What Is South Carolina Known For?

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South Carolina is often called the Palmetto State or Lowcountry and has rich historic ties, as South Carolina was the first of the Thirteen Colonies and the first state to succeed from the Union, making it a hot spot for American Civil War sites. It’s also the home of Southern hospitality, sweet tea and barbecue.

Cities in South Carolina include Charleston and Myrtle Beach, but you can also find fun things to do in Columbia and Greenville. Charleston is a charming historic district packed with preserved architectural sites, world-renowned restaurants and romantic oak trees, while Myrtle Beach is a coastal party town featuring an upbeat boardwalk scene, golf courses and family entertainment.

Peppered throughout the state are picturesque nature spots including state parks, mountain ranges, plantations and gardens. No matter which part of the state you choose to explore, you will definitely want to spend some time outdoors appreciating South Carolina’s natural beauty. Here are the top things South Carolina is known for.

What Is South Carolina Known For?

1- Being The Palmetto State

South Carolina is often called the “Palmetto State” after the Sabal Palmetto tree found in abundance throughout the state.

The tree has a unique and interesting history of how it became appointed as the state’s official tree.

During the Revolutionary War in 1776, the Sabal Palmetto tree played a big role in the defense against the city of Charleston.


The soft and sponge-like palmetto logs were used as a tool in absorbing and deflecting British cannonballs during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island and proved to be effective.

These trees continued to be used in battle including during the construction of Fort Moultrie.

The Palmetto tree became a symbol of resilience and defiance and later became adopted as South Carolina’s state tree and nickname.

Today, you can find shirts, hats and other memorabilia commemorating the state tree.

2- Historic Charleston

Historical Downtown Area Of Charleston
Its Historical Downtown Area is what Charleston, South Carolina known for.

Charleston is easily one of the most popular and most visited cities in the state of South Carolina, which puts it at number two on our list of famous things South Carolina is known for.

The coastal city is steeped in rich history, playing a large role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Charleston was established in 1670 and has been well-preserved with cobblestone streets, mature oak trees and antebellum-style architecture throughout.

The city is home to stunning plantations, historic forts used in the wars, significant homes turned museums, delicious French-inspired Southern cuisine and some of the coolest bars where you can sip cocktails.

Have a good time strolling Waterfront Park and catching a glimpse or a photo of the iconic Pineapple Fountain.

The city of Charleston is layered with Southern charm and is truly one of the gems of the entire state.

Recommended tours:

3- Myrtle Beach, “The Grand Strand”

On The Grand Strand At Myrtle Beach
The Grand Strand At Myrtle Beach is what South Carolina is known for.

Another iconic city in the state of South Carolina is Myrtle Beach, which is known for its white-sand beaches, wide range of entertainment options and family fun.

Although both are coastal cities, Myrtle Beach has a different vibe to Charleston.

Myrtle Beach is also known as the “Grand Strand” because it has 60 miles of coastline.

The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is the spot to get a panoramic view of the shoreline, while the Boardwalk is a lively place packed with arcades, shops and restaurants.

There’s also plenty of entertainment options at Broadway at the Beach, which is a hub with attractions and shows such as the Polynesian Fire Luau and Dinner Show, Ripley’s Aquarium and the Hard Rock Café.

Myrtle Beach is also a top destination for golf, with dozens of championship golf courses.

4- Southern Hospitality

Southern Fried Chicken
Southern fried chicken is one of the food South Carolina is known for food.

When you think of South Carolina, Southern hospitality pops to mind.

The state has gained this reputation through a combination of warm gestures, friendly interactions and a deep-rooted cultural tradition of kindness.

These traditions are ingrained in South Carolina’s history, stemming from times when the community relied on each other for support, food and wellness.

Visitors to South Carolina will find that locals go out of their way to converse with strangers and are more than willing to share stories, best places to visit and offer assistance.

Whether it’s the staff at your hotel, a waiter at a restaurant or a stranger on the street, a friendly smile is the bare minimum of South Carolina’s southern hospitality.

Recommended tour: Charleston Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours

5- Sweet Tea

glasses of sweet tea
Sweet Tea is a drink South Carolina is famous for.

A staple Southern beverage, Sweet Tea is a quintessential thirst quencher invented in South Carolina.

The origins of sweet tea can be traced back to the early 19th century, when tea became a popular drink in the Southern United States.

But, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the modern idea of sweet tea was born through cultural and climatic factors.

With the south being hot and humid by nature, residents used iced tea as a drink to hydrate and cool down.

While the tea was hot, people started adding sugar to offset the bitter taste.

As time went on, this drink became a popular offering at social gatherings, family dinners, and then restaurants and diners.

The exact source of sweet tea cannot be pinpointed today, but South Carolina has gladly taken ownership of sweet tea culture.

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6- Birthplace Of Hootie And The Blowfish

Columbia, South Carolina Skyline
What is South Carolina known for in the music scene? Columbia is the birthplace of Hootie And The Blowfish.

Hootie and the Blowfish, a popular musical group consisting of members Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim “Soni” Sonefeld got its start in Columbia, South Carolina.

The crew met while attending the University of South Carolina, where they played small gigs such as fraternity parties and local bars as a cover band.

Hootie and the Blowfish’s music combines the stylings of rock, country, blues, and pop.

The band skyrocketed to popularity after releasing their debut album, “Cracked Rear View,” in 1994 which won two Grammy awards.

This album is now considered one of the best-selling albums of all time, featuring top hits such as “Only Wanna Be With You” and “Let Her Cry.”

The band has always represented their hometown with pride and brought attention to South Carolina’s music scene overall, and some members of the band continue to reside in the Palmetto State.

7- Gullah Culture

Gullah culture and heritage is a huge part of South Carolina’s history and something that makes the state unique.

The culture of Gullah originated from enslaved West Africans who were brought to South Carolina to work on rice, cotton, and indigo plantations throughout the state of South Carolina as well as North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

The culture features a blend of African traditions and colonial influences and has been preserved to the present day, with some Gullah communities still intact in certain parts of the state, mostly on Daufuskie Island just off the coast.

One of the most important elements of the Gullah culture is the language, which is a distinct creole language derived from West Africa.

Other important parts of the culture include storytelling, music, crafts, food, and spiritual practices such as rituals and songs.

Learn about the Gullah Geechee culture at the Gullah Museum in Georgetown, South Carolina.

8- Southern Comfort Cuisine, Barbecue’s Origin

While Sweet Tea’s origin might not have all the details, the Low Country’s invention of barbecue is a different story.

This special southern meal can be traced back to Beaufort, South Carolina, gaining the city the nickname of “Birthplace of Barbecue.”

To give you a little background, the Spanish and Native Americans got together to discuss peace treaties and friendships over a pit of fire, ultimately leading to the barbecue we know today.

This event took place in what is presently known as Parris Island, just 20 minutes from the city of Beaufort.

Over the years, many other southern regions put their own spin on how to prepare barbecue through a variety of cooking procedures, tools and spices.

Specifically, South Carolina’s barbecue emphasizes pulled pork and the “Carolina Gold” mustard-based sauce that creates a tangy flavor.

You can find plenty of delicious barbecue restaurants throughout the state, but if you want the very best we suggest going straight to the source with Beaufort staples Dukes BBQ or Roadhouse Ribs.

9- Blue Ridge Mountains

what is south carolina famous for blue ridge
The Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the things South Carolina is known for.

In addition to charming coastal towns, South Carolina also offers sprawling mountain ranges.

The Blue Ridge Mountains range from 1,500 to over 3,500 feet and are known for their blue color which comes from the abundant vegetation releasing isoprene into the air.

The mountains also hold some history, as they were once the home of The Cherokee Indian tribes who considered the mountains sacred and prayed to them for tranquility.

The mountain range is a great spot for nature enthusiasts who enjoy hiking, as it offers dense forest to explore, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking views from all angles.

There are plenty of different trails that range in difficulty for beginners and experienced hikers.

The best time to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains is during the fall to catch the changing leaves, but you’re sure to have an amazing experience no matter what time of the year you visit.

10- American Civil War Significant Sites

Scenes At Fort Moultrie On Sullivan's Island
Significant American Civil War sites such as Fort Moultrie On Sullivan’s Island is what South Carolina is known for.

South Carolina is one of the most significant regions of the United States when it comes to the American Civil War.

As the initial location of the first shots fired, the state is abundant with historical sites such as forts, museums, and battlegrounds.

Some of the most popular spots to visit are Fort Sumter National Monument near Charleston, Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, the Battle of Secessionville Site on James Island, and Honey Hill Battlefield.

