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South Carolina Attractions

Places to visit, points of interest and top things to see in South Carolina

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Historic Charleston is located in the state of South Carolina. The city was previously called "Charles Towne", after King Charles II of England. Aside from being historic, Charleston is also known as "The Holy City" because of the many churches that are located within the area.

Charleston's proximity to the sea made it open to numerous trades and vulnerable to civil war attempts. The Colonial Dorchester and Fort Moultrie sites serve as testament to the city's role during the American Revolution.

As a port town, Charleston became a dock for ships with African slaves. Slave owners sold their slaves for labor at Charleston. That is why some of its famous attractions include plantations where slaves grew crops, such as the Magnolia Plantation and gardens, and Boone Hall plantation.

Charleston also served as a dock for many naval ships... read more arrow
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In the 18th and 19th century, the city of Charleston thrived on the merchandise, which was grown in its many plantations. Charleston's main produce were rice and indigo, which the city managed to export, many thanks to its seaside location.

When slavery was abolished in 1865, many plantations were abandoned and burned. Thankfully, five Charleston plantations are still left intact, which serve as areas of historic and educational importance to many tourists.

One such plantation is the Drayton Hall, which remains to be the oldest, unrestored plantation in America still open for tours. Drayton Hall was established in 1738, and has withstood many civil wars and horrifying earthquakes.

Another site is the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The gardens, which are more than 300 years old, are considered as the oldest public garden in America.

America's oldest landscape gardens can be found at the Middleton Place House Museum and Stableyards... read more arrow
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Drayton Hall, which was built in the year 1738, is considered as a National Historic Landmark. It served as a big rice plantation during its' heyday, until it was bought in 1974. Up to now, Drayton Hall continues to be the oldest unrestored plantation hall in America still open for tours.

Drayton Hall became the staging grounds of the British during the American Revolution, and was shaken by the 1886 earthquake, yet it remains to be one of the few architectural landmines that remain intact and close to its original condition.

The main house, located near the Ashley River, has been home to seven generations – from John Drayton, who built the house in 1738, to Frank and Charles Drayton, who sold the house in 1974 to the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP.) Now, NTHP continues to make preservation road at the centuries-old Drayton Hall... read more arrow
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Fort Sumter is a coastal fort located along the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Fort Sumter was named after Thomas Sumter, a general and Revolutionary war patriot. The fort was one of the many coast forts built in the southern part of the United States. The construction of Fort Sumter started in 1827, and remained unfinished until 1861, when the Civil war started.

The Confederates who occupied Fort Sumter built a sand bar, which continues to dawn the entrance to the harbor of Charleston. The fort has five brick sides, each 170 to 190 feet long, with walls standing 50 feet tall and with a thickness of about 5 feet. The capacity of the fort is for 650 army men and 135 guns.

The first shots that sparked the beginning of the American civil war were directed to this fort, resulting in the famous "Battle of Fort Sumter." It was April 12, 1861 when the Confederates opened fire at the fort for 34 straight hours... read more arrow
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The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is home to three museum ships, namely the USS Clamagore, a naval submarine; USS Yorktown, a naval aircraft carrier; and USS Laffey, a naval destroyer which was closed in August 2009 and recently reopened to the public December 2011.

The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum can be found at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It sits on Charleston River's famed Cooper River. It also served as exhibit grounds of the USCGC Comanche and USCGC Ingham, both Coast Guard Cutters. The NS Savannah, the only nuclear merchant vessel of the
American naval fleet, called Patriots Point its home until 1994.

Upon entering the USS Yorktown, the visitors will be treated to another series of exhibits, which include the Medal of Honor Museum, and 25 more naval airplanes, such as the F-9 Cougar, A-& Corsair, A-4 Skyhawk, and F-14 Tomcat, to name a few.

Other artifacts, which can be seen in the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, include a naval support camp, cannon from the Civil War era, and artifacts from the Vietnam War era, such as the PBR-105 river patrol boat, the USMC Bell AH-1 Sea Cobra helicopter, and the US Navy Bell UH-1 Helicopter... read more arrow
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Folly Beach, tagged as the "Edge of America", is a city situated on Folly Island, one of the districts of Charleston County, South Carolina.

This beach town is famous for its surfing attractions, such as the Folly Beach County Park, 10th Street, and Washout. The waters of Folly Beach are usually calm, yet it has drawn the attention of many surfers. Now, it's one of the most popular surfing locations at the East Coast. The city is truly a haven for surfers. The city's main road, Center Street, is filled with restaurants, shops (specifically surf shops,) and bars.

