Charleston, South Carolina

17 Amazing Day Trips from Charleston, South Carolina in 2024

Are you looking for an extended vacation in Charleston and want to see more of the Lowcountry? Charleston is a terrific city to use as a base to explore the coast of South Carolina and even inland. Follow along as I share the best day trips from Charleston, South Carolina. 

Charleston is one of the most popular Southern travel destinations. There’s something for all ages, ideal for a family getaway, a girls’ retreat, or even a romantic weekend. Since the city is so charming, you may want to see more of this beautiful state. Charleston offers guests great opportunities to venture to beaches, historic sites, a national park, and other charming communities. 

Follow along as I share my knowledge on the best day trips from Charleston, South Carolina. 

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iconic trees in the Lowcountry

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Fort Sumter
Boone Hall
Surfing Lesson
Savannah Trolley Tour
Wadmalaw Island Tour
Dolphin Cruise in Hilton Head

Charleston

Charleston’s history dates back to colonial times when South Carolina was a thriving British colony exporting rice and indigo. The colony developed into an agricultural stronghold and Charleston was the crown jewel. The city was one of the premier southern colonial trading cities and maintained that status into the 1800s, as it was ground zero for the fighting that started the Civil War.

Today, guests love to visit the beautiful architecture, food scene, rich history, and shopping. It is a popular destination for a long weekend getaway and relaxation in the United States. Guests are also near the beach, golf, and many outdoor activities. It is one of the best places to see the natural beauty of South Carolina.

Charleston, South Carolina offers guests many fun day excursions

Road Trips from Charleston, SC

Charleston is the perfect place to explore the beautiful state of South Carolina. To avoid being overwhelmed, I’ve organized the information into categories. I’m excited to share some of the best day trips from the historic town of Charleston.

Beaches

As a coastal city, Charleston grants visitors easy access to the beach. Dotted along the Atlantic Ocean, guests have numerous beautiful pristine beaches. Heading to one of these beaches is a great way to add some relaxation to your vacation. 

1. Myrtle Beach

resort at Myrtle Beach

Distance: 98 miles

Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in the Carolinas—guests from all over the US travel to South Carolina to vacation here. There are massive resorts if you want to extend your stay.

Besides the beaches, Myrtle is known for its pristine golf courses and shopping. The outlet malls are extensive and have fun restaurants, kid activities, and breweries such as Crooked Hammock Brewery. We enjoyed a fun trip to Myrtle a few years ago and there’s plenty to keep you busy even if you aren’t a beach person!

Crooked

Brewery at Barefoot Landing

Myrtle is perfect for guests who love large & popular beaches. There will be lots of people and fun activities. Also, check the calendar to see any fun concerts in town during your trip.

2. Kiawah Island

Distance: 26 miles 

Kiawah is a barrier island not too far from Charleston and a more leisurely drive than Myrtle if you are short on time. It’s roughly an hour’s drive. 

Guests can enjoy miles of beaches and beautiful golf courses, such as the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Kiawah is an outdoor paradise. Guests can golf, fish, swim, bike ride, or kayak.

Tip: Kiawah is gated to owners and resort guests. Beachwalker County Park has public beach access.

3. Hilton Head Island

Harbor Town at Hilton Head

Distance: 99 miles 

Hilton Head is a similar distance to Myrtle Beach but to the South. I prefer Hilton Head over Myrtle as it is quieter, with gorgeous tree-lined streets and communities. Myrtle attracts guests who want activities to fill their day, while many gravitate to Hilton Head for a quiet retreat. 

Hilton Head boasts sandy beaches, water activities, golf, and delicious restaurants. Sea Pines is a popular resort community on the island, and guests can enter it for shopping and dining. While in Sea Pines, check out Harbor Town’s iconic lighthouse. Afterwards, go on a dolphin cruise.

 I love bike riding through Sea Pines to enjoy the beautiful Lowcountry landscape and opportunities to spot wildlife. Beware- many alligators call Hilton Head Home. 

Book your Dolphin Cruise by clicking HERE!

