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Escaping the Holy City: the Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC

Escaping the Holy City: the Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC | CosmosMariners.com

Charleston, South Carolina is a fantastic place to live or visit and was even voted as the #1 tourist destination in the world by Conde Nast.

So, why would you ever want to leave? As a native (and lifelong resident) of Charleston, I know that the city's an amazing place.

I also know that there's nothing like a little change of scenery, and Charleston offers many quick trips to locals and visitors alike. Here are a few of my favorite day trips from Charleston, SC!

Best of all, they are less than two hours each way, so you can easily get back to the sights in Charleston when you're ready.


Edisto Island

This out of the way barrier island south of Charleston is an easy hour's drive. There are just a few restaurants, one grocery store, and only two main roads, so the focus is completely on the gorgeous island environment.

You could easily spend a week here just relaxing on the beach, and many South Carolina locals do exactly that. My husband's family keeps up the tradition, and it's been fun watching all of the siblings--and now their kids--gather together for a week each year to splash in the waves.

Edisto's charm is in its simplicity, so come preparing to set your watch to island time.

If you're not up for a beach day, here are six things to do in Edisto that explore the culture and history of this gorgeous place.

And, if you choose to turn your day trip into an overnight stay, there are lots of affordable beach house rentals. You might also get lucky and be able to nab one of the coveted beachfront camping spots at the Edisto Beach State Park!

Escaping the Holy City: the Best Day Trips from Charleston SC | CosmosMariners.com


This small coastal town was the setting for the 1983 movie "The Big Chill," but its charm and warmth are far more important that its past flirtation with the big-screen.

Wander the side streets and admire the stately old homes, browse the shops on the main street, or take a horse-and-buggy history tour. If you're into architecture--or just love older homes--you will adore Beaufort.

All in all, it's in a three way tie for best small town on the SC coast with Bluffton and McClellanville. So many cute places, so little time.

There's plenty to do as you pretend to be a local, so don't worry about getting back to Charleston quickly!

If you have time, drive out to neighboring Hunting Island, where South Carolina's unspoilt beauty is the focus.

Escaping the Holy City: the Best Day Trips from Charleston SC | CosmosMariners.com


While the Shrimp Festival is the highlight of the social calendar here, Yemassee is still worth a visit even when the festival isn't in full swing.

Definitely make the trip out to the Old Sheldon Church, a haunting ruin of an antebellum church which is rumored to be haunted (it made the list of my 3 favorite spooky ruins in the Lowcountry, too!).

There's a lot of discussion over what exactly happened to the church to get it into the shape that it's in currently. Some say that Sherman burned it down, while other accounts point to your run-of-the-mill accident sometime after the war.

Either way, it's a stunning property located just off of Highway 17 (so there's very easy access to Charleston).

It is free and open to the public year round, 24/7, so if you've ever wanted to test your hand at amateur ghost hunting, this would be a great place to start!

P.S. Don't forget to stop at the little pie stand right before you get to the turnoff for Old Sheldon. Yum!

Escaping the Holy City: the Best Day Trips from Charleston SC | CosmosMariners.com


Myrtle Beach 

With dozens of shopping centers, year-round entertainment and more restaurants that you could try in a decade, Myrtle Beach is Charleston's younger, wilder and less refined cousin.

Where Charleston is all about history and architecture, Myrtle Beach thrives on its rough-and-ready-for-anything reputation--and that draws millions each year who are looking for sandy beaches, tons of shopping, and an anything goes attitude.

My dad grew up in North Myrtle Beach, and we return frequently to visit the family farm there. It's been a crazy experience watching the Myrtle Beach area grow over the last 3 decades from a fairly quiet beach town into the vacation destination it is today!

Find deals at one of the two outlet stores or grab a famous Sam's Corner hot dog at one of its many locations along the Grand Strand.

The kitschy Ocean Drive area has unique shops and the SkyWheel (which resembles the London Eye). Myrtle Beach is an hour and a half drive from downtown Charleston via Highway 17 North.

If you're really committing to your day trips from Charleston SC, and want to extend your time between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, I've got a great line up of highlights for a South Carolina Highway 17 road trip!

Escaping the Holy City: the Best Day Trips from Charleston SC | CosmosMariners.com


While this trip can be done in a day (about four hours round trip), it will be a long day! Savannah has been called Charleston's "sister city" because of the historic backgrounds and distinct charm of both cities.

Take a history tour of the downtown area, explore the Telfair Museum of Art, share a picnic in Forsyth Park, and grab a few souvenirs along River Street.

If you're looking for something slightly off the beaten path to do, take a cemetery tour of Bonaventure Cemetery, final resting place of author Conrad Aiken (and the inspiration for my blog's name) and songwriter/singer Johnny Mercer.

If it's your first time in the city, check out my first-timer's guide to Savannah for help.


We've done all of these day trips from Charleston SC multiple times, and it's hard to pick a favorite since they all offer something different! 

That basically means that you can't go wrong whichever way you choose to head out of the Holy City. And, when you get back, there's always even more waiting for you in and around Charleston. 

Where are your favorite road trip destinations? Which of these day trips from Charleston would you like to do the most?

Escaping the Holy City: the Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC | CosmosMariners.com


Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC | CosmosMariners.com


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