18 cities to visit on South Carolina family vacations

If you’re looking for ideas for fun family vacations in South Carolina, you’ll find plenty of kid-friendly destinations across the state. Adventures in South Carolina with kids can range from looking for shells on coastal islands to exploring charming southern towns in the midlands, and hiking to waterfalls in the mountains. Learn about some of the best cities to visit on vacation to South Carolina, including kid-friendly South Carolina family resorts.

South Carolina family resorts and coastal towns

1. Explore the beachside boardwalk at Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach has some of the best family resorts in South Carolina, including Barefoot Resort in North Myrtle Beach. The resort is close to the beach and offers spacious pools, golf courses, and shuttle service to the shops, restaurants, and family attractions at Barefoot Landing. Myrtle Beach family attractions include the SkyWheel Ferris wheel, a beachside boardwalk, and entertainment center Broadway at the Beach. Thrill-seekers can choose from multiple amusement parks and water parks, and animal lovers can check out sights like the aquarium, alligator adventures, and a tiger preservation site.

2. Check out a historic lighthouse on Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head, South Carolina, is known for fun family resorts like the Hilton Head Beach and Tennis Resort, perfect for a coastal getaway with kids. Resort amenities include private beach access, multiple pools, a fishing lagoon, and sports facilities, as well as a playground and events for kids. Sightseeing in Hilton Head includes the Harbor Town Lighthouse, the Coastal Discovery Museum, and the Sandbox Children’s Museum. Nature lovers can check out the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge for scenic coastal walking trails and wildlife spotting.

3. Visit the International African American Museum in Charleston

Charleston is a great place to visit in South Carolina with kids, with a mix of beautiful coastal views, historic sites, and unique family attractions. As one of the oldest cities in the U.S., Charleston is full of historical goodies to explore, from the famed City Market to Rainbow Row, Fort Moultrie, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. You can visit Mother Emanuel AME Church, an important location during the Civil Rights movement, as well as the Old Slave Mart Museum, and the International African American Museum.

4. Look for sea turtles on Isle of Palms

Isle of Palms is a great spot for family vacations in South Carolina, with kid-friendly resorts like Wild Dunes. The resort is close to the beach and offers amenities ranging from pools to daily activities for kids, on-site dining, and scenic trails for biking and strolling. On Isle of Palms, you can explore historic sites like the Fort Sumter National Monument, and Boone Hall Plantation and gardens. You can head to Dewee Island for sea turtle spotting, or check out historic Charleston a short drive away.

5. Relax on a quiet beach on Pawleys Island

If you’re looking for a relaxing coastal getaway, Pawleys Island is a small barrier island known for beautiful beaches and a laid-back atmosphere. The island itself is less than 4-miles long, trading city inconveniences like traffic jams and noisy streets for quaint historic homes and the sounds of the ocean. Beaches on the island are less trafficked and pristine, great for playing in the surf with the kids, hunting for shells on the beach, and relaxing sunsets over the water. Family activities include crabbing and fishing, biking, canoeing, and kayaking.

6. Enjoy sunsets on the beach Kiawah Island

Windswept Villas Kiawah Island is a family resort in South Carolina, providing access to Kiawah Island’s award-winning beautiful beaches. Accommodations in Windswept Villas include 1- to 3-bedroom villas, condos, and townhomes, with most located within walking distance of the beach. Family activities on Kiawah island include biking and nature trails, kayaking and canoeing, sports, crabbing, and fishing.

Family vacations to South Carolina’s Midlands Region

7. Hike Congaree National Park in Columbia

There’s lots to do in South Carolina’s capital with kids on a visit to Columbia, from historic sites and cultural attractions to public parks and zoos. Family-friendly museums include the South Carolina State Museum and EdVenture Children’s Museum, and the Columbia Museum of Art. Nature-lovers can explore a hardwood forest in Congaree National Park, or check out the flora and fauna in Riverbanks Zoo and Riverbanks Botanical Garden. You’ll also find fun kids attractions in Columbia like Frankie’s Fun Park and the Palmetto Falls Water Park.

8. Explore local museums in Hartsville

Hartsville serves up a good mix of historical and cultural attractions, natural beauty, and family fun for vacations in South Carolina. Family-friendly attractions range from the Hartsville Museum and the EdVenture Hartsville children’s museum to fun in the water at Neptune Island Water Park. You can check out Kalmia Gardens for biking and strolling scenic wooded trails, picnicking, and a children’s playground.

