South Carolina’s significant historical presence can be appreciated at its historical sites and museums. Nicknamed the “Palmetto State,” South Carolina was one of the original Thirteen Colonies that joined to form the USA. In 1861, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union and where the first shots were fired during the Civil War.
South Carolina is also home to delicious Southern food and hospitality, attracting visitors for its barbecue and sweet tea. South Carolina is the birthplace of sweet tea. South Carolina has warm weather, rich history, and a laid-back lifestyle. This diverse state has stunning beaches and abundant wildlife and nature to explore. Whether you’re looking to spend the day on one of the state’s gorgeous beaches, learn about historical events or try something tasty, the cities in South Carolina are great places to start your adventure.
- South Carolina Cities
South Carolina Cities
20 Best Cities In South Carolina
Also known as C-Town or Chucktown, this charming little city is like stepping into another time.
The city was founded in 1670 and has plenty of remnants of the past, such as cobblestone streets and historical architecture.
These beautiful details make Charleston one of the best cities in South Carolina to explore.
Located in the south of the state along the Cooper River leading to the Atlantic Coast, Charleston is bursting with things to do.
Stretch your scholarly legs at one of the many museums, such as the Aiken-Rhett House Museum, The Charleston Museum, or historical sites, including the Fort Sumter National Monument and the Nathaniel Russell House.
Stay on King Street in Downtown Charleston for all the excitement within walking distance of restaurants, bars, boutiques and quaint bookstores.
Some of our favourite spots are Sewing Down South, The Rarebit, Uncorked and Bourbon N’ Bubbles.
Greenville is in upstate South Carolina, not far from the border with North Carolina and a city with fun activities for all ages.
Although Greenville is a city, there are a lot of great parks to hike, stroll or have a picnic.
Some favourites are Swamp Rabbit Trail, Fernwood Nature Trail, Falls Park on the Reedy, and Unity Park.
Greenville also has a focus on the arts, with the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities at the centre of downtown.
Visit the Peace Center Concert Hall or the Greenville County Museum of Art to jump into the art community.
Some places in Greenville to visit with kids are Fluor Field, Greenville Zoo and The Children’s Museum of the Upstate.
While this may seem like a small city on Port Royal Island, this South Carolina gem is the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s best films, such as Forrest Gump, The Prince of Tides and The Big Chill.
It’s also known as the “Birthplace of Barbecue,” so you’ll want to sink your teeth into a tangy, smokey plate of southern goodness at Dukes BBQ of Beaufort, Q on Bay or KC Mike’s Smokin’.
Once you’ve stuffed yourself with as much barbecue as you can, walk it off at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, a top spot for its beautiful views, picnic areas and playground.
4- Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant is a prominent suburb of Charleston that can be accessed from a quick drive across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
Although it is a suburb, this city has plenty to offer.
Mount Pleasant has many scenic outdoor areas, such as Palmetto Islands County Park, Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens, Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park, and Shem Creek Park, to name a few.
Other fun things to do in Mount Pleasant are to stroll along the Mount Pleasant Pier or visit culturally significant sites like the Cold War Submarine Memorial and the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.
5- Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is packed with fun things to do.
The city is on the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina and contains a stretch of beaches that are 60 miles (96 km).
Known as the “Grand Strand,” Myrtle Beach provides an abundance of attractions, amusement parks, museums and eateries to keep everyone busy, there’s no way we could even begin to list them all.
Popular attractions in Myrtle Beach are the SkyWheel, Ripley’s Aquarium, Broadway on the Beach and the Franklin G. Burroughs – Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum.
You’ll also find plenty of spots to ditch the crowds and head off the beaten path to search for hidden gems.
If you like golf, Myrtle Beach is perfect as this South Carolina city has over 90 championship golf courses that have hosted USGA, PGA, and LPGA events.
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6- Hilton Head
Hilton Head is considered the Low Country of South Carolina.
