If you’ve just moved to South Carolina, congratulations! You are now living in one of the friendliest states in the union. It’s also one that offers an amazing number of things to do, from beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches and tree-shaded historical mansions to beautiful cities and hikes in the mountains.
As a new resident, you get to play tourist and take in all these attractions, all just an hour or two drive away. Look at the list below, it provides a great way to start your South Carolina adventure.
Getting this down to just 10 takes some doing. South Carolina packs a lot into its relatively small size. You certainly will not run out of things to do as a new resident, whether you enjoy the great outdoors, country-style cooking or a day at the beach.
The song says, “Almost heaven, West Virginia.” But it easily could have said “South Carolina” and been writing while looking from a dramatic overlook in Caesars Head State Park. Just about 20 miles north of Greenville, Caesars Head State Park offers spectacular views into Georgia and North Carolina from the Blue Ridge Escarpment. The park also has hiking trails, including the four-mile Raven Cliff Falls trail.
The city of Charleston is one of the most historic cities in the nation. Established in 1670, the city’s historic district includes 1,400 antebellum homes, churches and cobblestone streets. And yes, they still provide horse drawn carriage tours (as well as walking and bus tours). Many homes open for tours include a treasure trove of decorative art and furnishings.
South Carolina is known for its barbeque, cooked “slow and low.” They also feature sauces based on four originals: mustard, heavy tomato, light tomato and vinegar. The debate over which is best continues to this day. The good news is that the state offers a South Carolina Barbecue Trail Map that features 220 of the best barbecue restaurants in the state.
The beach itself is beautiful, with miles of pristine sand along the Atlantic Ocean coast. But you should also make time to visit the local attractions. They include the Carolina Opry, where you will see musicals, magic shows and performance art, and Broadway on the Beach, a huge entertainment complex that includes shopping, restaurants, jet boat rides and tons of attractions for kids.
For those with an interest in history – and the beauty of antebellum architecture and gardens – the more than 2,000 historic plantations across the state offer tours. Part of the charm are the huge gardens featured at some estates, including the beautiful grounds of Magnolia Plantation, considered the oldest publicly accessible gardens in the country. Started in the 1700s, it’s been open to the public since 1870.
In the state capital, Columbia, visitors should take in the Soda City Market. Inspired by European street markets, the Soda City Market features 150 vendors every week on Saturday mornings. The vendors offer products they make or grow themselves. There’s food, music, art and plenty of interesting people watching in this signature event.
This offers beautiful Atlantic Ocean beaches, but in an environment that is a bit more laid back and quieter than other beach locations. Visitors can travel to the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge and see a wide variety of bird species (as well as alligators!). The Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum and Coastal Discovery Museum also offer entertainment off the beach, as do dolphin boat tours.
This is a must for history buffs. The American Civil War officially started here when Confederate forces attacked the Union-controlled fort that protects Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861, with a cannon barrage that lasted for more than a day. You can tour the Fort Sumter National Monument, seeing the cannons used during that time among other highlights.
The zoo, located on Cleveland Park Drive in Greenville, offers a wide variety of animals to see that include North American and exotic species. You will see toucans, elephants, monkeys, leopards, giraffes, Griffon Vultures, Aldabra Tortoises and much more. There are plenty of programs for kids, as well, including educational tours.
One of the newest national parks in the nation (established in 2003), the Congaree National Park is now the largest intact expanse of old growth, bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern United States. It’s also one of the only places in the U.S. to see synchronous fireflies who blink their lights in harmony when the sun goes down in late May and early June.
Have you recently moved to South Carolina or plan to move there? These spots will keep you on the road and in “vacation mode” every weekend as you settle into your new home. While small in size, South Carolina is big in the sightseeing attractions it offers.