From the miles of barrier island beaches to the streets of historic Charleston, there are lots of fun things to do in South Carolina. The words “smiling places and beautiful places” emblazon South Carolina state license plates. The family-friendly Palmetto State is deeply rooted in tradition, American history, southern hospitality, and beautiful scenery.
Slow down and enjoy a South Carolina family vacation savoring the soulful food of the South. Still not sure what to do in South Carolina? These are the top 10 things to do in South Carolina with kids on your family vacation full of smiling places and beautiful places.
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Fun Things to Do in South Carolina with Kids
1. Experience the Southern Charm of Historic Charleston, SC
Coastal South Carolina’s history is rich with tradition and much of it begins in Charleston. Known for its blend of vibrant cultures, Charleston offers unique art, music, cuisine, and cultural attractions that sets it apart from other cities.
A Charleston Carriage Tour is a great way to see the city. Trekaroo is a TripAdvisor affiliate which guarantees the lowest prices.
Shop at the City Market, one of the oldest public markets in the nation, and then stop for a history lesson at The Battery & White Point Gardens. At the gardens, there is a spectacular view of Charleston Harbor, the place where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers empty into the Atlantic Ocean.
If American history is what you are craving, get your hands dirty at Charles Towne Landing’s active archaeology site, the first permanent English settlement in South Carolina. For Civil War history, take a cruise out to of Fort Sumter National Monument. At the fort, take a guided tour to learn about the first battle of the Civil War.
There are all sorts of harbor cruises available; parents can unwind on a sunset cruise past Patriots Point. Or, marvel at the city from Charleston’s harbor aboard a family-friendly ecology cruise of the bay as you float around historic Fort Moultrie.
Embark on an adventure with the kids around the city and on short day trips to visit kid-friendly attractions such as South Carolina Aquarium, The Children’s Museum, and Magnolia Plantation. At Magnolia Plantation, kids can explore the gardens, take a boat ride around the former rice plantation to spot gators, and even tour the plantation house. But, don’t forget to relax, unwind, and slow down because you’re in the South.
Planning a visit to historic Charleston, SC? Check out Fun Things to Do in Charleston with Kids.
2. Eat a Sunday Supper Around the Table
South Carolina is known as The Birthplace of BBQ, offering visitors plenty of places to indulge in traditional Southern cuisine. From family owned diners, roadside pit stops, and farm-to-table cuisine, you will find no other state with such unique dining opportunities.
This state is known for its culinary pioneers who know how to explore the roots of Southern cuisine in their own unique ways. If you want the best BBQ, head to McCabe’s Bar-B-Que, in Manning, South Carolina.
Comfort food at it’s finest, diners are scattered throughout this state like diamonds in the rough. If you happen to come upon one, you must stop and worship. Harold’s Restaurant and Judy’s at the Market in West Columbia, are a few diners that serve Southern hospitality all day long!
And if you are a self proclaimed foodie searching for the next great eats, head to Charleston where the city’s independent restaurant scene is raising the bar on fresh, local, and well-sourced ingredients giving this city a label of the premier dining destination.
Check out this amazing downtown Charleston food walking tour if you are eager to sample some of the city’s favorite foods.
3. Take Time to Golf on Your South Carolina Family Vacation
There are more than 360 golf courses interlaced between the rich countryside and ocean in South Carolina. This state is a golfers paradise. Pack your clubs when heading to South Carolina! You’ll find some of the best golfing in the United States here.
Many family friendly resorts throughout South Carolina sit upon PGA Tour golf courses. There you will be able to challenge yourself and your inner golfer. Let the kids take lessons from the pros and expose them to this wonderful sport.
Hilton Head Island will be your first stop on your South Carolina golf tour. These public and private courses were designed by notable golf architects including Robert Trent Jones Sr., Pete Dye, and Jack Nicklaus. Stay at Wild Dunes Resort and play on one of the three top courses in the nation.
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort near Charleston is another top rated golf course that offers five championship award-winning golf courses for all levels of play. Located along the pristine shores of Kiawah Island, this exquisitely designed ocean front hotel captures the spirit, history, and Southern hospitality
4. See The Great Blue Hills of God
The Upcountry of South Carolina offers a place for outdoor loving families to hike, camp, fish, and enjoy the wilderness. Families will especially love experiencing the vivid fall foliage from mid to late October in the Appalachian Mountains.
Plan ahead as hotel and motel rooms start to fill up and the roads get crowded with visitors reveling in the colorful views and majestic mountains. Be sure to pack the camera and take lots of pictures because this beautiful scene is indescribable.
