14 Wonderful Beaches Near Columbia, SC

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Looking for beaches near Columbia, SC? You’re in the right spot. Because we have rounded up a list of the best beaches for your next family trip. You’ll find some wonderful beaches on the SC and NC coast with kid-friendly attractions and things to do, perfect for planning your itinerary. Most of the beaches listed here are within 3-4 hours from Columbia, SC. 

Best beaches near Columbia, SC

Best Beaches Near Columbia, SC

SC Beaches Within 4 Hours of Columbia

There are so many family-friendly beaches along the South Carolina coast. Here are details on some of the best ones with details on ocean excursions, hotels to stay at, and even some of the best things to do at these SC beaches.

Folly Beach, SC
Distance from Columbia: 2 hours from Columbia, SC

Let me introduce you to one of my absolute favorite beach spots, just an easy 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston, SC. The waves draw in the pro surfers every morning. But that’s not all – picture a charming downtown area oozing with total beach vibes and easy access to other nearby beaches. You’re also close to both Charleston and Mt. Pleasant.

Now, let’s talk perks: there are public restrooms and even outdoor showers to rinse off the sand, so you can stay fresh all day long. Wander along the boardwalk, grab a bite at the full-service restaurant, or snag some souvenirs at the gift shop. And here’s a little insider tip for you: if you’re all about saving a little money, park a bit further from the Folly Pier Structure – trust me, your wallet will thank you later!

Myrtle Beach, SC
Distance from Columbia:
~2.5 Hours from Columbia, SC

Myrtle Beach is pretty well-known throughout the country. It’s evolved over the years, and you’ll find very family-friendly beaches and things to do there. Plus, it’s a short 2.5 hour drive from Columbia!

Some of the must-see attractions at Myrtle Beach include Ripley’s Aquarium and the SkyWheel. But you definitely don’t want to miss the Myrtle Beach State Park and Brookgreen Gardens. There are also plenty of luxury golf courses. 

Be sure to read our Myrtle Beach Travel Guide for more ideas and a list of places to stay.

Edisto Beach
Distance from Columbia:
~2.5 hours from Columbia, SC

If you’re craving a vacation surrounded by nature, check out Edisto Beach! This hidden gem is teeming with wildlife. Picture yourself strolling along quiet beaches, scouring the sand for seashells and maybe even a shark tooth or two – it’s every kid’s dream! And let’s not forget the dreamy backdrop of trees draped in Spanish moss, making you feel like you stepped onto a movie set.

And while Edisto Island is a nature lover’s paradise, there aren’t any public bathrooms or showers on the beach. So, be prepared to make a dash back to your hotel for those potty breaks and quick changes. But trust me, the enchanting scenery and wildlife sightings make it all worth it!

Hilton Head Island
Distance from Columbia: ~2.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Hilton Head Island is like a little slice of paradise right on the South Carolina coast! And get this: everything on the island is totally walkable or bikeable, so you can leave the car behind and explore at your own pace.

From pirate excursions to dolphin tours, parks to arcades, our Guide to Hilton Head Island is packed with over 20 kid-friendly vacation ideas that’ll keep the whole family entertained. So, pack your sunscreen and get ready for some serious fun in the sun!

Kiawah Island
Distance from Columbia: ~2.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Kiawah Island is just 2.5 hours away from Columbia and is a quieter, residential beach. It’s one of the barrier islands, and to get through the guard gate you’ll need proof of accommodations or a guest pass. But you totally can visit the island without staying there… just turn before the first guard gate and head towards Beachwalker Park.

Huntington Beach State Park
Distance from Columbia: ~2 hours 45 minutes from Columbia, SC

Whether you’re into spotting amazing wildlife or just soaking up the laid-back vibes, Huntington Beach has got you covered. Picture this: the earthy scent of a protected beach, small crowds, and endless opportunities for relaxation.