9. Stroll the Japanese Garden in Newberry

Newberry offers small-town charms and natural beauty, great for a getaway with the kids in South Carolina. Annual events in Newberry are family-friendly, from the springtime Irish Fling and summertime food festivals to Oktoberfest and holiday events later in the year. You can wander the Wells Japanese Garden and see colorful blooms at Carter and Holmes Orchids, or learn about local history at the Newberry Museum.

10. Visit Orangeburg for the Festival of Roses

Orangeburg is known as the Garden City, drawing visitors annually for the springtime Orangeburg Festival of Roses. You can check out Edisto Memorial Gardens for walking trails along the Edisto River, as well as themed gardens, a boardwalk, a children’s playground, and an art center. Family attractions include the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium, the national fish hatchery, a downtown historic district, and historical sites like Claflin University and Dixie Hall.

11. Go horseback riding in Camden

Camden has a small-town feel steeped in history as one of South Carolina’s oldest cities. You’ll find interesting historic sites within the city like the National Steeplechase Museum, the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Museum, and an African American Cultural Center. Camden is the home of the annual Carolina Cup and houses the 60-acre South Carolina Equine Park where you’ll find horse events and activities year-round.

12. Ride coasters at Carowinds in Fort Mill

Fort Mill has lots of things to do with kids on South Carolina family vacations. Adventure-seekers of all ages can check out Carowinds for rides, thrills, games, and plenty of family fun. You can check out the Anne Springs Close Greenway for extensive nature trails, kayaking and canoeing, horseback riding, and family-friendly events. Spicy food fans can visit downtown Fort Mill to check out the hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper.

Family vacations in the South Carolina Mountains

13. Explore Greenville’s waterfalls and parks

Greenville is a popular spot for family vacations in South Carolina, with a wide variety of entertainment, attractions, and unique locations. You’ll find natural beauty and waterfalls at Falls Park on the Reedy, Paris Mountain State Park, and the Lake Conestee Nature Preserve. You can explore downtown Greenville from the Children’s Museum to the Signal Music Museum, and the Upcountry History Museum. More family attractions include the Greenville Zoo, Roper Mountain Science Center, and Frankie’s Fun Park.

14. Stroll downtown in Spartanburg

Spartanburg is known for a great balance of family-friendly greenspaces, downtown attractions, and cool local hotspots. You can head outside to enjoy lush walking and biking trails at Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, and see waterfalls at Glendale Shoals Preserve. Unique local attractions include the Hub City Art Park, art galleries, craft breweries, and trendy restaurants and cafes. Younger kids can explore the Spartanburg Science Center, a Children’s Museum, and the Hub City Railroad Museum.

15. Go boating on Lake Keowee in Seneca

The city of Seneca is tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just off of Lake Keowee, making it a great spot for outdoor adventures for family vacations in South Carolina. If you enjoy camping, there are lakeside RV parks and campsites in South Cove County Park just steps away from the waters of Lake Keowee. You can pop over to the marina for pontoon boat rentals and equipment rentals, as well as a family-friendly tiki-themed cafe. In and around Seneca you’ll also find historical sites and heritage buildings, museums, and cultural centers.

16. Hike to a waterfall in Travelers Rest

The aptly-named city of Travelers Rest offers southern charm and natural beauty for travelers to enjoy. A 22-mile greenway is perfect for biking or strolling with kids, and multiple parks in the city offer spacious playgrounds. Paris Mountain State Park draws families visiting from all over for swimming and water sports on Lake Placid, waterfall hikes, biking trails, and camping. Unique local attractions include a replica of Henry David Thoreau’s cabin, a historic bell tower, and a quiet hilltop monastery. There are plenty of spots for swimming and splashing, with lakes, public pools, and a seasonal waterpark in Travelers Rest.

17. Stroll a charming Main Street in Walhalla

Walhalla translates to “Garden of the Gods”, named for the area’s natural beauty between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chattooga River. You can stroll down Main Street for charming historic buildings, shops and boutiques, local restaurants, and family-friendly entertainment spots. Hiking trails in the area lead to unique locations like the Civil War era Stumphouse Tunnel, and majestic waterfalls like Issaqueena Falls and Yellow Branch Falls. Historical sites, heritage buildings, and regional museums offer additional family-friendly attractions in Walhalla.

18. See prehistoric petroglyphs in Pickens

Pickens is a great location for a laid-back getaway for South Carolina family vacations. You’ll find multiple mountain hiking trails in the area for beautiful views of the countryside, and unique attractions like the prehistoric Hagood Creek Petroglyph Site. At the Hagood Mill Historic Site, you can see a water-powered gristmill, historical buildings, and learn about regional history at the Pickens County Museum.