The Palmetto State
South Carolina is part of the American South. The weather is hot and humid in summer, with short and mild winters. The state is occasionally affected by tropical cyclones. It is renowned for its antebellum homes (the period before the American Civil War), historical sites and southern style, especially in the city of Charleston. Along its Eastern Atlantic Coast are several popular destinations. The Grand Strand (the name refers to a large stretch of beaches) runs from the North and South Carolina border along the towns of Little River, Atlantic Beach, Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City. Little River is great for fishing and water sports, while Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head are known for their beautiful beaches, but also for Golf (the "Golf Capital of the World"). To travel around the state, you will need to rent a car, book a bus or train ticket. For more information visit: discoversouthcarolina.com.
Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community
Fort Sumter National Monument. Photo via National Park Service.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
The Charleston Museum is the first museum in America. Founded in 1773, the museum teaches visitors about the cultural and natural history of Charleston.
The Elloree Heritage Museum & Cultural Center focuses on South Carolina’s rural history with exhibits, artifacts, artwork and special events.
Fort Sumter National Monument near Charleston marks the beginning of the Civil War on April 12, 1816. Visitors can learn more about Civil War history in South Carolina at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center then take a ferry to the fort for a self-guided tour. The ferry also leaves from Mt. Pleasant at the Patriots Point Maritime Museum.
Historic Brattonsville is a living history museum on a 775-acre Revolutionary War site. Visitors can see over 30 historic structures on the site, learn about African American heritage in South Carolina, and see a reenactment of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat.
The Old Slave Mart Museum tells the story of Charleston’s history as a center of the inter-state slave trade in the early 19th century.
The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, the state capital, has exhibits on art, natural history, science and history, including over 70,000 artifacts from the past 14,000 years of South Carolina history.
- Adventure Sightseeing Charleston
- Bulldog Tours – Historic, food and ghost tours in Charleston
- Carolina Heritage Outfitters
- Columbia Historic Tours
- Gullah Tours – Charleston heritage tour
- Hampton Plantation Mansion Tours
- Historic Charleston Tours
- Palmetto Outdoor Tours
Peace Concert Hall in Greenville. Photo by Peacecenter.
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.
Art Museums and Galleries
- Bob Jones University Museum & Gallery, Greenville
- Cherokee County History & Arts Museum, Gaffney
- Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia
- Florence Museum Of Art, Science & History, Florence
- Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston
- Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville
- HUB-BUB, Spartanburg
- Irma Morris Museum of Fine Arts, Pickens
- Monsanto Gallery at Lander University, Greenwood
- South Carolina State House Art Collection, Columbia
- Spartanburg County Museum of Art, Spartanburg
- Winthrop University Galleries, Rock Hill
Performing Arts Centers
- Anderson Symphony Orchestra, Anderson
- Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, Hilton Head Island
- Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg
- Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, Clemson University, Clemson
- Carolina Ballet Theatre, Greenville
- The Carolina Opry, Myrtle Beach
- Centre Stage, Greenville
- Chapman Cultural Center, Spartanburg
- Charleston Stage, Charleston
- Columbia City Ballet, Columbia
- Greater Anderson Music Arts Consortium, Anderson
- Greenville Little Theatre, Greenville
- Greenville Symphony Orchestra, Greenville
- Koger Center For The Arts, University of South Carolina, Columbia
- Newberry Opera House, Newberry
- Opera Charleston, Charleston
- Peace Center for the Performing Arts, Greenville
- Spartanburg Repertory Company, Spartanburg
- Theatre of the Republic, Conway
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
South Carolina has no professional sports teams, but many North Carolina teams represent both North and South Carolina, including:
For tickets to professional sports games in the Carolinas check the team websites above. Tickets may also be available on the following websites:
- Ticketexchangebyticketmaster.com to buy or sell tickets from season ticket holders and fans.
- StubHub.com for tickets and last-minute deals.
