15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in South Carolina

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golden retriever is feeling joyful in a dog friendly vacation in south carolina

In the southeastern section of the United States along the Atlantic coastline, South Carolina is one of the most populated states in the country, with 5.1 million residents. And because these millions of people love dogs, there are also an estimated 850,000 fur babies living there so there are a lot of dog-friendly places and activities. 

South Carolina was founded in 1788 and was an integral part of the American Revolutionary War. Today, the state is more of a tourist attraction, especially Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head. You will find over 5,000 pup popular rental sites, more than 1,500 dog-friendly restaurants, 80+ dog parks, and 22 dog beaches in South Carolina for pup parents who live and visit. 

If you have decided to visit South Carolina but cannot decide where to go, we will help you with that. We have listed our top 15 vacation destinations in the state and even separated them by activity or season. So, if you are looking for a place to camp or hike, we have them here for you. Want to take your honey for a romantic vacation or the family on a fun trip? We have them, too. Just take a look!


Pack up your pup and your honey and head for Greenville for a romantic vacation. For a picnic lunch by a waterfall, take them to Falls Park on the Reedy River. You can walk around the beautiful park to explore the gardens and get a view from the curved suspension bridge. Then, visit Paris Mountain State Park. It has 1,275 acres of forests for hiking, biking, boating, swimming, picnicking, and even camping. 

When you are ready to let Fido off the leash for a while, take him to Conestee Dog Park. It has a special section for small dogs that is 14,000 square feet and a large dog section with over 30,000 square feet. They both have grass, shade, benches, water, and loads of space for playing fetch. 

Finally, take your partner and your pup to Soby’s on Main Street for a gourmet dinner. They have unique items like blue crab deviled eggs but they also serve steaks, chops, and burgers. Your fur buddy is welcome to join you on the patio. 


The capital of South Carolina, Columbia, boasts a population of 137,000 residents with about 22,000 dogs so you will likely see some of the pooches and pup parents around town. For a lake vacation in the capital city, you can get a luxurious hotel room with a pool, bar, gym, and restaurant at the Hilton that even has a spa bath.

You will be within a few miles of 10 different parks as well as the Columbia Museum of Art, South Carolina State Museum, and the Robert Mills House and Gardens. One of the largest parks in the area, the Sesquicentennial State Park has a huge lake where you can rent a boat or kayak, have a picnic, or explore the Sandhills Hiking Trail. It even has a dog park where your pooch can get off the leash for a while. 

For something unique, take your pooch to Craft Axe Throwing. There are 17 lanes for tossing the hatchet or tomahawk and they even serve cold beer. 

Sullivan’s Island 

If you are planning a summer vacation in South Carolina, consider Sullivan’s Island. The best thing about being on an island is the beaches everywhere you look. Sullivan’s Island Beach is the main one, and it is dog-friendly. In fact, there are certain hours your pup can even play and swim off the leash. There are a number of beaches all over the island, some on the Atlantic Ocean and others on The Cove. 

When you and Fido need a break from the beach, why not go for a hike? The island has quite a few dog-friendly trails, like the Palmetto Trail and the newest one called Sullivan’s Island Nature Trail. It starts off Atlantic Street by Station 16. Be sure to bring plenty of baggies to pick up after your pup and water for both of you.

After working up an appetite, stop by Poe’s Tavern, Home Team BBQ, or Sullivan’s Fish Camp for a bite to eat on the patio. 


Located in southeastern South Carolina, Charleston is the most populated city in the state, with over 153,000 people and about 25,000 canine companions. Founded in 1670, it is also one of the oldest cities in the area and has six districts, including downtown, Daniel Island, Cainhoy Peninsula, James Island, Johns Island, and West Ashley. 

What’s more, Charleston is a great place for a winter vacation because the weather stays warm here all year, with highs in the 60s in December, January, and February. It is spread out over such a vast space that you and your pup can choose from many bodies of water, including the ocean, Cooper, Ashley, and Wando Rivers, or one of many creeks around the islands. Hazel Parker Playground has a nice dog beach by the Carolina Yacht Club where your pup can play. 

When you want to let your pup romp around off the leash with other pups, bring him to Mixson Avenue Dog Park. The fully fenced park has agility stations with tunnels, jumps, ramps, and hoops. 

Murrells Inlet 

If you and your cuddly buddy like to sleep under the stars and get closer to nature, Murrells Inlet has a great dog-friendly campground. Huntington Beach State Park has 177 campsites. Some of them are for RVs and have full hookups while others are just for tents. Your pooch must remain on a leash at all times and you will need to bring doggie bags to pick up anything he drops. The park also has a white sand beach where your canine companion is welcome. 