You will commonly hear this term thrown around to refer to this area because this part of the state is below sea level.
Hilton Head is a fantastic vacation destination for its beautiful beaches and perfect boating conditions.
The best way to experience Hilton Head is on the water, so book a sunset dolphin cruise, guided kayak nature tour, boat rental or fishing charter.
There are tons of great companies to book with, some favourites are Island Head at Broad Creek, Lowcountry Watersports and Vagabond Cruise.
If you want to stretch your land legs, visit the Harbor Town Lighthouse, Coastal Discovery Museum, Sea Pines Forest Preserve or Burkes Beach.
Seafood is popular in Hilton Head, so grab a bite at one of the seafood restaurants such as Hudson’s Seafood House On The Docks or a drink at Island Winery.
Columbia is the capital city of South Carolina and is named after Christopher Columbus, who is credited with establishing the New World.
Columbia holds the title of the state’s first-ever planned city.
To explore the history of Columbia, head to the South Carolina Military Museum, South Carolina State House, and the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
Columbia is also home to the University of South Carolina, which has a beautiful campus with outdoor spaces such as the Norma Cannon Palms Memorial Garden, War Memorial Garden, and the A.C. Moore Garden.
Aiken is in the western portion of South Carolina, not far from Augusta, Georgia.
Aiken is nicknamed “Thoroughbred Country,” as it is home to first-class polo and racing. It is even home to the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.
Aiken encourages locals and visitors to enjoy the outdoors through its plentiful green spaces and preserves, such as Aiken State Park, Boyd Pond Park, Carolina Bay Nature Preserve, and Hitchcock Woods Foundation.
Other top attractions in Aiken include the DuPont Planetarium and Hopeland Gardens!
Spartanburg is a city in the northern part of South Carolina near Greenville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
These mountains can be seen throughout the city, especially showcased through parks such as Hatcher Garden, which features ponds, woodland paths and butterflies, Cleveland Park, and Croft State Park, a perfect spot to spend the day fishing on the lake.
Downtown’s cultural district is where the excitement happens and where you will find art galleries, performance venues and the Spartanburg Art Museum.
Spartanburg Regional History Museum is also a great spot to learn more about the city.
10- Fort Mill
Fort Mill is in York County, near the Carolina borders, and although it is in South Carolina, it’s sometimes considered a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina, because it is so close to the border.
Locals love Anne Springs Close Greenway for its outdoor activities, including fishing, horseback riding and hiking.
For a local experience visit Fort Mill, check out FM Eatery, Amor Artis Brewing and Olive’s Mud Puddle for delicious bites, brews and coffees.
11- Folly Beach
Folly Beach is on Folly Island near Charleston and a sister beach to Sullivan’s Island.
To get the full Chuck-town beach experience, we recommend visiting both since they are a mere 20 miles (32 km) apart. Unlike quiet Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach is bustling with people and things to do!
First, don’t miss the chance to walk down Folly Beach Pier, which stretches over 1,000 ft (304 m) into the ocean.
Next, you’ll want to visit Folly Beach County Park for its pelican rookery in the preserve area.
Book a dolphin cruise or water sports excursion to fully immerse yourself in Folly Beach beauty.
This city is between Charleston and Myrtle Beach on South Carolina’s east coast.
Georgetown is right on Winyah Bay, which flows to the Atlantic Ocean. Nicknamed “Hammock Coast,” Georgetown was voted “America’s Best Coastal Small Town,” and is considered one of South Carolina’s best-kept secrets for a peaceful weekend getaway.
Because of the coastal nature, activities in Georgetown involve the water, such as boating and fishing.
The city also has some intriguing historic and scholarly sites, such as the Gullah Museum, Hopsewee Plantation, Kaminski House Museum, and the Rice Museum.
You may have heard of this city because of its university and while Clemson is a quintessential college town, there is much to offer within the city limits.
