Must-See South Carolina Locations to Add to Your Bucket List

Have I mentioned we’re RV full-timers now?

I recently realized that I share more personal life over on Instagram, so I don’t always recall what details I’ve shared here on the blog. But yes, when we sold the Greenfield Remodel and the Greystone House, we decided to live in our RV for a bit and travel as much as possible while simultaneously looking for our next investment properties. Tomorrow marks a full month of RV living, and so far we’ve traveled up the coast of South Carolina, a quick weekend trip to Nashville, and have a Southern Caribbean cruise booked for next week. I’d say our travel plans are off to a great start!

Now seems like an appropriate time to start sharing more of our travels, seeing how it’s such a major part of our current season. I have quite an extensive travel section on the blog, by the way. In what feels like a different lifetime, the mister and I traveled to over 30 countries together, including most of Europe, parts of Central America and the Caribbean, and of course Russia and Ukraine. We’ve covered quite a bit of the US, too – including Hawaii, California, Florida, New York, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, Washington DC, Texas, West Virginia, Virginia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and of course Tennessee.

Back to the topic at hand: must-see South Carolina locations to add to your bucket list!

When visiting the southern United States, most people tend to choose Florida. But if you’re ready for something a little more different, South Carolina is an underrated gem. That’s exactly why we chose it; we’ve gone to Florida so often in the last two years, including a 3-week roadtrip all the way down to Key West last October – we were ready to explore new coastal locations.

RV or Camp at the Hunting Island Beach State Park.

Hunting Island State Park was our first stop, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover so much to do besides going to the beach. Those types of RV parks are my favorite: On the beach but with enough interesting sights for exploring.

There are only four oceanfront RV parks in South Carolina, and Hunting Island Beach State Park is unique in its location. Its shape and setting in the coastline makes it more susceptible than the other islands to continual beach erosion and to huge changes year after year. It’s a completely different beach each season. Hunting Island also has one of the most extreme tides.

Perhaps due to the extreme, and very visible erosion, Hunting Island was never developed or inhabited. There was a trend, before the war, for using some of the Sea Islands as private hunting reserves, where wealthy planters and other elites came to shoot for sport. Hunting Island was one of these, and became a state park in 1930. It remains a wildlife preserve today.

Explore the Lighthouse at Hunting Island Beach State Park.

What’s interesting about this particular lighthouse is that it’s the only publicly accessible lighthouse in South Carolina. Although it was closed for renovation at the time of our visit, we could still walk around the exterior and the surrounding property. There’s also a playground next to it, along with several paved and non-paved trails.

The island’s famous lighthouse originally stood more than two miles further east, a spot that is now well out into the Atlantic Ocean. Ten years after it was destroyed by Confederate troops to keep it out of Union hands, it was rebuilt in its current location. Now even this may not be far enough inland, as there are plans to move it more inland due to the extreme beach erosion.

Eat at the Foolish Frog on St. Helena Island.

The Foolish Frog is a beautiful, rustic restaurant nestled on the Lowcountry barrier island, with stunning marsh views. Almost all food options are made in-house. They pickle their own okra, pickle their own shrimp, and can their own pickles. All their sauces and dressing are made in the kitchen, and they’re proud to serve local seafood, including shrimp from the shrimp boats just up the road. Talk about a fresh seafood experience!

The location, the views, the service, the food, the ambiance – it was all perfect. We sat on the patio for dinnertime, late enough to be able to watch the sunset over the marsh.

Go fishing at the Hunting Island Fishing Pier.

The fishing pier on Hunting Island recently underwent a $1-million renovation, and now it is open to the public 24/7. Fishing in South Carolina is popular year-round for fresh water, large mouth, red-breast, and catfish. The salt-water species vary from trout, redfish and flounder inshore to marlin, dolphin, king mackerel, snapper, grouper and much more offshore and are specialties of Hunting Island State Park.

Attend a turtle hatchling release.