Further inland, you can take Fido to Wacca Wache Marina to fish and boat on the Waccamaw River. They also have boat rentals and a restaurant. Be sure to take your fur baby to Freeway Park, where he can be free of his leash to run and play with the other dogs. Then, take him to Greg’s Cabana Bar & Grill, where you can get some food and adult beverages. 

Don’t miss Murrells Inlet Marshwalk. It is a half-mile-long boardwalk that overlooks a salt marsh. 

Myrtle Beach 

Get the family and the dog packed up and head to Myrtle Beach for your next adventure because they have a plethora of fun kid-friendly and dog-friendly activities and places to enjoy. First, book your stay at Dunes Village where dogs are welcome and they have three swimming pools with an indoor waterpark as well as a game room, a private beach, and three restaurants.

If you can pry the kids out of the awesome hotel, leave Fido with a sitter and take them to EdVenture. The kids will love Eddie, the 40-foot-tall kid you can explore inside and out, and all of the interactive adventures like Dalmatian Station, where you can be a firefighter, MedVenture, where you can be a doctor, and the Great Outdoors, where you can play in the water, look for gemstones, and climb on an airplane. 

After you pick up your pup, take him and the family to one of the Bark Parks. The one on Mallard Lake Drive has 14 acres of off-leash fun with a lake. 

Santee State Park

Located in central South Carolina, Santee State Park has everything you need for a hiking vacation with your pupster. It has three trails with over 10 miles of trails on 2,500 acres, and your pooch is welcome as long as he is leashed. Both the Oak Pinolly Trail and Limestone Nature Trail are about one mile long, and the Sinkhole Pond Nature Trail is a little shorter. Always bring lots of potty bags with you to clean up anything your cuddly buddy drops along the way.

While you are in the park, you can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing at the lake as well as geocaching, picnicking, or wildlife watching in the rest of the park. Since it is impossible to do it all in one day, why not reserve a campsite so you can stay? There are two campgrounds with 158 sites and two cabins that allow pets as well. 

If you get hungry and do not have anything to cook on the fire, there are several places that have outdoor seating for pet parents. Clark’s Restaurant, Craig’s Place Cafe, and the Santee Canteen are just a few of them.

Mount Pleasant 

Enjoy a getaway with your canine company where the temperatures are always warm and the people are friendly. Mount Pleasant is not a mountain, though. It is actually in the Lowcountry. With a population of more than 90,000, the city has been one of South Carolina’s fastest-growing areas. It is home to five county parks, three shopping centers, and countless fun things to do. 

Take your fur puppy to Pickett Bridge Recreation Area to see the city’s oldest neighborhood and the Pitt Street Bridge. It used to connect the railroad to Sullivan’s Island, but now it is a tourist attraction and local hangout where you can fish for some monster sea trout, tarpons, and billfish. Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens is also pup popular, where you can take a self-guided tour with your leashed pooch. 

If you want to take Fido out on the water, go to Nature Adventures, where they will rent you a kayak or paddleboard. 

Congaree National Park 

Congaree National Park, with almost 27,000 acres of recreational space to explore in central South Carolina, you will find a plethora of dog-friendly fun to enjoy. The natural wilderness area is a national landmark and an important bird area. With all of that acreage to explore, you will need to stay for at least one night, so be sure to reserve a site in one of the campgrounds in advance because there are not many of them. 

The Longleaf Campground has 16 sites with picnic tables and fire rings close to the parking lot. For the other campground, Bluff Camping, you have to hike about a mile from the visitor center. It only has six sites with tables and fire rings. Backcountry camping is also available but it is rugged, and you have to hike a ways to get to any of them. Some can only be reached by boat.

While at the park, check out the tallest and largest loblolly pines in the world that are more than 500 years old. Take a hike on the Weston Loop Trail to get to Weston Lake where you can swim, fish, and boat.

Rock Hill 

Running along the Catawba River, Rock Hill has 31 parks to explore with your pooch, so be ready to play outdoors. The city is also affordable with several hotels having rooms starting under $100. Ramada is only $66 and charges just $10 per pet per night. Howard Johnson is just $70 for a room, and pets are $15 per night. The Red Roof Inn’s rooms start at $79 and they do not charge any fee at all for pets.

Even more affordable, the Spencer Park Dog Park is free and has a special small dog section as well as water fountains, seating, and waste stations. The Frazier Park Dog Park is another free pup play space with two sections divided by size. Outside the dog park, your pooch is welcome as long as he is on a leash. 

Anglers will love Winthrop Lake, where you can bring your pup on a leash, and it is free to fish as long as you have a fishing license. 

