Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach: A Scenic Road Trip Adventure

grand strand in myrtle beach scMuch of the Northeast seems to poke fun at Myrtle Beach, and Charleston seems to rag on it more than the average. And yet, day trips from Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach can be quite pleasant.

 

The drive from Charleston to Myrtle Beach is an easy, 2-hour and 15 minute drive along a beautiful stretch of the Lowcountry.

 

Ready to plan your Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach road trip? Then read on:

Read more: Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach: A Scenic Road Trip Adventure

Road trip from Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach

The drive out of Charleston will first take you from Charleston’s historic downtown to:

  • The suburbia of Mount Pleasant
  • Followed by rural scenic byways
  • Past charming little towns

And finally to the miles of packed beaches, high-rise hotels, and tourist attractions that make Myrtle Beach such a draw.

The fastest way to get from Charleston to Myrtle Beach is to take the Ocean Highway (US-17), which is what this itinerary follows.

Heading over the Ravenel Bridge will bring you to the first stop along the way: Mount Pleasant, SC

Mount Pleasant

ravenel bridge along the route from charleston sc to myrtle beachMount Pleasant is one of the most pleasant examples of suburbia that you’ll find in the Lowcountry. In fact, it’s the largest town in the region. It gained the accolade of being one of the fastest-growing towns in the country in recent decades.

And a drive past the strip malls into some of the communities and attractions will help you appreciate its appeal.

Old Town Mount Pleasant is the historic corner of town, facing downtown Charleston across the harbor. The Pitt Street Bridge, jutting south from Old Town, offers remarkable views of the harbor, especially at sunset.

You’ll also find:

  • The Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge itself is worth a visit, with sweeping views of the surrounding area

boone hall plantation and gardensMount Pleasant also provides easy access to two top Charleston beaches:

Awendaw

There’s not much to see as far as the town of Awendaw, but there are a couple attractions worth visiting if you’re interested:

The Avian Conservation Center & Center for Birds of Prey

The collection at the Center for Birds of Prey is one of the largest and most diverse in the country. It gives visitors:

  • a close-up view of bird flight demonstrations
  • and a rare look into the habitats and adaptations of raptors from around the world

 

hawk at the center for birds of prey, along the road from charleston sc to myrtle beachThe program and flight demonstration are hugely popular, as it’s incredible to watch:

  • Vultures
  • Hawks
  • Falcons
  • Owls
  • Eagles
  • Kites
  • And other avian species soar above the flying field

Raptors’ natural behaviors, such as soaring, gliding, and diving, are sure to provide a memorable experience.

Charleston Zipline Adventures

Charleston Zipline Adventures offers Charleston, South Carolina’s first and only zip line park. Their amazing team takes you on an exhilarating outdoor adventure through the Lowcountry’s treetops.

Bring your children to the Koala Kid Zip course, or fly through the treetops on their signature zipline canopy adventure tour.

Bulls Island in the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge

Only 30 minutes north of Charleston, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge is Charleston’s Wilderness. This 66,000-acre refuge contains:

  • Saltwater estuaries
  • Barrier islands
  • Freshwater impoundments
  • And maritime forests

The refuge provides critical habitat for plants and animals. Bottlenose dolphins raise calves in the protected creeks, and loggerhead sea turtles nest on the island beaches. You’re likely to see nearly 300 species of birds migrating through or living here, year-round.

One of the best ways to experience this refuge is via the ferry to Bulls Island by Coastal Expeditions.

As the ferry approaches Bulls Island, the captain and mate share their knowledge and enthusiasm about:

  • The refuge
  • Cape Romain wildlife
  • And local history

The 30-minute ecotour may allow you to see some of the local fauna, including:

  • Bottlenose dolphins
  • Loggerhead sea turtles
  • Bald eagles

Upon arrival on Bulls Island, the tour guides will leave you to explore the seven miles of sandy beach and 16 miles of trails on your own.

