Known for its southern charm and coastal views, South Carolina is the gem of the south. Home to diverse culture, history, and trade, there’s so much to discover here. If South Carolina is on your travel bucket list, you’re in the right place.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- South Carolina Bucket List Trip Destinations
- Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for South Carolina
- Spring and Summer South Carolina Bucket List Ideas
- Fall and Winter South Carolina Bucket List Ideas
- Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in South Carolina
- Charleston, South Carolina Bucket List Ideas
Once America’s slave trade capital, this was also the first state to secede from the Union, leading to the Civil War. Though the state has come a long way, it’s not afraid to remember its past. From popular beaches to the cobblestone streets of Charleston, this is your essential South Carolina bucket list.
South Carolina Bucket List Trip Destinations
It wouldn’t be a trip to South Carolina without visiting these must-see destinations below. Beyond Charleston, these bucket list destinations are special in their own way.
1. Stop by the state capital
One of the best places to visit in every state is the capital city. In South Carolina, this means stopping by Columbia. This is the state’s largest city, and it’s also home to the campus of the University of South Carolina.
2. Escape to paradise
If you want true paradise, skip the touristy South Carolina beaches. Instead, head to Pawleys Island. This paradise retreat is home to sand dunes and white coastlines. There are plenty of vacation rentals and hotels here, though it can be pricey during peak travel seasons.
3. Take in the coast at Mount Pleasant
Outside of Charleston, you’ll find Mount Pleasant. This suburb is much quieter than Charleston, but it’s still a great place to visit. Home to the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, here you can see many famous navy ships and WWII carriers.
4. Blend the old with the new
Many of South Carolina’s towns feel like a preserved part of the past, but that’s not the case in Greenville. This is a modern city that blends the best of the Old South with the New South. A growing cultural center, this is where you can take in some of the best food and art in the state.
5. Explore history in Beaufort
Few South Carolina towns are as recognizable as historic Beaufort. Dating back to the Spanish exploration in the early 1500s, this is the center of South Carolina’s southern charm. Stroll through the antebellum mansions or admire the town’s infamous architecture.
Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for South Carolina
With mild weather all year long, South Carolina is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who are building their own bucket list. Though you won’t find many mountains here, you can still explore the best of the outdoors in South Carolina.
6. Camp at Caesars Head State Park
Camping and hiking are popular pastimes in South Carolina. Few spots are as popular as Caesars Head State Park. Caesars Head is a huge rock formation overlooking the Piedmont region, and you can find endless trails here to explore.
7. Walk back in time at Congaree National Park
You’ll find the Congaree National Park just outside of Columbia. Named after the Congaree people that once lived here, this park is home to a unique floodplain swamp. Walk along the boardwalk to experience what this land looked like before urbanization.
8. Hike Table Rock
Though you won’t find many mountains in South Carolina, you will find Table Rock. Located in Table Rock State Park, you can climb the many hiking trails along Table Rock to the high summit.
9. Go off the grid at Daufuskie Island
If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to completely disconnect, here’s your chance. Daufuskie Island is the island that time forgot. The folks who live on this island full-time make their living from oystering and fishing. Visitors can enjoy activities like golfing, horseback riding, and kayaking.
10. Climb a lighthouse
As a coastal state, South Carlina has endless lighthouses. These often have the best views from the top, but you’ll have to make it all the way up the spiral stairs. One of the best to visit is the Huntington Island State Park Lighthouse with a total of 167 stairs.
Spring and Summer South Carolina Bucket List Ideas
Home to humid summers and sunny days, the spring and summer are some of the best times to visit South Carolina. However, be sure to pack extra sunscreen for these activities below!
11. Soak up the sun on Hilton Head Island
This barrier island located just north of Savannah, Georgia, is known as a summertime playground for South Carolina locals. While many of the homes are owned by the rich and famous, the majority of the coastline is public access.
12. Catch a race at Darlington Raceway
Though you might know racing’s home as Daytona, Darlington Raceway is actually NASCAR’s original speedway. This is where you can watch fast cars compete on one of the most challenging tracks in the spring and summer.
13. Attend the Carolina Cup
Another South Carolina pastime is attending the Carolina Cup in Camden, South Carolina. Like a less-formal Kentucky Derby, this is when people come together to bet, cook great food, and have fun.
14. Watch a drive-in movie
This classic American pastime is still alive and well in South Carolina. Many outdoor theaters in South Carolina preserved their screens to share this old-fashioned way to catch new flicks. One of the best places to visit is The Big Mo, which opened in 1951.
15. Ride Fury 325 at Carowinds
Carowinds is South Carolina’s favorite amusement park. Though there are many thrill rides to choose from, few compete with Fury 325. Aptly named because it reaches a height of 325 feet, this is the longest, fastest, and tallest steel coaster in North America.
