A generous serving of southern hospitality seasoned with stunning natural landscapes and a juicy bit of history makes visiting South Carolina a treat for any traveller. This eastern seaboard state has 180 miles (290 km) of coastline and some of the USA’s best beaches.
Throw in some decent weather, with sunshine all year round into the mix, and you have a destination that keeps on giving. Where to begin? Start with these 20 landmarks in South Carolina to get a taste of the very best of what the state has to offer.
- 20 Landmarks In South Carolina
- South Carolina Travel Passes
- Famous South Carolina Landmarks
- Natural Landmarks In South Carolina
- Historical Landmarks In South Carolina
20 Landmarks In South Carolina
South Carolina Travel Passes
Famous South Carolina Landmarks
1- Charleston Pineapple Fountain
Extending a warm welcome to Charleston visitors, the Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park stands as an ornate emblem of The Holy City’s hospitality.
Charleston’s nickname came about because it has many churches and has long been known for its religious diversity.
Although pineapples are not indigenous to the region, historically, they symbolised hospitality and hints of a juicy Carolinian colonial past.
Built in, 1990, the fountain is an iconic photo stop with a lovely harbour backdrop and is a popular post to wade and swim during hot summer months.
Charleston Pineapple Fountain is at 1 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401.
2- South Carolina State House
South Carolina State House in downtown Columbia is the state government’s headquarters.
The 167-year-old Classical Revival-style building also houses the South Carolina General Assembly and South Carolina’s Governor’s and Lieutenant Governor’s offices.
Visitors can walk in daily for tours of the building and ground.
Due to its significant role during Reconstruction, the State House became a National Historic Landmark.
Several monuments and statues dotted around the grounds worth checking out, including the Confederate Monument, African-American History Monument, Washington Statue and Palmetto Regiment.
South Carolina State House is at 1100 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29208 (at the intersection of Assembly Street).
3- Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Mount Pleasant
Completing the Charleston skyline, this two and a half-mile long cable-stayed bridge over Cooper River was one of North America’s longest bridges when it was inaugurated in 2005.
As well as being aesthetically pleasing, the bridge’s design is high enough to accommodate ships and strong enough to withstand hurricanes.
A walk along the bridge provides a lovely view of the water and a romantic stroll over the bridge to watch the sunset will become a memorable event in your Charleston trip.
4- Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island
Angel Oak Tree is one of the largest and oldest live oak trees east of the Mississippi.
Located on Johns Island near Charleston, the tree casts a huge shaded area measuring 17,200 square ft (1600 sqm) and its longest branch is 187 ft (57 m) long.
This is one massive tree with a whopping 28 ft (8.5m) circumference and is estimated to be around four to five centuries old.
It’s so big and old that being near the tree is almost a sacred event.
Due to its unique status and age, the tree is heavily protected and sitting on its branches is not allowed.
The Angel Oak Tree is at 3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455.
5- The Famous Peachoid in Gaffney
Doff your cap to South Carolina’s official state fruit, the peach.
Whether you’re a fan of the fruit or the Netflix series House of Cards, where this South Carolina landmark features heavily, the sight of a 135 ft (41m) tall water tower is a clear sign you’re visiting peach country.
Gaffney is South Carolina’s peach capital, and the economy once depended on peach orchards.
This giant peach-shaped water tower can hold one million gallons (3.78541 million litres) of water.
It’s on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway between exits 90 and 92.
The Famous Peachoid is at Peachoid Rd, Gaffney, SC 29341.
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Natural Landmarks In South Carolina
6- Raven Cliff Falls, Cleveland
Plunging off Raven Cliff Mountain deep within Caesars Head State Park, this 420 ft (128 m) waterfall is the highest and most photographed waterfall of South Carolina.
Raven Cliff Falls is in Greenville County and is named after the ravens that breed in abundance in the nearby high cliffs.
The waterfall formed because of a sudden drop in the Blue Ridge Mountains escarpment.
To view the falls, you can hike the 2.2 miles (3.5km) picturesque and forested Raven Cliff Trail to an overlook where the falls are visible.
The hike is moderate, with ladders to help you climb the steep rock faces.
7- Coligny Beach, Hilton Head Island
This lovely five miles of a sandy slice of the Atlantic coastline is one of the top beaches on Hilton Head Island.
