15 of South Carolina's Best Winter Activities! By
South Carolina is known for its outdoor recreation hotspots, from the sand and surf to panoramic mountain vistas. But while South Carolina may not get the onslaught of snow and ice that northern states do, Old Man Winter’s chilly grip still stakes a presence during the winter months, which keeps outdoor activity to a minimum for most folks. Rest assured, because there are plenty of things to do in South Carolina when winter comes a-knockin’.
Your skating skills might not be Olympic gold worthy, but you can still take a spin around the open-air ice skating rink in downtown Greenville. There’s something about ice skating that inspires and defines winter scenery (thanks to “A Charlie Brown Christmas”), only now you can do it sans frozen pond.
It doesn’t get any fresher than straight off the stump. Leave your saw at home and take the family for a walk through the forest of farm-grown Christmas trees. Once you find your perfect tree, the folks at FVCTF will cut it, shake it, wrap it, and load it for you. It’s a great way to start a family tradition that everyone can look forward to year after year.
As if you needed another reason to visit the majestic Brookgreen Gardens, they showcase special Christmas scenery three nights per week in December. Over 5,500 hand-lit candles and infinite lights illuminate the gardens, plus you can listen to carolers and check out locally crafted hand-blown glass sculptures as you meander the pathways.
While most gardens stand stark and barren when winter rolls around, there’s plenty of greenery during the colder months at Pearl Fryar’s Topiary Exhibit. Mr. Pearl Fryar dedicated nearly two and half decades of his life crafting and sculpting the topiary exhibits that line his homestead. It’s truly a unique piece of landscape art, and one not to be missed.
5. Gullah Celebration, Hilton Head Island/Bluffton, SC
Hilton Head Island is saturated in rich Gullah history, and there’s no better way to pay homage to its roots than an almost-month-long celebration. With events from Feb. 1 through Feb. 26, visitors and locals can immerse themselves in the traditions of the Gullah culture, including art exhibits, live music performances, food tastings, tours, and craft fairs, to name a slight few.
A zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden come together in one central location to create a unique attraction worthy of a day trip. Aside from experiencing the animals in their habitats, there are a plethora of activities to do within the zoo’s confines, like viewing Christmas light displays, riding the railroad or carousel, or zip-lining over the Saluda river (there’s even moonlight zip-lining during the winter!).
Dive deep under the sea and experience nature’s underwater creations up close—no scuba suit necessary. Come see the best of salt and fresh water inhabitants, like the American alligator, river otters, horseshoe crabs, and sand tiger sharks. You can even get up close and personal with Atlantic stingrays and hermit crabs at the Touch Tank. But be considerate, and leave your fishing pole at home.
It’s nearly impossible to find an oceanfront room on the Grand Strand for less than $200 a night during peak season, but if you wait until the coast cools off you can score one in the double digits, easy. Plus, you won’t have to fight your way through crows on the boardwalk or wait a couple hours for seating at your favorite restaurant. Aside from the locals and a few snow birds, you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself.
The only not-for-profit holiday light event in the Upstate, Roper Mountain truly brings the magic to the season. All profits go to benefiting education and local non-profit organizations. If you’re looking for the ideal holiday family event, take a stroll through this glimmering light show, along with a visit from Santa Claus, a balloon artist, and refreshments.
Who says Halloween is the only time to be scared out of your wits? This walking tour of the well-preserved Old City Jail reveals where some of the scariest criminals in the 19th century spent their days. Wind your way through cells, hallways, and the very spots where many of the imprisoned took their last breaths. It’s not a tour for the faint-hearted.
Take a tour of several of Charleston’s best pubs and breweries in the historic district. Led by an experienced Charlestonian, your taste buds can experience the little-known flavors of finely-crafted microbrews from some of the hottest spots in the city. You will be walking from pub to pub in roughly the area of 10 city blocks, but the flight of beer that awaits you at each location will warm you up in no time.
Plex HiWire has taken the all elements of outdoor fun and built a roof over them. Channel your inner parkour warrior at the trampoline park, let the kids bounce around at Jumpin’ Jack’s inflatables course, practice your aim in a few rounds of laser tag or make your rounds at the skating rink. They even have indoor flag football, soccer, and volleyball—no rain gear required.
Climb to the top of one of Hilton Head Island’s most beloved landmarks. As you travel 114 steps above the ground, make sure you stop and soak in the history that lines the walls. And of course, there’s always the view from the top to look forward to.
Touristy? Maybe. Fun for the whole family? Absolutely! Let the jousting begin as you take your seats in the arena, where highly-skilled knights fight to become the evening’s champion. You’ll enjoy a savory multi-course meal along with medieval entertainment that pulls you into the show as you cheer for your hero on his path to victory. Who knows? You might even be knighted, yourself.
15. UFO Welcome Center, Bowman, SC
If extraterrestrials ever decide to visit Earth, they’ll start in Jody Pendarvis’s backyard, where he has constructed a 42-foot-wide flying saucer that fully functions as a residence. Why did he build a UFO in his backyard? Pendarvis says he wanted to provide a safe refuge for jet-lagged aliens, where they could recuperate after tiresome journeys. And for just $20, you can step inside and see what kind of digs these aliens will get to come home to, you know, in case they ever decide to show.