A few more highlights include:

  • Beachcombing along the 7-mile shoreline to see marine life
  • Hiking inland trails like Turkey Walk Trail to experience the diversity of a maritime forest
  • And visiting Boneyard Beach, a forest stranded in the surf

McClellanville

pelican by a fishing netMcClellanville was once a coastal retreat for wealthy rice and indigo planters. It transformed into a fishing community in the twentieth century, giving it a more relaxed atmosphere. On the first Saturday of May each year, locals celebrate the bounty of its waters with the Lowcountry Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet. On the outskirts of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, McClellanville is also close to:

  • A half-dozen campgrounds and recreation areas
  • Miles of hiking, horseback riding, and biking trails
  • Creeks and rivers for fishing and kayaking
  • And other outdoor activities

Hampton Plantation State Historic Site

Hampton Plantation State Historic Site in the southern Santee Delta region, hosts the last traces of a colonial-era rice plantation. It served as an important center for the area’s slave system and rice farming from the colonial era until the end of the Civil War. Tour the mansion and see how it has changed since the early 18th century. The plantation grounds include walking paths through a pine forest, views of Wambaw Creek, and the ruins of once-vast rice fields. Hampton served as an inspiration for Archibald Rutledge, South Carolina’s first poet laureate. He lived there until 1969.

Georgetown

boardwalk in georgetown scWhen it first appeared in 1526, Georgetown was thought to be the first European settlement in North America. And today, it remains a 9,000-person vibrant and gracious Southern small town.

Georgetown is South Carolina’s third-oldest city, following Charleston and Beaufort. New arrivals founded it in 1729 and gained official port status in 1732.

62 miles and one hour and twenty minutes of driving separate Charleston and Georgetown.

Hopsewee Plantation

Hopsewee Plantation was built around 1740, about 40 years before the American Revolutionary War. It was one of the largest rice plantations in the South. It was also the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., one of the Declaration of Independence’s signatories.

This National Historic Landmark is halfway between Myrtle Beach and Charleston.

Kaminski House Museum

The Kaminski House is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture from the middle of the 18th century. It was built in the middle of the 18th century by Paul Trapier, a prominent South Carolina businessman. The house museum is an example of the Lowcountry “single house” design. In 1769, Elizabeth received the house and land from her father, Trapier, to up her marriage proposals. Elizabeth married Georgetown sheriff Edward Martin in the end. Before Harold and Julia Kaminski bought the house in 1931, many notable Georgetown residents owned it.

Harborwalk

The Harborwalk is a 10-foot-wide, four-block-long waterfront boardwalk in historic Georgetown, South Carolina. It is accessible via Francis Marion Park, Constitution Park, or Rainey Park. The walk offers cute views of Georgetown Harbor. It was originally built in the 1980s and was renovated in 2010. Every year, the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show draws the largest crowd. The event features:

  • A boat-building competition and race
  • Crafts
  • Live music
  • Nautical demonstrations
  • And a variety of wooden boats on display

Hobcaw Barony

Hobcaw Barony, a 16,000-acre research reserve, is one of the Waccamaw Neck’s few undeveloped areas. The Native Americans called it “hobcaw,” meaning “between the waters.” In 1718, the area received a colonial land grant or barony. The land was sold and divided into plantations, where it was profitable to grow rice until the turn of the twentieth century.

Bernard M. Baruch, a Wall Street financier and presidential advisor, purchased the property in 1905 for use as a winter hunting retreat. After 50 years, he sold the entire parcel of land to his daughter Belle Baruch. When she died in 1964, she left a foundation to care for the property. Thanks to her foresight, colleges and universities in South Carolina use the grounds as an outdoor laboratory.

Hobcaw Barony is privately owned, but staff-guided tours and programs provide access.

Murrells Inlet

sailboat along the shore in georgetown scMurrells Inlet, also known as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina,” is on US Highway 17 near Pawleys Island and Litchfield. It is a charming fishing village with a rich history, plenty of restaurants, and a laid-back atmosphere. Take in the lovely waterfront views as you stroll along Highway 17 Business in the center of Murrells Inlet.

Charleston and Murrells Inlet are 82 miles and one hour and forty-five minutes apart, by car.

Brookgreen Gardens

Archer Huntington and Anna Hyatt Huntington purchased land in here in 1930. Their goal was to create a haven from the outside world while Ms Huntington recovered from tuberculosis.

