South Carolina is a beautiful state with so many things to see, so it can be difficult to figure out how to spend your time. You can drive out into the mountains for a hike or down to one of the many nearby beaches to go swimming. If you’d rather not venture too far off the beaten path, you can also take a tour of one of the many major cities in South Carolina like Charleston or Greenville. Here are a few of our picks for the best South Carolina day trips.
1Take a Road Trip Down the ACE Basin
One of the best road trips in South Carolina is the drive over the ACE basin which starts at US17. This route offers the best views, taking you all around the Edisto, Combahee and Ashepoo Rivers. While passing by, you will be able to see the diverse plants and animals that live in the unique web of ecosystems at the ACE Basin. Nature lovers can enjoy the views of the hardwood forest’s marshlands, wetlands and coastal plains of the basin.
The ACE Basin is a popular choice for day trips because visitors can go kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking and much more once they get there. Dogs are also welcome, but they must always be leashed. Bird spotters can watch the ospreys, egrets, sandpipers and herons in the wetlands and bald eagles soaring overhead. Visitors also have the option to stop by the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge during daylight hours.
2Immerse Yourself in Antebellum History at Beaufort
For a more historically enriching road trip in South Carolina, you should drive down to Beaufort. The city of Beaufort is known for its pristine coastline and charming downtown district that is rich with antebellum architecture and history.
In fact, Beaufort was chartered way back in 1711, making it the second oldest city in South Carolina. The scenic southern town is home to military establishments and historic architecture that has been preserved and maintained over the years, making it popular for day trips in South Carolina.
3Set up Camp at Table Rock State Park
The scenic and majestic Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina are some of the oldest mountains in the area. At Table Rock State Park, you can get a great view of the 3,100-foot granite dome, called the Table Rock. In the summer, the park is great for quick weekend getaways that the entire family can enjoy. The mountain retreat at the park has two lakes for fishing, canoeing and swimming as well as cabins, picnic shelters and nature trails.
One of the most popular attractions at Table Rock State Park are the Carrick Creek Falls which are located just a short trek away from the trailhead at Table Rock. There is an observation deck at the Carrick Creek Falls where you can enjoy the breathtaking scenery, or you can take a dip into the shallow water that pools at the bottom of the falls.
4Go for a Nature Walk through Saluda Shoals Park
Saluda Shoals Park is another great destination in South Carolina for the best weekend trips. This 350-acre park is located alongside the banks of the beautiful Saluda River, making it perfect for water activities like boating, canoeing and kayaking.
There is an observation deck by the river and a number of picnic shelters in the area that are made to accommodate large groups. In the summer, the Saluda Splash waterpark opens for visitors to enjoy themselves while they cool off.
Nature lovers can walk alongside the banks and observe the native plants and animals in the area. They can also visit the Environmental Education Center or the Saluda Shoals Wetland Preserve for even more opportunities to learn about local flora and fauna. Saluda Shoals Park is a unique destination that is local to South Carolina, and it makes for great day trips!
5Discover the Rich History of Parris Island
If you are interested in the military history, past and present, of South Carolina, then a visit to Parris Island is one of the best road trips you can take. The Marine Corps Recruit Depot is located on Parris Island. The Recruit Depot is known to be a place where Marines are made, with around 20,000 men and women who undergo the rigorous military training program on the island. Access to the island is somewhat limited because it is a military base, but there is a lot do to for visitors.
Another common reason why people will take a road trip out to the island is to visit the Legends of Parris Island for a few rounds of golf. This golf course offers a one-of-a-kind experience where visitors can play along the beautiful salty marsh wetlands and creeks nearby. The Legends golf course is always open to the public and it makes for a truly unique way to experience the beauty and history of the island.
6Join a Tour of Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island is another beautiful island in South Carolina that is rich in history and activities for families. This island has a diverse assortment of delicious restaurants for visitors to enjoy, several historic sites and a variety of fun activities, making it a unique option for a day trip in South Carolina.
Whether you are enjoying the beaches of Hilton Head Island or the museums and historic landmarks such as the Harbour Town Lighthouse, there is no shortage of things to do when you visit.
7Experience the Capital of Columbia, SC
Another option for a day trip in South Carolina is to visit the state’s capital and explore all that the city of Columbia has to offer. There are tons of museums, restaurants, night clubs, shopping opportunities and outdoor activities available in the city if you know where to look.
Discover the gems hidden in the capital city during a trip to Columbia, SC and don’t forget to stop by the South Carolina Statehouse, the city’s most iconic building.