Dreher Island State Park 

Located on Lake Murray, which is 50,000 acres, Dreher Island State Park includes three islands just minutes from Columbia. The park boasts some of the best fishing in the state and is home to some important fishing tournaments. There are also boat ramps, three playgrounds for the little humans, miles of trails, and over 100 campsites you can stay at. Dogs are even allowed to stay in cabins two through five if you do not want to rough it. 

There is no dedicated swim area, but you and your pooch can dive in and play wherever you want as long as you keep his leash on. Also, remember to pack lots of poop bags to pick up after him. Take your fur baby on a 2.1-mile hike on the Little Gap Trail, which takes you through the thick woods at the end of the peninsula.

You can find geocaching spots in the park, too, if you are into that. Just look them up on the geocache app. 


Grab your loved ones and take them to Summerville for a romantic weekend. If you want to impress your sweetheart, take her to The Vendue, where you can get a suite with a fireplace, a free breakfast brought to your door every morning, a grand piano in the reception area, an art gallery, and a rooftop bar. Your fur baby will also be impressed with his free pet bowls, a comfy bed, and dog treats. 

You can also take them to Ashley River Park with 85 acres that include a fishing pond, playground, kayak launch, trails, picnic areas, and even two dog parks: one for small dogs and one for all dogs. Then, you and your pooch can share a meal with your honey at The Icehouse, an impressive dining establishment with a dog patio. Enjoy wagyu steak, fried flounder, crab legs, or seafood pot pie. 

To end the evening, take your two favorite loved ones on a carriage ride with Carriage Works. The narrated tours on horse-drawn carriages last about 30 minutes. However, your pup has to fit in your lap.

Hilton Head Island 

Also known as Hilton Head, the island is just off Picney and Daufuskie Islands and is very dog-friendly, with several beaches allowing your pup to join you at certain times of the year. The resort town is named after Captain Will Hilton, who found the headland in 1663. It has more than 10 miles of oceanfront as well as 22 parks and a variety of fun attractions. With so much beach space, this is the perfect summer vacation spot. 

Alder Lane Beach, Fish Haul Beach Park, and Burkes Beach allow fur babies before 10 am and after 5 pm from April to October. Also, you will need to bring your own cleanup bags to pick up whatever your pup drops. Your pooch can also join you on one of the 10+ local cruises. Vagabond Cruise allows dogs under 20 pounds, but the others do not have a size limit. 

Don’t miss the Turtle Talk Tour with Holly, where you and Fido can learn about the Lowcountry and the sea turtles while exploring the waterfront.

Caesars Head State Park

Another great place to bring the family and your pupster is Caesars Head State Park. Fido is allowed in all the outdoor areas as long as he is on a leash and you clean up after him. One of the main attractions here is Raven Cliff Falls but there are five other waterfalls as well. To see Raven Cliff, you will have to hike 2.1 miles to get there. As a matter of fact, the park has a dozen trails you and your fur baby can explore. 

You can also do some fishing at the Middle Saluda River where you can catch all sorts of bass, catfish, and crappie. Julian and Matthews Creeks are popular for trout fishing too. Make sure you have a license and only use artificial lures. If you want to camp, you will have to walk quite a ways and the sites are all primitive with no amenities. 

While you are in town, bring your pup with you to Victoria Valley Vineyards. They have some delicious wine and you can grab some lunch on the terrace.  


Another place in South Carolina with an awesome lake is Greer. Located in the northern section of the state, the city has just over 35,000 residents with an estimated 5,000 pups. Named after James Manning Greer, who settled there in 1750, the historic city still has some buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places. There are actually three lakes in town, but the main one is Lake Robinson. 

With 800 acres featuring kayaking, fishing, boating, and swimming, your pup is welcome to play in the water on a leash. Bring a fishing license if you want to fish, and always have plenty of water and doggie bags with you wherever you go. Then, relax and try one (or more) of the 60 craft beers at The Southern Growl. They also serve delicious sandwiches and burgers on the patio. 

Nearby, don’t miss Tyger Run Dog Park where they have an agility course, separate spaces for big and small dogs, and plenty of seating. 

The Final Woof

Before you start packing for your South Carolina vacation, you can learn a little more about some of the most dog-friendly destinations to visit. Those who enjoy lakes can check out Sesqui Lake at Sesquicentennial State Park, Santee State Park, Greer, and Rock Hill. For some camping, the best places to go include Congaree National Park, Murrells Inlet, and Santee State Park. If you are looking for a romantic weekend, Summerville has an exquisite hotel and some awesome restaurants. Congaree National Park is also a perfect place to go hiking with your cuddly canine companion as does Santee State Park. And if you are looking for a place to play this winter, Charleston is a nice place to go. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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