The Best Places to Go Camping in South Carolina, USA

South Carolina has some incredible natural sites to explore inland, from expansive rivers and lakes to organic farms and pine forests
South Carolina has some incredible natural sites to explore inland, from expansive rivers and lakes to organic farms and pine forests | © Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Mandi Keighran

South Carolina may be best known for subtropical beaches and sea islands, but there are lots of incredible natural sites to explore further inland, from expansive rivers and lakes to organic farms and pine forests – all of which offer opportunities for world-class camping. If you’re planning a trip to explore some of the lesser-known sites in the area, here’s our pick of the top places for camping in South Carolina, and our recommendation on where to pitch your tent.

1. Hartsville

Architectural Landmark

Several tall green trees by the lake at Hartsville; a bench provides views across to many more tall trees
© Jenn Hill / Alamy Stock Photo

This characterful town is known for having a creative spirit. Discover its history and art at the Hartsville Museum, and catch a play at the Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Performing Arts Center or the Center Theater. There are also plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy: stroll through Kalmia Gardens or head to nearby Lake Robinson, the latter of which offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking and camping. The waterfront campsite at Lake Robinson is ideal for families, and offers a community house with shared amenities for campers.

2. Lake Robinson Waterfront Campsite

Camping

Wooden fence in front of wooden decking behind tall trees, grassland and a wide lake at Lake Robinsons Waterfront Campsites
Courtesy of Lake Robinson's Waterfront Campsites / Tentrr

Looking for a campsite in Hartsville that encourages community? This waterside property on Lake Robinson offers access to a house with a full kitchen, laundry facilities and a bathroom with a shower. There’s also a spacious deck with a community grill and three large communal spaces for relaxing with fellow campers. Looking for something more private? Bypass the popular waterside sites and pitch a tent in the nearby wooded areas.

3. Pomaria

Architectural Landmark

Dirt-track pathway between lush, bending green trees at Palmetto Forest
© skiserge1 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The tiny town of Pomaria takes its name from the Pomaria Nursery, which was founded by William Summer at his home in 1840. The horticulturalist’s extensive knowledge of fruit cultivation transformed Pomaria into a renowned agricultural district – and it’s a reputation that persists to this day. Discover more about farming in the region at the Visit to the Farm campsite on a nearby organic farm, or explore the rail history of the town by hiking the Peak-to-Prosperity portion of the Palmetto Trail, which passes through Pomaria along abandoned railway tracks.

4. A Visit to the Farm

Camping

Sixteen men and women stand in a grassy field by three cows as another man delivers a talk
Courtesy of Bowers Farm / Tentrr

Set on a vast area of land that is part family farm, part wild woodland, this campsite caters to all kinds of camping, from single tents to RVs. The property is just 3mi (5km) from a large river that can be used for swimming, fishing and boating, and is conveniently located for the towns of Columbia and Greenville. The friendly owners raise cows, goats, sheep, pigs, turkeys, chickens, ducks and rabbits, and sell the meat to local restaurants and farm stores – and they’re more than happy to answer any questions you might have about farming, or even give you a tour.

5. Lancaster

Architectural Landmark

Entrance sign on metal gate at Red Rose Park; there are trees, a pathway and water fountain beyond
© Bob Pardue SC / Alamy Stock Photo

Lancaster, known as the Red Rose City, was established in the mid-1700s by settlers from the House of Lancaster in England, whose symbol is the red rose. Today, it’s a thriving city with plenty of historic sites to explore. The Lancaster Reservoir is a popular fishing destination, offering largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and catfish; while the Lindsay Pettus Greenway offers a 2mi (3km) trail for walking, running and biking, as well as regular events such as yoga in the park and nature crafts. Nearby, you’ll find the Big Pine Peninsula and Dockside Bluff campsites, which are set on an idyllic property with a pretty duck pond at its heart.

6. Big Pine Peninsula

Camping

Wooden lodge by a wooden table with affixed bench seating under tall green trees at Big Pine Peninsula
Courtesy of Big Pine Peninsula / Tentrr

Owner Alex has looked after this slice of undisturbed forest just south of Lancaster for close to half a century, and he shares its beauty with others by offering it as a backcountry campsite with two individual sites. Big Pine Peninsula is – as the name suggests – nestled among pine trees, and it features a picnic table and fire pit. You’ll need to bring everything else you require, including camping gear, water and power – but it will be worth it for some of the best camping South Carolina can offer.

7. Dockside Bluff on the Lake

Camping

Woodland at Dockside Bluff on the Lake, with tall green trees and a small sign bearing the name of the area
Courtesy of Dockside Bluff on the Lake / Tentrr

The second campsite on Alex’s property is Dockside Bluff on the lake, which is adjacent to the pretty duck pond. The pond is stocked with bass and bream for fishing, and is surrounded by a private forest laced with walking trails and small waterfalls, plus a small seasonal creek. There’s no water or toilet on the property, but there is a fire pit, picnic table and even an empty cabin offering shelter in rainy weather.

8. Bishopville

Architectural Landmark

Well-tended green trees and bushes stand on a manicured lawn at Fryars Topiary Gardens
© Richard Ellis / Alamy Stock Photo

Bishopville, established in the 1800s, is at the heart of the largest cotton-producing county in South Carolina. It’s home to the South Carolina Cotton Museum and the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden, which has more than 400 meticulously maintained living plant sculptures set over three acres (1.2ha). In search of more wild nature? Lee State Park is less than 15 minutes by car. One of the highlights here is kayaking or canoeing through the hardwood forest floodplain, while kids will love fishing for catfish in the artesian pond. Meanwhile, one of the best ways to explore the area is pitching a tent at the bare bones Phillips Church Road campsite.

9. Phillips Church Road Camping

Camping

Green trees stand over Lynches River in South Carolina
© William Nichols / iStock / Getty Images Plus

If it’s secluded camping with plenty of wildlife you’re after, pitch a tent on this 200-acre (81ha) site near Bishopville in Lee County. It’s also one of the most affordable places to go camping in South Carolina. There’s no electricity or water on the property, so you’ll have to bring everything you need with you, but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful landscapes and absolute privacy. The nearby Lee State Park, set along the scenic Lynches River, also offers opportunities for fishing, hiking and horse riding.

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