You have a choice of two main routes if you're planning a road trip from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. One choice is to hug the coastline along U.S Route 17. You'll have plenty of opportunities to dine on fresh seafood or stock up on saltwater taffy as well as take in cultural and historic sites. The drive takes you by Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, Santee Coastal Reserve, and the Francis Marion National Forest. The other route is to take Alternate U.S. Route 17 that bends around Francis Marion National Forest and offers stops at Lake Moultrie as well as state parks and state historic sites.
Although there are no national parks along the short stretch from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, you can check the national parks guide on RVshare. Here, you can find national parks within a few hours of the route on your Charleston to Myrtle Beach RV road trip.
Reconstruction Era National Historical Park
About one hour and 25 minutes south of Charleston, you'll find the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park. It received its designation in 2019. The historic period known as the Reconstruction Era ranges from 1861 to 1900. Beaufort, South Carolina, and the surrounding lowland area played a vital role during this time of transformation. At the visitors center, you can learn more about this era that is frequently misunderstood. Camp Saxton, which was established in 1862, is part of this historic park and is currently located within a military installation. The Emancipation Proclamation was read to both soldiers and civilians in 1863 at Camp Saxton. Brick Baptist Church was built by enslaved people in 1855. The Penn School was established at the church in 1862, and the building still hosts an active church congregation. The Penn Center, which evolved from the Penn School, is also included in the Reconstruction Era National Historic Park.
Congaree National Park
Congaree National Park is the only national park in South Carolina and is located one hour and 45 minutes northwest of Charleston, so it would be pretty easy to visit on a Charleston to Myrtle Beach road trip. The park is 26,276 acres and protects a large swath of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest. You can explore the park on foot via 25 miles of forested hiking trails or 2.4 miles of boardwalk that goes through the flood plain. If you prefer a water adventure, explore Cedar Creek by canoe or kayak along the marked canoe trail.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You can explore the diverse array of plant and animal life by hike or by bike at this densely forested national park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies four hours and 25 minutes northwest of Charleston, just over the North Carolina border. The Hike the Smokies programs offer incentives for putting in miles along the trails. More than 90 historic structures, which include houses, barns, outbuildings, grist mills, schools, and churches, are strewn throughout the park. An auto tour booklet can help you find them all.
Edisto Beach State Park
Edisto Beach State Park is about an hour south of Charleston. At the Environmental Learning Center, you can learn about the ACE Basin as well as experience interactive exhibits such as the touch tank. In addition to camping, the park offers hikes, including wheelchair-accessible trails, fishing, and relaxing under some of the state's tallest palmetto trees.
Huntington Beach State Park
Sea turtles, marine birds, and alligators await you when you visit Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet. The park holds the National Historic Landmark Atalaya, which was the Moorish-style winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. The Huntingtons bequeathed the property and adjacent Brookgreen Gardens to the state. Activities at the state park include hiking and biking trails, an interpretive trail, and boardwalks that jut into the freshwater lagoon and salt marsh.
Givhans Ferry State Park
Givhans Ferry State Park in Ridgeville is a great place to take a swim or to access the river for a canoe, kayak, or float trip. It's also a great spot for fishing and is popular for geocaching. Rare plants along the riverbank made this a Heritage Trust site.
Myrtle Beach State Park
Myrtle Beach State Park opened in 1936 and was the first park to open in the state's park system. In addition to beachcombing, fishing is a major attraction at this park. Visit the nature center, go on a self-led scavenger hunt, or play Maritime Forest Bingo. A nature trails winds through the maritime forest.
Charleston City Market
You can easily spend an entire day at the historic Charleston City Market. Roots of this landmark stretch back to 1788. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney gave the land to the city for the express purpose of a city market. Part of the deal included that it must forever be used as a market. From 1803 to the 1830s, the low buildings that stretch from Market Hall to the waterfront were built. Today, part of the market is enclosed with air conditioning. Throughout the buildings and stalls, you'll find over 300 vendors selling sweetgrass basket and folk art, chocolates, souvenir T-shirts, novelty gifts, African fashion items, Caribbean art, and so much more.
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site
This historic site marks the landing of English settlers in 1670. Start at the visitors center and follow the self-guided history trail. At the wharf, you'll find the Adventure, a 17th-century replica ship known as a trading ketch. The Animal Forest features animals that were indigenous to the area in the 1600s, including bison, bears, pumas, and otters. You can also walk or bike along the trails, which include 80 acres of English park-style gardens.
Fort Sumter National Monument
Not only was Fort Sumter critical in the Revolutionary War, but it is also considered the starting point of the Civil War. The only access to Fort Sumter is with Fort Sumter Tours. Experience a boat ride around the harbor, explore the grounds of Fort Sumter and learn about the events that led up to the Civil War. You can also visit the museum's store.
Sewee Shell Ring Boardwalk
This archaeological site is located 27 miles north of Charleston along U.S. Route 17. The 120-foot-long interpretive trail can guide you around this site that is believed to date back 4,000 years.
The plantation's roots date back to the early 18th century. The remains of this rice plantation in McClellanville serve as an interpretive site to reveal how rice cultivation relied on the slavery system. The site also explores the lives of the freed slaves who lived throughout the Santee Delta after emancipation. Excavation work has served to highlight the disparity between the lives of the landowners and the enslaved. This site also has a historic African American cemetery and a cemetery for the Rutledge family.
Mt. Pleasant on U.S. Route 17 is a perfect gateway to the beaches on Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms. It's the fourth-largest municipality in South Carolina, and the town offers RV campgrounds with a dump station.
This small fishing town is a great place to get a fresh seafood meal. The local campgrounds are a great jumping-off point for a number of outdoor adventures.
Georgetown is the third-oldest city in South Carolina. The town is dominated by steel and paper mills, but there is plenty of historic charm. Check out the historic waterfront area for shopping and dining.
As you'll find at many of the stops on your road trip itinerary from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet offers plenty of fresh seafood and Southern cuisine. It's in proximity to campgrounds that offer dump stations.
You'll find plenty of fresh ocean air and ways to explore nature when you cruise the South Carolina coast, and an RV is the perfect way to take your time and go where you want to go. If you don't own an RV, you can rent one from RVshare in either Charleston or Myrtle Beach. This picturesque route lends itself to hourslong or dayslong road trips, and you'll enjoy the bounty of Old-World Southern hospitality that's still very much alive in the Carolinas.