The property was incorporated as “Brookgreen Gardens, A Society for Southeastern Flora and Fauna” 18 months later. Brookgreen’s mission has always been to:

  • Collect
  • Display
  • And preserve

American figurative sculpture as well as Southeast plants and animals. It was the first public sculpture garden in the country and is now the world’s best outdoor museum of its kind. Archer Milton Huntington was:

  • A poet
  • Industrialist
  • And founder of several other public cultural institutions, including Brookgreen

Anna Hyatt Huntington, meanwhile, was an award-winning sculptor. She created the first female-made public monument in New York City, Joan of Arc.

The original plan for Brookgreen Gardens was to host only her work. And yet it quickly expanded as a permanent collection of the best American sculpture from the nineteenth century to the present.

Atalaya, their charming Moorish-style winter residence, is another South Carolina landmark.

And art enthusiasts attend the prestigious Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival by the tens of thousands. It happens each September in and around Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington’s former home.

Huntington Beach State Park

shorebirds at huntington beach state parkThis long, open, pristine Grand Strand beach is one of South Carolina’s most recognizable landmarks. This is the spot to enjoy some of the best bird watching on the East Coast, as well as some of the best surf fishing South Carolina has to offer. And yet Huntington Beach State Park offers much more than that.

Nature lovers will love the park’s diverse programming. It includes up-close encounters with loggerhead turtles and other endangered plant and animal species. You can spot alligators and, on rare occasions, minks in the park’s freshwater lake.

The Pier at Garden City

The Garden City Pier’s entertainment options include live music, two full-service bars, karaoke, and a full arcade. Two adult-only bars offer cold drinks, live music, and a breathtaking view of the beach. The pier is close to many beachwear shops, bars, and shops.

The MarshWalk

The MarshWalk is a half-mile wooden boardwalk that runs alongside a freshwater estuary in Murrells Inlet. It  claims to offer the most spectacular waterfront dining along the Grand Strand. Many of the restaurants along the MarshWalk have live music each night amidst some of nature’s most breathtaking scenery.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is 95 miles from Charleston, and the trip takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on things to do in Myrtle Beach. The beaches are a major draw, of course.

But otherwise, be sure to check out some other guides to Myrtle Beach.

Charleston to Myrtle Beach by bus

Thanks to a recent pandemic, bus services offer a long and painful journey from Charleston to Myrtle Beach.

The trip takes over 16 hours, passing through Columbia and Florence, far inland.

If you choose to take the one daily bus from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, it departs at 7 p.m. and arrives at 11:30 a.m. the next day.

Return buses from Myrtle Beach to Charleston are a little more convenient. There’s only one connection required, taking 25 minutes in Columbia, South Carolina. The total travel time is 6 hours and 30 minutes.

A single bus runs daily from Myrtle Beach to Charleston, arriving at 6:30 p.m. (the station is in neighboring North Charleston).

Air flights from Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach

airport in charleston sc to myrtle beachTypical of South Carolina cities that are close to each other, air travel from Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach is annoying.

And expensive.

Charlestonians often drive to the Myrtle Beach International Airport to take cheap flights going elsewhere.

But to fly between there and the Charleston International Airport, you’d need to travel to another connecting city.

Taking the train from Charleston SC to Myrtle Beach

As is typical of the South, train travel from Charleston to Myrtle Beach is a major hassle.

You’d have to head to the train station in North Charleston, then ride the train to either Kingstree or Florence. The Florence train station is about 70 miles, or an hour and a half drive by car from Myrtle Beach.

So, take the car and remember that getting there is half the fun.

And in the case of a destination like Myrtle Beach, it may wind up being more than half the fun.

You’ve been warned!

Plan even more day trips from Charleston, SC

Myrtle Beach and the coastline north of Charleston is a great direction to head.

That said, it’s not the only one.

Head south through the Lowcountry for:

Or plan a trip inland to the state capitol, Columbia, to explore the local art scene. Or the highlands of the Carolinas are delightful as well.

Whichever way you head, we hope you enjoy wherever the road takes you!

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