College sporting events are very popular in South Carolina. College athletic programs often feature many types of sports, including football, baseball, basketball, soccer, track and field, and lacrosse. Some of the leading college athletic programs in South Carolina include:
- Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, Coastal Carolina University
- Clemson Tigers, Clemson University
- Charleston Southern Buccaneers, Charleston Southern University
- The Citadel Bulldogs, The Military College of South Carolina
- College of Charleston Cougars, College of Charleston
- Furman Paladins, Furman University
- Presbyterian Blue Hose, Presbyterian College
- South Carolina Bulldogs, South Carolina State University
- South Carolina Gamecocks, University of South Carolina
- Upstate Spartans, University of South Carolina Upstate
- Winthrop Eagles, Winthrop University
- Wofford Terriers, Wofford College
NASCAR races can be seen at Darlington Raceway, including the annual Spring Cup Series over Mother’s Day weekend.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge along the Atlantic coast of South Carolina is home to barrier beaches, salt marshes, coastal waterways and the many animals that live in these environments, including loggerhead sea turtles, egrets, pelicans and bald eagles. Endangered red wolves can also be seen at the Sewee Visit Center. Visitors can also go walking, hiking, fishing and biking in select areas of the park.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston was founded in 1676 and is the oldest garden in the United States. Today visitors can see the plantation manor, a conservatory, swamp garden, nature boat tour, zoo and nature center, and learn about African-American history at the plantation and gardens.
Myrtle Beach has 60 miles of coastline and many opportunities to get outside and have fun. Two state parks are located in Myrtle Beach along with outdoor activities like swimming, fishing, boating, scuba diving, surfing, biking and camping.
Kings Mountain State Park near Blacksburg has hiking trails, fishing, camping, and a Living History Farm that allows visitors to see a replica of a 19th century farm. The park is also located near the Kings Mountain National Military Park where visitors can see living history demonstrations and special Revolutionary War-related events.
Beaufort, South Carolina, home of the Beaufort Shrimp Festival. Photo by Ken Lund.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
Southern cooking is a major part of South Carolina cuisine, including some local specialties like Charleston she-crab soup, boiled peanuts, Frogmore stew and the Lowcountry cuisine of coastal South Carolina with influences from Caribbean and African cuisine.
Browse a directory of farmers’ markets in South Carolina to find fresh produce, local goods and homemade items.
- Lowcountry Oyster Festival, January, Mount Pleasant
- Charleston Restaurant Week, January, Charleston
- BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, February/March. Charleston
- South Carolina Cornbread Festival, March, Columbia
- World Grits Festival, April, St. George
- Lexington County Peach Festival, July, Gilbert
- Pageland Watermelon Festival, July, Pageland
- Beaufort Shrimp Festival, October, Beaufort
For a unique and local perspective on American culture, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
Beaufort International Film Festival in February recognizes aspiring filmmakers in most genres of film, including independent films, music, animation, short films, documentaries and screenwriting.
In February, the Battle of Aiken celebrates South Carolina’s southern heritage with a reenactment of the Civil War battle. Food vendors, historic arts and crafts, traditional music, and history lectures and programs are also held during the event.
The Carolina Cup is a steeplechase horse race held each March and it is considered a southern tradition in Camden. Men and women often dress up for the event, including many nearby college students that often attend the event.
Columbia International Festival in March/April celebrates the many cultural groups in South Carolina with food, music, arts and crafts, exhibits, dancing, performances and special events.
Historic Pendleton Spring Jubilee is a family-friend event with local artisans, live music, local food vendors and cultural events like dancing and performances. The jubilee is held in April for the nearby communities of Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.
An annual Arts Festival & Pauwau is held each November by the Waccamaw Indian People of Aynor, South Carolina. The festival includes historic and cultural events like dancing, music, arts and crafts, food and storytelling.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
South Carolina Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for South Carolina participants include:
- Craigslist – South Carolina
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Public Transportation Systems
In South Carolina’s state capital, Columbia, Central Midlands RTA operates buses in Columbia and the surrounding regions.
Charleston is served by the CARTA bus and trolley system.
Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in South Carolina.
Greyhound buses travel within South Carolina and connect to a larger network of bus routes that travel around the United States.
Southeastern Stages operates a limited number of scheduled bus routes between South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.
Participants in South Carolina can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- South Carolina FEMA updates on Twitter: @femaregion4
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Volunteer on a one-time or ongoing basis with South Carolina State Park Service at locations around the state.
Help at one of South Carolina’s food banks as an individual or as part of a group. Tasks often include sorting food donations, working in community kitchens, office help and other activities to help feed those in need.
Sign up with United Way and use the Get Connected platform to find organizations in need of volunteers throughout the state.
Volunteer with the Columbia Marathon to help organize and support a fun and healthy event in South Carolina’s capital. No running required!