Charleston has it all: from lowcountry cuisine to history and art museums to outdoor activities. Finding activities is easy; leaving is the hard part. Yet if you really must get out of town, these Charleston day trips will help you recharge — just in time to get back to Chucktown in time for a Planters punch and dinner at Husk.
Charleston Day Trips #1: Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is possibly one of the most popular day trips from Charleston. Only about a two-hour drive from the Holy City, Savannah offers its own unique architectural and culinary styles that you can experience in one day.
If you want to experience more than simply beautiful buildings and she-crab bisque (though we wouldn’t blame you if your interests stopped here), there are plenty of historical sites, including parks, churches and gardens to explore.
Charleston Day Trips #2: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Need to get out of the city for a day? Charleston is known for its beautiful beaches. But sometimes you just need one with a boardwalk and rides, too.
It takes just over two hours to drive to Myrtle Beach from Charleston. Head up in the morning and you can take a walk along the boardwalk, get a suntan on the beach, ride an old wooden rollercoaster, enjoy the sunset from the SkyWheel — and still make it back to Charleston in time for bed.
Other activities we recommend?
Taking a self-guided food tour through Barefoot Landing, cuddling with live tigers at the Preservation Station and playing a round of golf at one of Myrtle Beach’s many greens.
Charleston Day Trips #3: Hilton Head, South Carolina
Another popular day trip from Charleston that’s only a two-hour drive from the city is Hilton Head. If the idea of spending the day at a crowded amusement park makes you bristle, Hilton Head might be the spot for you.
Make a beeline to this lowcountry island if you’re into exploring lighthouses, coastal museums and wildlife. It’s also a popular destination for golf enthusiasts. From sea kayaking to bicycling to art galleries, Hilton Head has it all. It was also named “No. 1 Island in the Continental U.S.” by “Travel+Leisure Magazine.”
Charleston Day Trips #4: Beaufort, South Carolina
Only 90 minutes south of Charleston is Port Royal Island, where you’ll find Beaufort, a haven for antebellum architecture.
One of the most famous antebellum mansions is the Verdier House. The structure that houses this museum (also known as the Lafayette Building) was built in 1804 by French Huguenot, John Mark Verdier. Inside, you’ll find furniture and architectural details that tell the story of the wealthy planters of the South in the 19th century. There’s also a scaled model here of the local historic district.
If you need to stretch your legs after your journey to Beaufort, make your first stop the Spanish Moss Trail. This 10-mile trail connects Beaufort to nearby Port Royal, a town where you’ll find fishing, nature preserves and pristine sandy beaches.
Charleston Day Trips #5: South Carolina Plantations
You might not need an entire day to explore Charleston’s plantations (though we do recommend budgeting at least an entire day if you plan on visiting more than one).
The 60-minute roundtrip drive to Drayton Hall, Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place or Boone Hall won’t take too much time from your busy schedule. Yet, these plantations are so steeped in Charleston’s history that you’ll want to budget enough time to see everything, including the main houses, slaves’ quarters and the grounds.
If you only have enough time to visit one, we’d recommend Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The main house is one of the few original plantation homes that still stand in the Charleston area (most others burned in the Civil War or were destroyed in the 1886 earthquake). The gardens are the oldest public gardens in the U.S.
Overnight Trips From Charleston
If you have a little extra time to explore, you might want to head to one of these destinations that sit slightly further away on the map.
Both Asheville and Macon are about a four-hour drive from Charleston; if you leave at about 6 a.m., you can easily arrive by 10 a.m.; leaving around 6 p.m. will get you back by 10 p.m. This gives you plenty of time to explore — but you’ll probably want to plan a spa or beach day after to unwind from the long trip.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville is one of the most stunning cities in the Carolinas. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll see plenty of greenery and wildlife here.
One of the biggest attractions is the Biltmore, a Renaissance Revival-style mansion and the largest home built by the Vanderbilt family. You can tour the 250-room house and the 8,000-acre estate.
After, head to Downtown, where you can check out American art at the Asheville Art Museum before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the city’s many cafes and restaurants. Asheville is known for its elevated southern comfort food.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Macon; soul food, archeological sites and history museums abound here.
Your first stop in Macon should be the Ocmulgee National Monument that contains earthen mounds that date back to 1,000 AD. Your second stop should most definitely be the Tubman Museum, one of the largest preservations of African-American art, culture and history in the nation.
Your third stop? Lunch.
Macon is known for its soul food, and you’ll find some of the best fried chicken, black-eyed peas and collard greens in Georgia here.
Family owned and operated from the beginning, Walks of Charleston is passionate about the history, architecture and culture of Charleston and is dedicated to sharing it with you for a memorable experience on every tour.
“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time”
– Steven Wright