a trip to Greenville? Considered as the cultural and entertainment center for the upstate, Greenville is known for its recreational centers and delicious food! If you do plan the trip, here are some of the top things to do in Greenville, SC!
33. South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium opened in 2000 and is a whopping 93,000-square-foot facility packed with exciting ways to spend your time.
It’s one of the top places to go for families and is an excellent location for fans of marine life of all kinds.
At the South Carolina Aquarium, you’ll find aquariums, touch tanks, salt marsh aviaries, and more.
Horseshoe crabs can be held, stingrays can be fed, sharks can be touched, and animals like reptiles, lemurs, and songbirds also wait to be seen.
Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
34. Tiny Town of Easley
The Tiny Town of Easley was once a traditional holiday site in South Carolina, one of the key southern points of interest for generations of locals.
In 1974, Perry and Ollie Jennings kickstarted it all when Perry built a tiny log cabin for Ollie just like one she’d always wished to live in but knew she was unlikely to be able to.
Ollie was so thrilled with the little cabin that the couple decided to keep building.
By 1977, they had a whole tiny miniature version of the town they lived in, and they added Christmas lights as small buildings popped in more and more.
Children loved the small town and it was one of the staple things to see for them.
The Jennings passed away by 2009, and this left the Tiny Town of Easley with 80 structures.
Sadly, only 25 remain, and some of those have been changed to be more kid-friendly.
Despite that, thousands of people visit this corner of South Carolina to view the town every year, a testament to the vernacular handicraft that was once a staple of the region.
There is no entrance fee, making it one of the state’s free things to do, too.
Address: 555 Latham Rd, Easley, SC 29640, United States
35. Deep Sea Fishing
Anyone visiting South Carolina should be aware that deep sea fishing is a must-do – that is, if you like to fish, to begin with, of course!
Anywhere from April to November is ripe for anglers, with giant blue marlin, amberjack, barracuda, sailfish, cobia, and more game fish making up the deep waters.
This is especially true because of the many artificial reefs of South Carolina.
3,000 miles of tidal shoreline and various fish species make all these pretty places perfect for fishing!
Hilton Head Island, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Beaufort are prime South Carolina destinations for this activity, and you can rent private boats, jump on fishing charters, or use your own vessel.
36. Oyotunji African Village
One of the best things to do in South Carolina is to visit the authentic Yoruba village known as the Oyotunji African Village.
It was founded by Oba Oseijeman Adefunmi I in the 1970s in Sheldon, South Carolina, as his followers arrived from places like Indiana, New York, and Chicago.
The Oyotunji African Village is North America’s oldest authentic village of its kind.
Once upon a time, 200 residents live here, but that number has dwindled to now about 50.
It only measures about 10 acres in size and, while it uses basic amenities like plumbing and electricity, the residents live very simply.
Courtyards, open-air shrines, a bazaar selling jewelry, art, clothing, and herbs, and a royal palace.
It’s a great way to entrench yourself into a culture you don’t find often in America.
Address: 56 Bryant Ln, Seabrook, SC 29940, United States
37. Poinsett Bridge
Poinsett Bridge is a humble little spot with gothic design and a shrouded history.
It’s known for being South Carolina’s oldest bridge and is even the reason for the name of the forest reserve it’s in.
But somehow, no one knows who built it!
The bridge earned its name from local resident Joel Roberts Poinsett, a renowned individual at the time, and it was made in 1820 as a means of connecting North Carolina and Tennessee.
The road spans 130 feet and the bridge is made of simple stonework arranged in a medieval-style archway.
It’s widely considered one of the area’s most beautiful places to see and is a much-loved local landmark worthy of a trip.
Address: 580 Callahan Mountain Rd, Landrum, SC 29356, United States
38. Yogi Bear Honey Fried Chicken
A little unusual among South Carolina attractions, the Yogi Bear Honey Fried Chicken at Hartsville is the last outlet of the honey-flavored-chicken franchise created in the 1960s when celebrity restaurants were at the height of popularity.
Locals of South Carolina very much enjoy dining at this unique remnant of the past, which screeched to a halt when Hardees Foods Inc. lost interest in expanding the chain.
Locations closed down one by one, and Hartsville’s branch has been the only one since the late 1990s.
It’s a fascinating slice of fast-food history.
Address: 514 S 5th St, Hartsville, SC 29550, United States
Planning a trip to Myrtle Beach? Known for its breathtaking beaches, golf links, and tantalizing seafood restaurants, Myrtle Beach is a major tourist destination for all the right reasons! If you do plan the trip, here are some of the cool things to do in Myrtle Beach!
39. Mars Bluff Crater
If you want more unique places to visit in South Carolina, the Mars Bluff Crater is a fascinating option.
During the Cold War, the military had difficulty keeping nuclear bombs airborne as they were being transported, and some were completely lost.
Twice, though, the bombs were dropped onto American land – and once, one such bomb landed on the home of Walter Gregg in Horry County, South Carolina.
Luckily, the bomb hadn’t been armed and it didn’t detonate, and the place it fell wasn’t densely populated.
But the fact that it dropped at all was an act of carelessness due to an accidentally pushed emergency release pin.
When the 8,500-pound weapon fell 15,000 feet to the ground, Gregg and his family were thankfully unharmed when it landed and created the Mars Bluff Crater, destroying his house and many homes nearby in the process.
This marked the beginning of higher safety precautions when transporting these weapons and Gregg was paid $54,000 to quietly start his life anew.
Eventually, he even befriended the crew that caused the fall and remained pen pals with many, even after he moved away.
You can come to visit the partially obscured crater now and marvel at the tragedy very narrowly avoided.
It’s one of the state’s free things to do, naturally!
Address: Crater Rd., Mars Bluff, Florence, SC 29506, United States
40. God’s Acre Healing Springs
God’s Acre Healing Springs is another one of the free things to do in the state, and it’s one of many remarkable unique tourist attractions.
It is so named because the land is owned by God himself and the natural spring water is rumored to be able to heal the sick.
The tale goes that fatally wounded soldiers from British forces were waiting to die in the woods when Native Americans brought them to the spring to heal up.
Six months later, the soldiers returned to their camps, completely healed.
From then on, God’s Acre Healing Springs transferred ownership many times before finally being deeded to “God” by its final owner in 1944.
Given the immortal nature of God, as we know him, the natural springs flow freely and presumably will continue to do so for years to come!
Address: Springs Ct, Blackville, SC 29817, United States
Start Planning Your Trip To South Carolina
There are many places to visit in South Carolina, and they cover all sorts of genres and subjects that are interesting to people of all ages and from all walks of life.
With any luck, this list has helped you decide what to do on your trip to South Carolina, the Palmetto State!