The shallow warm water invites swimmers, and the beach park has shaded swings and seats.
The breezy beachside respite is wheelchair accessible and lifeguards keep an alert eye throughout the day, making it also one of the safest beaches to visit.
From beach rentals to restrooms and restaurants, the amenities make it easy to spend the day enjoying the surf, sand and sun.
Coligny Beach Park is at 1 Coligny Circle, Hilton Head Island 29928.
8- Falls Park on the Reedy, Greenville
In the heart of downtown Greenville, this picturesque park is a 32-acre (13 ha) gem with the Reedy River flowing right through it.
This city landmark of South Carolina is the birthplace of Greenville.
The park was built in 1967 and replaced textile mills located here near the river.
It’s a nature lover’s paradise, and the arched Liberty Bridge offers a breathtaking view of the park.
Several gardens, plenty of walking and waterfall trails, and restaurants and eateries within the park makes a visit here a complete experience.
Enjoying a picnic on a sunny day is one of the city park’s popular activities.
Falls Park on the Reedy is at 601 S Main St, Greenville, SC 29601.
9- Sassafras Mountain
At 3553 ft (1082 m) above sea level, Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in the state.
Climb to the top at the observation deck of Sassafras Mountain Tower to admire a spectacular Blue Ridge Mountain view and the three states of both Carolinas and Georgia on a clear day.
The state line of North and South Carolina passes through the tower structure, and you can put a foot on each side and stand in two states at once.
Located in Pickens County, the tower is open from sunrise to sunset, making it a fantastic spot to take in the magical colours of the mountains.
10- Savannah River
At 301 miles (484 km), the Savannah River is the longest in the state.
It marks the border between Georgia and South Carolina and flows southeasterly to meet the Atlantic Ocean.
The Savannah River Basin has high biodiversity, with 75 rare flora, fauna, and 108 fish species.
Visit Savannah National Wildlife Refuge at Hardeeville to enjoy a day on the river and follow the walking trails around marshes to view wildlife.
11- Lake Jocassee
In South Carolina’s far northwestern corner, Lake Jocassee is a gem with crystal-blue water and a laid-back South Carolina vibe.
Lake Jocassee is a popular swimming place, with a 25 ft (7.6 m) visibility and a reasonably warm water temperature.
Hire a boat for an island visit and a hidden waterfall hopping trip, or laze around enjoying the ambience.
The lake’s sandy shore is perfect for building sandcastles and swimming. Go paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing and hiking.
Lake Jocassee is in Devil’s Fork State Park.
12- Table Rock Mountain
Table Rock Mountain is a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Northern Pickens County.
The Cherokee Indians referred to the mountain as the ‘Great Blue Hills of God’ because God feasted here after his hunt and used the rocky mountain ledge as his table.
A 3083-acre (1247 ha) state park is home to Pinnacle Mountain, the tallest mountain within the state.
You can hike to the top of both Table Rock and Pinnacle.
The park has three waterfalls and two lakes, Lake Pinnacle and Lake Oolenoy.
For landmarks in Latin America, see:
Historical Landmarks In South Carolina
13- Rainbow Row and the Charleston Historic District
This eye-catching set of 13 historic homes painted in pastel shades is one of the iconic landmarks in South Carolina not to be missed.
You can’t do a Charleston historic district tour without getting a photograph of Rainbow Row.
Check out the Georgian architecture and the leafy neighbourhood overlooking the waterfront.
There are different theories about whether the owners chose pastel shades to keep the houses cool in summer or if the colour coding represents a particular business.
Rainbow Row is at 83-107 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401. A romantic way to explore Charleston’s historical downtown is to go on a horse and carriage tour of the sights.
14- Middleton Place
Surrounded by vast grounds and grand classical-style gardens, the oldest landscaped gardens in America, Middleton Place is a beautiful historical treasure in Charleston.
The National Historic Landmark is a living museum with stableyards that house artisans who demonstrate 18th and 19th-century skills such as blacksmithing, pottery and weaving.
An exhibit on slavery is set up in Eliza’s House, which reconstructs an African American freedman’s cottage.
