small towns in South Carolina

21 Charming Small Towns in South Carolina You Need to Visit (2023)

There’s a feeling of something rich about South Carolina.

Decadent, almost.

Its weather is seamlessly pleasant all year round, a patch of the country that you can return to whenever it calls.

Charleston on the coast is a historic blend of pastel-colored buildings and rich culture, Colombia a city that brims with Southern charm. 

But take a look beyond the big names and you’ll find the small towns in South Carolina offer up myriad delights, with miles of fecund nature, sea islands, and oodles of deep, charming culture. 

So, let’s have a look at some of the best!

Hey! Before we dive in, here’s so more brilliant South Carolina content!

WANT TO CONQUER THE ALL-AMERICAN BUCKETLIST?

Join 4,000 others in weekly guides to the most beautiful places and hidden gems in the USA.

Leave this field blank

1. Walterboro

Image: Greetings from Walterboro, South Carolina – Large Letter Postcard. Steve Shook. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

You can get to this little town in just a breezy 50-mile drive from the big city lights of Charleston, but it couldn’t be more different.

It began towards the end of the 18th Century as rich plantation owners were looking for a pleasant summer retreat and has evolved over the years to become a perfect mix of history, charm, and easy living. 

The old-school downtown is packed full of historic buildings and full of parkland and wide-open space.

Whether you’re looking to eat at some of the state’s most charming independent restaurants or potter around small galleries or venture further afield into some of the gorgeous nature that surrounds the place, Walterboro will always be one of the best little towns in South Carolina. 

2. Bamberg

South Carolina Bamberg
Image: Only in South Carolina Facebook Page

Another little patch of calm within easy driving distance of Charleston, Bamberg is a place that’s steeped in history and rich nature.

It’s the perfect gateway to the lush landscapes of the Coastal Plains region that surround it and the ultimate base if you’re looking to spend some time taking advantage of the state’s great outdoor pursuits. 

The area is home to some of the best hunting in the state.

When you’re here, take a trip out onto the water, paddling by canoe down the dark waters of the Edisto River, drifting with the current before heading back into the warm, neighborly embrace of one of the best small towns in South Carolina. 

3. Edgefield

Edgefield South Carolina
Image: Quercus sinuata. Bruce Kirchoff. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

There are a few things about Edgefield that make it stand out among the other quaint towns in South Carolina.

Or one, is its political track record, having produced ten governors of the state.

There are long histories of pottery throwing and peach growing, and of violence as well.

The town flourished along the Great Wagon Road and this mingling of diverse travelers and plentiful cash led to some unsavory scenes. 

Today though, things are calmer.

Explore this rich history at the beautiful white-pillared building of the Oakley Park Museum, drift around the historic downtown or the picturesque Slade Lake, and cap the night off with the best food in town at The Old Edgefield Grill.   

4. Beaufort 

Beaufort South Carolina
Image: 20220225 09 Beaufort, SC. David Wilson. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Beautiful Beaufort is a charming, serene place.

It’s a heady mix of well-preserved antebellum architecture and deep blue water, of rich history and vibrant modernity. 

History enthusiasts are spoilt for choice here between museums and historic sites, and movie fans will recognize it from classics like Forrest Gump.

Wandering around trees decked with drooping moss and historic houses coated in rich green foliage, it’s a genuinely special place to be. 

5. Saluda

Saluda Arts Festival
Photo credit: Saluda Arts Festival Facebook Page

You’ll find this quiet town amid the sloping hills of the heartland of the state, rich, fertile country that has drawn people here for centuries.

The area is great for hiking, cycling, or fishing as you venture out into the landscape that blends into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

In town, you can explore the diverse array of independent shops and locally owned restaurants.

If you can, time your trip to coincide with the Saluda Arts Festival, a yearly event that fills this little town with the region’s finest food vendors, the best local musicians, and some great art. 

6. Union

The Alfred H. Foster House in Union, South Carolina
Photo credit: Explore South Carolina Facebook Page

Best known as the site of multiple important battles in the Revolutionary War, this charming town has grown over its long history to become a perfect slice of quiet South Carolina living. 

