Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west, South Carolina is perfectly situated for some amazingly scenic driving. In just one day you can be high up in the hills for an Upcountry breakfast, and end your day with a fresh seafood dinner along the Lowcountry coast. Along the way you’ll pass through cities, drive alongside rivers and lakes, and cruise through national forests. Not a bad way to spend a day on the road.
But if you’re setting out from Charleston, the largest city in the state as well as its oldest (founded in 1670, incorporated in 1783), where should you head first? We’ve got a few ideas for you—but before you hit the road, you’ll need a car with some southern style. Luckily for you, DriveShare has a variety of classic and vintage cars available to rent for a day, a weekend or just for a ride around town.
Once you get verified as a DriveShare driver, you’ll have access to dozens of classic and fun-to-drive vehicles like Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs, Cadillacs, Porsches and more, all just waiting for you to get behind the wheel. Where to first? How about:
Ashley River Road
This first route is a short one—less than 15 miles long—but packed with scenery and history. Canopied by moss-laden live oaks, the look is pure South Carolina and takes you along the Ashley River to destinations like centuries-old churches, sprawling gardens, and a historic rice plantation that teaches patrons about the history and practice of slavery in the area.
One destination is Drayton Hall, the oldest unrestored plantation house in America that’s open to the public, and has survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, and multiple hurricanes. Another is the Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site where visitors can watch archaeologists uncover relics from the riverside trading encampment that lasted throughout the 1700s.
A trip out and back along this two-lane byway doesn’t need to take much time, but you’ll be transported through the centuries along the way.
Charleston to Myrtle Beach
If you’re ready to move a bit faster, point your compass northeast for a 2.25-hour drive along the South Carolina coastline up to the tourist mecca of Myrtle Beach. Heading out of the city, you’ll cross the iconic 3.5-mile-long Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, which is the longest cable-stayed bridge on the continent. Once you cross the bridge you can take an immediate side trip to Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum, which houses the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, the USS Laffey destroyer and other airplanes, boats and exhibits.
Further along the way the coastline reveals itself in places like the Francis Marion National Forest and the Santee Coastal Reserve, with its 24,000 acres of woods, swamps and wetlands. Halfway along the drive you can stop at historic Georgetown to dine on lowcountry seafood and shop at the many stores, galleries, gift shops, boutiques and more, all of which are locally owned.
Before you arrive in Myrtle Beach, you’ll drive even closer to the coastline along barrier islands like resort town of Pawley Island, and the 9,000 acres of the Brooktree Gardens, a Historical Landmark that’s home to 250-year-old Live Oak trees, palmetto and butterfly gardens, a small zoo and a sprawling sculpture garden.
Charleston to Savannah
If you’re not up for the louder sights and sounds of Myrtle Beach, perhaps a trip south along the coastline to quaint Savannah is more your speed. This trip takes you two hours in the other direction, but you’ll want to take your time on a couple of side trips to Edisto Island and the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church, both of which are along the way.
Traveling out of town through the barrier islands you’ll encounter the Edisto Island Scenic National Byway, which takes you through tunnels of trees, past historic churches, farmer’s markets and roadside stands to eventually lead you to Edisto Beach state park on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of just four seaside state parks in the state, and this one boasts 1.5 miles of seashell-covered beachfront to explore.
Zigzag your way back west to Highway 17 and you’ll find a town called Gardens Corner where you can turn north onto Old Sheldon Church Road. It’s not a long side trip, but a worthy one: You’ll travel beneath tree canopies laden with Spanish moss to arrive at the ruins of a temple-style church built in 1757 that was torn apart for supplies after General Sherman’s march to the sea. Its walls still stand in a quiet field that you can walk through—it is located on private property, but its owners just ask you to be respectful and not touch the ruins, which also include a nearby graveyard.
From here it’s a short drive further south to Savannah, but since you’ve made a few stops, what’s one more? Hilton Head Island is on the way, so you might as well cruise through the 30-mile Hilton Head Scenic Byway to visit destinations like Harbour Town, the Lawton Stables, Baynard Ruins Park, and the New-England-styled South Beach Village.
If any of these routes have inspired you to take a drive, allow us to remind you that nothing goes better with these curving rural byways than a suitably classic car. Don’t have one? Become a verified driver at Hagerty DriveShare, then get ready to find the rentable classic car of your dreams. After that, it’s just up to you to fire up the engine and hit the road.
And if you love your DriveShare so much you decide to acquire a collectible car of your own, make sure to join the Hagerty Drivers Club. It’s one part social community for car lovers like yourself, one part research database with valuation tools galore, and one part marketplace where you can find your next classic car for your personal fleet … or find a new owner for one of the cars already in your garage.