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"SC" redirects here. For the Brazilian state, see Santa Catarina

South Carolina is a state in the American South. It is known for its diverse geography from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Upstate to its subtropical beaches and marshlike sea islands along the coast.

Just south of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Upcountry of the state is the city of Greenville, an up and coming metropolitan city with numerous restaurants and stores located in a charming downtown. An hour southeast of Greenville is the capital city of Columbia which is also home to the main campus of the University of South Carolina. The original capital and now the largest city in the state is coastal Charleston, a historic port city about an hour and thirty minutes southeast of the capital. It is defined by pastel-colored houses, Old South plantations and Fort Sumter, where the Civil War’s opening shots were fired. To the north of Charleston is the Grand Strand, a roughly 60-mile stretch of beachfront known for golf courses and the vacation town of Myrtle Beach. At the far southern tip of the state is the Goldern Corner which is home to the sea islands of Hilton Head and Seabrook.


South Carolina regions - Color-coded map
  Golden Corner
southern coast
  Grand Strand
northern coast
  Greater Charleston
around Charleston and the central coast
  Greater Columbia
the state capital and midlands
  Old 96 District
  Olde English District
around Rock Hill and south of Charlotte
  Pee Dee Country
  Santee Cooper Country
central South Carolina between the capital and Charleston
  Thoroughbred Country
south of the capital bordering Georgia
  Upcountry South Carolina
the extreme western South Carolina bordering both Georgia and North Carolina


  • 1 Columbia — the state capital with a large zoo and riverfront trails.
  • 2 Aiken — located in thoroughbred country adjacent to Augusta
  • 3 Charleston — oldest and largest city in the state, home to historic architecture and coastal views with numerous shopping and dining options.
  • 4 Clemson — college town home to Clemson University.
  • 5 Florence — located in the Pee Dee region, this town is home to a charming downtown and minutes from the Grand Strand.
  • 6 Georgetown — historic port city with small shops and restaurants.
  • 7 Greenville — foothills town consisting of numerous hiking trails, restaurants and shops.
  • 8 Myrtle Beach — coastal resort town with golden-sand beaches and numerous hotel options.
  • 9 Spartanburg — college town featuring numerous colleges as well as restaurants and shops.

Other destinations




South Carolina, together with North Carolina forms a region historically known as Carolina. The two were governed as one colony until the early 18th century. Both were among the Thirteen Colonies that formed the United States. South Carolina has a long tradition of suspicion of national authority, from the slavery crises of the 19th century to the Civil Rights Movement in the 20th. It suffered heavy fighting during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. After the American Civil War, South Carolina lost most of its wealth, which was tied up in slaves and the plantation economy. This rough history has produced a uniquely strong sense of state identity and pride.

Though the famous "Southern accent" is definitely in evidence here, if you listen closely, you'll hear all its regional variations, from the deeper drawl of the Lowcountry to the more clipped speech of the Upstate.

South Carolina is generally characterized as having a humid subtropical climate. In the summer months, afternoon thunderstorms are common throughout the state with temperatures around 90°F (32°C) towards the coast and 80°F (27°C) along the Blue Ridge. In the winter months, the temperatures are much more drastic. Along the Blue Ridge, temperatures remain below 40°F (4°C). Towards the coast, temperatures average around 60°F (16°C). Snow is rare across much of the state. However, it is very common in the months of December–February along the Blue Ridge.

South Carolina is the 8th oldest state in the United States, being formed on May 23, 1788.

Tourist information




English is official and is the dominant language by far.

Spanish is used in some areas. Gullah, a fascinating English-based creole language, is spoken by a few hundred African-American residents of the Sea Islands as well as their descendants throughout the state.

Get in


By car


South Carolina is served by five interstate highways.

  • Interstate 85 traverses the northwest corner of the state, near Anderson, and connects Greenville and Spartanburg with Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Interstate 26 stretches southeast across the state, from Landrum to its terminus in Charleston. It intersects with Interstate 85 near Spartanburg, Interstate 20 near Columbia and Interstate 95 near Orangeburg. I-26 also connects with I-85 via I-385, which goes directly into downtown Greenville.
  • Interstate 77 begins in Fort Mill, at the North Carolina border from Charlotte, N.C. and continues south to its terminus at *Interstate 26, just south of Columbia.
  • Interstate 20 starts in North Augusta, at the Georgia boarder from Augusta, GA. It continues east to interchanges with Interstates 26 and 77 near Columbia to its terminus at Interstate 95 in Florence.
  • Interstate 95, the most major highway in the state, crosses the border near Dillon and continues south-west through Florence to Savannah.

