South Carolina is a picture-perfect slice of Southern living. As its two largest cities boast a combined population of around 300,000, the state has a small-town feel to it, and its stop-and-smell-the-Jessamine pace is perfect for a relaxing trip. Its ambling lifestyle is perfectly matched by its renowned Southern hospitality, and visitors soon learn to acclimate and enjoy its slower, easygoing charm. You can easily explore South Carolina’s highlights over a three-day trip – the state is not that big, and getting around is fairly easy.
Day 1: Historical Charleston and the Beach
Spend your first day in Charleston, where many of the city’s attractions speak to its colonial and Confederate heritage. Use the morning to see Fort Sumter, the site of the Civil War’s first battle, or take a horse-drawn carriage tour through downtown Charleston’s historic district, home to a number of lavish, antebellum mansions. In the afternoon, hit the beach. Nearby beaches such as Kiawah Island are routinely featured in annual best beaches lists, and a dip in the Atlantic is a refreshing break from the notoriously muggy weather.
Day 2: Charleston and Myrtle Beach
On your second day, head to Myrtle Beach. Charleston is a great place to soak up some history, and Myrtle Beach is a great place to soak up some rays, culture and libations. Start the day early and catch the sun coming up over the placid waters of the Atlantic, and then book a beach activity - along Myrtle Beach’s soft sands you’ll find operators for scuba diving, deep sea fishing and more. In hurricane season, the shorebreaks near the piers fill up with surfers. If you had enough beach time in Charleston, spend your afternoon at Ripley’s Aquarium and ride its moving sidewalk through a glass tunnel running through the shark tank. At night, head to the Carolina Opry and catch an evening of rock, Broadway and gospel.
Day 3: The Capital City
For your last day, you should head to Columbia. The state capital boasts a wealth of museums and parks, as well as the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens. If you are vacationing with children, Columbia is sure to entertain them, and history buffs will have a field day. Fun tours include the Ghosts and Legends Tour. Like many southern cities, Columbia has its share of strange occurrences, and its downtown in particular is allegedly haunted by a number of spectral residents. For a taste of true southern hospitality, have dinner at one of the city’s famed barbeque restaurants such as Doc’s or Shane’s Rib Shack.