South Carolina’s state parks offer something for everyone. There are parks where you can bike, parks you can hike, parks where you can fish… there are even some parks where you can dress up in period garb and pretend to be a yeoman farmer for the day. No matter what kind of thing floats your boat, there’s a state park to fit. If you’re not sure which park to hit up first, check out our guide to the 10 best state parks in South Carolina.
10. Kings Mountain State Park Living History Farm, York County
If you’ve ever wanted to see how yeoman farmers lived during the 1800s, set your sat nav for Kings Mountain State Park Living History Farm in York County. Set over 6,800-acres, this living history farm is made up of numerous historical replicas, including a blacksmith shop and a farmhouse, that offer visitors a fascinating glimpse into the past. Self-guided tours are available all year round, while ranger-led programs are offered on a regular basis throughout the year. The site also holds periodic living history days that are well worth checking out.
9. Table Rock State Park, Pickens County
If wild, rugged terrain, tumbling waterfalls, and dramatic peaks make your heart flutter, don’t miss Table Rock State Park, a 3,000-acre area of protected wilderness that offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Its primary attraction is Table Mountain, but it’s also home to Pinnacle Mountain (the tallest peak in the state) and two lakes, one of which comes with a lovely, old-fashioned swimming hole that’s even got its own diving board. With hundreds of miles of hiking trails to explore, it’s the ideal destination for nature lovers.
8. Sadlers Creek State Park, Anderson County
Named as one of the best national parks in South Carolina by Vacationidea.com, Sadlers Creek State Park is set in an idyllic position on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Hartwell. Outdoor lovers will be spoilt for choice for activities, with six miles of trails to explore by bike or foot along with a 100-foot fishing pier and two boat launches. With a lakeside pavilion, two picnic shelters, and 65 campsites, it’s a great place to enjoy a few days (and nights) in the wilderness.
7. Cheraw State Park, Chesterfield County
As southcarolinaparks.com says, Cheraw State Park takes traditional recreational park activities to a new level of fun. Although it was one of the very first state parks created in South Carolina, it’s kept up with times effortlessly, boasting a smorgasbord of activities and attractions to enjoy. Golfers will love the 18-hole, championship Cheraw State Park Golf Course, while keen anglers will find plenty of spots to catch their lunch on the shores of the 300-acre lake. With a boardwalk, extensive biking and hiking trails, kayak and canoe rentals, and plenty of picnic spots scattered around, it’s an idyllic place to while away a day. If you want to overnight it, take your pick between one of the park’s nine cabins and two campsites.
6. Barnwell State Park, Barnwell County
Barnwell State Park in Barnwell County is one of 16 state parks created by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The biggest draw is the fishing opportunities presented by the three small lakes, all of which allow non-motorized boats. If you don’t have your own boat or forgot your rod, you can rent them directly through the park. Other activities to enjoy include birding, hiking, and geocaching. There’s also a volleyball area if you’re in the mood for a game – balls are available for check-out at the park office.
5. Andrew Jackson State Park, Lancaster County
Sometimes, the best things in life really do come in small packages. Recommended by Only In Your State as one of the best state parks in South Carolina, Andrew Jackson State Park might be small in comparison to many of the state’s other top parks, but it’s still beautiful enough to demand a visit. Along with extensive grounds that are perfect for hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, and picnicking, it’s also home to an intriguing museum that offers a fascinating glimpse into life during colonial times, along with an amphitheater and a mock classroom
4. Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, Charleston County
The Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site was created to preserve the original site of the first permanent English settlement in the state. Opened in 1970 to commemorate South Carolina’s tricentennial, the 665-acre park offers a plethora of activities and attractions to enjoy, including a natural habitat zoo that’s home to bears, bison, and dozens of other animals, an exhibit hall, a replica 17th-century ship, a Visitor’s Center, six fireable replica cannons, archeological excavations, tons of picnic tables, six miles of nature trails, a history trail, and much, much more besides… everything, in fact, you’ll need for a fun-packed day in nature.
3. Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, Laurens County
Named as one of South Carolina’s best state parks for families by southcarolinaparks.com, Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site promises a fun, educational experience that everyone from kids to seniors can enjoy. The park stands on the site of the Battle of Musgrove Mill, a critical battle during the Revolutionary War that occurred on August 19, 1780. Today, visitors can learn more about the site’s historical significance through an interactive diorama and interpretive exhibits. There’s also a picturesque pond, miles of hiking trails, and a waterfall to check out. Be sure to stop by the visitors center before you leave – not only is it a great place to pick up some gifts or grab a drink, but the views from the wraparound porch are breathtaking.
2. Lake Conestee Nature Park, Greenville County
State parks don’t get much more beautiful than Lake Conestee Nature Park. The park was created in the 1890s by the damming of the Reedy River. Over a hundred years later, it was transformed into a wetlands by a local conservation organization. A vast, varied terrain that occupies over 400 acres of forest and wetlands, it’s home to a smorgasbord of different animals and plants, including over 200 species of birds. Twelve miles of nature trails, six miles of paved trails, and one mile of boardwalk will let you explore the park to your heart’s content.
1. Croft State Park, Spartanburg County
If you’re a keen equestrian, you won’t want to miss Croft State Park. With over 20 miles of equestrian trails along with an equestrian center with a large arena for horse shows and a stable with stalls for rent, it’s a horse lovers paradise. Not that riding is the only thing to enjoy here – with a large lake for fishing and swimming, 2.5 miles of hiking trails, and over 20 miles of bike trails, it offers a little something for everyone.