Aerial view of Little River, South Carolina

9 Most Charming River Towns In South Carolina To Visit In 2024

South Carolina is a gorgeous coastal state known for its marshlands and subtropical beaches. Many famous cities and towns are located here, most notably Charleston, with its pastel-colored houses and charm. Due to its southeastern location, South Carolina receives rainfall from its neighboring states, which have formed four major hydrological basins that contribute to its unique marsh-like topography. The "Palmetto State" also has four major rivers named after the basins, also called watersheds. Towns sprung up along the river systems as a means of transporting goods. Many of these river towns still exist today and are known for their country charm, historical sites, and amazing scenery. Here are the nine most charming river towns in South Carolina.


Conway, South Carolina
The old Horry County Courthouse in Conway, South Carolina. Editorial credit: Chris Perello /

Conway is on the west side of the Waccamaw River and has a vibrant downtown area that revitalized the town. Along with beautiful river views, Conway is known for its older homes, many over 100 years old, and oak trees that dot the landscape. This topography provides an idyllic southern charm and aesthetic. The Conway River Walk is a wooden walkway that winds along the river, with benches along the path for a tranquil experience. The Waccamaw River Park is a pet-friendly ecological park that showcases South Carolina's natural scenery. Between the lively downtown events and the serene settings that embrace the town, Conway is a model of South Carolina beauty.


The coastal town of Beaufort, South Carolina
The coastal town of Beaufort, South Carolina.

Beaufort is a historic town on Port Royal Island, one of the Sea Islands off the coast. It has a historic downtown district, Antebellum mansions, and a waterfront park. The Henry C. Chambers Water Front Park overlooks the Beaufort River and the idyllic Woods Memorial Bridge. This river town is in the heart of the Low Country, and the weather is temperate year-round, making it a popular destination in all seasons. Charming bed and breakfasts, like The Beaufort Inn, are here and make for an authentic stay. Because of its historic charm and natural beauty, Historic Beaufort has been mentioned in many novels such as The Prince of Tides and Forrest Gump and is one of the most charming river towns in the town.


The town of Cheraw, South Carolina
The town of Cheraw, South Carolina. Image credit: Evanoco via Wikimedia Commons.

Cheraw is on the Pee Dee River in Chesterfield County. Because it was at the head of the river, the river town became the center of the shipping industry in the area in the golden era of the 1820s. Cheraw, one of the most picturesque and oldest river towns, now has a 213-acre Registered Historic District encompassing 39 buildings. The Cheraw Lycium Museum and the Southern African American Heritage Center are among the historical sites. The Lycium Museum can be entered once visitors pick up the keys from the Chamber of Commerce, while the Heritage Center preserves African American heritage. There is much to do and see in this famous port town, considered the prettiest town in the state.


The harbor at Georgetown, South Carolina
The harbor at Georgetown, South Carolina.

Georgetown is on the Georgetown Harbor, where the Black, Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and Sampit Rivers converge. It is the third oldest town in the state and has an impressive downtown with five museums along historic Front Street. It is also the second largest seaport, only behind Charleston. Harborwalk is the path around the bay, surrounded by an impressive 50 historic buildings and preserved 200-year-old houses. The boardwalk also winds around several restaurants and museums, including the Kaminskie House and Rice Museum. Walking around the historic Harborwalk, you will also see the Town Clock on Front Street, which seals the charming aesthetic of coastal Georgetown.


Aerial view of Bluffton, South Carolina
Aerial view of Bluffton, South Carolina.

Bluffton is a bucolic town in the heart of the Low Country. It is named for its location on a bluff overlooking the May River. The warm residential community welcomes visitors and embraces its coastal heritage while moving ahead. The Heyward House, built in the mid-19th century, is the official welcoming center in this historical riverfront community. The Spanish Moss-draped trees and antebellum homes complete the southern aesthetic of the town, while Calhoun Street is the main thoroughfare. The Farmer's Market is a popular spot for locals and visitors and is only open on Thursdays. The best way to see Bluffton is on foot, so you can soak in the coastal air while enjoying the beauty of the May River and the historic homes.

Little River

Aerial view of Little River, South Carolina
Aerial view of Little River, South Carolina.

Little River is aptly located on the Little River, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean near the state line of North Carolina. It is also the oldest town in the area and still enjoys the slower pace from generations of being a fishing town. In a symbiotic paradox, today, the Little River also has casino boats within easy reach of this sleepy town. The La Belle Amie Vineyard in town offers tours and tastings and is a pleasant way to spend a temperate afternoon. To enjoy the natural waterways, book a Tiki Hut or a kayak and spend the day soaking in the natural beauty of South Carolina. After a day on the water, check out one of the bistros in town, such as The Brentwood Restaurant and Wine Bistro.

North Augusta

 North Augusta, South Carolina
The Savannah River in North Augusta, South Carolina. Image credit: J. Stephen Conn via

North Augusta, on the north bank of the Savannah River, lies just north of Augusta, Georgia, hence the name. Like many of South Carolina's coastal towns, North Augusta is full of history. A visit to the Living History Park showcases how locals lived during the 18th century with live demonstrations and exhibits. A great way to enjoy modern North Augusta is to visit Brick Pond Park, a large ecosystem with hiking trails and bird-watching opportunities. North Augusta is also home to the South Carolina Welcome Center, a perfect place to absorb the state's history and learn how it has affected these small coastal towns. Though there are many modern amenities in town, visiting the Savannah River and ecological preserves is the best way to experience north Augusta.


Downtown York, South Carolina
Downtown York, South Carolina.

York is a historic town on the banks of the Broad and Catawba Rivers. Congress Center is the main road through the historic downtown where the annual Summerfest and Christmas Parade is held. Summerfest has been going strong for 39 years, while the Christmas Parade has been a tradition since the early 20th century. Strolling through the tree-lined streets is the best way to view this quaint town. There are also museums to explore, such as the McCelvey Center. The McCelvey Center was home to the Southern Revolutionary War Institute and is now the Historical Center of York County.

Edisto Beach

The spectacular Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
The spectacular Edisto Beach, South Carolina.

Edisto Beach is on the Edisto River, one of the longest free-flowing black rivers in the United States. It is a serene location and is a coastal island destination. Historic Highway 174 passes through mossy oaks and unspoiled marshes. Edisto Beach is at the end of the highway, wrapped in true beach homes, and has a laidback atmosphere. The State Park has the longest stretch of handicapped-accessible hiking and biking trails. There is a preserve, Botany Bay, that offers visitors a look at unspoiled marshes and is also a wildlife management area. Edisto Beach is one of the most popular river towns in the Low Country because of its unspoiled land and beach.

The Palmetto State is home to some of the South's most beautiful marshes and towns. These nine towns are the most charming, embracing their historical and natural heritage while modestly building modern-day amenities. These towns are not only historic but perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors.

For example, Little River is a sleepy fishing village with modern casino boats. These bucolic coastal towns stretch from the border of Georgia to the border of North Carolina; each has something unique to offer. The historical significance of York and North Augusta cannot be overstated, while towns like Edisto Beach are prime for a summer vacation. The towns conjure up romantic images of days gone by while embracing their history, which is why they are written about in many classic novels.

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