Trade Street on sunny, spring day in Greer, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

6 of the Most Hospitable Small Towns in South Carolina

South Carolina isn’t just one of the prettiest US states; it’s also one of the friendliest. Home to nearly six million people and long associated with The South, the “Palmetto State” (so named for its state tree) is home to some of the best places to visit in the USA for a warm welcome.

From the aptly named Travelers Rest in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the fishing community of McClellanville, the best of the state’s many small towns are great tourist destinations, whether for a fun family vacation, a romantic couples getaway, or even a day trip. Find out more with this list of the six most hospitable small towns in South Carolina.

Hilton Head Island

Sun setting in a marina in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Sun setting in a marina in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Hilton Head Island was only established formally as a town in 1983 but has been welcoming vacationers since being connected to the mainland by a bridge in 1956. These days, over 2.5 million tourists visit Hilton Head (or HHI to those in the know) every year for the unhurried atmosphere and the endless sand beaches.

The town’s wide beaches stretch for over 10 miles along the Atlantic coast and are a magnet for sun worshippers and beachgoers from places as far north as New York State and even Canada. Traveling with kids? Then head to the main beach area at Coligny Beach Park, which offers facilities such as showers, ample parking, and even free wi-fi. Hilton Head Island also serves as a great spot to enjoy a dolphin cruise or even a ferry trip to nearby Daufuskie Island or Savannah, Georgia.


A view looking down Front Street with shops and the old clock tower in Georgetown, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski /
A view looking down Front Street with shops and the old clock tower in Georgetown, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski /

Georgetown is a little over an hour’s drive north of Charleston and makes for a great add-on to an exploration of the state’s prettiest city. Georgetown is also the third oldest town in South Carolina. Its well-preserved 18th-century architecture and pretty oak-lined streets provide a picturesque backdrop, especially around the Georgetown Harborwalk. This scenic boardwalk along the Sampit River boasts great views, access to historic sites, and a variety of dining and shopping options owned and operated by friendly locals.

Anyone interested in the area's history can check out the South Carolina Maritime Museum. It is a must-visit and showcases the maritime heritage of Georgetown and the surrounding areas, including the construction of wooden boats, the rice and indigo trade, and the lives of local fishermen. Another popular attraction is the historic Hopsewee Plantation, a preserved rice plantation offering guided tours dealing with the plantation system, its impact on the region, and the lives of the enslaved people who worked there.

Edisto Beach

Edisto Beach in South Carolina USA.
Edisto Beach in South Carolina, USA.

Edisto Beach is another island destination that’s caught the eye of vacationers. Located on Edisto Island and only an hour south of beautiful Charleston, it’s home to Edisto Beach State Park, a natural Lowcountry sanctuary featuring hiking and biking trails that meander through maritime forests, past salt marshes, and along the beachfront, providing opportunities to observe local wildlife in their natural habitats.

The Edisto Island Serpentarium is another must-visit in Edisto Beach. This unique, family-friendly attraction gives fascinating insights into the reptilian inhabitants of the island, including snakes, alligators, and turtles, in both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The Edisto Island Museum is another notable site and delves into the island's past, from its Native American origins to its development as a cotton plantation.


View of entrance to Greer City Park. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /
View of the entrance to Greer City Park. Editorial credit: Nolichuckyjake /

Located mid-way between the cities of Greenville and Spartanburg, Greer’s vibrant downtown has undergone significant revitalization and is increasingly making a name for its welcoming Southern hospitality. Stroll along pleasant tree-lined streets, browse through unique shops and galleries run by locals, and dine at family-owned restaurants that serve up tasty food fare.

The town’s art scene is another good reason to visit, with much of the action revolving around the Greer Cultural Arts Council with its roster of regular performances and exhibitions showcasing local talent and providing entertainment for the community and visitors alike. Those looking to get outdoors can head to Greer City Park, a 12-acre, centrally located green space with walking trails, a playground, and an amphitheater, while nearby Lake Robinson and Lake Cunningham offer boating, fishing, and picnicking.

Travelers Rest

Travelers Rest Small Town and Swamp Rabbit Bike Trail Greenville South Carolina.
Travelers Rest and Swamp Rabbit Bike Trail Greenville, South Carolina.

With a name like Travelers Rest, this neat small town in the northwest corner of South Carolina couldn't be anything but hospitable. Strategically located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this charming community has been a welcoming sight to visitors since the early 1800s when weary travelers and herdsmen would winter here rather than face the treacherous mountains that lay ahead– hence the quite literal name.

These days, people stop over to explore places like the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile multi-use scenic greenway that runs along the Reedy River, connecting Travelers Rest with Greenville, which is perfect for biking, walking, and running. The History Museum of Travelers Rest is another plus and provides a glimpse into the town’s long-standing tradition of hospitality to folks passing through the area.


Sunrise in McClellanville, SC. The Low Country SC.
Sunrise in McClellanville, SC. The Low Country SC.

Although the smallest community on this list of hospitable places to visit in South Carolina, McClellanville might well be the friendliest. Located mid-way between Charleston and Georgetown, this quaint Lowcountry fishing village on the Atlantic Ocean is popular for its proximity to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary for a diverse range of wildlife, and a popular spot for birdwatching enthusiasts. Its marshes, beaches, and islands provide a perfect backdrop for kayaking and fishing adventures, too.

The Village Museum in McClellanville is another must-visit and features exhibits relating to the community’s development as a fishing village that tell the story of the community and its relationship with the surrounding natural environment. Finish your visit with a fresh-catch-of-the-day seafood meal at the visitor-friendly Buckshot’s Restaurant or The Bent Rod, which also serves up live music. 

South Carolina's small towns are the heart and soul of the Palmetto State. From the beautiful Atlantic coast beaches of Hilton Head Island and Edisto to the historic streets of Georgetown and the mountainous backdrop of Travelers Rest, which has welcomed visitors for over 200 years, these charming towns each offer a unique slice of Southern life. Include a visit to any of these destinations on your travel itinerary to experience the genuine hospitality that makes South Carolina so special​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

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