From exciting mountain adventures to scenic landscapes and relaxing days spent floating on a picturesque lake, South Carolina offers a getaway for every type of traveler. As you begin to map out your spring and summer travels, we’ve rounded up four places in The Palmetto State to lend you some inspiration!

Lake Murray Country

Lake Murray Country is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. From water sports to world-class fishing and an abundance of hiking trails, there are endless opportunities to get outside and enjoy the natural beauty of South Carolina.

Perhaps the most well-known attraction in Lake Murray Country is in the name itself. Often referred to as the “Jewel of South Carolina,” Lake Murray offers breathtaking sunsets, pristine water, and 650 miles of shoreline. One of the best ways to take in the beauty of the lake is via boat. Luckily, Lake Murray Country is home to plenty of outfitters — whether you seek the thrill of a jet ski or prefer a leisurely pontoon boat ride. Popular businesses include Pontoon Rentals and Tours, California Republic Standup Paddle Boarding, and AquaFun Boat Rentals and Tours.

As one of the top fishing destinations in the world, no trip to Lake Murray Country is complete without at least one fishing excursion. Home to over 12 species of fish, including largemouth and striped bass, both beginners and experienced anglers are invited to cast a line. Guided fishing tours are also available through companies like Catch22 Striper Guide Service. If you have a competitive spirit, Lake Murray Country hosts a handful of fishing tournaments, too!

Man golfing on a professional course outside.

If you prefer to spend the day on land, play a round or two of golf in Blythewood and explore Lake Murray’s 20 golf courses.

A fun-filled day on the lake will likely leave you with a hearty appetite. Just a stone’s throw from Columbia, Lake Murray Country offers easy access to award-winning restaurants. From casual, down-home Southern fare to elevated date night spots, you’re sure to find something satisfying. Explore fun dining spots around the region, like Juniper in Ridge Spring or Chophouse of Chapin, and make sure to save time for bowling at the Grand on Main or tacos at Cantina 76.

Chef handing a man a plate of food at Smoked in Columbia, SC.

The capital city of Columbia is in Lake Murray Country and was recently named “one of America’s best new food destinations” by Food and Wine Magazine.

Woman in a red dress walking her dog in an alley with painted walls.

Block out extra time on your walk to dinner so you can take a photo at one of Columbia’s murals!

If you’re still itching for outdoor fun, visit Congaree National Park, the largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the Southeastern U.S. With over 25 miles of hiking trails and 2.4 miles of boardwalk, you can explore the park via land or water. Book a guided canoe tour with Palmetto Outdoor and navigate the winding waters of Cedar Creek. You’ll get up close to some of the tallest trees in Eastern North America.

During the summer, Lake Murray Country is also home to unique wildlife. Head to Bomb Island to catch views of purple martins as they make the 12 acres of land their home for the season. More than one million birds are estimated to land here, making Lake Murray the largest purple martin sanctuary in North America!

Old 96 District

Made up of five South Carolina counties — Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, and McCormick — the Old 96 District offers small-town charm around every corner. From outdoor fun to summer festivals and historic landmarks, there’s so much to see and do!

Whether you’re looking to catch a fish, participate in watersports, or just float the day away, the Old 96 District offers plenty of lakeside fun. Stretching 30 miles, Lake Russell is known for its warm-water, cool-water, and cold-water sport fishing. As one of the largest lakes east of the Mississippi, Lake Thurmond is also said to be an angler’s paradise. If you want to get in the water, Lake Greenwood is the perfect place for watersports or spending the day on a boat.

If you’d rather stay on land, the Old 96 District is also home to six state parks. For a seemingly endless number of hiking and biking trails, visit Baker Creek State Park. If you’re a fan of fishing or camping, Calhoun Falls State Park, Hamilton Branch State Park, and Lake Greenwood State Park are all great options. Golfers can also enjoy a round or two at Hickory Knob State Resort Park, while history buffs can explore a Revolutionary War battlefield at Ninety Six National Historic Site.

