South Carolina combines the historic with a humid, subtropical climate. Accordingly, a Thanksgiving getaway in this Southern state is rife with history and sultry days that are perfect for fun runs on the beach or short hikes through the mountains. Regardless of how you spend the holiday, these are the best Thanksgiving getaways in the state. Book a stay at a South Carolina vacation rental to easily see the state’s top attractions.
Columbia, the capital city that lies smack dab in the middle of South Carolina, has all sorts of holiday fun during Thanksgiving such as the Craftsmen’s Christmas Classic Art and Craft Festival where you can enjoy local artistry and pick up a few Christmas Gifts. Another way to get in the Thanksgiving Spirit is to go to the Festival of the Trees. The decorated trees are up for bid with the proceeds going to the Palmetto Health Foundation. Instead of spending the day shopping after Thanksgiving, opt to see the lights instead; Columbia has Holiday Lights on the River and Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo. The former has 300 displays and laser light shows, wetland wonderland walking trails, and live music. The latter boasts almost 1 million lights, has Jingle Bell Bonfire, and a Santa visit.
Located on the Coast, Charleston offers opportunities for fun and service. Teach your kids about giving with Trident United Way’s Day of Caring, a way to serve the community and help with local projects. Continue serving — and work off those future Thanksgiving calories — by joining the Turkey Day Run and Gobble Wobble 5K. Money raised goes to local charities, and you get to join in the post-race festivities. Take a 3-mile drive down James Island and enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights. The festival, which begins well before Thanksgiving, includes gingerbread houses, a Victorian carousel, and Santa’s Sweet Shoppe.
While watching a Revolutionary War reenactment might not seem like a Thanksgiving-y activity, the history surrounding the birth of this nation is essential to that first Thanksgiving. Camden hosts Revolutionary War Field Days every November, so watch locals reenact battles or get your hands dirty with some demonstrations. Camden also hosts Congaree Land Trust’s Fall Celebration, a sort of pre-Thanksgiving Day celebration where you can enjoy some genuine Southern barbecue, live music, and outdoor games. While in Horse Country, do as the locals do and go to the Marion DuPont Scott Colonial Cup International Steeplechase races, one of the biggest events in steeplechase racing.
4. Hilton Head Island
This little island community hosts an oyster festival every November because Thanksgiving isn’t always about the turkey. Feast on fresh seafood — although there is chicken, hot dogs, and hamburgers for picky eaters — at the Hilton Head Oyster Festival, and then enjoy live music while the kids entertain themselves with activities and carnival games. There’s also Meatball Madness, an Italian festival with equally Italian live music. Gear up for Christmas with the local tree lighting festival with train rides for the kids (and kids at heart), ice skating, and a visit from the season’s favorite couple in red.
5. Myrtle Beach
Thanksgiving isn’t just about eating; it’s also about staying connected to your roots, which is why enjoying the bluegrass festival is the perfect way to keep traditions alive and enjoy down-home music. If you’re into running, then don’t miss the Surfside Beach Turkey Trot where you can support local charities and have a great view. Myrtle Beach doesn’t send visitors off without a nod to Father Christmas; there’s a Dickens Festival, Intracoastal Christmas Regatta, and Christmas Wonderland. Enjoy a live performance from the writer of “A Christmas Carol” and then watch the Christmas boat parade.
Greenville doesn’t believe in ushering in Christmas until it ushers out the fall, which is why the Fall Festival and Holiday Market is the perfect combination of both. Take the kids on the hay and pony rides, then let them get their faces painted. Meanwhile, browse goods from local artisans and vendors, and pick up a gift or two for Christmas. Hang out at Greenville’s Village Green for more shopping and ice skating.
Florence offers the favorite Thanksgiving standbys like turkey trots and downtown shopping, but it also offers unique entertainment like the Pee Dee Artisan Market. Browse homemade, high-quality goods from local artists, enjoy the local color, and pick up a few gifts. However, it’s the South Carolina Pecan Festival that draws in the crowds. The fun starts out with Run Like a Nut races offering everything from a fun walk to a half-marathon. Let the kids spend their energy at the kids’ fun zone and amusement rides, and browse the crafts and food vendors.
Get back to nature at Orangeburg, also known as the Garden City. The Edisto Memorial Garden is 175 acres of nature and historical sites that hosts the Children’s Garden Christmas and Kids’ Walk throughout November and December. Enjoy the interactive lights designed for children, the lighted cherry trees, and the animated displays. Because Thanksgiving is about the past as well as giving thanks, stop at the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium. You can view artifacts dating back to South Carolina’s slave-owning past and appreciate progress and equality.
Remember the pilgrims and the Native Americans who welcomed them at Clemson’s Native American Celebration at Hagood Mill. Learn about the different tribes and their traditions as well as their customs, music, dance, and food. Stop at the Arts Center of Clemson’s Holiday Art Show and Sale to appreciate the artwork and find a great piece to go over your mantel at home. Clemons is also the home of the Clemson University, one of the top-ranked college football teams, so this might be the place to go if you like to watch Thanksgiving Day football.
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