Staying near Columbia? Congaree National Park offers bird watching, hiking, picnic areas, camping, canoeing, and kayaking.
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5. Play in the Sand at Myrtle Beach
Head to the South Carolina’s Grand Strand. 60 miles of beach offer plenty of family friendly activities. Myrtle Beach is one of the most kid-friendly cities in America. Choose from many of the countless oceanside hotels so you can be in the epic center for this family vacation to remember.
Stop at the Boardwalk for some good old-fashioned amusement park fun. The nostalgic sights and sounds will transport you to the beaches of yesteryear. Don’t leave without riding the iconic Skywheel that rises over 200 feet above Ocean Boulevard!
Test your putting skills on one of the miniature golf courses. Miniature golf courses are sprinkled throughout this city, which proclaims itself to be the miniature golf capital of the world. If you’re looking for adventure thrills, head to Myrtle Waves Water Park, one of the state’s largest water parks.
There is even a Medieval Times in Myrtle Beach which is always popular with families. Purchase discount tickets for Medieval Times Myrtle Beach through TripAdvisor.
For more great family-friendly activities, check out these 16 fun things to do in Myrtle Beach!
6. Explore State Parks of South Carolina from the Beach to the Mountains
Outdoor enthusiasts love to visit the great state of South Carolina! South Carolina has 47 state parks that preserve natural forests, battlefields, wildlife habitats, and precious coastline.
With state parks that line the beaches and barrier islands of the Atlantic Ocean to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, these 80,000 acres are a delight to experience at various times and seasons year-round. Roughly 10,000 acres make up the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area.
The Wilderness Area is anchored by Jones Gap State Park in the valley and Caesars Head State Park in the mountains. Myrtle Beach State Park and Huntington Beach State Park offer everything from hiking trails to picnic areas and fishing piers.
7. Experience the Speed of NASCAR
The South is famous for fast cars and NASCAR on Sundays. Take a pitstop in Darlington to visit the famous NASCAR Darlington Raceway.
Set up a once in a lifetime driving or ride-along experience through the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Feel what it is like to be inside an actual NASCAR race car driving at speeds up to 165mph. If you happen to be passing through in April, you might be able to see NASCAR in full force. Your family definitely won’t forget this pit stop, even if they aren’t racing fans!
8. Visit Columbia – The Capital of Southern Hospitality
Columbia is home to the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and is a beautiful city to explore. Take your pick of outdoor activities, museums, and historic sites, or stop at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden to see thousands of animals and lush and inspiring botanical gardens.
If you’re craving culture, visit the arts centered district in downtown Columbia, known as The Congaree Vista, then head to the South Carolina State Museum. It is one of the largest museums in the Southeast which tells a 14,000 year history of South Carolina and the South.
Let your little ones explore freely and learn with the hands on exhibits featured at the EdVenture Children’s Museum, located near the South Carolina State Museum. Take advantage of theCOOLPASS to save on admission to these attractions.
9. Find the Mice on Main in Downtown Greenville
Drive into the heart of South Carolina where you’ll find a city that rivals any big city in America. Hop on a trolly, a bike, or take the scenic route and enjoy Greenville’s Main Street, dubbed the coolest Main Street in America.
Kids will enjoy finding the 9 mice of Mice on Main. It’s a self-guided tour along Main Street that goes for a 9 block stretch. Catch a Greenville Drive ballgame at Fluor Field where you’ll see a miniature green monster. Munch on some boiled peanuts (a tasty Southern treat), or sit on picnic tables and enjoy the game.
Stroll through Falls Park and marvel at Liberty Bridge. Or experience some much needed R & R while driving the scenic route up Highway 11, where you’ll find the oldest bridge in South Carolina, Campbell’s Covered Bridge, the last covered bridge remaining in the state.
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10. Go Island Hopping in South Carolina’s Lowcountry
The Barrier Islands, off the coast of South Carolina, make up some of the most beautiful places to take a South Carolina family vacation. Islands have a way of inviting you into their way of life with tranquil ocean breezes. Each island will take you on their own adventure. Most of the islands have a rich history that will only add to the charm when one visits.
Hilton Head, the second largest Barrier Island in the United States (after Long island), is a popular vacation destination with luxury resorts including Disney’s Vacation Club Resort, 12 miles of unspoiled beaches, and plenty of local attractions. Climb up the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse to see the majestic views of the Calibogue Sound.
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