A forest is much more than a group of trees. It’s comprised of more species of living organisms than you probably ever knew existed. The quickest way to learn about the world around you is to go straight to the source. And if you happen to be in South Carolina, there are plenty of places with staff who have already done the hard work for you, in the form of well-established nature centers. Nature centers tell you everything you would ever want to know—and then some—about the outdoor places you visit. Do yourself a favor and visit the 10 best nature centers in South Carolina—you might just learn something fascinating!
Situated on part of Clemson University’s property, this nearly 300-acre setting plays home to historic buildings, landmarks, fountains, nature trails, ponds, and dozens of flora and fauna. Nature and culture combine in the form of classes, programs, plant sales, nature walks, and other events throughout the year. Visitors can delight in the sculpture collection, demonstration gardens, arboretum, and other beautiful scenery that provide the perfect locale for learning and making memories.
Rather than staying inside to observe an exhibit, H2O Nature Center prefers to take you out to meet Mother Nature personally and surround you in the best sights and sounds the great outdoors offer. Take a guided paddleboard tour and learn about the various fish and animals swimming beneath your feet. Or book a trip on the alligator tour and find out how exactly alligators spend their days.
Perfectly positioned on one of South Carolina’s barrier islands, the Hunting Island Nature Center takes visitors on a tour of nearly untouched territory. With live animal exhibits, kayak tours, and observation of nesting sea turtles, you can experience Mother Nature’s coastal splendor up close and personal without the traditional museum setting.
Creating memories and boosting education for school kids everywhere, Roper Mountain Science Center plays an important role to the surrounding areas as a premiere field trip destination. Here, visitors can tour the arboretum, butterfly garden, and nature trails while learning about the various plants and wildlife that make up the Upstate ecosystem. While nature plays a crucial role here, it’s not the only big attraction. Visitors can also learn about everything from robots to our solar system to rocks and minerals.
Being so close to a major U.S. city, you’d think there would be nothing but high rise buildings and asphalt as far as the eye could see. But luckily, Leroy Springs & Company thought the area needed to get back in touch in nature, and that’s exactly what they did. Established in 1995, this 2,100-acre nature preserve was christened in the hopes that visitors can enjoy the great outdoors the way it was intended. There are plenty of activities for every age, including educational programs, trails, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayaking, and more.
This is one of the Lowcountry’s best kept secrets, tucked away from the busy highways and fast-paced city life. Wetlands, a butterfly garden, a three-acre pond, observation decks, and so much more make the Blue Heron Nature Center a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. Hit the educational trail as you make your way around the pond, then settle down for a picnic while you plan your next outdoor adventure. And don’t feed the gators!
Have you ever seen a 1,000-year-old tree? How about a whole forest full of them? If you ever wanted to glimpse what nature looked like before man took over, make the trip to the Audubon Center and Sanctuary. Here, humans are the minority in a forest where man has left hardly a mark. The only signs of human activity are the visitor center and the 1.75-mile long boardwalk across the swampy waters that takes you through the Francis Beidler Forest. From here you can peacefully experience what life was like before the concrete jungle took over.
A staple of South Carolina history, Caw Caw once served as the home of several rice plantations, as well as the African slaves who farmed them. Today, you can explore its miles of trails complete with exhibits and information about the area’s wildlife and plant life. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of rare species, like the bald eagle or American alligator.
You’ll find some of the best of Mother Nature within the boundaries of Brookgreen Gardens. Explore the plants and flowers of the majestic gardens, arboretum, and labyrinth, or bring your binoculars and scout for wildlife. You can also book a guided excursion to learn more about the flora and fauna at Brookgreen gardens, or hit the nature trails on your own for more information about the garden’s various ecosystems.
The tall, stark face of Table Rock is a recognizable icon of the Upstate South Carolina, but this famous locale is more than just a perfect backdrop for photographers. Within the bounds of Table Rock State Park lies many species of plant- and wildlife, and the onsite nature center can help you discover them all. Here you can learn about the various animals and plants you may encounter while camping or on your hikes along the trail system.