Have you been thinking about visiting South Carolina? An even more important question is, have you been thinking about how to visit South Carolina on a budget? From the alligator filled shallows of the swamps, historical plantations surrounded by Spanish moss covered trees, and the states long sandy coast- South Carolina is an absolutely dreamy travel destination.
Myrtle Beach, Charleston, and Hilton Head are super popular travel destinations in the state with over 22 million people a year visiting those three places alone. However, it’s still possible to travel in South Carolina while on a budget. This how to guide will give you a list of free and cheap things to do in the state as well as how to save money on accommodation. This is your ultimate guide for traveling South Carolina on a budget.
Greenville County Museum of Art
A free museum in Greenville. In order to get free parking as well, visit on weekends or after 5pm on weekdays.
Old Sheldon Ruins
Civil War time period ruins. It’s a great place to walk around and the site is beautiful. Just don’t forget your bug spray!
Charleston Battery & White Point Gardens
Enjoy the views of Charleston for free while walking around the battery and white point gardens.
See the famous pineapple fountains in the waterfront park.
Mount Pleasant Pier
Free to walk down to the pier and enjoy the view of the water and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Is right next door to the free Memorial Park and a great play ground.
Mace Brown Museum of Natural History
Located in the College of Charleston. See real dinosaur fossils for free at this museum.
Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve
An outdoor area for wildlife viewing. You can also enjoy a large beach that has turned into a driftwood boneyard. Located on Edisto Island.
Shem Creek Park
Enjoy historic features and great views on the boardwalk over the water.
Conagree National Park
Gorgeous walk on a boardwalk over the South Carolina swamp. The boardwalk comes to an overlook for views of the lake.
Santee Coastal Reserve
See bears, deer, and alligators all in one place. Walk along a short boardwalk for a great view of the wetlands.
West Columbia River Walk
Take a stroll along the water, have seat on the rock by the river and have a picnic lunch.
South Carolina Hall of Fame
Enjoy this free museum while learning about famous and note worthy people that hail from South Carolina.
Vereen Memorial Gardens
Enjoy views of the water, hiking trails, and a boardwalk over the wetlands.
Coastal Discovery Museum
Not only can you enjoy the museum for free but there are also outside adventures as well. You can walk on the boardwalk out over the water as well as walk along a mile long sea shell discovery walk.
Pickney Island National Wildlife Refuge
See salt marshes, freshwater ponds, bobcats, alligators, and go bird watching at this wildlife reserve.
Mitchelville Freedom Park
Boardwalk, hiking trails, beaches, ocean views, and wildlife viewing. This is a great opportunity to see horseshoe crabs up close and personal.
Stoney Barnyard Plantation Ruins
See the remains of a Georgian style plantation for free in Hilton Head.
Sea Pines Forest Reserve
View marshes and wildlife from the boardwalk in the preserve. Explore the secluded forest in the Vanishing Swamp and stop along Fish Island for a picnic lunch.
La Belle Amie Vineyard
This vineyard gives free tours on certain days. Call the vineyard for exact days and times.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy a trip to South Carolina without adding to your travel expenses. Here’s a list of 10 popular hiking trails in the state ranging in length and difficulty.
1. Rainbow Falls Trail
2. Yellow Branch Falls Trail
3. Raven Cliff Falls and Dismal Trail Loop
4. Pinnacle Mountain Trail
5. Lee Falls Trail
6. Riley Moore Falls Trail
7. Glassy Mountain Trail
8. Sassafras Mountain to Caesar’s Head
9. Lower Whitewater Falls
10. Forty Acre Rock Loop
Another great option for a travel day without spending money on attractions is to spend the day on the beach. Pack a cooler of food and drinks to enjoy a beach lunch with a view to save on food costs as well. Two of my favorite beaches in North Carolina are in Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island. You can read about my experiences in the two beach towns on the links below.
Or you can visit one of the other incredible beaches South Carolina has to offer. Here’s a list of some of the other top beaches in the state.
1. Myrtle Beach
2. Folly Beach
3. Hilton Head
4. Sullivans Island (another favorite of mine)
5. Kiawah Island
Attractions on this list are $5/person or less.
Admission to this fort in Charleston is only $3/person.
Table Rock State Park
Admission is $5/adult & $3/child. Hiking trails, breathtaking views, picnic areas, camp sites, lakes, and waterfalls make this state park a great South Carolina bucket list item.
Myrtle Beach State Park
$5/adult $3/child. The park has playground, a nature center, picnic areas, and several educational programs that are free with admission to the park.
At Barefoot Landing kids can ride the carousel for $2/child. The carousel is free on select Saturdays.
When it comes to finding cheap accommodation in South Carolina, you have have three main options. You can always couch surf or house sit, but those aren’t things I choose to do with my family.
Option #1: Budget Hotels
Budget hotels are super easy to find in South Carolina. You should have no problem at all finding a hotel for less than $80/night. Some ocean front hotels can even be found around the $55-$65/night price range as long as your stay isn’t around a holiday or peak season.
Option #2: Camping
You can find free tent campsites in the state. However if you want a campground with restrooms, running water, and shower houses; be prepared to pay a small fee.
Option #3: Air BnB
Air B n B is a great way to book accommodation on the cheap while still saying in some cool and location friendly places. It’s also a great option that for if you don’t want to pay hotel prices, but aren’t willing to rough it at campsites either. Here’s a list of some great Air B n B options for $50/night or less. (rentals and prices as of August 2019)
1. Oceanfront Penthouse Condo– $40/night
2. Romantic Oceanfront Getaway-$30/night
3. Modern Tiny House Cabin– $50/night