Downtown Charleston is a walkable city that offers easy access to fantastic restaurants, harbor views, and famous landmarks. It’s tempting to stay exclusively in beautiful Downtown Charleston during your trip to South Carolina, so trust me on this—you’ll miss the full experience without taking a handful of the best day trips from Charleston, SC.
Venture just a few miles outside of Downtown Charleston, and you will discover pristine beaches, lush greenery, fascinating museums, historical exhibits, and beautiful southern homes. During our trip to Charleston, my favorite memories were our day trips from Downtown Charleston!
Don’t miss the chance to explore the beautiful Lowcountry during your time in Charleston. Here are the five best day trips from Charleston, SC!
1. Patriot’s Point
Location: 40 Patriots Point Rd. Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Distance: 5.3 miles from Downtown Charleston
Cost: $24 per person
Patriot’s Point is a naval and maritime museum located on the Charleston Harbor. Your ticket gives you access aboard three historic ships: USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier, USS Laffey Destroyer, and USS Clamagore Submarine.
Visiting Patriot’s Point is one of the most interesting day trips from Charleston, SC, for anyone interested in U.S. history. This experience is unique because the exhibits are built into the ships themselves, making it easy to become engrossed in the historical and educational experience.
You can spend an entire day (or at least several hours) exploring the ships. My husband and I enjoyed learning what the soldiers’ lifestyle was like on the aircraft carrier and more information about each ship’s most famous battles. My favorite thing we did while we were at Patriot’s Point was climbing on the flight deck on the USS Yorktown! The view of the city is remarkable.
We enjoyed visiting Patriot’s Point during the day, but if you want to get extra spooky, book the exclusive access haunted tour of the USS Yorktown. Who knows, perhaps you will run into a few ghostly American heroes!
Tip: While on-board the ships, you will be doing a lot of walking and climbing up and down narrow staircases. I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes.
2. Boone Hall Plantation
Location: 1235 Long Point Rd. Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Distance: 11 miles from Downtown Charleston
Cost: $26 per person
Boone Hall Plantation is one of the best day trips from Charleston that to experience both beautiful scenery and an educational experience.
Boone Hall was founded in 1681 by General John Boone. The plantation was instrumental in the development of South Carolina and the United States. The bricks produced at Boone Hall Plantation built Fort Sumter. The current plantation home was built in the 1930s and is most famously known for its appearance in The Notebook as Allie’s Summer Home!
The beautiful, mossy oak trees that line the plantation’s entrance are an excellent spot for a breathtaking photo! John Boone’s son planted the trees nearly three hundred years ago.
There are several plantations you can choose to tour when planning day trips from Charleston. I decided to visit Boone Hall because of the plantation’s commitment to presenting the uncomfortable history of slavery in an accurate and educational way that honors and respects Black Americans.
During your visit, walk through the nine historic slave cabins turned into the “Black History in America” exhibit. Also, don’t miss the chance to attend the live presentation of “Exploring the Gullah Culture” to learn about the culture adapted by African slaves unique to the Lowcountry.
Overall, these exhibits and experiences were my favorite part of visiting Boone Hall. I learned tons about the Gullah culture and the history of slavery during my visit, which was important to me.
Other famous South Carolina plantations that make for excellent day trips from Charleston include Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation, and Drayton Hall.
Tip: Touring the plantation home only takes a few minutes. Plan to spend most of your time at Boone Hall walking through the gardens and exploring the Black History in America Exhibit.
3. Charleston Tea Garden
Location: 6617 Maybank Hwy. Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487
Distance: 22 miles from Downtown Charleston
The Charleston Tea Garden made my list of the best day trips from Charleston, SC, after we unintentionally stumbled upon it on our way to Savannah. And the best part? There is no parking or admission charge to visit the Charleston Team Garden!
The Charleston Tea Garden is the only location that grows and produces tea in North America and is owned by the Bigelow family.
Once you arrive, I recommend entering the gift shop for the tea factory tour. During the tour, you can view all the equipment used to produce tea while learning about the process with accompanying videos.
I thought it was interesting to learn that black, green, and oolong tea are all produced from the same leaves. The difference in taste comes from how long the leaves are exposed to oxygen! Who would have thought that we would have learned so much about tea during one of our day trips from Charleston?
The tour will lead you back into the gift shop (the cutest farmhouse!), where you can sample and purchase tea. We bought a few boxes of the Plantation Peach Tea (it’s so good) and were relieved to find that we could order it on Amazon after we ran out at home.
Before you leave, don’t miss the chance to walk around the lovely tea garden and see if you can spot the resident alligator in the property’s lake.
Tip: Charleston Tea Garden only takes a few hours to explore. I recommend pairing this day trip with the iconic Angel Oak Tree. You will pass Angel Oak Tree on the way to Charleston Tea Garden, so stop at this famous landmark either on your way there or back!
4. Kiawah Island
Location: 8 Beachwalker Drive Kiawah Island, SC 29455
Distance: 24 miles from Downtown Charleston
Cost: $5 (for parking)
There are dozens of beaches that you can visit in Charleston; however, Kiawah Island is the most gorgeous of them all! Kiawah Island exceeded my expectations—the island is clean, lush, and offers visitors a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle. It’s one of the best day trips from Charleston and makes for a relaxing getaway.
Kiawah Island is full of untouched natural beauty and offers an excellent habitat for wildlife like bobcats, sea turtles, and butterflies to wander. Since most of Kiawah Island is privately owned, the only public beach access is at Beachwalker Park on the island’s west side.
During your time on Kiawah Island, rent a standup paddleboard, kayak, or boogie board to enjoy time on the beach! Or, play golf on one of the legendary golf courses at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
Enjoy an upscale meal at one of the resorts or hotels on Kiawah Island, or head to Freshfields Village and Bohicket Market for more affordable options.
Tip: Kiawah Island is a relaxing and peaceful getaway from the city. For a beach with more activity and restaurant options, I would recommend visiting Sullivan’s Island or Folly Beach.
5. Savannah, Georgia
Location: Savannah, Georgia
Distance: 108 miles from Downtown Charleston
If you are looking for an opportunity to visit a new state during one of your day trips from Charleston, SC, look no further than Savannah, GA!
Savannah is about a two-hour drive from Charleston, making it the perfect day trip or overnight trip from the city. Historic Savannah is a quaint town that oozes charm, southern hospitality, and delicious food!
[RELATED: The Best Places to Eat in Savannah, GA]
My husband and I spent three days in Savannah during our trip to the Southeastern United States, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the city. One of our favorite things that we did in Savannah was a ghost tour. During our trip, we learned so much of Savannah’s quirky, local history that made me fall in love with the city even more!
Before you visit spooky Savannah, check out my blog post to learn the interesting history of six haunted places in Savannah that you can’t miss during your visit!
Savannah is not only a fantastic city for day trips from Charleston, but it makes for an awesome weekend trip, too!
Experience the Best Day Trips from Charleston, SC
Charleston is a diverse city that has a lot of offer. Don’t miss the chance to experience these unforgettable day trips from Charleston that will make your time in the city memorable.
Which of these day trips from Charleston sounds the most interesting to you? Let me know in the comments!
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