By plane


South Carolina has multiple airports servicing the state.

  • Charleston International is the largest in the state, and features flights all around the east coast and Europe.
  • Myrtle Beach International, Columbia Metropolitan and Greenville-Spartanburg International are decent sized airports with a variety of destinations.
  • Smaller regional airports are located in Hilton Head and Florence. These airports primarily service regional hubs. The Atlanta and Charlotte airports are easily accessible from western South Carolina by I-85 or I-77.

By train


Amtrak has multiple routes that pass through South Carolina. The Silver Service and Palmetto trains call in Florence, Columbia, and Charleston in addition to smaller towns along the route from New York City to Florida. The Crescent train calls in Spartanburg, Greenville, and Clemson en route from New York City to New Orleans.

By bus


Greyhound serves several cities, and Megabus serves Columbia.

Get around


By car


The roads in South Carolina (like most places in the United States) are in good condition for travel. Interstate 95 in much of the southern part of the state is highly traveled and only a four-lane highway. One should keep a very close eye out for sudden traffic back ups, especially close to Charleston, Hilton Head and south of Charlotte in Fort Mill and Rock Hill. Generally, the other interstates do not suffer serious traffic except in the case of major wrecks.

The US-17, or Coastal Highway, also runs north-south through South Carolina. Despite the nickname, however, the coast is not visible from the US-17 in South Carolina. An interstate will usually get you where you want to go faster.

Gas prices are typically lower in South Carolina than most of the U.S. because of the much lower gas tax.

By bus


Information on transit can be found here.





Along the Eastern Atlantic Coast of South Carolina are several popular tourist destinations. The most well known area is called The Grand Strand and comprises 60 miles of mostly beachfront property. The Strand runs south from the North and South Carolina border through the towns of Little River, Atlantic Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City (in Horry County), down Hwy. 17 south through Georgetown County including Murrells Inlet, Litchfield, and Pawleys Island. Little River is known for its beautiful inlet, great for fishing and water sports. Myrtle Beach's claim to fame is not only its beaches, but its nickname as "Golf Capital of the World". Murrells Inlet offers some of the freshest seafood around. Pawleys Island offers historic plantation sites as well as great golf. Charleston offers quality restaurants and shops, historical attractions and is close to several beaches.

Greenville is a developing tourist spot with an increasing number of restaurants in its historic downtown area, several museums, two large performance venues (the Peace Center and the Bon Secours Wellness Arena), and proximity to the mountains of South and North Carolina.



Most of the BBQ in South Carolina is similar to Eastern Carolina-style with mostly mustard-based sauces on pulled pork. South Carolina is the only state that boasts 4 distinct styles of sauces: mustard, vinegar, tomato and ketchup.

On the Southern coastline, lowcountry and Charleston-style cuisine prevail, influenced by French, continental, and creole cooking with lots of fresh seafood. Shrimp and grits is a local specialty in the Charleston region with a seemingly limitless number of recipes.



Sweet tea is very popular and readily available, as is elsewhere in the South.

The drinking age for alcohol in South Carolina is 21. Almost all bars and off-premise vendors request government issued photo I.D. for younger looking patrons. In spring break destinations like Myrtle Beach police write scores of citations for underage drinking at clubs or on the beach.

Beer and wine are widely available in grocery and convenience stores around the state. Liquor must be sold in dedicated liquor stores. With the exception of coastal and metropolitan counties, off-premise sales of beer are banned on Sundays.

Stay safe


It is illegal in South Carolina to be 'grossly intoxicated' in public. The police can arrest you and charge you with public disorderly conduct if they believe this is the case, and there seems to be no legal definition of grossly intoxicated for a pedestrian. This is a misdemeanor offence, resulting in a court hearing. You can get your charge expunged within the state by entering a Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. This involves fines, community service, drug tests, attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and homework assignments and typically takes about 2 months to complete. However, the PTI program is not recognized by the Federal Government.

Most of the areas visitors would normally visit in South Carolina are relatively crime-free. However, some residential areas in large cities like northern Charleston and Columbia may be somewhat dangerous after dark for non-locals.

While not as ubiquitous as in Florida, alligators do live in some water bodies in the state.



South Carolina, like almost all states in the South, is a conservative state, although it's a bit more progressive than, say, Mississippi. The various tips found in the respect section of the South article apply here.

Go next

This region travel guide to South Carolina is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.