While the kids are busy hunting for seashells or building sandcastles, you can kick back and enjoy your peaceful surroundings. And hey, if you’re up for a little camping under the stars, you can even set up camp right on the beach. It’s the perfect getaway for nature lovers and beach enthusiasts alike!

Pawley’s Island & Litchfield Beach
Distance from Columbia:
~3 hours from Columbia, SC

About 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach, several of the KAG readers recommend these locations for a quieter beach experience.

Fripp Island
Distance from Columbia: ~3 hours from Columbia, SC

Fripp Island, nestled near Hilton Head, has been dubbed as “a wonderful place for families,” and it’s not hard to see why. From sandy shores to wildlife wonders, Fripp Island has it all.

NC Beaches Within 4 Hours of Columbia

Sunset Beach
Distance from Columbia:
Just over 3 hours from Columbia, SC

Ready for a family-friendly adventure that’s just a road trip away? Head north of the state line, and you’ll find yourself at the sunny shores of Sunset Beach! It’s like stepping into a postcard-perfect paradise tailor-made for families looking to unwind and make memories together. 

Ocean Isle
Distance from Columbia: Just over 3 hours from Columbia, SC

Ocean Isle is said to be a fun family beach trip destination!

Holden Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~3 hours 15 minutes from Columbia, SC

Just south of Wilmington, you’ll find Holden Beach near Ocean Isle. Think small-town charm meets unspoiled coastal beauty. Perfect for a family vacation, Holden Beach offers a laid-back vibe and plenty of opportunities to make lasting memories with the kiddos

Carolina Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~3.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Carolina Beach gives you all those classic beach vibes with its charming boardwalk and Ferris wheel. It’s the perfect spot for some family fun. And here’s the best part: thanks to smaller crowds, you won’t have to stress about finding a spot on the sand for your beach gear.

Wrightsville Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~3.5 hours from Columbia, SC

Get ready for some serious family adventure at Wrightsville Beach! This place is a haven for watersports enthusiasts, with surfing and SUP (stand-up paddleboarding) topping the list of must-try activities. But that’s not all – you can hop on scenic tours of the island and dive into the fascinating world of coastal wildlife at the nature center

Topsail Beach
Distance from Columbia: ~4 hours from Columbia, SC

If you’re up for a little adventure, Topsail Beach is calling your name! Sure, it’s a bit of a trek from Columbia, but it’s totally worth it. Picture this: endless stretches of sandy shores just waiting for you to kick back and soak up the sun. And when you’re ready for a change of scenery, head over to the marshlands for some prime seabird watching – who knows, you might even catch a glimpse of a playful dolphin or two!

For the ultimate escape from the hustle and bustle, make your way to the southern tip of the island and discover the hidden oasis known as Serenity Point Sandbar. Here, you’ll find a tranquil slice of paradise, far away from the crowds and chaos of the main beach area. 

GA Beaches Within 4 Hours of Columbia

Jekyll Island
Distance from Columbia: 3 hours 45 minutes from Columbia, SC

Jekyll Island is less than 4 hours from Columbia, and with multiple public beaches right within the state park, you’ll have plenty of sandy shores to choose from. When it’s time to freshen up, rest assured there are restrooms, changing rooms, and showers at your service.

From hunting for shark teeth to frolicking in the waves, there’s no shortage of fun to be had on this beautiful island. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles! And speaking of turtles, make sure to swing by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center for an unforgettable experience that’s sure to make your trip even more memorable. 

Prefer to stay closer to home?

Shannon Pruitt
About the Author
Shannon moved to the Upstate after college, and other than a brief few years in Florida, has stayed. A former teacher, she is now the mom of one beautiful girl and works from home as a writer, web designer, and brand strategist. She believes tacos don't have to be reserved for Tuesdays, shamelessly listens to crime podcasts, and fuels herself on a daily cup of coffee (or two). You can find her on Instagram @shannonroyalpruitt

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