Best Day Trips from Charleston

Open Road l
Open Road l | © Say_No_To_Turtles/Flickr
Samantha Connors

If you’re planning a week-long trip to Charleston, South Carolina, you may want to consider taking a day trip to one of the many nearby towns and cities. Although Charleston is a beautiful, historic location with an abundance of activities, there are plenty of less-frequented places worth checking out while you’re in the area. Explore the gated oasis that is Kiawah Island or venture outside of South Carolina to see Charleston’s sister city, Savannah, Georgia. To help you decide which location you want to visit most, check out our guide to the best day trips from Charleston.

Wadmalaw Island

Though Wadmalaw Island is just between 30 and 40 minutes away from downtown Charleston, it feels like a completely separate world. Drive through John’s Island beneath the arched limbs of grand oaks cloaked in Spanish moss until you reached Wadmalaw. On this island, the colorful, tightly knit pastel homes and towering church steeples of downtown are replaced by acres of open farmland and the quiet atmosphere of the country.

Travelers who visit Wadmalaw Island should tour the Charleston Tea Plantation, where the only 100% American grown tea in the world is cultivated. After seeing the plantation, you can visit Deep Water Vineyard, the state’s sole vineyard, which serves a unique southern grape called muscadine.

Kiawah Island

With five different championship courses totaling 90 holes of golf, avid players will love a day trip from Charleston to Kiawah Island. To access the island, you must receive a day pass at the gated entrance. Beyond the barrier island’s mysterious boundaries you’ll find pristine beaches, world-class golfing and luxurious spas and accommodations. Just a 45-minute drive from Charleston, Kiawah is an excellent place to spend the day outdoors.


Head an hour and a half south of Charleston to visit Beaufort, South Carolina. One of the best places to take a day trip from Charleston, Beaufort is a quaint, likable city filled with Old South charm. Much like Charleston, this area was heavily involved in the Civil War, meaning many significant sites remain for visitors’ enjoyment. Peruse one of the museums in town or take a tour of a historic old mansion. You can also seek out eclectic attractions like The Kazoo Factory.

Hilton Head

30 minutes farther south from Beaufort is Hilton Head, another barrier island known for its well-manicured golf courses and gorgeous beaches. From Charleston, a day trip to Hilton Head should take just about two hours each way, but it’s worth the travel. Unlike Charleston, these beaches have bars that set up tables, live music and even activities like volleyball right on the sand. Rent a boat for the day and cruise through the warm waters or go deep-water fishing. Golfers looking to explore new courses will certainly want to check out the town named #10 on the list of Best Golf Resorts by the readers of Golf Digest.


Any travelers planning a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, should consider staying at least one night in Savannah, Georgia. The drive only takes about two hours, and Savannah offers an interesting contrast to its sister city Charleston. Both locations exist next to the water with Savannah’s main strip following the Savannah River. Though Charleston has quite a few beautiful parks, Savannah was uniquely designed around square green spaces with a total of more than 24 squares throughout the small city. A visit to Savannah is undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Charleston, allowing travelers to explore new restaurants, historic sites, and even take advantage of the city’s open-container law.

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