South Carolina is known for its miles of spectacular coastline and parade of beach town destinations that are perfect for summer getaways. However, once the temperatures drop and the hordes of summer crowds depart, these beautiful beaches transform into off-season retreats that still offer intrepid travelers plenty to see, do, and experience. The following are some of SC’s absolute best beaches for the ultimate idyllic winter vacation full of sun, sand, and off-season adventure.
10/10 Hilton Head
Known as “America’s Favorite Island,” Hilton Head is so much more than one of South Carolina’s most visited summer beach towns; it’s also a lovely escape in the off-season for those looking for year-round beachy vibes. And with an average daytime temperature in the low-to-mid 60s, the weather is just balmy enough to still enjoy (most) of HH’s most popular outdoor activities—without the summer crowds.
- Things To Do: Hiking, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing, dog-walking on the beach (permitted in winter only); golfing, sailing, visiting nearby Bluffton
- Only In Winter: Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival (February 20-26, 2023); Gullah Holiday Market (December 3, 2022); Hilton Head Island Wine & Food Festival (March 19-26, 2023); New Year’s Eve in Harbour Town
- Where to stay: Sonesta Resort - Hilton Head Island
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9/10 Folly Beach
The popular Folly Beach is just minutes from downtown Charleston, making it an ideal spot to take a winter break. Temperatures in the 60s throughout make for cooler days that are still perfect for Low Country exploring, while nearby Charleston has a number of fun winter activities that are just a stone’s throw away from Folly Beach’s laidback vibes and picturesque beauty.
- Things To Do: Plantation tours, wildlife viewing, beach walks; explore downtown Charleston; Folly Beach pier; Thanksgiving in Folly
- Only In Winter: Christmas Parade; New Year's Eve Flip-Flop Drop and Fireworks; Taste of Folly (January 14, 2023); Sea & Sand Festival (February 25, 2023)
- Where to stay: Tides Folly Beach
8/10 Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach is undoubtedly one of South Carolina’s top-rated beaches throughout the summer—but in the off-season, the beautiful beach town is still a bustling hub of activities and events that make it a wow-worthy winter destination, too. And while it may be too cool to take a dip, MB’s outdoor scenery is just as lovely as it is in the summer.
- Things To Do: Vereen Memorial Historical Gardens; Plyer Park; Myrtle Beach Art Museum; fishing and dolphin cruises, golfing, fishing
- Only In Winter: Christmas lights on the Grand Strand; Christmas at Pirate’s Voyage shows; Seabrook Island; Winter Wonderland at the Beach (November 17-December 23, 2022)
- Where to stay: Coral Beach Resort And Suites
7/10 Kiawah Island
Kiawah Island is a secluded beach town escape whose year-round laidback vibes make it the perfect place to visit in winter’s cooler months. Undoubtedly, one of the best reasons to visit Kiawah is its relaxing atmosphere—made even better by the lack of summer crowds—but there are still plenty of outdoor activities and recreation on tap for outdoor enthusiasts, too.
- Things To Do: Tennis, golf, fishing, crabbing, kayaking, canoeing, biking, shelling, beach walks
- Only In Winter: Oyster season; Off-season activities at Kiawah Island Golf Resort; Holiday shopping and carolers at Freshfields Village; Gourmet & Grapes (February 2-5, 2023)
- Where to stay: Charleston Kiawah Island/Andell Inn
6/10 Isle Of Palms
Isle of Palms may be known for its stellar summer recreation; however, this Charleston area beach is so much more than a warm weather retreat. Throughout the off-season, this picturesque SC beach’s tranquil (and mostly crowd-free!) vibes become the perfect getaway for those looking for a beachfront vacay with plenty to see and do during the cool(er) winter months.
- Things To Do: Kayaking, golfing, boat tours, biking, beach walking, Palms County Park
- Only In Winter: Holiday Street Festival (December 3, 2022); Front Beach Christmas Tree; Holiday Festival of Lights in nearby Charleston (November 11-December 31, 2022)
- Where to stay: Wild Dunes Resort
5/10 Sullivan’s Island
A neighbor to Isle of Palms located at the mouth of the lovely Charleston harbor, Sullivan’s Island is the perfect mix of small-town charm and relaxing, beachside fun. Home to beautiful beaches, outdoor adventures, and nearby activities galore, Sullivan’s Island is the perfect winter getaway.
- Things To Do: Kayaking, sailing, fishing, visit historic Fort Moultrie, visit nearby Fort Sumter, beach walks, Charleston Light
- Only In Winter: Oyster season; enjoy Holiday Events in nearby Charleston; New Year’s Eve in Sullivan’s Island.
- Where to stay: Hyatt Place Charleston Historic District
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4/10 Pawley’s Island
Known as one of America’s oldest and best summer resort communities, Pawley’s Island may seem like an exclusively warm weather destination. However, when the summer crowds leave, there are still plenty of things to see and do in this historic SC beach town.
- Things To Do: Golfing, fishing, crabbing, shelling, beach walking/jogging, wildlife viewing, exploring The Creek scenic tideland, historic district
- Only In Winter: Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens (November 26, 2022-January 1, 2023); horseriding tours; Pawley’s Island Holiday Market (November 22, 2022)
- Where to stay: Hampton Inn Pawleys Island
3/10 Murrells Inlet
A popular fishing village near Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet is packed with charm, history, and wonderful waterfront scenery that make it a gorgeous year-round getaway. From pirate lore to oodles of outdoor recreation, SC’s “seafood capital” is a fun-filled winter retreat.
- Things To Do: Deep sea fishing, Marshwalk, Brookgreen Gardens, Huntington Beach State Park, Garden City beach walks, birding, banana boat rides,
- Only In Winter: Nights of a Thousand Candles; Marshwalk Wonderland of Lights
- Where to stay: The Inlet Sports Lodge
2/10 Litchfield Beach
Well known for its pristine white sand and turquoise waters that make for an idyllic summer retreat, Litchfield Beach is no less beautiful during the cool(er) winter months. Come for the activities like fishing and biking, but stay for the relaxing, scenic vibes available year-round.
- Things To Do: Kayaking, golfing, fishing, biking Waccamaw Neck Bikeway, visit nearby Pawleys Island
- Only In Winter: Oyster Season, Local Holiday Events, The Great Christmas Light Show in North Myrtle Beach (November 21-December 30, 2022)
- Where to stay: Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort
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1/10 Surfside Beach
Located near Myrtle Beach, the spectacularly scenic Surfside Beach is known as a popular family-friendly destination throughout the summer. However, there’s plenty to do here during the off-season, too, for those looking to escape the warm weather crowds.
- Things To Do: Surfside Beach Pier, Hudson's Surfside Flea Market, fishing, crabbing, beach walks, kite flying, Waccatee Zoo
- Only In Winter: Surfside Beach Farmer’s Market (Tuesdays through December 20); Surfside Beach Christmas Parade (December 10, 2022); Ripley’s Aquarium Festival of Trees
- Where to stay: Surfside Beach Oceanfront Hotel