13 Fun Beaches in South Carolina for Families
Are you planning to swap your daily grind for the soothing sounds of waves, the sun kissing your skin, and endless family fun in the sand? Well, beachgoers, get ready to surf through the top 13 beaches in South Carolina for families!
With 187 miles of Atlantic shoreline, South Carolina is a beach bum’s paradise, offering not only relaxation but also a wave of exciting experiences for the whole family. Whether you’re stopping for a day or planning a more extended beachfront vacation, these beaches have something for everyone. From lively boardwalks to peaceful getaways, we’ve rounded up a list of the 13 most fun beaches in South Carolina for families to make sure you make the most of your stay in this beautiful state.
1. Myrtle Beach
First on our list is Myrtle Beach, the premier beach destination in South Carolina. Known as the world’s mini-golf capital, Myrtle Beach is a popular tourist destination that draws visitors with its gorgeous white sand beaches in addition to its family-friendly resorts and attractions.
With its expansive 60-mile stretch of coastline, the Grand Strand, Myrtle Beach is a mecca for family fun. From bustling boardwalks and mini-golf courses to water parks and amusement parks, the beach has something for all ages. Beyond the boardwalk, you’ll find folks scuba diving, surfing, building sandcastles, collecting shells, or just chilling on a sun lounger.
Whether you prefer parasailing, swimming, sea kayaking, or simply soaking in the sun, there’s no shortage of space here. The main draw? Amazing seafood restaurants and shopping galore add an extra layer of excitement to your beach getaway.
Got a furry friend with you? Myrtle Beach is pet-friendly, but only between Labor Day and May 1st, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., and anytime the rest of the year. Plan your trip to Myrtle Beach between June and August when the weather is at its best and enjoy one of the best beaches in South Carolina for families.
2. Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head Island isn’t just a long stretch of beach; it’s a place with distinct spots you shouldn’t miss. For families looking for a fantastic beach experience, make your way to Coligny Beach Park. You’ll get to the beach via an enjoyable public garden with valuable amenities, including changing rooms and soft swing seats big enough for the whole family. What’s more, guess what? Free Wi-Fi is included, and there is lots of parking.
After your beach adventure, take a stroll around Coligny Plaza, which is only a few steps away. It’s the place to go for snacks, meals, souvenir shopping, apparel, beach accessories, and even watching a movie or live music. Take a family bike ride along scenic paths, visit the Harbour Town Lighthouse, explore the Coastal Discovery Museum, or go on a dolphin-watching cruise. It’s a golfer’s ideal vacation, with over 23 championship golf courses dotting the countryside.
3. Kiawah Beachwalker Park – Kiawah Island
If you’re looking for a beach with the clearest and most pristine water, Kiawah Island is your ultimate destination. Kiawah Island, located near the charming town of Charleston, has an impressive 10 miles of untouched sandy beaches. Beyond the beach, Kiawah Island has natural trails that take you to explore tidal pools and marshes. The island is a great spot for birdwatching. Here, you’ll spot great blue herons, brown pelicans, and ospreys.
Kiawah Beachwalker Park, located between the Atlantic and huge woodlands, is easily accessible by bridge and is ideal for couples and families. Here, you’ll find public restrooms, outdoor showers, change rooms, and picnic spots with barbecues. Plus, there’s lots of public parking.
If you don’t have beach equipment, don’t worry; you can rent chairs and umbrellas. Nature tours, biking, and parasailing are excellent activities for children to burn off energy while learning about the island. During the peak season, families with children can go to the designated swim areas, which are staffed by lifeguards making one of the safest beaches in South Carolina for families.
4. Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms, situated between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the top beaches in South Carolina for families near Charleston. Only a 15- to 20-minute drive away, it offers a perfect blend of sun-soaked relaxation and exciting activities.
Front Beach steals the spotlight, known for its easy beach access and public parking. This seven-mile stretch offers ample space for families to create great memories, whether it’s shell collecting, sandcastle building, playing in the surf, or simply soaking up the sun. The beach provides services such as lifeguards, restrooms, and showers to ensure that everyone has a good time on their trip.
