The City Square in Abbeville, South Carolina. Image credit: J. Stephen Conn via

6 Serene Towns in South Carolina for a Weekend Retreat

South Carolina is located in the coastal Southeastern region of the United States and makes for an excellent destination for those seeking a memorable weekend retreat. Framed by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Savannah River to the southwest, “The Palmetto State” (so named for its beautiful official tree) also appeals for its Southern charm, its lush landscapes, as well as its rich and fascinating history.

Another big draw for visitors is the many quaint towns located up and down the state, each offering unique attractions and a slice of tranquillity that’s far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From the delightful historic districts of Pendleton and Abbeville to the plentiful outdoor adventures on offer in places like Travelers Rest and Edisto Beach, with stops at Walhalla and McClellanville along the way, these six serene towns in South Carolina are ideal for a weekend retreat.


The old square in Pendleton, South Carolina.
The old square in Pendleton, South Carolina. Image credit: Let Ideas Compete via

Handily located just 30 miles southwest of Greenville, the small community of Pendleton often surprises visitors with the scale of its historic district. The entirety of this nearly four-square-mile town was laid out in 1790 with little to no changes since. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Old Town Pendleton is wonderful to explore on foot thanks to its many meticulously preserved 18th and 19th-century buildings.

Just outside Pendleton, the Ashtabula Historic House and Woodburn Historic House provide a deeper dive into the area's rich history and culture. Informative guided tours illuminate the lives of their former inhabitants, from the wealth and elegance of plantation owners to the tragic histories of the enslaved people forced to live and work there. The Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina is another must-visit for its family-friendly hands-on exhibits about the state's farming history. Great places to stay here include the centrally located Inn at Magnolia Hill and the elegant Liberty Hall Bed and Breakfast.

Travelers Rest

U.S. Route 276 running through Travelers Rest, South Carolina.
U.S. Route 276 running through Travelers Rest, South Carolina. Image credit: Thomson200 via Wikimedia Commons.

Travelers Rest is a great weekend getaway for those wanting to explore the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Just nine miles north of Greenville, fun things to do in Travellers Rest include hitting the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a multi-use pathway that meanders along the scenic Reedy River connecting Travelers Rest to Greenville and which is ideal for cyclists, joggers, and walkers. Sunrift Adventures is located on the trail network and offers outdoor gear and guidance, as well as bike and kayak rentals.

Wildcat Wayside Mountain is another popular destination for hikers, with trails leading to some of the region’s most stunning waterfalls. Cultural experiences worth exploring include Trailblazer Park, an outdoor venue featuring a cultural center and a farmer’s market. A trendy place to stay here is The Station by Compo Hotels, while quality big-brand accommodations are available at Hampton Inn Greenville/Travelers Rest.

Edisto Beach

Vacation homes in Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
Vacation homes in Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Those wanting to spend a weekend exploring South Carolina’s beautiful Atlantic Coast couldn’t do much better than visit Edisto Beach. Roughly halfway between Charleston and Hilton Head Island, Edisto Beach State Park is the main attraction here. This natural paradise offers a mix of beaches and shady maritime forests that are as enjoyable for adults as they are for families, with campsites, picnic areas, an environmental center, and an extensive network of hiking and biking trails to explore.

Interested in learning more about local wildlife? Edisto Island Serpentarium is home to a variety of snakes, alligators, and other reptiles native to the region in a safe and educational setting. The Botany Bay Plantation Wildlife Management Area is another nature attraction to visit and features over 4,600 acres of untouched beaches, maritime forest, and historic structures to explore. After all that fun in the sun, enjoy a stay at Wyndham Ocean Ridge Marsh Point or Wyndham Ocean Ridge resorts.


Old Rock House in Walhalla, South Carolina.
Old Rock House in Walhalla, South Carolina.

Walhalla is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains close to the border with Georgia. Named after the Norse mythological hall of the slain, this historic town was founded by German settlers in 1849 and celebrates this heritage with one of the state’s best Oktoberfests. It’s also home to the Stumphouse Mountain Tunnel, an incomplete railroad tunnel from the 1850s that now serves as a fascinating piece of history… and a cool retreat during warmer months. Nearby Issaqueena Falls is another cool place to visit in Walhalla. Named after a Native American legend, it’s easily accessible and provides a serene spot for picnics and photos.

For history buffs, the Walhalla Graded School was built in 1901 and adds a touch of educational heritage to a visit and now functions as a community center. Come bedtime, check into great places to stay such as Rodeway Inn & Suites (in-town) and The Suites at Hisaw Gap (close to the Stumphouse Tunnel).


Downtown Abbeville, South Carolina.
Downtown Abbeville, South Carolina. Image credit: Jimmy Emerson DVM via

Known to historians as the "Birthplace and Deathbed of the Confederacy" for its role during the Civil War, Abbeville provides a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era. Start your weekend adventure in Rainbow Row, a line of brightly colored buildings in Abbeville’s historic district, before heading to the pretty town square. The Abbeville Opera House is another historic landmark that was built in 1904 and is still a popular venue.

Another historic must-visit is the Burt-Stark Mansion, the site of the last meeting of the Confederate War Council. Mansion tours reveal well-preserved architecture and period furnishings that provide a vivid portrayal of life during this tumultuous period in American history. Venture just outside town and you’ll find the Long Cane Scenic Area, a perfect spot for a woodland hike. Here for the weekend? Check out the rates at the boutique-style Belmont Inn by OYO or, if on a tight budget, the no-frills Westbrook Motel.


Jeremy Creek at McClellanville, South Carolina
Jeremy Creek at McClellanville, South Carolina. Image Credit: Ammodramus via Wikimedia Commons

Last but by no means least, let’s chat about McClellanville. Though small (its population is a tad over 600), this Southern fishing village north of Charleston is home to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, an essential site for birdwatching, hiking, and exploring that lovely Atlantic Coast environment. The Refuge covers over 66,000 acres, a significant stretch of South Carolina's coast, and is an important habitat for a wide range of wildlife. Nature Adventures Outfitters provides naturalist-guided tours through the refuge, allowing visitors to kayak through marshes and spot local wildlife in their natural habitat.

The Village Museum in McClellanville is another must-visit and tells the story of the village from the perspective of the SeWee Indians through the colonial period and into the rise of the seafood industry. And, of course, it’s a must to sample local Lowcountry seafood at restaurants like T W Graham & Co. When it comes to accommodations, visitors will need to base themselves in larger communities like Georgetown, just 20 minutes to the north, where hotels like Hampton Inn Georgetown-Marina and or Quality Inn & Suites offer good rates and easy access.

The Final Word

For those wanting to get to know South Carolina - and to do so in a tranquil setting - these six serene towns have a lot going for them. From Pendleton's historic charm to Travelers Rest's outdoor adventures, the coastal allure of McClellanville and Edisto Beach, as well as Walhalla's German heritage and Abbeville's Civil War history, each town offers a unique getaway experience that’s bound to please the choosiest of travelers. Whatever your preferences, these six serene towns in South Carolina are ideal for a weekend retreat.

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