I accidentally happened upon Friends of Hunting Island’s Instagram page, where they had shared an upcoming turtle hatchling release. Of course we had to go! They’re called “turtle nest inventory,” and it’s basically a group of volunteers – some of whom have been doing this for more than 20 years, who check various turtle nests for late or straggling hatchlings. When they find them, depending on if they’re ready to be released, an entire crowd gathers to watch the little ones waddle their way to the ocean.

Sea turtle nesting season runs from May to October. The entire coast of Hunting Island is encouraged to observe Lights Out for Sea Turtles, as the mama and baby turtles use the light of the stars to find their way, and any artificial light can cause them to get lost, or worse yet, eaten by predators.

The entire thing was both education and a really touching experience; both our kids and we loved it.

RV or Camp at Edisto Beach State Park.

Our next stop was Edisto Beach State Park, and if you thought Hunting Island was rural – wait until you see this place.

The 2020 population of Edisto Beach was 710! It’s one of the few uncommercialized, family-oriented beaches left in South Carolina – possibly the entire United States! It’s known for its beautiful beaches, rich wildlife, magnificent old plantations and great food. The island is named after Edisto Indians, who used the island seasonally for fishing.

If staying at the Edisto Beach State Park, keep in mind there are two under the same name. One is ocean-side, and the other is on the salt marshes.

Watch the sunrise at Driftwood Beach.

One of the most remote and unspoiled beaches in South Carolina is Driftwood Beach. As if the hauntingly beautiful beach isn’t enough of an adventure, just getting to it is quite an experience. You’ll drive underneath one of the most photographed tree tunnels in the Lowcountry, as you make your way to the parking area.

Driftwood Beach, sometimes also called Botany Bay Beach, can only be accessed via a half-mile path through a salt-water marsh – either by foot or on bike. The first time, I went by myself in time for sunrise, which I highly recommend. I was in complete awe of what felt like an abandoned paradise. To see so much decay and beauty in one place is an emotional experience like none other.

Keep in mind, with Driftwood Beach being a historical site, so collection of seashells, sharks’ teeth, or anything else on the beach is strictly prohibited. To compensate, there’s an unspoken competition between visitors to find the prettiest shells and hang them all over the dead driftwood for others to enjoy. We decorated our own tree with the kids, and I’m sure that memory will remain with them for years to come.

Drive through Botany Bay Heritage Preserve.

As I briefly mentioned above, the drive through Botany Bay is an experience in and of itself. If you enjoy history, do the driving tour of the preserve, which includes exploring the ruins of plantations and its outbuildings.

Upon entry into the park, you’re required to obtain a free day pass. Next to it you’ll see a stack of maps. Grab one, and after you’re done with the Driftwood Beach, go exploring the surrounding area using the map.

Keep in mind, Botany Bay Heritage Preserve, which includes Driftwood Beach, is closed to the public on Tuesdays for scheduled hunts.

Eat fried seafood on the patio of McConkey’s Jungle Shack.

This place is the quintessential beach shack, with quirky tropical decor and comfort foods like burgers, hot dogs and fried seafood. They have a fun “I Spy” game you can play at each table that our girls loved. With so much eclectic decor, you’ll discover something new each time you visit.

Explore the charming town of Beaufort.

We didn’t get too much time to explore Beaufort, but what we did see we loved. Beaufort is the quintessential Southern town full of unpretentious charm, and some even say it holds more history than Charleston. I can’t speak to that, of course, but I can tell you about Beaufort’s moss-lined trees, local hole-in-the-walls with live music, and the friendly people.

Stroll the historic district in Charleston.

Walking around the cobblestone streets of Charleston, I got the feeling I was in Paris for a moment. That city is so charming! Within the first five minutes I was contemplating moving there, despite not knowing a single soul there. Something about it just pulls you in.

The historic part of Charleston is especially beautiful. I’m partial to the French district, but really every corner holds so much history and beauty, you can’t help but stop and marvel. If old, historic homes are your cup of tea, you will love strolling this part of Charleston – whether by foot or on bike.