History buffs should head to the Union County Museum to get the lowdown on the local battlefields.

If you’re more of a present-day kind of person, spend your time exploring the old-school downtown area and lush landscapes of the area, then head over to Midway BBQ.

Found just a tiny bit outside of town, it’s some of the best BBQ you’ll find in the state. 

And if you’re with the family, the kids will love the Union County Fairgrounds.

7. Latta

Latta, South Carolina
Image: Latta Bus. Gerry Dincher. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Life moves at its own leisurely pace in the little town of Latta.

It’s a place with a real community ethos, with a neighborly atmosphere that you can feel as you meander around the wide streets, popping into charming stores and stopping by the locally owned restaurants of its cute downtown area. 

The surrounding countryside is charming and the old world feel of the town is helped by the historic buildings that are scattered throughout it, Victorian-style homes and the ever-impressive Abingdon Manor Inn & Restaurant, a beautiful pillared building that feels like a little slice of classic Southern luxury.

8. Walhalla

Walhalla
Image: Walhalla, South Carolina. Anon Anon. via Flickr

This charming town was named after the Viking version of heaven, and looking around here, it is easy to see why.

The mighty Blue Ridge Mountains grow up behind it, with the Chattooga River running through the landscape, feeding the lush forests of the area, as impressive today as it would have been to the first settlers here. 

Today, it’s a classic Southern town, but still wears its German heritage proudly, as you’ll see if you’re ever here for the annual Oktoberfest. 

9. York

York, South Carolina
Photo credit: All Things York SC Facebook Page

An old town best known for its historic district and role in the Revolutionary War, today York is a perfect piece of Southern charm.

It’s a true small town, with independent restaurants, mom-and-pop stores, and some beautiful, wide-open landscapes to explore around it. 

These landscapes are fertile, green spaces, and nothing shows that better than a trip to one of the local producers.

Try out some tastings at Windy Hill Orchard & Cidery for the most delicious way to find out what this town is all about. 

10. McClellanville

McClellanville South Carolina
Image: McClellanville, South Carolina, USA. Donald West. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

In McClellanville, life is all about the water.

This charming fishing town of just over 600 people is famous for its fishing, with boats heading out into Bulls Bay to catch daily, fresh hauls of some of the country’s best fish, shrimp, and oysters.

When you’re here, you can hike (try out the South Tibwin Hiking Trail), and you can learn about history at the Village Museum or the plantations of the area, but really it’s all about sitting down and trying out some of the delicious fresh seafood. 

Any restaurant in town will serve you well, whether you’re picking the ‘From the Swamp and Sea’ section of The Bent Rod’s menu or pulling up a seat at the classic, family-owned T W Graham & Co. 

11. Ninety Six

Ninety Six South Carolina
Photo credit: Visit Ninety Six Facebook Page

This peculiarly named town has a long history and played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, but today is a calmer, less besieged place, that is best known for its beautiful natural surroundings and the great fishing, hiking, and hunting that you can find around the area. 

If you like to mingle history, wide-open surroundings, and that cozy, small-town feel, give Ninety Six a try.  

12. Pendleton

The downtown area of Pendleton was designed and built in the late 18th century, and it really hasn’t changed.

The entire area is on the National Register of Historic Places, with street after street of beautifully preserved, old-world charm there for you to enjoy. 

Of all the cute towns in South Carolina, none come close to its classic, antebellum-style beauty.

But it’s not all a museum, it’s a thriving little place in its own right, with some great restaurants, recreational options, and a charming farmers market that takes place every Saturday. 

13. Edisto Beach 

Edisto Beach
Image: Edisto Beach, South Carolina. See1,Do1,Teach1. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Close enough to Charleston to be easy to access, but far away enough from everything to feel like the calmest place in the world, the long sandy beaches of Edisto Beach are a perfect slice of tranquillity on the South Carolina coast. 

It’s a well-off town, and the beachfront houses are beautiful sights against the dark blue of the Atlantic.