Fall and Winter South Carolina Bucket List Ideas
Though there’s rarely much snow in South Carolina, that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the best fall and winter festivities. Here’s what to do in the fall and winter in South Carolina.
16. Catch a sunrise on Myrtle Beach
One of the most popular beach destinations on the East Coast, Myrtle Beach is home to flocks of tourists most of the year. The best time to visit is in the winter when crowds are low, and you can still catch an iconic sunrise.
17. Watch a sunset at Pretty Place Chapel
There are a lot of great places to catch views of the sunset, but Pretty Place Chapel is in a league of its own. Located at Camp Greenville, this chapel gets its name because of the out-of-this-world views of the sprawling landscape. The best time to take in the sunset is when the leaves are changing in the fall, but it’s perfect all year long.
18. Stop at South of the Border
Known as America’s favorite highway stop, this is worth a trip of its own. South of the Border is an infamous pit stop located on the highway. You can visit Pedro’s Pantry, the Sombrero Restaurant, or the Peddler Steak House for a unique treat.
19. Visit the South Carolina Aquarium
If it’s too chilly to explore, head indoors at the South Carolina Aquarium. Home to more than 4,500 animals, get up close and personal with favorites like sea turtles. Perfect for the whole family, this is an educational adventure.
20. Attend a football game
One of the biggest pastimes in South Carolina is college football. Experience the local rivalries for yourself by attending a USC vs. Clemson football game. With over 100 years of rivalry, this is a passionate way to take in local culture.
Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in South Carolina
A cultural melting pot, South Carolina, not surprisingly, is home to some of the best must-try food bucket list trends. These tasty favorites below are sure to ignite your taste buds.
21. Try real southern BBQ
In South Carolina, southern BBQ is a way of life. From whole hog to ribs, you’ll find so many different kinds of barbecue here. Some of the best BBQ can be found in Charleston and Greenville, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.
22. Sip on she-crab soup
Similar to a bisque, she-crab soup is a South Carolina staple. A blend of crabmeat, red-orange roe from female crabs (hence the name), and sherry, this is a one-of-a-kind favorite.
23. Breakfast with a local biscuit
While you can find biscuits across the country, few are tastier than those found in South Carolina. These scratch-made biscuits are buttery, fall-apart flaky, and usually covered with gravy.
24. Snack on boiled peanuts
Found at roadside attractions and bars alike, boiled peanuts are more than a side dish here. Also known as “goober peas,” these peanuts made their way here with slaves in the 19th century. Today, they’re still a symbol of southern culture and heritage.
25. Enjoy an old-fashioned fish fry
Lastly, it wouldn’t be South Carolina without an old-fashioned fish fry. South Carolina locals love to fry all sorts of seafood into a perfect crisp, typically serving it with an endless try of napkins and sides. Don’t worry if it gets messy!
Charleston, South Carolina Bucket List Ideas
Founded in 1670, Charleston is known across the country for its history, entertainment, and southern charm. Older than the country it's in, Charleston is the perfect place to get lost.
25. Walk the Battery
First, one of the best ways to see Charleston is by walking along the Battery. This stroll along the Charles Harbor is the best place to see the well-preserved antebellum homes. End your walk at Battery Park to see live oaks, Civil War status, and war cannons.
26. Tour a historic plantation
Though they have a controversial past, there’s no denying that the historic plantations around Charleston are a part of the region’s history. From Boone Hall to Magnolia Plantation, many offer tours of the grounds along with an insight into the less-savory past of these properties.
27. Enjoy happy hour on a rooftop bar
The best way to enjoy happy hour is on top of one of Charleston’s many rooftop bars. If you can, stay for the sunset to see the city’s lights come on one-by-one.
28. Have lunch in a church tea room
A Charleston classic, one of the church’s tea rooms is a great place to visit in late spring to enjoy daily lunch. This is also a fantastic way to try Lowcountry classics like okra soup and Huguenot torte.
29. Speak a bit of Gullah
You can’t visit Charleston without learning about Gullah culture. This Creole dialect of Black communities has been a part of Charleston's communities for hundreds of years. Today, you can take Gullah tours to learn more about this unique history and language.
30. Take a ghost tour
There’s an undeniable energy to Charleston that you don’t find in many cities. If you find the right foggy night, it’s a good idea to take a ghost tour. Though geared for gullible tourists, these spooky stories are based on real historical roots.
South Carolina Bucket List Inspiration
Whether you find yourself wandering the historic streets of Charleston or strolling along the beach, there is so much to discover in South Carolina. The gem of the south, this coastal destination has more to offer than meets the eye. One of the original colonies, this is a historic testament to the beauty of the south.
Where will your bucket list take you next? Learn how to make a travel bucket list of your own with these tips above. From there, the world is yours to discover.