You can find sweet spots all over the state to chill for an afternoon under the shade of a big leafy tree or toss around a football with friends.
And then there are those really special green spaces with spectacular views or features. It may be the beach, a river, waterfalls or an out-of-the-ordinary fountain. These city parks are worth a side trip or an extra day on your itinerary.
Here are five must-visit parks in the Upstate, Midlands and Lowcountry:
Falls Park. The centerpiece of downtown Greenville’s Historic West End, this 26-acre city park lies along the scenic Reedy River and features two natural waterfalls that drop 28 feet to a rocky riverbed. A one-of-a-kind cantilevered footbridge traversing the waterway is as much of an attraction as the falls themselves. Other park highlights include nature trails, an interactive fountain and six distinctive “garden rooms.”
Finlay Park. An urban oasis just blocks from the state Capitol, the signature feature here is a spiraling rock fountain and waterfall that sends water cascading down mountain-like streams through landscaped terraces into a picturesque 1.8-acre lake. A perch at the top of fountain offers a fantastic view of the entire park and Columbia’s city skyline.
Coligny Beach Park. Hilton Head Island’s No. 1 oceanside attraction, this park has it all — an interactive fountain with 26 synchronized jets, cute little changing cabanas, a gazebo with rockers and Adirondack chairs, old-fashioned porch swings, a beach volleyball court and the Atlantic Ocean.
Beaufort Waterfront Park. Enjoy a panoramic view of the Beaufort River and the surrounding marshland and islands from the park’s paved pathway. Sit a spell on one of the porch swings overlooking the river or lay down a blanket under the shade of a magnificent live oak and savor the cool breezes coming off the water.
Charleston Waterfront Park. With its family-sized swings, shaded park benches and wide expanse of cushy lawn, it’s no wonder this city park is a favorite with visitors and residents alike. Wherever you sit, you’ll be entertained for hours watching sailboats and ships cruise the historic harbor. The park also features two fun fountains for the kids and beautiful gardens with seasonal flowers.