Other beach parks in the area are the Isle of Palms County Park and Kiawah Beachwalker County Park. After a day on the beach, the kids can head straight to the city's water parks, namely Splash Zone, Whirlin' Waters, and Splash Island. For fishing enthusiasts, great fishing locations include Mt. Pleasant Pier and Folly Beach Fishing Pier... read more arrow
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Located along the Harbor of Charleston County, South Carolina is Sullivan's Island. Also called as S.I., the island served a major role in the American Revolution, when it became the main battle grounds of the attack that took place on June 28, 1776. The date is now known as Carolina Day, is honor of the Battle of Sullivan Island.

The island was named after Captain Florence O'Sullivan, who served as the island's lighthouse keeper during the 17th century. O'Sullivan, who later on became surveyor general, first served as ship captain of one of the ships of Englishmen and Irishmen who first settled at South Carolina. During the height of slavery, Sullivan's Island served as the receiving port of over 200,000 slaves sold to different American colonies.

Much of the island's history centered on Sullivan's Fort Moultrie. The fort served as the command base of the city of Charleston, and was closed before the end of the 1940's... read more arrow
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The Carolina Opry Theatre is located at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The first Carolina Opry Theatre was situated at Surfside Beach. The theatre bore a 1000-seat capacity. It first opened its doors with a presentation of the Carolina Opry show in May 2, 1986.

Night after night, the theatre boasted of sold-out shows. That's why it was named as the Most Outstanding Attraction of South Carolina in 1987.

In 1990, the Carolina Opry Theatre was constructed by Myrtle Beach. The theatre's seating capacity was 2,200 in order to meet the demands of many tourists. It was in June 1992 when the Carolina Opry show debuted in the new theatre. In November the same year, the show cast landed a spot on the acclaimed newspaper USA Today. The tourists that the show attracted resulted in the Governor's cup award, which is the highest tourism award in the state of South Carolina... read more arrow
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The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is a 57-meter tall Ferris wheel located at the Oceanside Boardwalk and Promenade, in the town of Myrtle in South Carolina. As of its opening in May 20, 2011, it is considered as the highest Ferris wheel in the country, east of the famed Mississippi river. It is also heralded as the sole "observation wheel" in the entire country.

The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel is a joint project of Ronald Bussink and Chance Morgan. The developers, Pacific Development and Koch Development Company, chose the location because of its beautiful boardwalk. The theme park which features the SkyWheel, gift shops, ticket booths, and restaurants, was designed by Architect James Hubbard.

The SkyWheel has 42 gondolas, which are enclosed in glass. The gondolas, which are designed as ballooned squares, are temperature-controlled. The gondola, which was imported from Switzerland, can accommodate six to eight riders... read more arrow
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Myrtle Beach is famous for its miles and miles of white sandy beaches. Myrtle Beach, which is the largest area in Grand Strand, serves as home to about 250,000 people. There are many beautiful beaches in this city next to the Atlantic Ocean, that's why the Travel Channel considers Myrtle Beach as one of the best beaches in the east coast.

North Myrtle Beach is famous for its long shoreline and white sand beaches. Aside from that, its piers and beachside attractions make it one of the greatest features of Myrtle Beach. The area is also renowned for its annual festivities, such as the Inter-coastal Christmas Regatta and SOS Spring Safari.

Atlantic Beach, also known as "The Black Pearl," became a beach destination for African Americans during the segregation. Now, this bustling Oceanside town is filled with restaurants, resorts, and attractions, which continue to attract visitors from all over the country... read more arrow
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Located in Columbia County, South Carolina is the 69-hectare Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, an all-in-one botanical garden, aquarium, and zoo. Riverbanks averages 1,000,000 visits annually, making it the state's biggest gated attraction.

The Riverbanks Zoo serves as home to about 3000 species of fishes, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Newest inclusions in the zoo include a collection of Koalas, Gorillas, and African Elephants. A 2-acre attraction, named African plains, displays ostriches, giraffes, and zebras. A half-acre place, named Ndoki Forest, is where visitors can see a De Brazza Monkey, Western Lowland Gorilla, and a Slender-tailed Meerkat.

A 1,900 square meter Aquarium Reptile Complex is home to reptiles such as Gharials and Tortoises, and an array of coral reefs from the Pacific Ocean. The Birdhouse is famous for being home to an array of Gentoo, Rockhopper, and King penguins... read more arrow
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Located along the Saluda River is the Saluda Shoals Park, a haven for people who wish to commune with the different elements of the environment. This 400-acre South Carolina natural park features a wide array of amenities which continue to attract thousands and thousands of visitors.