Beyond the beach, Isle of Palms provides a variety of activities, including tennis, paddleboarding, surfing, and golf. Rent a boat to see the island from a different angle, adding a unique twist to your coastal getaway. This luxurious and developed beach area is packed with various hotels and vacation rental properties, ensuring a comfortable and convenient stay.
5. Edisto Beach
Edisto Beach, located on Edisto Island, is known for its laid-back setting and natural charm. It’s an ideal place for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Edisto Beach is well worth the hour-long drive from Charleston. It’s a popular vacation spot not just for its beautiful beaches but also for its wonderful shops, galleries, restaurants, and bed-and-breakfasts.
Kids can participate in locally-led crabbing tours and wildlife identification activities, such as spotting birds, crabs, and dolphins. Edisto Beach has great swimming options (but no lifeguards, so keep an eye on the kids). If you want more adventure, rent bicycles from one of the many on-site bike rental companies or explore Edisto Island State Park through paddleboarding. The state park features several scenic trails leading to quiet spots on the beach where you can pause and relax.
Spend lazy days on the beach, visit the Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve, and spend an evening at The Marina & Marketplace, which is perfect for sightseeing, souvenir shopping, and dining. Time slows down on Edisto Beach, allowing families to reconnect and make lasting memories.
6. Folly Beach
Folly Beach, known as the “Edge of America,” is a great sun-soaked escape just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston. With its miles of sandy shores, this barrier island provides a relaxed vibe and a plethora of land and water activities. Folly Beach is a surfing hotspot for its crashing Atlantic waves. From sea kayaking and paddleboarding, with convenient rental locations nearby, to surfing courses, there’s something for any wave lover.
Hire a kayak to explore the inland shore of Folly Beach Country Park for extra adventure. This serene journey may provide you with sights of marine creatures such as stingrays, dolphins, and bonnethead sharks. While visiting Folly Beach, be sure to visit notable locations such as Morris Island Lighthouse or try fishing at Folly Beach Pier. Don’t miss out on the quirky shops and delicious seafood points for a fine dining experience. So, whether you’re catching waves or basking in the sun, Folly Beach offers a memorable getaway. It is one of the best beaches in South Carolina for families.
7. Surfside Beach
Surfside Beach, known as the “Family Beach,” lives true to its name by offering huge family fun in a small-town setting. This two-mile stretch of sandy coastline is a family hotspot with a bustling fishing pier, pristine beaches, and a small downtown area. Surfside offers more than just sun and sand.
Visitors can engage in different activities like building sandcastles and kite flying. Crabbing is a popular activity, and Surfside Beach offers the ideal environment for catching some delicious crustaceans. Lifeguards are on duty to ensure the water is shallow enough for little ones. The area hosts various family-friendly beachside things such as live music performances, a water park, and first-rate shopping and dining options.
Other notable attractions and events include Celebration Music Theater and Hudson’s Surfside Flea Market. The Surfside Beach Ocean Pier is a hub for family activities, featuring arcades, ice cream shops, and Atlantic views.
8. Hunting Island State Park
Hunting Island State Park is a nature escape for families looking for a wild and untamed beach experience. The unspoiled beach stretches across five miles of pristine white sand, surrounded by 5,000 acres of woodlands and marshes on one side and the Atlantic on the other. Here, visitors can stroll along the untamed beach, explore maritime forests and saltwater lagoons, and climb to the top of the historic Hunting Island Lighthouse.
For families looking to extend their stay, there are many campsites available with convenient beach access. Hunting Island State Park is open year-round, except on Christmas Day and in severe weather. For a well-rounded experience, consider visiting the nearby town of Beaufort, which is only a 25-minute drive away.
