From one side of the state to the other, South Carolina is a treasure trove of amazing places to see and things to do. Whether you’re a lifer, or have just moved to the Palmetto State, there are some places that you should not miss. From iconic landmarks to bridges that are awe-worthy, these 13 places in South Carolina belong on everyone’s bucket list.
1. Brookgreen Gardens
If you love exploring magical places in South Carolina, then you'll especially love all that Brookgreen Gardens has to offer. This sculpture garden and wildlife preserve located just south of Murrells Inlet is considered to be among the Top Ten Gardens in the U.S. As it stands, TripAdvisor.com has it ranked as the Number One Outdoor Attraction in the Palmetto State. No matter the season, any time of year you'll arrive to find the gardens in a seasonal peak of colors and vibrancy. During the holidays, make reservations and don't miss the Nights of Lights. Brookgreen Gardens is located at 1931 Brookgreen Garden Dr., Murrells Inlet, SC 29576.
2. Lake Jocassee
South Carolina's own 'Grand Canyon' is a part of the larger Jocassee Gorges. Located in the bottom 300 feet or so of the gorge is a man-made lake paradise called Lake Jocassee. Just about any vantage point on the lake affords 360 degree views of the steeply sloping mountains that surround this cold water lake. If you want to access the lake, then the best public access can be found at Devils Fork State Park at 161 Holcombe Cir., Salem, SC 29676.
3. Botany Bay
One of the most secluded and untouched beaches in the Palmetto State was cut off from visitors in 2016 after a hurricane wiped out the footbridge that provided access on the walking path leading to the beach. But that bridge has recently been replaced and beach access for Botany Bay has been restored, much to the delight of amateur and professional photographers. If you haven't visited this remote beach in person yet, then this is bucket list-worthy. Naked skeleton trees welcome an never ending change of tides along this coastal paradise, and the sunrise here is seemingly more beautiful than you could ever imagine. Botany Bay beach is located at the end of Botany Bay Road on Edisto Island.
4. Congaree National Park
The largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the U.S. is right here in South Carolina. From hiking, camping and canoeing, this national park offers the perfect escape for a wilderness adventure. Meander along the Boardwalk Trail, or head into the backwoods for some off-the-grid adventures... either way you're sure to be mesmerized by the beauty that abounds in this natural retreat. Congaree National Park is located at 100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC 29061.
5. The Ravenel Bridge
Whether you're gazing up at the bridge from below or crossing it on foot or in a vehicle, the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge connecting Charleston to Mount Pleasant offers views you won't find anywhere else in South Carolina. Since its opening in 2005, the bridge has become a top tourist attraction in the Lowcounty - but locals love it too.
6. Table Rock
The views from the top of the natural landmark at Table Rock State Park near Pickens are perhaps unparalleled in our state. Climb your way over a lengthy trail for a real sense of physical accomplishment while you sit and gaze out over the dreamy landscape below. The trail to the top of Table Rock is located in the state park at 158 E Ellison Ln., Pickens, SC 29671.
7. Palmetto Trail - Peak to Prosperity Passage
The Palmetto Trail can be a bit overwhelming to tackle all at once. This rails-to-trails passageway is meant to connect from the mountains all the way to the sea primarily using converted rail pathways. Fortunately the trail is broken up into passages. If there's one to take, it's the 10.8 mile segment that's special in so many ways right from the very start. The Peak to Prosperity Passage begins with a walk across the historic Peak Trestle bridge affording a good long look at the beautiful river below. In all, this passage of the Palmetto Trail dishes up 14 trestles to cross as you make your way to the other end. You'll find directions to the trail head
8. Pretty Place
Also known as Fred W Symmes Chapel at the YMCA Camp Greenville, Pretty Place is the most unique chapel in the Palmetto State. The view from way up here is inspirational on so many levels. Plan your trip well in advance, as the chapel is often closed for private events. Call ahead to make sure they'll be open the day you arrive. The number is (864) 836-3291. Pretty Place Chapel is located at 100 YMCA Camp Rd., Cleveland, SC 29635.
9. Old Sheldon Church Ruins
Speaking of inspiration... a trip to seek out Old Sheldon Church Ruins is definitely a worthwhile excursion. Travel down a narrow (but two lane) road under moss-draped tree tunnels to arrive at the remains of a church built (for the second time) in 1826 and then destroyed during the Civil War. Wander freely (and for free) around the grounds exploring the ruins and the centuries-old grave markers of the dearly departed interred on the property. Old Sheldon Church ruins is located on Old Sheldon Church Rd., Yemassee, SC 29945.
10. Rainbow Falls
Unless you're there in person, it could be rather difficult to realize the scope of this giant waterfall located 2.5 miles in the middle of the forest in the Upstate. The initial waterfall (the part that free falls over the ledge) is approximately 100 feet tall. Add to that another 20-plus feet for the cascading trail that gushes over the rocky terrain below, and you've got one of the tallest waterfalls in the state. But getting there requires some serious hiking. Mostly you'll traverse some rocky terrain and climb more steps than you care to count - but the payoff is so worth it. The trail head to Rainbow Falls is found within Jones Gap State Park at 303 Jones Gap Rd., Marietta, SC 29661.
11. Cherry Grove Pier
The pillar of Cherry Grove Beach in North Myrtle, this landmark was built in the 1950s and then lengthened in 1999. The two-story observation deck at the end provides double the pleasure for visitors who are interested in the many activities (restaurant, fishing and sightseeing) available on the long pier measuring 985 feet. Access the pier at 3500 N Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582.
12. Caesar's Head State Park
Located just 13 miles from Table Rock State Park, this lookout at the Ceasar's Head State Park Visitor Center dishes up long range mountain views similar to those seen from the top of Table Rock State Park. The only difference is... about 3.5 miles each way. The lookout at Caesar's Head is only a short walk from the parking area. Find the visitors center at Caesar's Head State Park at 8155 Geer Hwy., Cleveland, SC 29635.
13. Liberty Bridge
Supported by a single suspension cable and two poles, Liberty Bridge located within Falls Park on the Reedy in downtown Greenville is but one of the focal points in this fantastic urban park. The bridge is 345 feet long and is curved away from the waterfall below, providing the perfect angles from which to take it all in. Liberty Bridge and the park below definitely deserve to be on your bucket list. Liberty Bridge is located at the end of S Main Street in Greenville.
How many of these awe-inspiring places are you adding to your bucket list? We’d love to know in our comments!