Aerial view of the city of Greenville in South Carolina.

7 Best Small Towns in South Carolina For A Weekend Escape

Sitting in the middle of the Atlantic coastSouth Carolina's atmosphere and terrain are an excellent mix of both north and south. This state is home to some of the most picturesque towns in the nation. Both locals and those from out-of-state flock to South Carolina's small towns in the warm months of the year to soak in the sun and take in the stunning views. Whether you desire a pleasant seaside vacation or an excursion into the deep forests, South Carolina has it all. Here are some stunningly beautiful towns in the state to spend the perfect weekend.

Edisto Island

Aerial view of Beaufort, South Carolina
Aerial view of Beaufort, South Carolina.

Only an hour south of Charlestown lies the tranquil Edisto Island. This island perfectly encapsulates what a typical South Carolina town might have looked like nearly 100 years ago. Much of the dirt roads that snake around the island are lined with the iconic weeping trees draped in layers of Spanish moss.

Many of the old plantations on the island have been either transformed into luxurious hotels or museums about the area's past. With easy access to the beach and the ocean, Edisto Island is the perfect place to go if you want to take things slow. Expect a laid-back and easygoing outlook from the locals as well. 


Greenville, South Carolina
The beautiful city of Greenville in South Carolina.

Greenville is the perfect blend of both new and old. This small city has done a fantastic job of preserving its unique charm and allure while simultaneously developing its downtown into an impressive center of arts and culture that punches well above its weight.  

You will find modern architecture and a bustling and healthy pedestrian-focused shopping district in its downtown. Great restaurants, specialized boutiques, and art galleries are all available to those willing to take the trip.  For those wanting a more "authentic" Greenville experience, check out all the interesting neighborhoods that populate the town. Here you will find fascinating and quaint architecture that screams small-town South Carolina. 

Hilton Head Island

Aerial view over Coligny beach on Hilton Head island.
Aerial view over Coligny beach on Hilton Head island.

One of the more popular destinations for both tourists and South Carolinians alike, Hilton Head Island has long served as an ideal beach town for those wanting to take in the best the Atlantic Ocean offers. Tall grass and long sandy beaches are what stand out here. Winding wooden boardwalks have been built all along the island's coastline and are the perfect place for a walk or bike ride. 

Since Hilton Head is right next to the water, it should not be too much of a surprise to learn that boating and other water sports are immensely popular. Renting kayaks, jet skis, or even a boat of your own are all readily available at one of the nearby marinas. 

Mount Pleasant

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
A beautiful day at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Stuffed to the brim with countless historical sites and attractions, Mount Pleasant is a great place to go if you are passionate or interested in learning about American history. You will find 5 locations within Mount Pleasant that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Boone Hall Plantation, Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, Mount Pleasant Historic District, Scanlonville Cemetery, and Snee Farm Plantation

If history is not to your liking, then there is still plenty to enjoy here. Mount Pleasant is located right on the water and equipped with a robust boardwalk full of restaurants and shops. Steamboat cruises are also an option to head out onto the water. 


Horse racing event at Aiken, South Carolina
A horse racing event at Aiken, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Hedley Lamarr /

Located along the border of neighboring Georgia, the small town of Aiken has one of the most memorable and unique atmospheres in all of South Carolina. The commercial district of Aiken is home to tons of great shopping and eating. Family-run businesses in the town are still strong pillars of the community, something that cannot be said about many large cities. 

If shopping is not up your alley, Aiken is also famous for its horse racing and polo matches. While going to a horserace might seem like a bit of a niche activity, it is something that not a lot of people will do in their lifetimes. If you have the opportunity to witness one live, it is worth the price of admission. 


Tillman Hall at Clemson University. The landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tillman Hall at Clemson University, a landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Editorial credit: Rob Hainer /

Best known for its university, Clemson is a great place to go if you want to participate in some of the most underrated nightlife in South Carolina. A very walkable town, the core of Clemson is filled with quality bars and restaurants that make for a great night out. Aside from partying it up with the local college kids, Clemson also has a lot in the way of natural beauty. Much of the town's buildings are old but well-maintained. Clemson is undoubtedly one of the most enchanting places in the spring and summer months. 


Aerial view of Beaufort, South Carolina
Aerial view of Beaufort, South Carolina.

One of the oldest settlements in South Carolina, the architecture of Beaufort still resembles its early colonial past. Founded in the early 18th century, many of the original buildings that laid the groundwork for Beaufort to grow into the town it is today still stand with pride. Beaufort is another waterside town. Swimming and boating are popular activities, along with fishing. Do not expect to see any loud parties, however. This small town has a well-earned reputation for being quiet and easygoing.

No matter if you were born and raised in South Carolina or visiting from out of state, each of these towns has something special to offer. The laid-back nature and small-town vibes in these places are hard to match. Pairing this with outstanding natural beauty and charm, the small towns of South Carolina are some of the best the United States has to offer. 

If you do plan to visit during the summer, make sure to book ahead of time. Many of these locations are popular and local hotels and other activities quickly become booked up for the season. 

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