If you want to pay your respects to those who fought during this time, we recommend checking out Magnolia Cemetary.

At this famous Charleston cemetery, you can visit the graves of 84 Confederate soldires, 2,200 Civil War veterans and 14 signers of the Ordinance of Secession.

Each of these sites upholds a historical importance when it comes to the events of the 1860s.

Visitors of the sites can explore interesting artifacts, walk through the forts, and even witness reenactments of the Civil War battles.

11- Over 30 Barrier Islands

Beach Scenes At Hunting Island, South Carolina
Islands like Hunting Island is another thing South Carolina is known for.

Off the coast of the state of South Carolina are 34 islands that are part of the Sea Islands archipelago.

The Sea Islands are a chain of over 100 tidal and barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean, along the coast of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Some of the South Carolina islands are accessible via driving over a bridge, while some of the more secluded islands can only be reached by boat.

The islands provide a unique escape from the mainland and bring a ton of tourists to South Carolina each year.

Some of the most popular islands you will hear about are Hilton Head, Kiawah, and Sullivan’s.

These islands have white sand beaches, delicious restaurants and award-winning resorts featuring luxury amenities.

There are also lesser-known islands such as Bear Island or Goat Island, which are untouched, natural islands that offer an abundance of native wildlife, plant species and interesting ecosystems to explore.

12- Golf Courses

South Carolina has a prestigious reputation when it comes to golf.

In addition to lush greenery and oceanside courses that provide great views, the subtropical weather lends for almost year-round play.

Myrtle Beach lives up to its monkier as the “Golf Capital of the World,” with over 90 golf courses while the rest of the state also offers some of the most popular courses in the world.

If you consider yourself a golf enthusiast, you will absolutely want to play a few rounds at these courses.

Some of the best South Carolina has to offer are Harbour Town Golf Links designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus on Hilton Head Island, Wild Dunes Resort featuring oceanfront holes on the Isle of Palms, or even Kiawah Island Golf Resort which is considered one of the most challenging courses in the world.

13- Plantations And Gardens

South Carolina’s natural beauty is evident in its numerous plantations and gardens that are nationally renowned.

During the antebellum period, there were over 2,000 plantations in South Carolina.

Many of these plantations have been carefully preserved and maintained.

Although this time period was characterised by the work of slavery, plantations have added educational information, commemorative monuments, and events to memorialise the lives of the people who worked to create these luscious gardens.

Many of the plantations are dotted around the Charleston area, including the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens which is one of the oldest plantations in the entire south established in 1676 and Middleton Place.

Some other notable gardens and plantations in South Carolina include Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, home to the Avenue of the Oaks, and Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet.

14- Spoleto Festival USA

Spoleto Festival USA was created in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti who was inspired by the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

The festival is held annually in Charleston and is as one of the most prestigious performing arts festivals in the country.

While most festivals only last a weekend or two, the Spoleto Festival transforms the city of Charleston into a destination for artists all over the world for 17 days each Spring.

Attendees of the festival can enjoy performances in opera, theater, dance, and music from well-known and new artists.

The performances take place in the historic theaters in the city and Charleston’s outdoor spaces.

Look out for the festival lineup and ticket prices starting in January each year.

15- The Carolina Shag Dance

The Caroline Shag Dance.

Texas created line dancing but you’ve probably not heard of the Carolina Shag Dance, which is an upbeat partner dance that originated in the 1950s in the coastal clubs of Myrtle Beach.

The dance consists of shuffles, spins and footwork that pair well with the blues, pop and soul rhythms that are often found in beachy songs.

The Carolina Shag brings a laid-back, coastal vibe into the world of dance and is now recognised in national and international dance competitions.

If you want to learn the basics of the Carolina Shag, check out the Hilton Head Carolina Shag Club for lessons and even become a member.

Once you’ve got the steps down pat, head to the coastal clubs to show off your moves.

Map Of United States With South Carolina Highlight

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Jordan Donahue
Jordan is a freelance writer that has been in the industry for over a year. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Communications which she used in her marketing career. Her hometown is Philadelphia, PA. Currently, Jordan resides in Central Florida with her family and French Bulldog, Philly. Jordan has travelled many places for fun and even travels for a living as a Flight Attendant. Her favourite destinations include Denver, Reno, and anywhere else with mountains and plenty of good coffee!