It’s a place to come for some of the best food and drink in the state, mixed in with that feeling of ocean-front serenity. 

14. Pickens

Pickens county South Carolina
Image: South Carolina. GPA Photo Archive. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Pickens is your gateway to some of South Carolina’s best nature.

It’s a great base to head onto the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Highway which takes you through a mix of state parks, lush landscapes, and rivers that turn to impressive waterfalls. 

It’s a charming town to enjoy by itself, but a trip out hiking, cycling, or even just driving through the hills and valleys of this Appalachian town is a feast for the senses. 

15. Timmonsville

Timmonsville is a quiet place, but mixes its small-town charm with easy access to the hustle and bustle of Florence, making it one of the best small towns in South Carolina to live in if you want to enjoy the simple things, but still have access to larger services and amenities. 

To add to the practicalities, there are the charms of the numerous restaurants serving up homemade food cooked with fresh, locally-grown produce and some genuinely beautiful scenery, including the largest lake in the state. 

16. Georgetown 

Georgetown South Carolina
Image: Georgetown, South Carolina Waterfront boardwalk with restaurants. David Shankbone. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Georgetown’s one of the oldest places in the state, first set up in the early 1500s by the Spanish, and you can see why they’d be drawn here to this beautiful stretch of Winyah Bay!

Today, it’s a thriving waterfront community surrounded by lush, river-fed landscapes that are a rich green and with a downtown full of well-preserved historic buildings that show the town’s long history. 

17. Travelers Rest

Travelers Rest
Image: Travelers Rest, South Carolina, USA. Jason A G. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

It’s all in the name.

This town of just under 8,000 people rose to prominence as a place of rest for travelers drifting across the early days of the state, and it excels at it still. 

It’s nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is a pleasant place of historic buildings and large open green spaces, the perfect spot for travelers passing through the state to stop for a while and soak it all in

18. Williston

Williston rose to prominence because of the railway line that used to run from Charleston to Hamburg, making it famous not as a destination, but just as somewhere to pass through, to travel by. 

But it’s worth stopping.

The Williston Historic District is a rich mix of well-preserved historic buildings, retaining the old-world charm of the town.

There’s the charming farmers market that takes place every Saturday, showcasing some of the region’s very best produce.

And to check out some of the region’s most delicious and definitely most enjoyable produce, head over to Alexandria’s Fine Wines, a winery just outside of town, for an afternoon of sampling under the South Carolina sun.  

19. Sullivan’s Island 

Sullivan Island
Image: Approaching Sullivan Island, Near Charleston, South Carolina. Ken Lund. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Defined by its pristine sandy beaches, this barrier island is a serene place to spend some time.

It feels a world away but is easily accessible from Charleston. 

Its small community lives a comfortable life here and can lay claim to some of the finest restaurants in the state, serving up delicious seafood and modern takes on Southern classics that help combine the island’s feeling of remote serenity and everyday luxury. 

20. Yemassee

Yemassee train station
Image: yemassee South Carolina. Ken Ratcliff. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

If you’re looking to hunt or fish, you want to be in Yemassee.

The landscape here is a fertile, tangled mix of woodland and water, swamps and open green space.

All of this makes it a heaven for anybody looking to track or bait some of the state’s best wildlife. 

To make it even more attractive, the sea is only just over 20 miles away, meaning you get the perfect mix of South Carolina’s rich and diverse natural scenery. 

21. Daufuskie Island 

Daufuskie Island, South Carolina
Image: Daufuskie Island, South Carolina. U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Canada. via Flickr

This beautiful island can only be reached by ferry and its remoteness has made it one of the most special places in the state.

It’s famous as a haven of creativity out on the water, with famous writers living here and artists flocking to the town and displaying their work in the numerous galleries. 

It’s a lot less touristy and developed than some of the state’s other islands, and the perfect place to get away for a while and relax with good food, charming people, and the wide open sea around you. 

Hey! Want more ideas on the best small towns in the USA? Check these out!

Pin for Later!

Get the All-American Travel Secrets!

Don't miss out on America's hidden gems!

Leave this field blank

Leave a Comment