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Best things to do in Coastal South Carolina

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Where in the world: USA  /  South Carolina  /  Coastal South Carolina

Top 15 things to do in Coastal South Carolina

1. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, Charleston

One of the country's oldest plantations, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens dates back to 1676, when locals Thomas and Ann Drayton built a house and a small formal garden on this site. The family owned the rice plantation for the next 15 generations, utilizing slave labor to build a network of irrigation dams and dikes. Today, the estate operates as a museum, offering an interpretive program designed to teach visitors about the history of both slave and free black workers at this site. Explore the plantation's natural setting by taking a marsh boat tour or strolling through the gardens, where you can see centenarian cypress trees and camellias dating from the 1840s.
Suggested duration: 6 hours
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2. Middleton Place, Charleston

Middleton Place once housed several generations of the Middleton family, including Arthur Middleton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Now the plantation, which was built in 1755, has been named a National Historic Landmark and serves as a museum. Perhaps most impressively, the plantation is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in America, where the staff takes care to ensure that there is always something in bloom year round. Enjoy U.S. history amid these tranquil gardens. Take a tour of the house, get a glimpse of colonial life by visiting the stable yards, or ask about guided kayak tours or horseback riding to see the grounds from a different angle.
Suggested duration: 6 hours
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3. Dolphin & Whale Watching, Hilton Head

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston

Explore the site where the Union and Confederate armies clashed for the first time in the American Civil War. Your visit to Fort Sumter National Monument begins at the education center, where you can study exhibits on the war and purchase ferry tickets to the sea fort. Once you arrive, a park ranger will give a short talk about the conflict between the North and South that led to the firing of the first shots. As you walk the area, examine the defenses and imagine the Confederates’ 34-hour bombardment until the Union forces surrendered. For more information, visit the fort’s onsite museum. Refreshments are available on the ferry, but it is a good idea to bring water.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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6. Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours, Charleston

Embark on a journey back in time by taking a narrated tour through the heart of old Charleston on a horse-drawn carriage. The slow ride allows plenty of time to admire the city's colonial mansions, landmark churches, and verdant gardens. During the 60-minute tour, your witty guide will tell you stories from the Civil War and explain how this "Holy City" managed to remain practically intact during those trying times.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Ghost & Vampire Tours, Charleston

Follow in the footsteps of Charleston's most infamous characters and uncover the decadency that lies beneath the city's polished surface on a guided ghost and vampire tour. Stroll down murky alleys and haunted graveyards as your ghoulish local guide fills you in on macabre stories, historic scandals, and legends of murderers and thieves. Set foot in some of Charleston's most sinister locations, such as Provost Dungeon, as you relive past tragedies involving pirates, criminals, prostitutes, and slaves. Most of these 90-minute evening tours are for mature audiences only.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach

Home to more than 10,000 creatures, Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach offers interactive activities designed to teach the public about 350 different marine species. You can observe the underwater kingdom of sharks, or touch cownose and spotted eagle rays. The aquarium houses a discovery center, providing hands-on multimedia marine education classes for visitors of all ages. Don't miss a stop at the "living gallery," a presentation of undersea life that includes sea anemones, corals, jellies, octopuses, and sea dragons.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Broadway at the Beach, Myrtle Beach

Situated on the shores of beautiful Lake Broadway, Broadway at the Beach offers attractions from museums and aquariums to amusement park rides and live shows. There's also fine dining, brand name shopping, and nightly entertainment. View replicas of your favorite celebrities and historical figures at the Hollywood Wax Museum or head to Soar and Explore to try your hand at navigating a ropes course 15 m (15 m) in the air.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet

Brookgreen Gardens plays home to a sculpture park with 1,400 pieces of art, trails, nature reserves, and a zoo. Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington bought the property, which was originally four plantations, to showcase her figurative sculptures in an outdoor environment. Wander through lush, moss-draped coastal vegetation, along riverbanks, and across rich marshland at this National Historic Landmark that opened to the public in 1932. Watch for local wildlife and numerous archaeological sites, or visit the on-site Lowcountry Zoo and its dedicated center for rehabilitating injured animals.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, Myrtle Beach

Fly high above the Atlantic Ocean with a ride on Myrtle Beach SkyWheel, a 57 m (187 ft) Ferris wheel opened in 2011. The wheel features 42 glass-enclosed, air-conditioned gondolas, each with bucket seating for six and UV protective windows designed for optimal viewing. The highlight of the wheel is a cutting-edge lighting system with more than one million LEDs, capable of creating a range of light effects best appreciated after sunset. Remember that vistas of the Myrtle Beach shoreline change at different times of day, providing you with a new perspective each time you ride the wheel. Avoid standing in long lines by booking your tickets online or by phone.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Patriots Point, Mount Pleasant

A backdrop for celebration, military reenactments, and speeches from the nation's leaders, Patriots Point is home to several war vessels, including the USS Clamagore. The Cold War Submarine Memorial and a replica of a Vietnam support base give visitors a view into America's military actions. Honor heroes at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society museum on site.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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13. Battery & White Point Gardens, Charleston

Once a weapon-filled defensive site, Battery & White Point Gardens is now designed for peace and tranquility. As you walk through the pleasant park and gardens, you can examine cannons, statues, and other monuments, including a bronze bust of famous poet, novelist, and historian W.G. Simms. Look for the commemorative marker for a pirate captain and his crew who were hung at the site about 300 years ago. All your wandering will be in the shadow of many large antebellum houses, surrounded by oak trees and overlooking the Charleston Harbor. The gardens are suitable for picnicking, recreation, photography, and other leisurely activities.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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14. The Center for Birds of Prey, Awendaw

Admission: Adults - $18, Youth (6-17) - $12, Children under 6 - Free. Private group programs and rates are available. Discounts are available for senior citizens, active-duty military, AAA members and groups of 25 or more.

Under the umbrella of the Avian Conservation Center, The Center for Birds of Prey and the Avian Medical and Oiled Bird Treatment Facility identify and address vital environmental issues through avian medicine, educational outreach and conservation initiatives. The newly expanded campus allows visitors the opportunity to experience birds of prey in a natural setting and to learn more about avian science and environmental conservation. The Center for Birds of Prey invites visitors to discover the life of raptors through guided walking tours, educational conservation programs and captivating flight demonstrations. We are open to the public three days a week for tours of the facility where you can see bald eagles, great horned owls, golden eagles, peregrine falcons and more! Guests can also stay for bird flight demonstrations that occur after each walking tour.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Charleston City Market, Charleston

Established in the 1790s, Charleston City Market is one of the country's oldest public markets and hosts more than 300 entrepreneurs. Begin your visit at the historic market hall, an impressive Greek Revival-style structure built 1841. Admire its brownstone stucco and green ironwork before shopping for souvenirs and treats. Items with the Certified Authentic Handmade in Charleston seal are entirely locally made. Market stalls extend four city blocks away from the hall and include an array of goods. You'll find about 50 artists with sweetgrass baskets, a traditional African-American craft. These tightly woven baskets have been made for centuries and are a popular--and useful--souvenir.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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