South Carolina Attractions: Hidden Gems

Burn enough gas throughout the expanse of South Carolina, and you’ll soon discover it teems with unique attractions. Yet even natives of the Palmetto state may not be familiar with some of its most glistening hidden gems. So roll out your map and get ready to stick pins in the following not-to-miss South Carolina attractions.

Boneyard Beach

Hop aboard the Bulls Island Ferry in Awendaw for a quick jaunt to Bulls Island. This South Carolina barrier island, known for its untouched environs and thriving wildlife, lays claim to Boneyard Beach, located on its northeast end. Call it a Gothic paradise, the three-mile sandy expanse proves to be what some people describe as a “Dali painting come to life.” Thanks to the island’s changing shoreline, hundreds of oak, cedar, and pine trees have been frozen in twisted webs. Bleached by the sun and saltwater, the trees have been smoothed by the ocean tide. While kids often take to the climbs of this natural playground, seabirds can be found perched high above for a literal bird’s-eye view of their next potential meal. Make sure to arm your camera with a fully charged battery as photo-ops abound.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 280 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 360 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 160 miles round trip

Congaree National Park

Just outside of Columbia, Congaree National Park may not be the most high-profile among South Carolina’s array of national park attractions, but its collection of natural wonders certainly demands a visit. More than twenty-five miles of hiking trails and over two miles of boardwalk allow visitors the chance to soak up picturesque surroundings. The forest offers up its star attraction: primeval old-growth trees known as the champions. They make up the tallest deciduous forest in the country and loom high above the winding trails. Keep an eye out for massive turtles, deer, river otter, and sizable spiders. You might even gander at a gator or two. The park allows camping, in addition to canoeing and kayaking in the adjacent Cedar Creek.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Greenville — 260 miles round trip
  • Charleston — 220 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 190 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 280 miles round trip

Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden

Topiary artist Pearl Fryar regularly wows visitors who peruse his handcrafted garden. More than 300 plants, many plucked from the compost pile of area nurseries by Fryar himself, serve as living works of art. With clippers in hand, Fryar has a penchant for turning shrubs, trees, and more into abstract shapes that look as if they sprang from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. His found-object statues, made from discarded metal, glass, and more, display messages of love, unity, and peace.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 100 miles round trip
  • Greenville — 310 miles round trip
  • Charleston — 250 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 250 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 210 miles round trip

H.L. Hunley Submarine at Warren Lasch Conservation Center

Have you ever been curious about what a submarine that was used in the Civil War might be like, look no further than the H.L. Hunley. It holds the distinctive honor of being the first combat submarine to sink a warship. The USS Housatonic took the hit in Charleston’s outer harbor; the Hunley, however, sunk shortly thereafter. Yet it wasn’t until 1995 that researchers recovered the vessel. In fact, some of the same folks involved in recovering the Titanic helped snag the Hunley. Today, visitors can take a look at the Hunley as it sits inside a conservation tank located at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center on the old Charleston Navy Base.

Approximate mileage from:

  • Columbia — 240 miles round trip
  • Augusta, GA — 310 miles round trip
  • Myrtle Beach — 210 miles round trip

Next time you’re planning a road trip, check out one of these four South Carolina attractions, which are so hidden some Palmetto state natives don’t even know about them.