South Carolina is a uniquely beautiful state rich in history, full of romantic buildings, towns, and stunning beaches. South Carolina has low crime rates, ranking as one of the safest states in America. Get ready for some southern charm as Road Scholar takes you on a tour of the must-see destinations in this charming state.
17 Most Beautiful Places In South Carolina One Must See
If you’re planning a trip to the South and want to know the beautiful places to visit in South Carolina, we have the lowdown in the Lowcountry. Here are the 17 prettiest places to visit in South Carolina, from stunning cities to natural wonders you don’t want to miss.
From beautiful Waterfront Park with its famous Pineapple Fountain to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston is like stepping into a time warp from a bygone era. Charleston is one of the most beautiful places in South Carolina. Road Scholar recommends visiting Charleston City Market, four blocks of open-air shops. Enjoy sweetgrass basket-weaving demos and a tour of the only tea plantation in the U.S.
Historic Charleston has much to offer visitors, and Road Scholar wants to share it with you on the Signature City Charleston six-day tour.
Another one of the most beautiful places in South Carolina is Middleton Place. Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark because it is a rare survivor of the American Revolution and the Civil War. Located along the Ashley River in Charleston, Middleton Place showcases our nation’s complex history with enslaved Africans and African Americans who lived and worked there. The tragic history of this land is in juxtaposition with the beautiful gardens, stables, and garden rooms.
Road Scholar’s local expert will provide commentary en route to and at Middleton Place, one of the stops along the Signature City Charleston tour.
The world’s most famous live Southern Oak is located in Angel Oak Park on Johns Island and is believed to be between 400 and 500 years old. This Angel Oak has survived natural disasters, including hurricanes, standing at 66.5 feet tall and 28 feet in circumference. The Angel Oak lives in Angel Oak Park, rumored to be haunted by ghosts. Johns Island is home to hundreds of species of birds, deer, alligators, bobcats, and coyotes.
Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
A prominent South Carolina attorney owned this island plantation before it was eventually turned over to the Fish and Wildlife Service so the public can enjoy it. Established in 1975, the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge features more than 4,000 acres of salt marshes and tidal creeks. Spot wildlife such as waterfowl, shorebirds, bald eagles, wood storks, wading birds, raptors, neotropical migrants, white-tailed deer, American alligators, and more.
Visit the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Road Scholar Birding the Lowcountry tour.
Festival of Lights
James Island County Park gets bright every November with the Holiday Festival of Lights. This light show in Charleston features an estimated 2 million dazzling lights.
Families cruise three miles through the park to witness the spectacle of lights. The festival features more than 750 light displays, including the newly refurbished and rebuilt Cooper River Bridge display. There are also many family attractions, such as marshmallow roasting, train rides, an enchanted walking trail, an old-fashioned carousel, and photo opportunities with Santa.
The Road Scholar Christmastime in Charleston’s six-day tour includes the Festival of Lights and more.
This ACE Basin reserve protects the natural beauty and unique cultural heritage of the South Carolina Lowcountry. The ACE Basin, named for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers, is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast. Located near Charleston and Beaufort, the reserve protects cypress swamps, historic plantation homes, old rice fields, oyster reefs, and expansive tidal marshes.
Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island has 12 miles of beaches and is a top holiday destination and one of the prettiest places in South Carolina. Many top-class cultural festivals are held in Hilton Head each year, as well as 24 top-notch golf courses. Hilton Head is only 20 miles from Savannah, Georgia, making it a great day trip.
Webb Wildlife Center
The Webb Wildlife Center is a blackwater wonderland that sits along the Savannah River in the heart of Hampton County. Visitors love to spot local wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, fox squirrels, and turkeys. Watch out for the alligators and turtles along the Savannah River.
Aiken-Rhett House Museum
Charleston merchant John Robinson built the Aiken-Rhett House in 1820 in typical Charleston fashion. But, when he lost five ships at sea in 1825, he was forced to sell the house to William Aiken to reconcile his financial obligations. Subsequently, it became the property of William Aiken Sr. in 1827. Today, many of the objects acquired by the Aikens on their travels remain in the rooms for which they were purchased.
Visit the Aiken-Rhett House on Road Scholar’s Atlanta, Asheville, Charleston, and Savannah tour.
Joseph Manigault Home
The historic Joseph Manigault House, built in 1803, can be found in the Charleston Museum. It is a great example of the urban lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family and the enslaved people kept there.
Take an arts and culture tour of Charleston on the Spoleto Festival Tour, a performing arts festival. The festival fills Charleston’s historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces with performances by world-renowned artists and emerging performers. This tour includes a stop at the Charleston Museum.
Old Sheldon Church
Old Sheldon Church was initially known as Prince William's Parish Church and was built in the Greek Revival style between 1745 and 1753. It burned down in 1779 during the Revolutionary War. In 1826, it was rebuilt, only to be burned again by General Sherman in February 1865. Today, you can glimpse the remnants of the ruins of Old Sheldon Church among ancient graves and large oaks.
On Road Scholar’s Kayak the Lowcountry tour, guests will stop by Old Sheldon Church, surrounded by dogwoods, live oaks, and an old cemetery.
Kayak Combahee River
This magnificent river is part of the ACE Basin, one of the largest undeveloped estuaries along the Atlantic Coast. The Combahee River is full of historical value, where Revolutionary War hero Colonel John Laurens died, and Civil War hero Harriet Tubman led more than 750 enslaved people to freedom. The best way to see this blackwater river is by kayak.
Kayak in Boyd Millpond
Boyd Millpond is a 184-acre lake in Laurens County where only smaller boats such as canoes, kayaks, and small fishing boats are allowed. The lake is filled with bass, catfish, and bream for the motivated fisherman.
Beaufort, South Carolina, is 1.5 hours from Charleston and is considered a Lowcountry gem with its massive moss-draped oak trees and Victorian homes. Beaufort is a must-see attraction in South Carolina and the second-oldest city after Charleston, established in 1711. The entire downtown area is a designated National Historic Landmark.
Kayak Walnut Pond
Explore the Lowcountry of South Carolina by kayak at Walnut Pond, a beautiful cypress and tupelo swamp. On Walnut Pond, kayakers will weave through the blackwater forest, maneuvering over fallen logs, and listening to the barred owl’s call.
Road Scholar offers a six-day Kayaking through the Lowlands trip that can’t be missed.
Congaree National Park
For some of the best views in South Carolina, visit Congaree National Park. This park is one of South Carolina’s most unspoiled parks that offers visitors hiking through the swamps, canoe trips down Cedar Creek, and sightseeing through the largest expanse of bottomless hardwood forest.
Magnolia Plantation is Charleston’s most visited plantation and has been named one of “America's Most Beautiful Gardens” by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Magnolia Plantation opened its doors to visitors in 1870 to view thousands of beautiful flowers and plants in its famous gardens.
As part of the Magnolia Plantation field trip on the Signature City Charleston Road Scholar tour, guests will see the home and surrounding gardens as well as visit the Magnolia Cabin Project called “From Slavery to Freedom”.
Enjoy Sights of South Carolina With Road Scholar
Road Scholar knows where to vacation in South Carolina and has a wide range of tours from which to choose. Our programs are designed to open the world up to our scholars. No matter which educational learning adventure you choose, you'll be placed in a cohort of like-minded adventurers.
Our programs are led by local experts who will walk you through your destination's history, culture, traditions, and landscape. Our immersive experiences will allow you and your group members to partake in spirited conversations, learn more about the world, and return with lifelong friendships and memories.
Enroll in one of our Road Scholar tours today.