Charleston offers almost everything that you need: great restaurants, beautiful architecture, parks, history, nightlife. But sometimes, you want to get out of the bustle of the city and explore some of the smaller towns and lesser-known locations in the area.
Whether you’re visiting Charleston and want something a bit off the beaten path, or you live here and are looking for something new to do this weekend, we have some great day trips for you to discover.
Here are the 10 best day trips outside of Charleston.
Driving time: 1.5 hours
If you’re looking for the perfect combination of life along the pier and historical architecture, then you need to head to Beaufort. A 1.5-hour drive from Charleston, Beaufort is a city on Port Royal Island.
Offering the quintessential antebellum lifestyle, you’ll find the gorgeous marshy lands, lovely shopping in Beaufort’s historic downtown area, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy walks along the pier and parks. With a population of only a little over 13,000 people, Beaufort offers the perfect smalltown escape.
2. Myrtle Beach
Driving time: 2 hours
Myrtle Beach is a nationally famous beach destination known for its summertime crowds, gorgeous beaches, tropical weather, and more. Its warm weather makes it an ideal destination nearly year-round.
One of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the US, Myrtle Beach offers a perfect combination of mid-size town life and big-city offerings. Here, you’ll find plenty of activities, including amusement park rides, a wild nightlife, and museum and aquarium tours.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture, or a little bit of both, you’ll find it at Myrtle Beach.
3. Brookgreen Gardens
Driving time: 1 hour 40 minutes
If you’re looking for a gorgeous, educational experience about the wildlife and nature of South Carolina, then you can’t miss Brookgreen Gardens.
Enjoy the zoo, wander around the garden, and check out the nation’s largest collection of American figurative sculptures. This day trip has something for everyone.
Located only a 20-minute drive from Myrtle Beach, you can consider making a full weekend trip filled with culture, science, and beach time.
4. Kiawah Island
Driving time: 40 minutes
Avid golfers won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit Kiawah Island. Home to a large luxury golf resort, Kiawah Island is well known for its golf scene.
Although most of the island is taken up by the luxury resort, you can visit the island as a private visitor. However, you may consider getting a guest pass so that you can access some of the nicer beach areas and golf courses.
If you’re not a big golf person, you can also enjoy beautiful wildlife sightings, sandy beaches, exploring the marsh areas, and more.
5. Edisto Island
Driving time: 1 hour
If you’re looking for a beach getaway that’s family-friendly and not as busy as Myrtle Beach, then you need to check out Edisto Island.
This quiet beach locale offers long, sandy beaches without the massive crowds. The beach provides the perfect opportunity to look for seashells and fossils. Although there are no hotels on the island, it has plenty of vacation properties, perfect for hosting families.
A smaller town, Edisto Island is perfect for those looking to escape the city and enjoy time alone with the family.
Driving time: 50 minutes
A tiny fishing town, McClellanville offers an escape for those looking to enjoy a nice day on the water.
Besides fishing, McClellanville has The Village Museum, which outlines the small town’s history. They also provide a ferry to Bull Island, tours around Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, hiking, and more. When you want something a bit off the beaten path, you’ll love McClellanville.
7. Shem Creek
Driving time: 13 minutes
Right outside of Charleston lies Shem Creek.
Known for its waterfront walk, Shem Creek offers beautiful views of Charleston, amazing seafood, fishing, shopping, and more. Visit around sunset for picturesque views and a quiet, dusk walk.
8. Hilton Head
Driving time: 2 hours
Golfing, tropical beaches, bicycle trails, you name it, Hilton Head has it.
A popular vacation destination, Hilton Head has one of the most beautiful beaches around. Additionally, it offers tons of walking and biking trails as well as opportunities to fish and golf. If you’ve got a family with diverse interests, then Hilton Head is the ideal location. There’s a little something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a beach escape with lots going on, then you should add Hilton Head to your South Carolina itinerary.
9. Patriot’s Point
Driving time: 15 minutes
For the military history buffs in your group, you won’t want to miss Patriot’s Point, located right outside of Charleston near Shah Creek.
Located along Charleston Harbor, you can tour an aircraft carrier and a battleship, learn about military history, join in special events like the Fourth of July celebration, and more. You can even purchase tickets to camp aboard the USS Yorktown for a truly unique experience.
10. Wadmalaw Island
Driving time: 30 minutes
If you’re seeking Southern architecture, marshy flora and fauna, history, and the best of what South Carolina can offer, then you must head to Wadmalaw Island.
Home to historical plantations, wineries, and a distillery, it offers a blend of cultural experiences to enjoy. If you’re looking for some great local libations, then Wadmalaw Island is a must-see.
We love Charleston, but it’s not the only amazing place to see in South Carolina. When you come visit, don’t forget to check out some of the amazing areas around the greater Charleston area. We’ve got everything including delicious cuisine, adventure trips, history, and more.