4. Murrells Inlet

Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens

Distance: 81 miles 

South of Myrtle, visitors will discover the beautiful community of Murrells Inlet on the Atlantic coast. Brookgreen Gardens is the area’s crown jewel and a must-see site. 

You’ll explore over 9,000 acres of a majestic botanical garden. You should walk the Live Oak Allée, butterfly garden, and Palmetto Garden. If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to stop at the Lowcountry Zoo.

5. Folly Beach

Visiting the Folly Beach Pier is one of the best day trips from Charleston, South Carolina

Folly Beach Pier

Distance: 11 miles 

If you are looking for a quick and easy beach, then Follys is your answer. Just a short drive away, you’ll enjoy a beautiful beach that is considered Charleston’s “beach.” This is the easiest way to visit a beach!

You can explore the Folly Beach Pier or check out the views of Morris Island Lighthouse at the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve. If you want an exciting adventure, consider a surfing lesson at the beach.

Book your surfing lesson by clicking HERE!

6. Edisto Island

Edisto Island

Distance: 50 miles 

About an hour South of Charleston is the beautiful beaches of Edisto Island. It is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Charleston. The beach is a major attraction, but there’s so much more! You can golf, explore the Edisto Beach State Park, bike ride, and fish. 

For those who enjoy history, like myself, Edisto is the perfect place to learn about the Gullah culture. This culture has a rich history of enslaved people from West Africa brought to colonial South Carolina to cultivate rice. Due to the area’s geography, the Gullah community was able to isolate themselves to a certain degree, which allowed them to preserve their culture much longer than other slaves brought to other colonies. 

You can learn about the Gullah language, a blend of several languages similar to Creole. In addition, make sure to try some traditional Gullah foods sprinkled throughout the menus of Edisto restaurants. The Gullah people were known for oysters, Frogmore Stew, okra, rice, shrimp, grits, and yams, to name a few.  

historic Charleston is a great base to explore the Lowcounty

downtown Charleston

Historic Sites

As a high school US History teacher, I love to study the region we visit. I enjoy understanding the forces that led a particular area to develop and other events that shaped it over time. South Carolina’s history dates back to colonial times when it was a wealthy southern colony for the royal crown. 

Rice & Indigo plantations dotted the coastal landscape for generations, and the use of enslaved labor eventually led to the Civil War. South Carolina’s state leaders pushed for secession from the Union in late 1860 and were the 1st state to leave. 

7. Wadmalaw Island

Wadmalaw Island

Distance: 20 miles 

Wadmalaw Island is a short drive out of Charleston and one of the best areas explored by the British. The region historically has maintained a small population and is a quiet retreat from the city.

In the 1800s, residents developed the Charleston Tea Plantation. Today, it is the nation’s only tea garden. You can even visit Firefly Distillery, which produces sweet tea vodka, the first company to create this style, which is now commonly found throughout the country.

Book your tour of Wadmalaw Island by clicking HERE!

8. Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter is the perfect day trip from Charleston, South Carolina for Civil War buffs

Distance: 10 miles 

For those who love studying the Civil War, you can’t miss seeing the spot that kicked off the fighting to start the War. In April 1861, Confederate forces continued their trend of capturing US property in the newly created Confederacy. Only this time, the Union forces resisted, and the war began. 

The Fort Sumter National Monument is in the middle of Charleston Harbor and bears witness to a pivotal movement in our nation’s history. Visitors will hear the stories of the Fort’s past and role in the war. Guests can always add a trip to Fort Moultrie, too. 

Pro tip: You must have tickets for the Fort as transportation is a bit complicated. There are two departure locations. 

It may be easier to book an organized tour! Click HERE for the best Fort Sumter tours.

9. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Distance: 5 miles 

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is another excellent option for those who enjoy history or maritime history. Guests can explore the USS Yorktown, which proudly served the US from WWII to Vietnam. The museum is a great opportunity to see an aircraft carrier in person, especially if you live in the South. 

