Nestled away along its 187-mile coastline is a treasure trove of beaches to be found in the Palmetto State. From flash and glitz to the more remote and secluded, whatever kind of beach experience your big family is looking for, it can be found along the oceanside stretch of South Carolina. Down below, we’ve got our top South Carolina beach destination picks for your family to visit.
Folly Beach County Park
Roughly 20 minutes out from Charleston, you’ll find Folly Beach County Park with plenty of activities for you and your family. Standard beachfront activities are available with swimming, surfing, and fishing all available, with more adventurous options found in kayaking, boat rentals, and more. Amenities along the beach include dressing areas, outdoor showers, public restrooms, picnic areas, and seasonal gift shops. After a long day of playing hard, there’s no shortage of restaurants touting local cuisine nearby. Campgrounds are available 10 minutes from the beach at James Island County Park, with paved roads, full hookups, laundry services, grill/fire rings, and plenty more amenities.
- Pier 101 Restaurant and Bar offers panoramic, beachfront ocean views and food that can’t be beaten. With a mixture of classic American grub, southern cuisine, local delicacies, and a number of cocktails on top, nobody in the family will leave Pier 101 unhappy.
- Shark Surf School offers both private a group surf lessons that’ll have your family ruling the waves. Equipment is provided for every student involved. Prices vary by group size.
- Hop aboard the Carolina Skiff Bay boat in search of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins! Departing from the dock on Bowens Island, the Dolphin Boat Tours last about an hour and a half and offer many great photo opportunities.
On the quieter end of the spectrum, Edisto Beach is one of the less commercially developed options available. Seclusion is often the name of the game at Edisto Beach, offering a more intimate experience for your family. Swimming, kayaking, and fishing are all permitted, but be careful, as there are no official lifeguards on duty.
Activities to fill out your itinerary:
- Spanning 4,630 acres of lush vegetation and beachfront property, The Botany Bay Plantation showcases a wide variety of life within its gorgeous (and free to enter) confines.
- The Edisto Island Serpentarium offers an up-close experience with a number of large snakes and reptiles, with hands-on encounters for you and your family!
Famous for its natural beauty, Kiawah Island lies just down the way from Charleston and is immensely popular with tourists and locals alike. Public restrooms, showers, and snack bars can be found adorning the stretch of the beach, along with sprawling maritime forests, marshes, and sand dunes. Dolphins, starfish, crabs, and a plethora of other wildlife tend to inhabit the local area and make for wonderful sightseeing ventures. Local kayak tours offer both insights to the local history and a shake-up to your typical tour formation.
Activities to fill out your trip:
- Although on the pricier side, Kiawah Island Golf Resort offers some breathtaking scenery as a backdrop to a relaxing game of golf.
- The Pirates of Charleston offer a family-friendly, pirate-themed boat tour into the North Edisto River. With songs to sing, a treasure to find, and maps to read, this tour is bound to be a hit with younger family members.
- A marvel of nature can be seen when visiting the Angel Oak Tree. Enormous and still living, the tree is astonishingly large and estimated to be 300-400 years old.
Myrtle Beach State Park
How could this list be complete without a mention of Myrtle Beach? Known the world over, Myrtle Beach offers no shortage of attractions, activities, cuisines or anything else one could ask for on vacation; with theme parks, casinos, surfing, live shows and more, Myrtle Beach is worthy of its own series of articles. Whether you crave a lively beachside scene or some peace and quiet away from it all, Myrtle Beach has you covered on both fronts. Varying campgrounds are also available, ranging from spots for RV setups to rentable cabins.
Activities to fill out your trip:
- Alabama Theater offers traveling families evenings full of singing, dancing, and comedy. For the past 2 years running, the Alabama Theater has drawn visitors from all over for its theatrical works. With a rotating calendar of renowned performers and acts, no two trips are bound to be the same.
- Located in the heart of the downtown district, Ripley’s Moving Theater functions as a part theater, part thrill ride attraction that your kids will love. Using patented 5D technology to move you throughout the facility without leaving your seat, this attraction is sure to provide some adrenaline with simulations varying from virtual roller coaster rides to driving snowmobiles in treacherous terrain.
- A short walk away from the Myrtle Beach boardwalk is where your family will find Mount Atlanticus Miniature Golf. With two 18-hole courses for putters of all skill levels, relaxing vibes, and some of the best-elevated views of the city, Mount Atlanticus is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
- Looking to take a step or two back in time? If you’re willing to go a bit on the spendier side, you can take a good handful of steps back when visiting the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Based on the 11th-century feasts and tournaments of Castile, guests enjoy a banquet of four courses as they cheer on their pick of six knights to win a jousting tournament.
Hilton Head Island
Recently voted America’s favorite island getaway for the fourth year running, Hilton Head Island is a legendary locale among family travel destinations. Sporting shopping centers, golf courses, dozens of renowned restaurants and more activities than you can count, Hilton Head Island is world-class in every regard. Under proper rules, dogs are more than welcome to join in on the family fun, too! Dogs are welcome on the beach while on a leash between 10 and 5, from April through the Thursday before Memorial Day, as well as the Tuesday after Labor Day through September 30. A full, double-gated dog park is also available for plenty of fun in the Chaplin Community Park.
Notable family attractions:
- The Sandbox Children’s Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10 to 5. Featuring 11 hands-on exhibits for younger kids. Please note that during busy summer months, the number of visitors may be capped due to fire code limits.
- Fly, h.h.i. Hilton Head Helicopter Tours offers varying lengths, routes, and pricing for different tours around the island. Although with a big family, you’d have to split up for the tour.
- HHI Escape offers a handful of different escape room scenarios that will surely entertain your kids.