Clemson is one of the prettiest cities in South Carolina.
If you want to immerse yourself in Clemson University, we recommend visiting during football season, as the Clemson Tigers put on quite the game.
Besides football, the campus also offers an array of museums, stadiums, and a performing arts centre.
Some of our favourite spots are the Bob Campbell Geology Museum, Hanover House, and the Fort Hill National Historic Landmark.
Newberry is the largest city in Newberry County, located in the western portion of the state between Columbia and Spartanburg.
While you may not necessarily think “wine country” when you think western North Carolina, Newberry is here to prove you wrong with the beautiful Enoree River Vineyards and Winery.
Once you’ve had your fair share of local wines, head to Wells Japanese Garden to find some zen.
This traditional garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
15- Rock Hill
Rock Hill is York County’s largest city, and like Fort Mill, this city is often considered a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina.
Shop and hang out in Old Town, the historic downtown district where Main Street has unique bookstores and beer bottling companies.
The Freedom Walkway depicts events during the Civil Rights Movement, and Fountain Park is lovely.
The biggest attraction in Rock Hill is Carowinds, the area’s best amusement park.
Here, you can satisfy your need for thrills with roller coasters and water slides.
The park also has seasonal events, so check the calendar before visiting.
Sumter is located just east of Columbia.
The city is most famed for Swan Lake Iris Gardens, which is the only place in the United States where visitors can see all eight species of swans.
Sumter also has great museums such as the Historical Lincoln Center, Sumter County Museum & Backcountry, Sumter Firefighter Museum, and the Sumter Military Museum.
One of the city’s best attractions is the abundance of festivals and no matter what time of the year, you’re likely to run into an exciting, fun-filled festival.
Some of the most attended are the Fantasy of Lights in December, Oktoberfest on Main, and the Memorial Day Iris Festival.
Florence is in the state’s northern region, between Columbia and Wilmington.
Nicknamed “The Magic City,” it’s a hidden gem in South Carolina where you can immerse yourself in the city’s history at the Florence County Museum, Florence Veterans Park, or the Florence National Cemetery.
To appreciate the outdoors, head to Woods Bay State Natural Area and walk the trails to see the forest, marsh, sandhill and other habitats.
If you want an action-packed day of sports, catch a Florence Redwolves baseball game or see one of the NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington Raceway.
Summerville is in Dorchester County, northwest of Charleston.
Although it’s named Summerville, since the early 1900s, visitors have flocked here during the spring to view the millions of flower blooms, which gained the city its nickname, “The Flower Town in the Pines” or simply just “Flower Town.”
Head to outdoor areas and parks like Azalea Park, Oakbrook Nature Trail, Ashley River Blue Trail, or Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site to see the Summerville blooms.
Middleton Place is a large former rice plantation with a stunning garden.
Summerville also has other attractions, such as the World’s Largest Sweet Tea, which inspired unique events like the Sweet Tea Crawl and the Sweet Tea Festival!
You can find Hampton in the western part of South Carolina, near the Georgia border.
The town is named after Wade Hampton III, a Confederate general in the Civil War.
A visit to Hampton is a visit to a true Southern city with a slower-paced lifestyle.
Get a taste of some out-of-this-world Southern comfort food at local restaurants such as Rigdon’s Fried Chicken and Coconut’s.
Things to do in Hampton include the Hampton County Museum, Hampton County Library, and Lightsey Park.
Close by Lake Warren State Park is a great place to hike, fish, and kayak.
20- Sullivan’s Island
Sullivan’s Island is in Charleston County and is the top beach destination for locals because of its pristinely kept beaches.
It’s about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, making it easy to visit both cities in one weekend.
This small beach town is less crowded than nearby Folly Beach, allowing nature in the area to flourish.
Admire the coastline at the beaches such as Thomson Park and Sullivan’s Island Beach or visit interesting historic sites like Mugdock Castle, Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, and the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse.
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