Besides the garden and stable yards, the House Museum is furnished with authentic period furniture and historical items like silverware and jewels.
A card signed by Abraham Lincoln highlights the family’s standing in society at the time.
Don’t miss the 900-year-old Middleton Oak, the rows of 1000+ azaleas and the ponds.
Middleton Place is at 4300 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29414.
15- Magnolia Plantation Garden
For a glimpse of American history in the South, Magnolia Plantation Garden is an intriguing historic landmark in South Carolina.
It is one of the oldest tourist attractions of this state and the most visited plantation in the city.
Dating back to 1676, the Drayton family constructed the garden, which opened as a public garden in 1870.
Surviving the American Revolution and the Civil War, it’s one of the last large-scale romantic-style gardens left in the USA.
Amidst its natural wonders are snippets of dark slave history that played a role in the plantation’s past.
A tour of Magnolia Plantation Garden will take you through the grounds, visit the family house, take a swamp tram ride through the forested part of the plantation and discover a period in history that shaped the south.
Magnolia Plantation Garden is at 3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414.
16- Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbour
Fort Sumter is a sea fort erected in 1812 to protect Charleston from naval invasion.
This was where the official beginning of the Civil War took place, and the first shots were fired to announce the historic event.
One curious fact about the fort is that it was never completed because in 1861, it was still incomplete when Civil War started, and then during the four-year-long war, it fell to ruin.
You can explore the ruins where this war began or cruise around the harbour to see Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park and learn about the defence strategy of the time, war events, and the role the fort played in the history of nation-building. Skip the line and pre-book your tickets here.
17- USS Yorktown and Patriots Point
Patriot’s Point is a naval maritime museum at the edge of Charleston harbour in Mount Pleasant, consisting of three naval vessels with war participation history ranging from WWII to the Vietnam War.
USS Yorktown, nicknamed the ‘Fighting Lady’, is a WWII-era aircraft carrier and Patriots Point’s top attraction.
It offers six self-guided walking tours that will take you around this enormous vessel.
Attractions include the Medal of Honour Museum, an interactive display explaining the medal’s history, aircraft displays in a massive hangar deck, a flight simulator and the recreated Apollo 8 capsule.
18- Myrtle Beach Pier
The vacation town of Myrtle Beach is synonymous with its 60 miles (96 km) of stunning and uninterrupted sandy beach, the Grand Strand.
Along this stretch are eight piers that offer coastal experiences like sunrise points, fishing, strolling, dining, marine life viewing and live entertainment.
Whether you are at the north end of Myrtle Beach or the south end of Garden City, you will always find a pier to enjoy.
From Apache Pier, the longest fishing pier at 1206 ft (367 m), to Myrtle Beach State Park Pier, offering beautiful oceanfront camping with its 300 campsites, these piers are there to enjoy.
19- Beaufort National Cemetery
The sombre sight of more than 18,500 graves of veterans from every war since the Civil War at the famed Beaufort National Cemetery is a reminder of the sacrifice society has to bear to protect its democracy.
Beaufort National Cemetery marks the nation’s loss but it’s also a landmark of South Carolina that showcases the nation’s pride.
The layout of this national cemetery is unique as it is shaped in a semi-circle with roads laid out like spokes in a wheel.
Visit the four commemorative monuments, one of which is the 20-foot (6m) granite obelisk erected in 1870 to honour the soldiers who died for the Union.
Another notable grave is that of Master Sergeant Joseph Simmons, who fought in both the world wars and was awarded Légion d’honneur by the Republic of France in 1999.
Beaufort National Cemetery is at 1601 Boundary St, Beaufort, SC 29902.
20- Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia
The Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia is the oldest episcopal cathedral in the state.
It started as a humble wooden church in 1812 and transformed into an elegant cathedral modelled on the medieval York Minster.
Its English Gothic Revival architecture is as captivating as its miraculous escape during the American Civil War.
It survived Sherman’s March of 1865 by disguising it as a Roman Catholic Church with papier mache crosses on the roof.
Presently, the church has a beautiful wrought iron fenced burial site where famous South Carolinians like American Revolutionary War Generals, poet Henry Timrod, six of South Carolina’s governors and Dr Thomas Cooper, former president of South Carolina College, was laid to rest.
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