South Carolina. Home to more than one resort where an overnight will cost you more than you make in a week. But the Palmetto State is also a treasure trove filled with less expensive adventures. How about free? Will that work? If you’re exploring options for the upcoming weekend, then these 16 activities in South Carolina are absolutely amazing and don’t cost a penny. Here’s a list broken out by region. Enjoy these South Carolina freebies!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Ravenel Bridge - Charleston
Run, walk or bike this 2.5 mile bridge with sweeping views of the Charleston harbor, Charleston's historic district skyline, Mount Pleasant and Sullivan's Island. The eight-lane bridge opened in 2005, and has an amply-wide pedestrian lane. Parking is available near the foot of the bridge on the Mount Pleasant side.
2. Chapel of Ease Ruins and Cemetery - Frogmore, St. Helena Island
Roam freely through the haunting ruins of this circa 1740 church and the adjoining cemetery with headstones nearly as old as this beautiful relic.
Address: Lands End Road, St. Helena Island, SC
3. Angel Oak - Johns Island
Sure, photos of this tree are awe-inspiring. But see her in person to feel the full effect of this magnificent giant who's survived more storms that anyone can imagine. Speculation is that she's as old as 1500 years; while fact tells us that her longest limb is more than half the length of a football field. Prepare to fall in love with this natural wonder.
Address: 3671 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455.
4. Myrtle Beach Boardwalk - Myrtle Beach
The Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and Promenade is a fabulous place to enjoy a day of free activities. Stroll the 1.2 miles of beachfront boardwalk and enjoy everything from people watching to soaking up some of the ever-present South Carolina sunrays.
Address: the boardwalk spans from Pier 14 at 14th Avenue North to the 2nd Avenue Pier at 2nd Avenue North. There are various points of entry with ample signage indicating available parking.
5. Fort Freemont - St. Helena Island
Explore the remains of one of only two Spanish-American War fortifications remaining in the U.S. that were never modified for later wars. Built at the turn of the 20th century, Fort Freemont remains intact largely because she was abandoned by the military less than 15 years after she was built. Today, the fort is a free park maintained by Beaufort County.
Address: 1126 State Rd S-7-45, St Helena Island, SC 29920. This road is also called Lands End Road.
6. Lake Murray Dam - Lexington
For sweeping views of beautiful Lake Murray head over to the Lake Murray Dam (a.k.a. Saluda Dam, Saluda River Dam and Dreher Shoals Dam). The total walk, out-and-back, is approximately three miles, and is paved.
Address: Entry points are located on Hwy 6 in both Lexington and Irmo.
7. God's Acre Healing Springs - Blackville
Visit this natural spring that was deeded to God in the will of L.P. Boylston, who acquired the land back in 1944. When he passed, God became the new owner. South Carolina folklore includes several tales of "miracle" healings that have occured after the afflicted drank the waters from this artesian well.
Address: Springs Ct, Blackville, SC 29817 - behind the Healing Springs Baptist Church.
8. Swan Lake/Iris Gardens - Sumter
What began in 1927 as a private fishing lake is now the only public park in the nation that's home to all eight species of swans. But birds aren't the only thing you'll find at Swan Lake/Iris Gardens. Enjoy a relaxing walk around the pond, rest at or in one of the beautiful pavilions, and in season, enjoy what seems like an endless supply of iris blooms.
Address: 822 W Liberty St, Sumter, SC 29150.
9. South Carolina State House Tour - Columbia
No matter your political affiliation, the South Carolina State House is a perfect place to explore the Palmetto State's past and present. And it's free! Tours are offered at different times including on Saturdays. View more information
Address: 1100 Gervais St, Columbia, SC 29201.
10. Congaree National Park - Hopkins
Explore all of the eight magnificent trails at this free national park. They range from 1.1 to 11.7 miles long and offer visitors an unrivaled opportunity to wander through the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwoods in the U.S. - for free. More information can be found
on the National Parks Service website.
Address: 100 National Park Rd, Hopkins, SC 29061.
11. Forty Acre Preserve - Kershaw
Explore this huge chunk of granite with an amazing representation of biodiversity and wildflowers. Not quite "forty acres," this huge 11-acre rock is a remarkable place to explore. There are several trails, some have steep climbs. You'll also discover a cave and a couple waterfalls. There are two parking lots; one of them is "at the top" and has a much shorter and less difficult trail to the rock.
Address: 2207 Conservancy Rd, Kershaw, SC 29067.
12. South Carolina Botanical Garden - Clemson
Many people don't realize the South Carolina Botanical Garden is free. Visitors can roam the 295 acres of this urban garden that showcases gorgeous natural landscapes, display gardens, installation pieces from artists, and a variety of walking trails. Opened in 1959, this park has matured nicely over the decades. Hours are daily from 7:00 a.m until 9:00 p.m.
Address: 150 Discovery Ln, Clemson, South Carolina.
13. BMW Zentrum Museum - Greer
The BMW Museum in Greer offers visitors an up-close look at the history of BMW. Enjoy the gallery with vintage BMW's on display as well as photos of BMW's South Carolina lifeline. You can also enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee from the cafe. Open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Before you go, check
for any messages about special closing days.
Address: 1400 Highway 101 S, Greer, SC 29651.
14. Campbell's Covered Bridge - Landrum
Circa 1901, Campbell's Covered Bridge is the last covered bridge in South Carolina. At the time it was built, it saved nearby residents nearly half a days' travel to the next bridge upstream just to cross Beaverdam Creek.
Address: 171 Campbell Covered Bridge Rd, Landrum, SC 29356.
15. Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum - Greenville
Step inside the home were Joe Jackson lived and died. Located across the street from Fluor Field, the Joe Jackson Museum showcases a day in the life of the legendary player, as well as memorabilia from his baseball days. It's open on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Address:356 Field St, Greenville, SC 29601.
16. Kings Mountain National Military Park - Blacksburg
More than 3,900 acres are included in this National Park commemorating one of the most significant Revolutionary War battles fought on South Carolina soil. Explore all the park has to offer including a large monument dedicated to the fallen. Note: Do not confuse this park with the South Carolina State Park with a very similar name. Admission to the state park is not free, but admission to this one is.
Address: 2625 Park Rd, Blacksburg, SC 29702.
From a timeless healing spring to the exciting boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, these activities in South Carolina are both fun and free!