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Road Trips from Pawleys Island: Checking Out Charleston

By Marissa Polascak • April 11, 2016

Staying in Pawleys Island for quite some time? After exploring the area, consider taking a fun road trip to discover other parts of the beautiful state of South Carolina.  There are plenty of places that can be reached easily from Pawleys Island, including the historic city of Charleston.

Located approximately 1.5 hours away from Pawleys Island, Charleston is a gorgeous harbor city known for its historic housing, horse and buggy rides, open-air market, and, of course, tons of shopping and dining. Visiting Charleston allows those who vacation in Pawleys Island the chance to see a different side of historic South Carolina.

Charleston was founded in 1670 as Charles Towne (named after King Charles II of England). During the plantation days, many plantation owners lived in and around Charleston, and, during the brutal summer months they would travel to Pawleys Island to escape from mosquitoes and disease. This draws an interesting connection between the two places, which both share historical significance to this day.

You can reach Charleston from Pawleys Island via two routes: US-17 S/N Hwy 17 or SC-41 S. According to Google Maps, the US-17 S/N Hwy 17 route takes approximately 1 hour and 33 minutes, while the SC-41 S route takes about 1 hour and 52 minutes. However, most people take the US-17 S/N Hwy 17 route as it is the most direct and also takes you along a coastal path that is riddled with beautiful scenery and some cool places to stop en route to Charleston.

On the Way to Charleston

Here are some fun places to stop along the way:

Hobcaw Barony

22 Hobcaw Rd., Georgetown • (843) 546-4623

Hobcaw Barony is located in Georgetown; just a few miles south of Pawleys Island. This property once served as a plantation, and is now used for research, education, and conservation. Here, you can see the only fully-intact slave village along the Grand Strand, as well as explore the land through ecology programs, tours, and more. Hobcaw Barony also offers children’s programs, so don’t worry about your little ones getting bored here!

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Hopsewee Plantation

Hopsewee Plantation used to be one of the South’s largest rice plantations, and it is now a National Historic Landmark. In addition to boasting a rich plantation history and acres of beautiful land, this property was also the birthplace of Thomas Lynch, Jr., who signed the Declaration of Independence. Stop by here and get a tour of the historic home as well as the property. You can also attend a sweet grass basket weaving workshop!

Georgetown Rice Museum

The Rice Museum is located in what is known as The Town Clock (Old Market Building), and it is a large symbol of Georgetown. This museum teaches visitors about the importance of the rice crop to Georgetown and surrounding areas throughout history via exhibits, art, maps, dioramas, artifacts, and more. Next door, visitors can also enjoy the Maritime Museum Gallery.

Georgetown Front Street & Harborwalk

Head on over to Historic Georgetown and check out popular places like Front Street at the Harborwalk. Here, you will find places to shop, as well as dining, boat tours, walking tours, tram tours, ghost tours, and much more!

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation is located in Mt. Pleasant, just north of Charleston. This is one of the oldest working, living plantations in the United States, still producing crops such as cotton, pecans, tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, and more. Drop by and get a tour of the plantation, or check out the Boone Hall Farms to pick your own fruit (depending on the season)!

In Charleston

When you finally reach Charleston, here are some things worth checking out:

Historic Charleston City Market

Perhaps one of the most popular attractions in Charleston, the Historic Charleston City Market is home to several specialty vendors that sell anything from art, to food, to handwoven sweet grass baskets, and everything in-between. This market features indoor shopping as well as open-air stalls, and is open throughout the year.

South Carolina Aquarium

Located in Charleston, the South Carolina Aquarium is a great attraction for the whole family! This aquarium is home to a large variety of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Visitors will enjoy special tours, exhibits, touch tanks, a 4-D theater, and other fun and educational features.

Battery Park

Battery Park, also known as White Point Gardens, is a historic park in Charleston. Located on the waterfront, Battery Park offers amazing views of Fort Sumter, Sullivan Island Lighthouse, and Castle Pinckney (all great places to visit!). This spot boasts tons of history regarding war (hence the cannons) as well as concerning pirates of the past. This family-friendly park is also home to cannons, cannon balls, statues, a gazebo, and great views of mansions and beautiful trees.

H.L. Hunley Museum

Friends of the Hunley is a museum dedicated to the history of the famous Civil War Submarine, the H.L. Hunley. The Hunley is known as the first submarine to ever sink an enemy ship, and then sink and disappear. This museum will teach you more about the history of the Hunley as well as the Civil War. You can get a tour of the museum at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

Dock Street Theater

The Dock Street Theater opened in 1736, and was the first establishment built in America specifically for theatrical performances. The original building was destroyed by a fire, and the Planter’s Hotel was built on the same property. However, the hotel was eventually destined to demolition, but, with much effort, the building was instead restored to the Dock Street Theater in order to preserve historic places in Charleston. Nowadays, you can catch many great shows here!

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens has been nominated as one of “American’s Most Beautiful Gardens,” and when you’re in Charleston, you have the opportunity to see it for yourself! Magnolia Plantation is the oldest public tourist spot along the Lowcountry, and this property has been through American history such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. This site opened to the public in 1870, and to this day, guests still enjoy the beauty of the gardens. Guests will also enjoy tours, a zoo, boat tour, a cafe and more!

Rainbow Row

Of course, while you’re in Charleston you must stop by a stretch of beautifully colored historic houses called “Rainbow Row.” These houses can be found on East Bay Street, north of Tradd St. and south of Elliot St. Don’t forget to bring your camera!


In Charleston, there are tons of great things to see, and many fun ways to see them! Take a tour like a horse & carriage tour, a harbor boat tour, a pub crawl, house museum tours, ghost walk, or hop on a rickshaw and cruise through the streets until you see something that catches your eye.


While you’re here, you must take a break and have a delicious meal. Charleston is chock-full of top-notch eateries known for fantastic cuisine. Here are some great suggestions of bars, restaurants, and dessert places: Poogan’s Porch, Magnolia’s, Husk, Fish, Taco Boy, Cru Cafe, Fleet Landing, Triangle Char & Bar, Social, Pavilion Bar, Bay Street Bier Garden, Tattooed Moose, Glazed, Toast, Brown Dog Deli, Basil, Tommy Condon’s, and many more!