The fishing pier on Strom Thurmond Lake at Hickory Knob State Resort Park.

Hickory Knob State Resort Park is a paradise for both golfers and outdoor enthusiasts!

In addition to the Ninety Six National Historic Site, the Old 96 District has five additional historic landmarks worth visiting. The Burt-Stark Mansion is the site of the last Council of War of cabinet members of the Confederate government. You can also tour the childhood home of Dr. Benjamin Mays, a mentor to Martin Luther King Jr.

Other landmarks include the Culbertson Back County Settlement, Dorn’s Grist Mill, Battle of Musgrove Mill Historic Site, Trinity Episcopal Church, Willington On The Way, the McGowan-Barksdale-Bundy House, and the James Dunklin House.

The front exterior of a historic mansion.

In addition to Revolutionary War sites, you’ll find beautiful historic homes throughout the streets of Old 96 District.

While the Old 96 District is bustling with activity year-round, the summer season is particularly busy, thanks to its lineup of festivals. Greenwood hosts the South Carolina Festival of Flowers in June, which offers an expansive display of live topiaries.

If you’re a gourmand, don’t miss the Ware Shoals Catfish Feastival or Trenton’s Ridge Peach Festival.

The South Carolina Festival of Stars hosts a spectacular fireworks display in June, while Greenwood’s South Carolina Festival of Discovery offers some of the region’s best barbecue.

Man smoking meat on a grill at an outdoor festival.

Get your fix of authentic Southern barbecue at the South Carolina Festival of Discovery.

To truly experience the magic of the Old 96 District, we recommend staying a few days and booking a room in a historic bed and breakfast. For those staying close to Abbeville, we recommend the Belmont Inn, Sharon Manor, The Lofts at Court Square, or Veranda on Main. Closer to Edgefield, you’ll find the Azalea Inn Bed and Breakfast and Isabella’s Bed and Breakfast. Meanwhile, Greenwood offers Inn On The Square, while Laurens is home to the Lady Amelia Bed and Breakfast Inn.

Thoroughbred Country

East of Augusta, GA, and west of Columbia is a unique four-county region of South Carolina. Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell make up Thoroughbred Country. From open greenspaces to hidden gems, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.

As the name suggests, there are ample opportunities to immerse yourself in the equine world when visiting Thoroughbred Country. In fact, during the spring and fall, you can catch a polo match almost any day of the week at the Aiken Polo Club, New Bridge Polo Club, or Wagener Polo Club.

Group of men playing polo on horses.

No trip to Thoroughbred Country is complete without catching a polo match!

Thoroughbred Country is also home to the south fork of the Edisto River, the longest free-flowing blackwater river in America. A scenic 1.7-mile canoe and kayak trail winds its way alongside Aiken State Park. In Bamberg County, you can paddle peaceful, remote stretches of the river from multiple boat launches.

SB Tip: If you’d like to stay on land, the North Augusta Greeneway offers 12 miles of paved walking and biking trails. No bike? No problem! Rent one from Pedego Electric Bikes.

People kayaking down the Edisto River.

Float down America’s longest free-flowing blackwater river when you visit the south fork of the Edisto River.

To catch a glimpse of the area’s unique wildlife, head to Allendale in July to see one of the most elegant birds in America: the Swallow-tailed Kite. Through twists of their tail, the birds soar with barely a wing beat, swooping and catching insects mid-flight. The Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary is another great spot for birdwatching, as the 3,400-acre woodlands provide shelter to over 200 species of birds in addition to butterflies, flora, and fauna.

For history buffs, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the rich past of Thoroughbred Country. Located in a 1931 mansion, the Aiken County Historical Museum explores the history of the county’s communities, the development of Aiken’s famed Winter Colony, and the impact of the Savannah River Site.

You can also visit The Living History Park to travel back in time and tour a blacksmith’s forge and backwoods cabin while special events provide hands-on educational experiences. Or, explore the region’s Civil War history at the Battle of Rivers Bridge State Historic Site.

