Road Trip in South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, Murrells Inlet—there's no doubt South Carolina is well known for its popular beach destinations.

However, there's far more to the Palmetto State than just sand and surf. Rich history abounds, and you'll likely experience some of it during your road trip.

Before getting started, let's make sure you're legal to drive, you have a solid understanding of the state's road rules, and—of course—you find the most interesting places to visit!

Driving in South Carolina

If you are an adult driver with a valid out-of-state driver's license, you can legally drive in South Carolina.

SC State Traffic Rules

No one wants to see those flashing blue lights in their rearview mirror—or worse, cause a traffic accident. Make sure you understand the rules of the road before beginning your journey.

The South Carolina Driver's Manual is a great resource for information about the state's laws on:

  • Basic rules of the road, including traffic safety rules and speed limits.
  • Proper places to park and not park your vehicle.
  • The dangers of driving too slowly on certain highways.

Also refer to our section on safety laws in South Carolina for more information on laws regarding seat belts, child safety seats, using cell phones, and more.

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Major South Carolina Roads

Some of South Carolina's major interstates and highways include:

  • Interstate 20.
    • I-20 enters South Carolina by crossing the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia. I-20 reaches Columbia, the state capital, and is a major thoroughfare that links the state to the north, west, and south using I-95 (Savannah, Georgia and Washington, D.C.) and I-77 (Charlotte, North Carolina).
    • Some exits to popular destinations are located in the counties of Richland (to Columbia), Aiken (to North Augusta, near the Savannah River), and Darlington (home to the Darlington Raceway).
  • Interstate 77.
    • I-77 runs north and south and interchanges with I-26 near the state's capital, Columbia, to the North Carolina state line near Charlotte and Rock Hill.
    • Some exits to popular destinations are located in the counties of Lexington (to Charleston and Spartanburg) and Richland (to Columbia).
  • Interstate 95.
    • I-95 runs all the way from Maine to Florida—within South Carolina, it travels right through the major cities of Florence and Walterboro.
    • A few of the exits drivers can use to access popular destinations are located in the counties of Jasper (taking you to Hilton Head Island) and Orangeburg (to Charleston and Columbia).
  • US-17.
    • US-17 runs north and south near the Atlantic Ocean and brings travelers to popular South Carolina destinations such as Charleston and Myrtle Beach.
  • US-278.
    • US-278 travels east and west and connects drivers to Hilton Head Island.

SC Road Trip Destinations

South Carolina Beaches

South Carolina is an extremely popular southeastern coastal destination, and with so many sandy shores, why wouldn't it be?

Of course, these beaches offer visitors more than just a place to lounge around in the sun (though, that's not a bad thing!). Here, you'll find plenty of opportunities for fishing, parasailing, golfing, biking, and soaking in the state's rich history.

  • Myrtle Beach:
    • Located amid many uninterrupted miles of sandy shores known as the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach links with various ocean destinations such as North Myrtle Beach, South Myrtle Beach, Surfside, Murrells Inlet, and Pawleys Island.
    • Myrtle Beach is packed with outdoor adventures like deep-sea saltwater fishing, parasailing, and horseback riding, as well as both boutique and outlet shopping, thrilling entertainment, and the kind of seafood feasts only a shore-side restaurant can offer.
  • Charleston beaches:
    • Charleston, South Carolina delights visitors with a multitude of beaches including:
      • Folly Beach.
      • Seabrook Island Resort.
      • City of Isle of Palms.
    • At many of Charleston's nearby beaches and resorts, travelers can take advantage of the multitude of watersports, golf courses and tennis courts, and tours of the state's varied histories, including everything from the Revolutionary and Civil wars to the notorious pirate Blackbeard's visit to Charleston.
  • Hilton Head Island:
    • Hilton Head Island offers one of the more serene stretches of surf and shore. Visitors can access this picturesque coastal destination via several locations including Coligny Beach Park, Fish Haul Creek Park, and Burkes Beach Access—all of which provide their own brands of entertainment, from bodyboarding and windsurfing to volleyball courts and flying kites.

Other SC Destinations

South Carolina offers more than just salt in your hair and sand between your toes. The entire state is packed with a wide variety of dining options, historical sites, and lodging options.

For example, South Carolina's capital city of Columbia offers:

  • South Carolina State Museum.
    • The South Carolina State Museum can teach you everything you want to know about the state, from technology and science to war history. The museum even offers a planetarium and observatory, where you can safely look directly at the sun.
  • Riverbanks Zoo.
    • Here, visitors can appreciate some of the world's most amazing animals, as well as take time to walk through a vast botanical garden, try their feet at rock climbing, and go zip-lining.
  • Governor's Mansion Garden.
    • At the Governor's Mansion, you can walk peacefully through the lush and pristinely kept gardens, and even take a tour through the mansion itself where you'll find an archive of fine china, artwork, and historical documents.
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