Saluda Shoals Park features River Observation Deck, where people can revel in the picturesque riverside view. There are also Picnic Shelters where friends can eat amidst the beauty of the park. People who want to traverse the river course of the park can start at the Boat/Kayak/Canoe Ramp and Launch.

Those who wish to explore the diverse fauna and flora in the park can follow the paved and unpaved trails in the park, which are perfect for hikers, bikers, and horseback riders. Kids, on the other hand, can enjoy the amenities at the Saluda Splash Water Playground and Wetland Reserve.

Aside from the various activities visitors can do in the Saluda Shoals Park, there is also a 11,000-square-foot bit Exhibit Hall and Environmental Education Center where they can learn more about nature and the different animals they can see in the park... read more arrow
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The South Carolina State Museum is deemed as the biggest museum in the southeastern part of the United States. The museum is located by the Congaree River, in Columbia, South Carolina. It has been in existence even before the Civil War began, and thus chronicles much of the lifestyle and history of the great state of South Carolina.

The South Carolina State Museum first opened its doors in October 29, 1988. The museum considers one of its buildings, the Columbia Mills building, as its oldest artifact on display. The Columbia Mills building is older than the museum itself, and the first floorings are still in place. It opened in 1894, and later on became a factory of the General Electric Company.

The South Carolina State Museum exhibits different types of arts, cultural histories, natural histories, and science and technology creations. The museum is home to the submarine H... read more arrow
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The South Carolina State House is where the government officials of South Carolina hold their offices. The state house is located at the corner of Gervais and Assembly Streets, in Columbia City, and occupies about 12,000 square meters of space. Officials housed in the "Greek revival" style building are the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the state's General assembly.

The state house's first architect was P.H. Hammerskold, and was replaced by John Niernsee. Other architects who contributed to the building's design are Frank McHenry Niernsee, Frank Pierce Milburn and Charles Coker Wilson. Construction started in 1855, and was finally finished in 1907, after the civil war and the sparse budget during the reconstruction era. In May 11, 1976, it was named as a National Historic Landmark.

There are also several monuments within the state house's location... read more arrow
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The Kensington Mansion is located at the Headquarters Plantation, by the Wateree River in Richland County, South Carolina. The mansion was built in 1854 through the efforts of Matthew Richard Singleton. The mansion was placed across the Singleton family's property in the county of Sumter.

Kensington Mansion was designed by Francis D. Lee and Edward C. Jones architects who were based in the Charleston County. The mansion boasts 12,000 square feet of space and 29 spacious rooms. The basement is home to a cistern, which once contained 10,000 gallons of water for the use of the residents in the mansion.

In 1910, Robert Pickett Hamer obtained the Kensington Masnion. Robert Cochrane Hamer, his son, thrived in the mansion until the year 1941, until the U.S. government acquired the mansion. The government sold Kensington mansion after the Second World War. It was then transformed to a dairy farm... read more arrow
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South Carolina is home to Lake Murray, a 200 square-kilometer reservoir with an 800-kilometer shoreline. Lake Murray obtains its water from the Saluda River.

In the 1920's, Lake Murray was commissioned to generate hydroelectric power for the state of South Carolina. Lake Murray is named after William S. Murray, the chief engineer of the Lake Murray hydroelectric project.

Aside from generating hydroelectric power, Lake Murray is also famous for being a tourist destination. The Dreher Island State Recreation Area, which is stationed at the western part of Lake Murray, centers on fun activities such as boating and fishing. Several fishing competitions are held in Lake Murray every year. Visitors, especially the kids, are also fond of swimming and skiing with the lake area. There are also boat docks, which make Lake Murray famous for eager water sports enthusiasts... read more arrow
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The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, also called the Confederate Military Museum, was established in 1896. Considered as the third oldest museum in South Carolina, it serves as the repository of the state's military artifacts from the colonial era to present times.

The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum was previously located at the South Carolina State House, but was transferred to the War Memorial Building near the University of South Carolina during the middle of the 20th century. In 2002, the museum was moved once again to the Columbia Mills Building. In 2007, the museum was renovated to feature a new gallery.

The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is home to different artifacts. Visitors can view relics and souvenirs from the Civil War, Mexican War, Revolutionary War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and even Bush's war against terror... read more arrow

* Regular pre-pandemic touristic activity level.

You can also rate and vote for your favorite South Carolina sightseeing places, famous historical landmarks, and best things to do in South Carolina by visiting the individual South Carolina attraction pages.