If you travel with kids, this is the best way to teach them about the critical history of the US Navy. I suggest combining this with a visit to Fort Sumter!

Tip: Kids under 6 are free!

Click HERE to purchase your ticket to the USS Yorktown!

10. Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens

Boone Hall

Boone Hall

Distance: 11 miles 

Developed in the 1600s, Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens is another historic site in the area. Boone Hall is popular with visitors because of its beautiful display of live oaks. 

Guests can learn about the Gullah culture, the contributions of the enslaved people, and the details of a working farm. Today, nine remaining cabins on the property highlight the history of African Americans, starting from the Middle Passage to the fight for Civil Rights in the 20th century.

Book your tickets to Boone Hall by clicking HERE!

Charming Towns

11. Beaufort

Beaufort is one of the best day trips from Charleston, South Carolina

Beaufort

Distance: 71 miles 

Beaufort is a charming and historic town south of Charleston. Guests can visit the Beaufort History Museum, the Cypress Wetlands, or explore the quaint historic area. Outdoor enthusiasts can fish, kayak, take a dolphin tour, or go on a coastal expedition.

12. Mount Pleasant

Bridge over the Cooper River to Mount Pleasant

Bridge over the Cooper River to Mount Pleasant

Distance: 5 miles 

Just a short drive over the Cooper River, you’ll find one of Charleston’s most popular suburbs, Mount Pleasant. Hop over for a few hours and try one of the local restaurants with fresh seafood, visit a craft brewery, or shop! The Waterfront District at Shem Creek is a great destination to see what Mount Pleasant offers!

Boone Hall and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum are in the area, so you can combine activities in one day.

13. Savannah

Savannah is one of the best day trips from Charleston, South Carolina

Distance: 108 miles 

Savannah is about a 2-hour drive south. Don’t let the drive dissuade you from checking out this historic city in neighboring Georgia. Savannah is known for its beautiful riverwalk, delicious Southern food, historic homes, and iconic areas like Forsyth Park. A trolley tour of the city would be an easy way to see a lot in a short amount of time.

Book your Savannah Trolley Tour NOW by clicking HERE!

Outdoor Activities

If you enjoy state and national parks, then you are in luck. There are some great options in driving distance from Charleston!

14. Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park

Distance: 104 miles

Congaree National Park is a fantastic destination! With its rich biodiversity and variety of activities, it’s sure to offer something for everyone. Exploring the hardwood forest while hiking or biking is a great way to connect with nature, and canoeing or kayaking through the wetlands would provide a unique perspective. Just remember to stay cautious around those alligators and wear bug spray!

15.  Huntington Beach State Park

Huntington Beach State Park

Distance: 78 miles 

Located in Murrells Inlet, Huntington Beach State Park is a fantastic excursion. The top activities include spotting wildlife while walking on the causeway, enjoying the 3-mile beach, kayaking, or touring Atalaya, a National Historic Landmark.

16. Huntington Island State Park

Distance: 88 miles While in Beaufort, stop at Huntington Island State Park, where you can see the Hunting Island lighthouse, search for shark teeth on the beach, or visit the nature center!

17. Cypress Gardens

Distance: 26 miles 

Guests will discover the beautiful Cypress Gardens just a short drive out of town. Swamp Rides are a highlight of the visit, and you can choose to be self-guided or guided if the wildlife sightings of alligators intimidate you. The gardens are very affordable, especially for families looking for fun activities.

FAQ: Visiting Charleston

🌴What is 2 hours from Charleston?

Myrtle Beach

🌴What is 3 hours from Charleston?

Charlotte, NC

🌴What’s the distance between Charleston & Savannah?

About 2 hours depending on traffic on I-95 

🌴How many days do you need to see Charleston?

Three days is ideal!

In Conclusion: Amazing Day Trips from Charleston, South Carolina

I hope my guide on the best day trips from Charleston, South Carolina, helps you plan your next great adventure to the Lowcountry and Atlantic beaches.

South Carolina Resources
Hilton Head
Greenville
Greenville Day Trips
Charleston Day Trips
Greenville Hotels