South Carolina offers some pretty amazing vistas from the mountains to the sea, but there are a few places to spend the night that really stand out. You can sleep in a tree, you can sleep on a pier, you can sleep in a monastery or castle. There is even a caboose that can hold your whole family. If you like your stay served with a slice of unique, here are some of our favorite one-of-a-kind places to spend the night.
Santee State Park Pier Cabins, 251 State Park Road, Santee
Listen to the water gently lapping at the pilings as you doze off in the round pier cabins at Santee State Park. Located on South Carolina's largest lake, the pier cabins offer extraordinary vistas and super easy water access - just walk out your door, onto the pier and into your boat, which can be put in the water just feet away from the piers. The popular cabins book well in advance, so be sure to get your reservation in early - about $80-150 a night based on the season. Minimum stays required in high season.
Mepkin Abbey, 1098 Mepkin Abbey Road, Moncks Corner
On a bluff overlooking the Cooper River sits a quiet community of men whose sole purpose is to prayerfully and silently seek God. Instead of locking themselves away, however, they invite you to join them in your spiritual pursuit. Retreatants, as guests at Mepkin Abbey are called, sleep in simple, but modern rooms for three-day weekend or four-night weekday stays during which they pray alongside the monks in the small Abbey Church, take meals with the brothers, observe the nightly "grand silence" and participate in specialized programming or simply follow their own heart in contemplation. Prices vary by programming.
Edisto Treehouse, SC 15, Canadys (or put 1 Livery Lane, St. George into the GPS)
It is like a child's dream, drifting down a river and to a treehouse where you will spend the night. But it is real. Carolina Heritage Outfitters offers paddling trips that take you to their treehouses 14 feet above the riverbank for a night's stay. Each of three treehouses has a tiny, furnished kitchen, dining deck and sleeping loft. Bring your food and drink, a sleeping bag and your sense of adventure (bathrooms are outhouses on the ground floor) for this one-of-a-kind overnight stay on one of South Carolina's most scenic rivers. About $160 per person, canoe included.
Mugdock Castle, Sullivans Island
Built in the 1890s to replace a church destroyed in the Civil War bombardment of Sullivans Island, Mugdock Castle began life as the Chapel of the Holy Cross. In the early 1900s, however, it was taken over when nearby Fort Moultrie was enlarged, and it became the post chapel for the fort that originally protected Charleston Harbor from the invading British fleet during the Revolutionary War. When the fort was deactivated after World War II, the castle once again became a church for 25 years before it was converted into a private home. In the early 2000s, it was bought by a private developer and expanded and reinforced. The castle is available for rent, but requires a 28-day minimum stay. It offers six bedrooms, five baths and can accommodate 12 people. It has a fully equipped kitchen and all the modern conveniences, plus bicycles and kayaks to explore Sullivan's Island's by land or by sea.
Mount Pleasant Caboose, 3157 Highway 17 N., Mount Pleasant
Sleep like a train conductor of old in this real L&N caboose at the KOA campground in Mount Pleasant. Just minutes from the beaches of the Isle of Palms, this unique "cabin" offers sleeping room for six with futons and bunk beds, a half-bath (showers are available on the campgrounds) and a full kitchen. The campground is located on Oakland Plantation with wagon-ride tours of the property available. You can walk along a 1.5-mile lake trail, rent a boat and fish on the lake. There is a pool open during the warmer months and a park for Fido. The caboose rents for about $145 a night. Other cabin rentals and full campground sites are also available.