7 Sensational Scenic Drives in South Carolina

The state of South Carolina has 21 scenic byways spanning more than 450 miles, established by the South Carolina Scenic Highways Committee. These scenic drives will allow its visitors to see the beauty, scenery, and history that the state of South Carolina is made up of.

As you travel through these scenic byways, you will come across many significant attractions and experiences along the way, including major lakes, national forests, mountainscapes, historical sites, and more.

In today’s road trip guide, we will explore seven of the 21 scenic byways in South Carolina that, in our opinion, are can’t-miss experiences in the state.

Our guide will provide you with everything you need to know about making these scenic drives, from the best routes to take, popular stops and attractions along the way, and any tips and tricks that may help you in your travels.

1. Cowpens National Battlefield Scenic Byway

  • Distance: 9 miles
  • Time Needed: 1 day

If you’re a history buff, this scenic drive is a can’t-miss one for you. It is just a short stretch of 9 miles that you could embark on on any day. This route starts at the Town of Cowpens and travels for 9 miles until it ultimately connects to the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.

US Scenic Drives in South Carolina - Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina

The biggest significance of this byway is that it will take you to the Cowpens National Battlefield, a part of the National Park Service. This battlefield is the site of the Battle of Cowpens in the year 1781 during the Revolutionary War.

When you visit the site, you can learn all about the history of the battle, how General Daniel Morgan’s victory over the British during the American Revolution, and learn how it has evolved through the years.

If you want to expand your trip, you can continue your travels through the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway.

When to go: This drive is so interesting and is such a cool piece of history, particularly if you are from or interested in the state of South Carolina. You can enjoy this drive and experience at any time during the year.

2. Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

  • Distance: 112 miles
  • Time Needed: 1-2 days

The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway was established as a scenic byway in 1998 by the South Carolina Department of Transportation. This byway will have you starting at the Georgia/South Carolina border, and you will travel through the state until you end your travels in Gaffney.

If you’re driving straight through this byway can be driven in a few hours, but we recommend taking at least 1-2 days to explore the area and enjoy the sights and attractions along the way. Some of the most popular stops along the way include Lower Whitewater Falls, the highest set of falls in eastern North America, Devils Fork State Park, and Caesar’s Head State Park.

As you complete your travels, you will end your drive in Gaffney, South Carolina. In Gaffney, there are a number of attractions to enjoy, including the “Yellow Mall,” a premium shopping outlet, The Michael Gaffney Cabin, a replica of the cabin where the founder of the city resided, and the Kings Mountain National Park.

When to go: There is no particular season that the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway is more desirable than the other.  If you are making plans to take this drive, don’t let the time of year or season stop you.

3. Savannah River Scenic Byway

  • Distance: 110 miles
  • Time Needed: 1-2 days

The Savannah River Scenic Byway begins in Clarks Hill, South Carolina, and heads north until you reach Oakway. The byway was officially established in 1998 and has been a route for travelers to enjoy ever since.

At the very start of this scenic drive, you will get the chance to enjoy a number of fun activities and experiences in Clarks Hill. In Clarks Hill is Thurmond Lake, where visitors can enjoy water activities such as swimming, boating, fishing, and more.

As you continue to travel you will encounter other notable sites and attractions, including Sumter National Forest, Hickory Knob State Resort Park, Calhoun Falls State Park and campgrounds, and the Jim Rampey Recreation Area.

Once you reach Oakway, you can enjoy a variety of fun activities, such as golf courses, marinas, playgrounds, picnic areas, and more. Oakway is a great spot to enjoy some fun activities for the whole family.

When to go: In order to fully enjoy the experiences available along this scenic drive, we recommend visiting during the warmest months of the year, typically June through August.

4. Ashley River Road Scenic Byway

  • Distance: 12 miles
  • Time Needed: 1 day

Established in the year 2000, the Ashley River Road Scenic Byway is a short 12-mile stretch along the Ashley River. This road is the oldest known road still in use in the state of South Carolina and is a highly significant piece of history.

Although it is a short stretch, it is not due to a lack of significance. This scenic drive begins near the city of Charleston, and there are a number of significant pieces of history along the route.

As you travel, there are a number of attractions to stop and see along the way, including the Old St. Andrew’s Church, the oldest structure used for worship south of Virginia, Fort Bull, Drayton Hall, a former rice plantation where enslaved workers were working daily, and Middleton Place, another historic plantation dating back to colonial times. The site features a museum dedicated to the original house, working stable yards, and enslaved quarters.

When to go: The drive along Ashley River Road is beautiful, and because it is such a short and sweet drive, it is a great way to enjoy the day at any time during the year.

5. Hilton Head Island Scenic Byway

  • Distance: 22 miles
  • Time Needed: 1 day

The Hilton Head Island Scenic Byway is a multi-lane highway that travels through Beaufort County and will ultimately lead you to Sea Pines Circle and Hilton Head Island. This is another short drive that will lead you to the paradise that is Hilton Head Island.

US Scenic Drives in South Carolina - Hilton Head Island

The main draw of Hilton Head Island is typically its ending destination, but the view along the drive is worth taking in itself, in our opinion. Along this 22-mile stretch, you will pass through wetlands, and historic villages, including Bluffton, and finally, you will cross the causeway onto Hilton Head Island and trust us when we say you will not want to miss that view as you make the cross-over.

While the drive can be done quickly, we recommend planning for at least a few days once you reach Hilton Head Island. The island is known for its beautiful beaches, golf courses, water sports, shopping, and incredible dining establishments such as Lulu Kitchen,  The Crazy Crab, and Johnson Creek Tavern.

When to go: The weather in the area is quite enjoyable all year round, but to fully enjoy the beaches and water on the island, we recommend visiting during the summer months.

6. Bohicket Road Scenic Highway

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Time Needed: 1 day

The Bohicket Road Scenic Highway is located in lower Charleston County on Johns Island near Bohicket Creek. The byway and island are home to many historical and agricultural sites that are worth seeing during your drive.

One can’t-miss site during this drive includes the viewing of Angel Oak, a grand southern live oak that is over 500 years old and makes for one of the best spots for an epic photo op in the area. Your drive will offer beautiful sights and foliage that make for a peaceful and relaxing drive for any day.

When to go: This short drive is beautiful at any time of the year, but the sights are particularly beautiful during the Fall months when the leaves have changed from green to beautiful, warm fall colors.

7. Edisto Island National Scenic Byway

  • Distance: 17 miles
  • Time Needed: 1-2 days

The Edisto Island National Scenic Byway was established in 2009 by the South Carolina Department of Transportation and made for a great scenic drive if you are traveling through the state of South Carolina.

US Scenic Drives in South Carolina - Edisto Island, South Carolina

The scenic byway is known for being a drive that offers the beauty of nature, including waterways, foliage, and more. The drive begins at the McKinley Washington Jr. Bridge and continues on until travelers reach Edisto Beach Pavilion along the Atlantic Ocean.

While the drive itself is quite short, be sure to plan for some time to make stops along the way and enjoy at least one relaxing day on Edisto Island.

Points of interest in the area include the starting point, Dawhoo Bridge, also known as the McKinley Washington Jr Bridge, and the Edisto Island Museum. The museum features exhibits that show the history of the island, including Slavery and Freedom and Native American culture.

When to go: This drive is excellent at any time of the year, but we have found it to be particularly beautiful during the Spring and Summer months.

More Scenic Driving Inspiration

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