When my first child was born, my mom said to me, “You only get 18 summers with him. Make the most of each one.”
Eighteen summers to fill up with adventures with your kids. Luckily, here in South Carolina, you can fill up a whole lifetime with summer adventures. Try to scratch each of these quintessentially South Carolina adventures off your list with your kids before you run out of your 18 summers.
1. Swim in the ocean
South Carolina is famous for its beaches, from Myrtle Beach to Hilton Head. And there’s good reason for it—South Carolina has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. And while I’d never turn down the chance to spend the day in a chair on the sand, any family vacationing in South Carolina would be missing out if they didn’t actually get in the water. Because the only thing better than the long expanses of soft white sand at a South Carolina beach is the warm, soft water of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves are never too big, the water never too cold or hot. You could float in the buoyant, warm salt water for an hour before you even knew five minutes went by. And while in some places the best beaches are private and impossible to access, that isn’t the case in South Carolina. Our best beaches are public and open to everyone. Hunting Island State Park, Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island, and Isle of Palms County Park in Charleston are just a few of our favorites, along with Huntington Beach and Myrtle Beach State Parks along the Grand Strand. So make sure you dive under the waves or splash in the tidal pools this summer.
2. Go to minor league baseball game
South Carolina is a baseball-crazy state with no major league baseball team to call its own. No worries—South Carolina more than makes up for that with its four minor league teams. And there are no baseball games more fun than minor league games. An evening at a game with the Columbia Fireflies, the Greenville Drive, Myrtle Beach Pelicans, and the Charleston Riverdogs is a South Carolina must.
3. Go tubing
The ocean isn’t the only iconic place to swim in South Carolina. Our rivers are just as iconic as our beaches, from the wild Chattooga River in the Upstate to the mysterious blackwaters of the Edisto River in the Lowcountry. One of the most fun ways to spend a day on the river with kids is to go tubing. Columbia, the state’s capital, is a great place to float down a cool river on a hot day.
4. Go fishing
In South Carolina, fishing doesn’t just mean dropping a line over a dock, although that is a perfectly fantastic way to go fishing. But there are so many other options, too, from crabbing to seining to fly fishing. Want to learn more? Here's a great way to get started.
5. See the synchronous fireflies
There are only a handful of places in the entire world with synchronous fireflies, and South Carolina is one of them. Specifically, Congaree National Park just outside Columbia. What are synchronous fireflies? They are lightning bugs that all flash together, at the same exact time, putting on a show like no other in nature. It happens for only a few short weeks in late May or June. Be sure to put it on your calendar!
6. Take a dolphin cruise
Those beautiful, warm ocean waters at South Carolina’s beaches are home to dolphins. These playful, intelligent sea mammals swim up and down the South Carolina coast, and even right into Charleston Harbor. They are as much a part of a South Carolina as palmetto trees and sweet tea. Going on a dolphin cruise is a memorable and fun way to see these creatures up close.
7. Discover sea turtles
People aren’t the only creatures who flock to South Carolina’s powder-soft beaches. Every summer, endangered loggerhead sea turtles swim to the edge of the sea and clamber up on land to lay their eggs. Baby loggerheads will crawl out of their sandy nest and back into the ocean, to return to the place where they were born someday to lay their own eggs. It’s an incredible natural story that plays out, just beyond the hotels and restaurants, in the dead of night. You and your children can be a part in the survival of these magnificent animals. Go on a sea turtle patrol early in morning, celebrate the return of a rehabilitated sea turtle to her home or visit the new Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery at the South Carolina Aquarium.
8. Scream your head off on a roller coaster
Not just any roller coasters. Some of the biggest and best roller coasters in the world are right here in South Carolina at Carowinds, in Fort Mill, SC. So if you’re going to go to an amusement park, make it one of the best, right here in South Carolina.
9. Mini-golf like a champion
You probably already know that South Carolina is home to hundreds of magnificent golf courses. It’s also home to some of the very best mini-golf courses in the world, too, right in Myrtle Beach. In fact, Hawaiian Rumble in North Myrtle Beach is home to the world mini-golf world championship tournament every year. So mini-golf like a champion this summer.
10. Hunt for shells
The most beautiful summer memories you make will be with your family, and the most memorable souvenirs you bring home will be those you discover for yourself. Combine the two on a shelling adventure, and you’ll find treasures like no others. Learn how here.
We might only have 18 summers with your children, but in South Carolina, those 18 summers can be filled with treasure and adventure.