9. Pawleys Island
If you’re looking for a secluded beach vacation in South Carolina, head to Pawleys Island. This island, known for its centuries-old oak trees and beautiful beach houses, offers an idyllic escape from city life. The island has some of South Carolina’s most pristine beaches, known for their calm waters. These beaches feature various family activities such as shelling, biking, canoeing, and kayaking. Here, visitors can explore sculptures, zoos, and gardens with native plants.
Other popular attractions include the Pawleys Island Hammock Shops, Brookgreen Gardens, and Huntington Beach State Park. When it comes to dining, Pawleys Island has a variety of family-friendly options, including Marshside Grill or La Esteban’s Cantina.
10. Sullivan’s Island
If you’re looking for a small-town charm, Sullivan’s Island is the ideal spot. Stretching over 2.5 miles near Charleston Harbor, the island has a population of roughly 2,000 people. Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Hugo in September 1989, the island has been restored, with a welcoming community and award-winning restaurants.
Visitors, including canine friends, are allowed on Sullivan’s Island as long as they have a Town Hall license. The island has specific spaces for dogs to run free and explore the dunes. It also has areas for activities like jet skiing, motorboating, sailboarding, and kite surfing. Fort Moultrie, a historic site dating back to the Revolutionary War, is a significant landmark on Sullivan’s Island. Sullivan’s Island Beach is ideal for a day or weekend of relaxation for families looking for a sun-soaked vacation.
11. Litchfield Beach
Litchfield Beach, located near Murrells Inlet and about 30 minutes from Myrtle Beach, is a perfect destination for a family weekend escape. It feels like a different world, free of crowds and towering resorts. Instead, you’ll find a 1.5-mile stretch of beach and lovely cottages. Besides swimming and sunbathing, visitors can participate in various sports, such as jet skiing, sea kayaking, and fishing, with charters available from local marinas.
If you want to explore beyond the beach, Litchfield Beach has other nearby attractions, such as the Beaufort, Marsh Boardwalk Trail, and Hunting Island State Park Beach.
12. Seabrook Island
Seabrook Island has a rich history. It served as a staging ground for troops during the American Revolution before becoming a cotton plantation owned by William Seabrook. During the American Civil War, the island served as a military outpost for William Gregg. Seabrook Island is a peaceful South Carolina location popular for its secluded beaches.
Besides its beaches, Seabrook Island has championship golf courses, a tennis competition facility, and an equestrian complex with rides along the shore and multiple trails. The island also offers fitness facilities, oceanfront pools, aquatics, and award-winning restaurants. Seabrook Island’s numerous features make it a compelling option for a calm yet active family getaway.
13. Huntington Beach State Park
Huntington Beach State Park near Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, is a beautiful destination with a seating area on the Sandpiper Pond Nature Trail and a boardwalk overlooking a lagoon.
Trails such as the Kerrigan Nature Trail, which includes a boardwalk across a lagoon, and the Atalaya Trail, which has a historical boardwalk, allow visitors to explore this rich natural district. Huntington Beach State Park is a great place for families to picnic, camp, and watch the sunset. Other recreational activities include fishing, water skiing, kayaking, and aerial tours.
If you’re planning an extended stay, the park has restrooms and electricity hookups for campers, making it a budget-friendly option.
The Best Beaches in South Carolina for Families
There are many wonderful beaches in South Carolina for families to visit, enjoy, and have fun at. South Carolina has many beautiful beaches, and the one you pick depends on your choices. Whether it’s the luxurious trip to Hilton Head Island, the adventurous vibes of Myrtle Beach State Park, or the exciting blend of relaxation and activities at Sullivan’s Island, each destination offers a unique experience. From chasing waves to building castles or simply soaking up the South Carolina sun, these beaches are your playgrounds for joy.
So, grab your sunscreen, slip on those flip-flops, and get ready to dive into a sea of sun, surf, and unforgettable family adventures!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Steve Cummings is the founder of the personal finance blog The Frugal Expat. As a traveler and expat, he has learned a lot about how to save money, live frugally, and invest for the future. His mission is to help people in save, invest, and reach financial independence.