There are travelers and there are tourists. If you fall into the category of visitor who enjoys exploring on your own, self-guided walking tours are your ticket to great discoveries.
Many of South Carolina’s historic towns offer mapped routes of their most notable and interesting sites, allowing you to sightsee at your own pace. The guides feature descriptions and details about each point of interest. Some can be downloaded as apps; others offer audio narration.
Wherever your travels take you—the Upstate, Midlands or Lowcountry of South Carolina—you’ll find lots of small towns and cities best explored by foot. Take your time. Talk with the residents. Pop into shops and eat in local restaurants. Tourist or traveler, you’ll soon feel right at home.
Here are some of the towns offering self-guided walking tours in each of South Carolina’s three regions:
Greenville – Tours of four historic districts: East Park (1.8 miles), Earle Street (1.5 miles), Pettigru (2 miles) and West End (1.75 miles)
Highlights: Kilgore-House, Earle Towne House, Christ Church, Rock Quarry Garden
Spartanburg – Hour-long tour with available audio includes two optional side trips to oldest cemeteries and colleges
Highlights: Morgan Square, historic wagon factory, Masonic Lodge
Simpsonville – Tour of the downtown historic district
Highlights: Clock tower, historic pharmacy, Woodside Mill with antique water tower
Greer – Tour of a downtown that grew from its 1873 origins as a railroad flag station
Highlights: Three homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Pendleton – One of the largest historic districts in the country with more than 50 buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries; download the app for an audio tour or pick up a map at Pendleton Historic Foundation
Highlights: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Farmer’s Society Hall, Gaillard House
Columbia – 5K or 10K Historic Capital City Volkswalk winds around State House grounds, University of South Carolina campus and historic sections of the city
Highlights: USC horseshoe, artist Blue Sky’s “Tunnelvision” tromp-l’oeil, boyhood home of President Woodrow Wilson
Lexington – Cell phone walking tour of historic downtown
Highlights: Old courthouse, St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Simmons-Harth-Gantt House
Blythewood – Two-hour tour of the historic downtown can be shortened to include just sites within the original Town Center
Highlights: Clara Martin Sandwich Shop, Doko Depot and water tank, George Peter Hoffman House
Newberry – Some 30 historic points of interest included on this 2½-mile tour; you can pick up a printed guide at the Visitor Center, 1209 Caldwell Street
Highlights: Newberry Opera House, Old Fire Station, Wells Japanese Garden
Camden – App tour features antebellum homes, cemeteries and other sites dating back to the Revolutionary War period
Highlights: Colonial District, Campbell Street Corridor, Monument Square District
Abbeville – Tour of historic buildings in Court Square and surrounding area; maps are available at the Visitor Center in Court Square
Highlights: Abbeville Opera House, Trinity Episcopal Church, Burt-Stark Mansion
Bennettsville – A tour map with key sites can be picked up at the Visitor Center, 304 West Main St.
Highlights: Thomas Memorial Baptist Church, D.D. McColl House, The Gulf
Mount Pleasant – Old Village tour includes 25 historical sites in the town’s original settlements
Highlights: Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church, The Whilden House, Patjens Post Office
Beaufort – A 3-mile route of the historic district featuring 39 points of interest; download a map or pick one up in the Beaufort Visitor Center
Highlights: Maxcy-Rhett House, Beaufort Arsenal, Tabernacle Baptist Church
Bluffton – Tour of Old Town Bluffton starts at the Bluffton Visitor Center
Highlights: The Heyward House, Church of the Cross, Bluffton Oyster Factory
Summerville – Walking Tour of Homes and Flowers includes the town’s most notable homes, many of them dating back to the early 1800s
Highlights: Oliver House, Squirrel Inn, Samuel Lord/Elizabeth Arden House
Walterboro – Tour of Walterboro’s historic residential and business districts with listings in the National Register of Historic Places; pick up a brochure in the Waterboro Welcome Center, 1273 Sniders Highway
Highlights: Elmore-Henderson House, St. Peter’s A.M.E. Church, Walterboro Library Society Building
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.