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From the Mountains to the Coast in South Carolina

Myrtle Beach

A 150-mile drive takes groups from the political capital of South Carolina to the vacation capital, Myrtle Beach. With expansive stretches of Atlantic coastline and a booming amusement and entertainment scene, Myrtle Beach has long been a favorite destination for Southerners seeking sand, surf and sunshine. An array of attractions and activities beyond the beach will keep visitors of various interests occupied.

Tour groups may or may not spend time on the beach, but every group that visits the Myrtle Beach area spends some time taking advantage of the area’s rich entertainment scene. Numerous venues, including the Palace Theatre, the Carolina Opry and Legends in Concert, offer musical revue shows, with both afternoon and evening performances available.

There are immersive and themed comedy shows as well. Medieval Times features a full meal and a medieval equestrian tournament, and Pirates Voyage includes dinner and an inventive aquatic show. Groups will also enjoy the hypnosis show at the new GTS Theatre.

While you’re there: Myrtle Beach comes alive with a special sparkle during the holiday season. In addition to Christmas-themed shows at many of the area’s theaters, groups can enjoy special events such as the Festival of Trees at Ripley’s Aquarium, the Dickens Christmas Show and Night of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens..


About 100 miles down the coast, Charleston is as different from Myrtle Beach as could be. This historic city oozes Southern charm and has stories to tell ranging from its Colonial founding through the Civil War and into the modern era. The city has also become known as a hot spot for new Southern art and cuisine.

No matter what side of Charleston you want to explore, there is a walking tour designed to showcase it for you. Numerous companies offer guided tours through the historic district that often last for about two hours and give participants an overview of the city’s history, culture, antebellum homes, architecture and gardens. Ghost tours and pirate tours offer popular variations on the historical theme.

Beyond history, niche walking-tour companies cater to special interests. Groups can choose photography tours, food tours, immersive historical tours and even outings that include high tea in a private home.

While you’re there: Charleston features dozens of antebellum mansions, many of which are now open to the public as tour homes. Drayton Hall is famous for its Georgian Palladian architecture, and the alley of grand oaks at Boone Hall was featured prominently in the film “The Notebook.”

Hilton Head

At the southern tip of the South Carolina coast, Hilton Head is known as one of the state’s most pristine beach destinations. Years of careful preservation and regulation have left this island with much of its natural beauty intact, and the area’s tourism infrastructure has been deliberately built around its most prized ecological treasures.

Nobody would blame visitors for spending their time in Hilton Head enjoying the island’s beaches. But inland areas offer great opportunities for appreciating the outdoors. Zipline Hilton Head offers a trip through the forest canopy at Broad Creek, where travelers zip 75 feet above the ground through live oaks and loblolly pines. The adventure course also includes two suspended sky bridges and an aerial staircase, as well as views of the Atlantic.

Groups can learn more about the island and its habitats on a guided kayaking tour with Outside Hilton Head. These excursions take participants on leisurely paddles through salt marsh estuaries and protected wildlife areas.

While you’re there: One of the most distinctive features of South Carolina’s Lowcountry is the Gullah culture that arose there among the populations of former slaves that lived on the area’s sea islands after the Civil War. Gullah Heritage Trail Tours in Hilton Head introduces visitors to Gullah food, religion and folklore.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.