I didn’t get a chance to snap a photo, but we had a marvelous dinner at The Darling Oyster Bar. Oysters, scallops, fried seafood baskets – the quintessential Southern seafood dinner that was as delicious as the decor was beautiful.

Get gelato or coffee at Totero y Crema.

We spent one evening biking around the city. The girls were asking for icecream, and we happened upon Totero y Crema. You can’t miss it; the exterior is neon pink with the cutest bistro setup in the front. The parlor recently underwent a renovation and is the quirkiest mashup of eclectic styles, you can’t look away. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend it – if not for the icecream or iced coffee then at least for a photo op!

Ride bikes through the Battery Park.

Battery Park is this beautifully landscaped park on the edge of Charleston, right in front of perhaps some of the wealthiest homes in the city. We rode our bikes all around our area, and at times you don’t know where to look – the stunning estates on the left or the miles of ocean on the right. It’s a lovely place to have a picnic, take photos, marvel at the historic homes in the area, or go on a bike ride.

One of the most famous houses of Charleston is located in this area. It’s a massive pink estate that only recently was once again converted to a private residence. It served as a bed and breakfast for many years prior to that. I shared a bit more of its history on Instagram, so if you’re into that sort of thing, do check it out.

Marvel under the Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island.

Oh, where to begin describing the Angel Oak Tree… Estimated to be 400-500 years old, the tree is quite a sight. Some people claim it’s well past 1500 years old. Either way, it felt surreal to stand below its massive branches and contemplate life. How much of it this ancient tree has witnessed!

Some interesting facts, besides its estimated age: 1) The Angel Oak Tree is 66.5 feet tall and 28 feet in circumference. It produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet. Although it’s an oak tree, its leaves remain green year-round. Its longest branch distance is 187 feet in length. It is the oldest tree east of the Mississippi River.

Explore the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant.

I’m not big on war history, but even I found the naval and maritime museum incredibly interesting. If you are into war history or ships, submarines, helicopters, airplanes, etc., you will love exploring the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant. Due to a leak, entering the submarine is actually prohibited. But other than that, you are free to explore nearly every inch of the USS Yorktown and the USS Laffey destroyer ship.

Grab lunch at Little Miss Ha.

After visiting the museum, we were in the mood for some Asian cuisine. Little Miss Ha was a pleasant find, just a couple minutes away from the museum. By this point of our trip, we had grown tired of fried seafood, so something different was very welcome. I highly recommend the lemongrass-coconut mussels!

The restaurant is located in a shopping plaza, so not necessarily the type of setting I opt for while traveling. But trust me: You will not regret it.

Eat eclairs at Le Macaron in the French district of Charleston.

While biking through the French district, the girls began asking questions about French culture. Somehow we arrived on the topic of eclairs. After biking to several French bakery cafes, we were told no one sold eclairs – until we happened upon Le Macaron. It is the cutest little cafe. Although the food options are limited to macarons, gelato and eclairs, the decor made up for that.

We took a quick break, watching people rushing home from work outside the windows, while we enjoyed our eclairs.

Walk down King Street in Charleston.

King Street in Charleston is the equivalent of Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, or Fifth Avenue in New York City. It is the place you go to get some shopping done. They have luxury boutiques like Louis Vuitton right across the street from Target. So no matter your budget, you’ll find something up your alley.

I personally am not a big shopper, but I do love seeing window displays, and King Street did not disappoint. Shown here is the Love Shack Fancy storefront – so pretty, you know I had to stop and take a photo!

Watch the sunset over the Lowcountry marshes.

Due to South Carolina’s location, you can only see sunrises on the beach. If you want to watch the sunset, you have to go out on the marshes. There are so many viewpoints you can stop at to do just that!

Equally fascinating is to watch a thunderstorm over the marshes. Apparently this part of the country is known for its thunderstorms, possibly because of its flat landscape. We witnessed several striking storms during our time here, and they are a sight to see.

So, have you ever been to any of these South Carolina locations? Got any favorites to add to the list?

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