Skip to main content
Couple walking their bikes along a boardwalk in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
View more

South Carolina Road Trips: Inspiring Scenery and Abundant Culture

Historic sites and cultural capitals await down every road in South Carolina.

This small state offers a huge diversity of natural landscapes and fascinating histories to discover, and you can see everything from the watery marshes of the Lowcountry to inland mountains and waterfalls on a South Carolina road trip. Experience the vibrant art and traditions of the Gullah Geechee people, a lively Lowcountry community descended from the enslaved people who worked South Carolina’s antebellum plantations. Admire the striking colonial and historical architecture that decorates major cities and quaint towns. Watch inspiring live performances in artistic neighborhoods. No matter where you wander, you’ll be captivated by all there is to see and do in South Carolina.

Cultural Highlights

Historic Moses Ficklin Cottage in Dafuskie Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island and Daufuskie Island

It’s no secret that Hilton Head Island is home to unforgettable beaches, but you may be surprised by the rich heritage you can uncover here. Book a visit to the Gullah Museum, where members of the Gullah Geechee community work to preserve and celebrate their storied traditions. If the museum sparks your interest in Gullah heritage, hop aboard a ferry to visit nearby Daufuskie Island. Sign up for an island tour with the Daufuskie Island Gullah Heritage Society to see even more of their distinct artistic and culinary traditions.

Colorful houses along Broad Street in Charleston, South Carolina


Stately oak trees line the cobblestone streets of this iconic Southern city. Charleston is known as a hub for delicious food and exciting shopping, but just beyond the sparkling storefronts of King Street, you’ll find interesting architecture, inspiring art galleries and bustling waterfronts. Pedestrian-friendly streets and mild weather year-round make this the perfect city for historical walking tours, where you take in captivating sights like the brightly colored homes of Rainbow Row. Take a short ferry ride from Charleston Harbor to explore Fort Sumter National Monument, where the first shots of the U.S. Civil War were fired.

A scenic tree-lined street in Beaufort, South Carolina
Bill Barley


Revel in the spirit of the Lowcountry and relish the laid-back pace of Beaufort, a charming coastal town. Rent a bike to take in gorgeous views of the Beaufort River from the winding Spanish Moss Trail, then take a walk through downtown to admire the eclectic architecture of the Beaufort Historic District. Cap off your day with a trip to the Beaufort History Museum, where you’ll learn about the town’s past as a Spanish settlement and military headquarters. Fun fact: Several Hollywood movies were shot on the picturesque streets of Beaufort, including Forrest Gump and The Big Chill.

Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina
Bill Barley

St. Helena Island

St. Helena Island’s peaceful beaches and striking marshes invite you to explore its vibrant culture and rich history. At the Penn Center, South Carolina’s only African American National Historic Landmark District, sign up for a walking tour of the expansive grounds to learn more about the heritage of the Gullah Geechee people and the center’s legacy as a school for free Black South Carolinians. Visit in November to enjoy meaningful demonstrations by Gullah storytellers and meet St. Helena’s local artisans at the center’s annual Heritage Days Celebration.

Strolling the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Michael Hrizuk

Myrtle Beach

Endless stretches of white-sand beaches, an exciting boardwalk packed with entertainment and a full slate of dynamic live performances at the Carolina Opry – all of these and more await you in Myrtle Beach, a seaside town full of personality. Head to Murrells Inlet for a trip to Brookgreen Gardens, where you’ll find stirring sculptures nestled among peaceful botanical gardens. Whether you want to explore the marshland or just soak in the beachy vibes, you'll find plenty for your whole family to enjoy in Myrtle Beach.

The South Carolina State House in Columbia


A majestic capital city with artistic flair, Columbia’s notable past is yours to uncover. Tour the Mann-Simons Site to discover the incredible story of Celia Mann, a formerly enslaved woman who founded a commercial and residential district for free Black South Carolinians in the 1840s. Wander gorgeous gardens at the Robert Mills House and the Woodrow Wilson House, then admire monuments and mosaic glasswork at the South Carolina State House. For an inspiring night on the town, catch a performance from the Columbia Classical Ballet or see an arthouse film at the independent Nickelodeon Theatre.

Walking through downtown Greenville, South Carolina


You won’t have to spend long in Greenville to understand why Conde Nast Traveler once named it the Friendliest City in the USA. Hop abord a vintage trolley for a scenic ride through downtown, stopping at locally owned shops, art galleries and restaurants along tree-lined Main Street. If you’d prefer to navigate on foot, you’ll be greeted with inspiring public art pieces all over town. Nature-lovers will be delighted by urban waterfalls on the Reedy River and Rock Quarry Falls, both just a short jaunt from downtown, while motor sports fans can’t miss a trip to the Ultimate Driving Museum.

Official South Carolina Travel Sites