Thoroughbred Country also offers a handful of charming historic lodging options. Lookaway Inn sits in the center of North Augusta and is a classic Beaux-Arts mansion from the 1800s. The Willcox is another excellent option, as it’s received recognition from Southern Living, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure.

Front exterior of Lookaway Inn

Lookaway Inn is a premier bed and breakfast option for many who visit Thoroughbred Country.

To truly immerse yourself in country living, book a stay at Wisteria Cottage. It’s the perfect place to unplug, as the Mennonite-operated bed and breakfast is close to God’s Acre Healing Springs, believed to have brought healing powers to the wounded during the Revolutionary War, and is still in use today. Magnolia Shadows is where horse boarding meets bed and breakfast, as many equestrians bring their steeds during their stay!


Also known as The Upstate, South Carolina’s Upcountry consists of six counties — Pickens, Cherokee, Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, and Spartanburg. From a breathtaking scenic byway to hundreds of waterfalls and a handful of must-see historical sites, we’re only beginning to scratch the surface of everything you can do and see in Upcountry!

Often referred to as “Keowee Path” or “Cherokee Path,” the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway is a 130-mile road that fur traders once used. Today, it is a breathtaking alternative to taking Interstate 85 through South Carolina. In addition to sweeping views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the road offers easy access to activities like whitewater rafting, ziplining, fishing, shopping, and more. The Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway also provides easy access to historical sites and state parks, including Lake Hartwell State Park, Stumphouse Park, Oconee State Park, Table Rock State Park, and more.

Aerial view of the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway

The Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway winds through the low hills of Piedmont and the highest peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

If you’re still seeking beautiful views of nature, South Carolina’s Upcountry is also home to over 100 waterfalls. Ranging from 40 to 700 feet in height, most of the area’s waterfalls can be accessed via moderate hikes, while others are tucked away in more rugged terrains. Popular destinations include Issaqueena Falls, Whitewater Falls, and Raven Cliff Falls. To experience the beauty of the area’s waterfalls in a one-of-a-kind way, book an excursion with Horseback Waterfall Tours!

For more water-related fun, Upcountry is also home to a handful of lakes. Lake Jocassee is a popular destination among locals and tourists, offering 7,500 acres of deep water and 75 miles of shoreline. Surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, this lake is the perfect spot for boating, skiing, and fishing.

Just downstream from Lake Jocassee is Lake Keowee, an 18,372-acre popular lake destination for watersports, camping, and picnicking. Fishing enthusiasts can also enjoy a relaxing day on Lake Hartwell, known to be inhabited by striped and hybrid bass, largemouth, crappie, bream, and catfish.

Fishermen on a pontoon boat at dusk.

Lake Jocassee is known for its clean, cool waters, thanks to the surrounding Appalachian mountains.

The Upcountry also played a pivotal role in American history, and today, there are plenty of opportunities to learn more about how the area relates to the Revolutionary War. Cowpens National Battlefield is where General Daniel Morgan and his army defeated the British force under Colonel “Bloody” Banastre Tarleton. Today, you can explore exhibits and monuments along the site’s paved trails.

Near the town of Blacksburg, you’ll find the Kings Mountain National Military Park. The battle here was the first significant patriot victory after the British invasion of Charleston in 1780. At 4,000 acres, it is one of the largest national military parks in the U.S. Be sure to check the park’s schedule before visiting, as Revolutionary War reenactment groups host events throughout the year.

Children reenacting scenes from the Revolutionary War.

Travel back in time and experience a Revolutionary War battle at Kings Mountain National Military Park.

Happy travels!

This article is sponsored by Capital City Lake Murray Country RTB, Old 96 District Tourism Commission, Thoroughbred Country South Carolina, and Upcountry South Carolina.

All photography provided.

Brianna Goebel
About the Author
Brianna Goebel

Brianna is StyleBlueprint’s Associate Editor and Sponsored Content Manager. She is an avid fan of iced coffee and spends her free time reading all things true crime.