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Sunrise at Table Rock State Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains

South Carolina

7 Family-Friendly Outdoor Activities in South Carolina

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  • States:
    South Carolina

Go into the the midst of the south and explore the outdoors of South Carolina.

From whitewater rafting to leisure walks in the park, there is an activity for every family member. Here is a list of seven outdoor activities for your family.

Rafting the Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River

There’s perhaps no greater outdoor adventure in South Carolina than a rafting trip down the Chattooga River in Oconee County. In the sloping mountain region of the state’s northwest corner, the river runs for 80 kilometers, descending an average 15 meters per kilometer, tumbling and churning, kicking up white water, as rivers typically do when they move fast over rock.

Rushing white water at Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River

Rushing white water at Chattooga National Wild & Scenic River
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Jocassee Gorges-Devils Fork State Park

South Carolina is home to what National Geographic calls one of the top 50 last great places to see in the world, the Jocassee Gorges. South Carolina has a unique “in” to this great place: Devils Fork State Park. The park provides the only public access to Lake Jocassee, where visitors can do everything from search for many hidden waterfalls to scuba dive. At the park, visitors can rent boats, stand-up paddleboards and more to explore the lake. In addition to the lake and all it has to offer, the park has hiking trails. When your family tires from a day exploring the gorges, check in to a lakefront campsite or villa. 

Kayakers at Devils Rock State Park

Kayakers at Devils Rock State Park
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Beachcombing Adventures

Beachcombing – the search and discovery of curiosities in the tidal zone – is best experienced in the uncrowded, sandy ribbons around barrier and sea islands, or on hidden stretches along the Grand Strand, where the sea breeze hints of salt spray more than suntan lotion. Upon these shores, you’re more likely to find the lettered olives, moon snails, whelks, sharks teeth, clam and oyster shells you’ve been seeking, or hints of loggerhead sea turtle activity and other wonders. Places like Pawleys Island, about 42 kilometers south of Myrtle Beach, are ideal for its remote location and limited number of visitors. Early morning shelling usually reaps the best results.

The opportunities are vast and rewarding. Here’s a tip: The best time for beachcombing is low tide, right after a storm.

Cradling a starfish after beachcombing

Cradling a starfish after beachcombing
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Canoe and Kayak the Edisto River

The Edisto is one of the longest, free-flowing blackwater rivers in North America, gently meandering 402 kilometers from its source in the South Carolina Midlands, through the wildlife-rich coastal plain and Lowcountry, and to its output in the Atlantic. Paddling and tubing are perhaps the most popular, with easy trips hosted by outfitters or excursions self-guided, lasting a full day, beginning and ending at state parks or other popular spots.

Overnight trips are increasingly becoming popular, however, after four treehouses were built along the river for paddlers who venture on a 37-kilometer designated stretch. Each treehouse is accessible only by canoe or kayak, constructed of locally harvested natural materials and is lighted only by tiki torches and oil candles at night.

The experience along the Edisto is serene, peaceful, detached from the beaten path, and all-natural.

Edisto River at Botany Bay

Edisto River at Botany Bay
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Hiking to the Top of Table Rock State Park

If your family is up for an adventure, check out Table Rock State Park. There are plenty of trails and other activities for the whole family but the crown jewel of this park is the hike to the top of Table Rock, which makes for an amazing outdoor adventure. Check the park website for information about programs and scheduled hikes, including a park ranger-guided sunrise hike. Stay in one of the historic Civilian Conservation Corps cabins and wake up early for a trek up the mountain to watch the sun rise at 914 meters. That’s a way to start the day off right.

Hiking through Table Rock State Park

Hiking through Table Rock State Park
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Zip-Lining in South Carolina

Man’s perpetual desire to fly is somewhat met in the growing trend of zip-lining, a fun activity that has you zipping down an inclined, suspended cable while safely latched in a harness.

Zip lines are popping up in some of South Carolina’s most popular destinations. In Rock Hill, Canaan Zipline Canopy Tour has a network of cables and sky bridges high above a bottomland forest at the Catawba River, and offers full- or half-canopy tours. It evens offers zip-lining at night! 

Natural reflections on the Catawba River

Natural reflections on the Catawba River
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Dolphin Watching at Hilton Head

Outfitters and tour companies on Hilton Head Island take full advantage of the large population of bottlenose dolphins around them and offer cruises for an up-close look. These excursions, often by passenger boat, but sometimes by kayak or catamaran, take visitors to the creeks, inlets and open water where dolphins usually can be found. Because these dolphins live in pods of 10 to 30 members, some of the outfitters guarantee a dolphin sighting or will give you your money back.

Dolphins playing in the waters off Hilton Head Island

Dolphins playing in the waters off Hilton Head Island
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St. Philip’s bell tower in the French Quarter at dusk

Destination

Charleston

The Harbour Town Lighthouse at dusk

Destination

Hilton Head Island

The neon-lit SkyWheel, a beacon on Ocean Boulevard

Destination

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