As spring break approaches, we’re highlighting some of the most popular family- and pet-friendly destinations in the southern states. Whether you want to relax, learn something new or explore the great outdoors, South Carolina is the perfect blend of beauty, history and adventure, making it a prime destination for spring breakers on both two legs and four.
Posted by Lauren Barker
As one of the top vacation destinations in the Palmetto State, Charleston offers an abundance of activities to keep the whole family (Fido included) entertained on spring break. Treat the kids to a bit of history by stepping back in time at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, an estate that survived both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Your pup is welcome to explore the beautiful grounds and trails with you, and can ride along on the Nature Tram for a 45-minute tour of the plantation's wetlands, lakes, forests, and marshes. If your furry friend can be carried, he is even allowed to accompany you on a tour inside the home. If you have time, head to nearby Drayton Hall, which dates back to 1738 and is considered one of the finest examples of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the US. Although dogs are not allowed inside the home, they can roam the estate’s gardens on two self-guided nature walks.
If everyone is hoping for sand and sun on spring break, spend a day at nearby Folly Beach, where leashed pups are welcome any time of day until April 30. While you’re there, grab lunch at Lost Dog Cafe, then head back into the Holy City for a spookier history lesson on a family-friendly Old Charleston Ghost Tour.
Just a short walk from the dog-friendly shops and eateries along King Street, you’ll find Charleston’s Wentworth Mansion. You’ll be spoiled during your stay with a complimentary full breakfast each morning, afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres, and evening turndown service with housemade chocolates. Your pooch won’t feel left out, either. Delicious treats are always available at the front desk. Dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $40 per pet, per night.
Outdoor enthusiasts on two legs and four will love spring break in Greenville. Hop along the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile recreation path that winds through the vibrant city. At its epicenter, you’ll find beautiful Falls Park, the perfect backdrop for a family photo. Explore the manicured landscape as you meander along the Reedy River and cross the Liberty Bridge to admire the dramatic waterfall from above. Browse the art galleries at RiverPlace, and do some retail shopping at many of the dog-friendly stores along Main Street like Paw Paws for Fido and O.P. Taylors for his human siblings. When everyone has worked up an appetite, stop for a meal on the piazza at Limoncello. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, head indoors to family-friendly Pour Taproom, where your pooch is welcome to join you inside for a pint from one of dozens of self-service taps. If your two- and four-legged kids still have energy to burn, bring them to the Lake Conestee Nature Preserve for a hike and some off-leash fun for your pup at the Conestee Dog Park.
After exploring Greenville with your family, stay overnight at the Aloft Greenville Downtown, where canine guests are greeted with treats, bowls, beds, and toys upon arrival. Fido can relax by the fireplace while you play a family game of pool or shuffleboard in the WXYZ Lounge. Go next door to do some shopping at the pet-friendly Mast General Store. Up to two dogs of any size are welcome at the hotel for no extra fee.
Bring the whole family to the sunny shores of South Carolina’s Grand Strand for spring break on one of the East Coast’s most popular beaches. While the kids build castles, let your pup get his paws sandy on Myrtle Beach, where leashed dogs are allowed at any time of day in the off-season from Labor Day to April 30. Enjoy long walks at Myrtle Beach State Park, a quiet, 312-acre natural beach park where pups can play on-leash any time of day until May 1. If your “furst” mate prefers to “pawty” on spring break, take a boat trip with Living Large Party Barge. In addition to booze cruises, the company offers family-friendly fishing excursions and island exploration boat rides with pets. When it’s time to chow down, dine at The Sneaky Beagle, which features a menu just for furry foodies.
Book a pet-friendly room at the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront for a comfortable stay on the beach. The hotel features an off-leash dog park and several grassy pet relief areas for Fido, and both indoor and outdoor pools for his humans. Two dogs of any size are accepted for an additional fee of $75 per pet, per night (not to exceed $300 per stay).
Congaree National Park
Spend the break exploring a national park with the whole family. Just outside South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia, SC, Congaree National Park is the largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland forest in the southeastern US, well-known for its beautiful bald cypress trees. Take the kids and Fido for a walk along the boardwalk trail, passing over swamps and by national and state champion trees. You can also rent a canoe or kayak from Palmetto Outfitters and paddle Cedar Creek, spotting wildlife along the way. March through May is one of the best times to visit the park, as nature comes alive but the pesky insects of summer have yet to arrive. If you can’t make it for spring break, plan a visit in late May, when synchronized fireflies put on a mesmerizing display at dusk. While dogs are not allowed on the boardwalk during the event, you can usually spot this phenomenon on the much less crowded Kingsnake Trailhead.
Wind down at Aloft Columbia Downtown, where four-legged guests are welcomed with treats at check-in. The hotel is located within walking distance to many pet-friendly restaurants like Grill Marks, which has a year-round heated patio and serves furry customers a bowl of water and bones upon request. During your stay, visit Memorial Park with your pup and check out the War Dog Memorial dedicated to dogs and their handlers who served in Vietnam and other wars. Aloft Columbia Downtown welcomes two dogs up to 40 lbs for no additional fee.
Want to spend spring break on the water with your furry first mate? Vagabond Cruise offers more than 20 different tours from their dock at The Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head Island. Choose from a sunset cruise, day trip to Savannah, or sightseeing trip to Daufuskie Island, where you can disembark and explore the low country. Once you’re in Sea Pines, you can also stroll along the resort’s 17 miles of trails with Fido or spend some quality family time at the beach. All Hilton Head Island beaches allow leashed dogs any time of day in the off-season. If your sea dog begs for more time on the water, he can tag along as you search for dolphins aboard Captain Mark’s Dolphin Cruise, which takes you through Broad Creek into Calibogue Sound.
Enjoy waking up to a view of Hilton Head Island’s sugar sand beaches at the Omni Oceanfront Resort. Relax on the resort’s private beach, swim with the kids in one of two family pools, or play a game of giant checkers with your pack. Fido will love exploring the 16 miles of scenic trails and waterways at this tropical oasis by foot (or kayak). Up to two dogs under 50 lbs are accepted for an additional fee of $100 per pet, per stay.
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