Charleston, South Carolina, is a beautiful port city. It’s filled with acclaimed restaurants and pre-Civil War architecture and historical monuments. Many visitors travel to Charleston each year, and there’s much to do in the city for people of all ages. However, there may come a time in your trip when you want to experience the surrounding areas.
Due to Charleston’s location, you can easily travel from the city to nearby islands or other destinations. If you’ve already gotten your bearings in Charleston and want to venture out of the city, there are many different places you can visit for a day trip. These cities and attractions are only a short drive from Charleston, so you’ll have no trouble heading over in the morning, sightseeing for the day, and coming back around dark.
Soak up the Sun on Hilton Head Island
You can easily take a day trip from Charleston to Hilton Head Island. This renowned stretch of land is well known for its beaches, resorts and golfing opportunities. It’s also great to visit for family vacations or romantic getaways.
Hilton Head is located a little less than 100 miles from Charleston, and it’ll take you about two hours to drive to this island. While there are other islands that are closer to Charleston, Hilton Head has become a vacation favorite because of the variety of activities and attractions available on the island. Some of the most notable draws for visiting Hilton Head include:
- White sandy beaches. Hilton Head Island is a beautiful destination if you want to spend your day resting on the beach or playing in the water.
- Water activities. Boat tours and jet skiing are popular activities you can do around Hilton Head.
- Golfing. With so many golf courses to choose from, you should have no problem finding a place to play.
Learn About Gullah Culture in Beaufort County
Charleston is only a short distance away from South Carolina’s Lowcountry region, which means you can easily head down to this part of the state on your vacation. By car, the city of Beaufort is less than two hours away from Charleston. Hilton Head is also part of Beaufort County, but there are other attractions you can see on the mainland part of this county.
One of the major reasons visitors go to Beaufort County is to learn about the local Gullah culture. The Gullah are descendants of slaves who were brought to this region to work on plantations in the area. However, one of the distinctions of this particular community is that it has maintained its linguistic and cultural heritage.
There are many different sites in Beaufort County that can teach you about the Gullah people. Some of these attractions include:
- The Penn Center. This institution is located on St. Helena Island, and it aims to preserve African American culture. The Penn School, which served as the first school for slaves, was previously situated on this site.
- The Gullah Geechee Visitors Center. If you want to learn about local Gullah events and businesses, this visitor center can assist you. It’s located in the city of Beaufort.
- The Sallie Ann Native Gullah Tour. When you travel farther down the county, you can visit Daufuskie Island. There, you can take one of the weekly Gullah tours led by Sallie Ann Robinson. She’s a sixth-generation native of the island and is an expert on Gullah food and culture.
Spend a Day in Brookgreen Gardens
Brookgreen Gardens is located about an hour and a half north of Charleston, South Carolina. This massive complex is located in Murrells Inlet and features a variety of attractions that will delight your whole family.
As its name would suggest, Brookgreen Gardens offers visitors ample opportunities to learn about the area’s nature and history. Brookgreen itself is comprised of the following types of attractions:
- Botanical gardens – Botany enthusiasts will rejoice as they explore more than 9,000 acres of flowers and trees. From 250-year-old live oak trees to roses and other flowers, there’s much to see in this part of Brookgreen Gardens.
- Sculptures – Brookgreen Gardens also offers the largest collection of American figurative sculptures in the nation. You can view these works of art as you tour the grounds.
- Zoo – The Lowcountry Zoo is located at Brookgreen Gardens. All of the animals you can see there could not live in the wild, either because they were born in captivity or because they have a disability.
Spend a Day on Wadmalaw Island
Wadmalaw Island is only half an hour away from Charleston, and it’s home to the Charleston Tea Plantation. This is the only tea plantation in North America where you can go and see tea bushes in person. It’s free to visit this plantation and see how it operates. You’re only charged if you choose to take a trolley tour around the grounds.
If you have some extra time before you head back to Charleston, there are some other activities you can do on Wadmalaw Island. Specifically, you can:
- Take a boat tour.
- Visit a distillery.
- Learn about local wildlife.
Head South to Savannah, Georgia
Just because you’re staying in Charleston, South Carolina, doesn’t mean you need to remain in the state for the entirety of your trip. One of the great advantages of Charleston’s location is that it’s only about two hours north of Savannah. If you were drawn to Charleston because of its history and culture, you’ll be sure to love your trip to this Georgia city.
Much of the joy of visiting Savannah comes from viewing the city’s pre-Civil War architecture and walking by the Savannah River. If you want to get to know the city more during your day trip, you can book the following types of excursions through the city:
- Ghost and haunted history tours
- Boat tours
- Culinary tours