Soak up the sun with miles upon miles of pristine white sandy beaches, fantastic seafood restaurants, dynamic shopping options, and several of the country’s most romantic seaside escapes. Bordered by sister state, North Carolina, this southern beauty is a true snowbird’s paradise, offering not just chances to swim, sail, and go deep sea fishing, but also, more than spectacular coastal views surrounded by an array of scenic lakes, dramatic hills, and roaring mountain streams.
Golfers will adore playing in and within mountains by the sea at the over 380 award-winning golf courses offering challenging play and tons of pleasure. It’s no surprise that S to the C is the “The Golf Capitol of the South”—as well as just an all around fantastic spot to revel in natural beauty. Take a break after tee-balling with a tour of Cheraw State Park or Hickory Knob State Resort Park. Then chow down on diverse culinary treats such as Oyster roasts and Frogmore stew after all that adventurous exploration. The wonders of the Antebellum South await newcomers in the Palmetto State. Here are the best destinations in South Carolina for snowbirds.
South Carolina Destinations for Snowbirds
1. Charleston, South Carolina
With a rich history dating back to 1670, it’s one of the most charming and romantic cities in the United States—the perfect spot for snowbirds to find peace, love and relaxation right in the middle of Southern Carolina "where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean.” You’ll be bombarded with tons to do, see, and take pleasure in, all while staying in what may very well be the best preserved example of the deep Old South. Its subtropical climate (though humid at times) makes it an ideal winter getaway for retirees who want to learn more about Revolutionary War history by exploring the many cobble stone streets, secret gardens, age-old plantation farms, and pastel pre-Civil-War mansions dotting the area. Even take a horse drawn carriage ride through the bustling French Quarter, or beneath a steeple-rich skyscape within the Battery area promenade.
There are also large amounts of craft eateries, creative cocktail venues, and new hotels in the so-called “Upper King” area—not to mention a “walking mall” where locals and visitors can easily buy unique antique items, listen to live music, and sip wine from sidewalk tables, all while strolling along traffic-less streets with their pet poodles or miniature pigs! Plus, with camellia blossoms, oyster roasts, and a whole week dedicated to restaurants each January, as well as daily house or garden tours and an annual international arts and performance festival, there is almost too much to do in this Southern city.
Charleston’s closest airport: Charleston International Airport
2. Hilton Head, South Carolina
Experience true romance with your sweetheart at this snowbird favorite, an unforgettable seaside heaven where walking hand in hand on flat sandy beaches at sunset, or building sandcastles with the grandkids are just routine daily activities to take pleasure in. Make some cherished memories and have the most wonderful of times at the state’s southernmost tip along the Atlantic Ocean—it’s a gorgeous island offering a nice blend of recreational, environmental, and cultural amenities and accommodations, as well as almost two hundred fifty restaurants, over twenty golf courses, and more than a couple hundred shops.
Twelve miles of sandy white beautiful beaches feature numerous spots to soak up the sun and relax at. What’s more is that the five-meter-wide seashores make it ideal for those hoping to do some walking, splashing in the surf, or even bird-watching. With Egrets, Sandpipers, Wood Storks, Sea Gulls, and Pelicans galore, Hilton Head is a bird lover’s haven with nearly two hundred species of birds flocking around. Golfers will also enjoy the areas legendary golf courses, where guest can play on the most famous fairways such as Harbour Town, Colleton River, Haig Point, and Long Cove. Make sure to visit the infamous red and white-striped lighthouse within Harbour Town's marina, as well as to check out the Christmas-light-and-décor-filled streets during the holiday season. That, along with all that crisp winter weather (with typical daytime temperatures in the sixties), makes this a perfect space to warm up both heart and soul.
Hilton Head’s closest airport: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
3. Georgetown, South Carolina
Looking for a more scenic and laid back destination? Head down to this historic plantation town that’s long been known for its antebellum grace, its warm hospitality, and plenty of good old Southern charm. Founded in 1729, the oak-lined avenues of this “little Charleston” is the third oldest U.S. state and became an official port of entry in 1732. It boasts a public beach, a riverfront that’s always alive with activity, a nice hub of small town commerce, as well as great spots for freshwater fishing and in-shore saltwater fishing, especially at the Waccamaw, Black, Pee Dee, and Sampit Ribers. The Tidelands of Georgetown offer additional marshes, beaches, and ports of call.
Don’t forget to take a tour of some long-abandoned rice fields, check out the Kaminski House Museum, the stately former home of a Confederate sea captain, and tee up at courses such as Wedgefield Plantation Golf Club and Heritage Club. You and your honey can even de-stress by charter sailing or shell collecting. Create the ultimate relaxing and tranquil lifestyle at this true warm haven for the winter weary. Plus, it’s located super close to two other dynamic S.C. destinations, Myrtle Beach and Charleston.
Georgetown’s closest airport: Myrtle Beach International Airport
4. Beaufort, South Carolina
There’s no secret that southern hospitality is at its finest at this small S.C. town, which is lined with moss-draped oaks, dotted with historic mansions, and offers a scenic waterfront, plenty of quaint shops, and a myriad of rivers and creeks to explore. There’s also The Intracoastal Waterway, offering water lovers of all sorts a variety of activities to engage in. Large grassy green areas further cater to golf aficionados of every skill level, who’ll no doubt adore the supreme array of public and private courses throughout the area—which all offer a wide variety of golf packages available throughout the entire year.
Plus, with sunrises and sunsets unlike any other you and your sweetie will ever see, this tiny little winter haven on Port Royal Island provides casual seaside charm, a phenomenal local cultural scene (with large numbers of art galleries for its diminutive size), as well as a bounty of picturesque backdrops that have lured filmmakers and authors such as Pat Conroy to use it as artistic inspiration. Films such as The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides, and The Great Santini all shot in the southern town! Plus, with a lovely five-mile expanse of sand at Hunting Island State Park, this warm and wildlife-rich semi-tropical barrier island is a top South Carolinian draw, especially for camping, fishing, and family seashell picking along the shores.
Beaufort’s closest airport: Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport
5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
It just so happens to be one of the top domestic tourist destinations in the continental United States, but with sixty miles of sandy white beaches along the beautiful, blue Atlantic Ocean (all part of the Grand Strand), it’s hard not to see why it’s a snowbird fave as well. There are more than two hundred sunny days each year, making this winter paradise a haven for beach goers looking to do endless hours of swimming, surfing, sailing, or other sun and sand fun. You’ll adore the feel of warm ocean breezes in your hair and the never-ending smell of salty sea air, especially during the extraordinary evening strolls you’ll be taking along the city streets, which offer over a blend of over 1,650 full-service restaurants to choose from. With every cuisine - from southern soul food to Japanese, and Greek to Tex Mex - there’s a chance to dizzy up that palate of yours with tons of tasty treats!
Golfers will also adore playing at some of the country’s most beautiful and challenging courses, while arts aficionados should no doubt enjoy taking in a couple shows at one of the eleven live-entertainment theaters hosting big-name performers, country music concerts, and Broadway revues. You can even get in touch with your inner wild over at Ray Bay, which is home to stingrays and ray sharks. Or how about getting one with nature at The Living Gallery, which showcases Nature's art with giant Pacific octopus, sea dragon, and unusual marine life from all around the world. Needless to say, the glorious Myrtle beach area is perfect for anyone and everyone. With clean, wide, and super inviting beaches, it really is an oasis for snowbirds seeking tranquility, relaxation, and a little bit of romance.
Myrtle Beach’s closest airport: Myrtle Beach International Airport
This article was written by Pamela Chan.