Pet-Friendly Travel Guide: South Carolina
Rich in history and awash with Southern hospitality, South Carolina offers plenty to do and see for travelers and their canine companions. Whether you’re drawn there by its impressive golf courses, the coastal energy of the beaches, or its famous cuisine (shrimp & grits with sweet tea, anyone?) you’re bound to be charmed by everything this state has to offer. We’ve compiled the best pet-friendly hotels, activities, and restaurants to make sure your four-legged friend enjoys their vacation just as much as you do.
This beach town is a popular vacation spot, due in part to the 60-miles of beach that run along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the shoreline, Myrtle Beach also boasts world-renowned golf courses, family-friendly boardwalks, and the Skywheel, which is one of the tallest ferris wheels in the country. With plenty of outdoor activities to explore, Myrtle Beach is a perfect place to visit with a beloved pet.
- Myrtle Beach Public Beaches – Everyone loves a beach stroll with their pup – just make sure you know and follow the rules. During peak season (May 1 through Labor Day), you’ll have to time your visit right: dogs are only allowed on the beach before 10:00 am and after 5:00 pm. The rest of the year, however, The City of Myrtle Beach allows dogs on the beach any time of day as long as they’re leashed. Surf’s up!
- Barefoot Landing – With a prime location on the Intracoastal Waterway, this nature-preserve-meets-shopping-center is an adventure waiting to happen! A stroll along the boardwalk with your leashed pup offers the perfect way to unwind, and you might catch a glimpse of some migratory waterfowl, exotic fish, or other wildlife around the 23-acre lake in the center of the property. After your walk, there are plenty of places to grab a snack or meal and do some people-watching. Don’t forget to stock up on treats or toys at Faux Paws Dog Shoppe – your furry friend will thank you.
- Living Large Party Barge – Can’t get enough of the ocean? Book a pet-friendly charter boat and spend the day sailing the high seas with family or friends – and, of course, your best pal! Tour the coastline, swim, fish, or even take a booze cruise – just be sure to bring a water bowl and some dog treats too.
- Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar & Grill – With three locations across Myrtle Beach, there’s bound to be a Dirty Don’s near you. Seafood lovers will rejoice at the large selection of oysters, crab, shrimp, scallops, and more. Your pup is welcome at an outdoor table, and they’ll even get their own water bowl (and a few wayward bites of your surf & turf, if you’re willing to share).
- The Grumpy Monk – Serving craft beer, fresh sushi, and a variety of seafood, sandwiches, and other bites, you’ll want for nothing at the Grumpy Monk. Your pup will be presented with a bowl of water at your patio table, and the only problem you’ll have will be narrowing down the menu choices. (Spoiler alert: everything’s good.)
- Tupelo Honey Cafe – If you’re not eating shrimp and grits, are you even in the south? Tupelo Honey boasts a menu full of southern favorites that will hit the spot, every time. Bring your dog to the patio, where they’ll be treated to a bowl of water and a meal of their own from the special dog menu. Southern hospitality at its finest!
- DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront – This resort, situated on 27 coastal acres, offers the Puppy Love Package to canine guests and their humans. The package includes overnight accommodations in a pet-friendly room, a beachfront breakfast buffet, a dog treat or toy at check-in, unlimited access to the resort’s brand-new dog park, and 50% off pet fees. Practice your swing on the putting green, rent a bicycle and ride up and down the beach, or relax at the scenic swimming pool; the choice is yours.
As the capital city of South Carolina, Columbia is one of the oldest cities in America, with a history dating back to 1540 when Spanish settlers arrived to explore the new world. While much of the original architecture was destroyed during the Civil War, Columbia has become a revitalized, modern city, complete with an art museum, a zoo, and botanical gardens. The combination of a mild climate and outdoor activities makes Columbia an excellent destination for travelers and their pets.
- Mast General Store – Step through the doors of this whimsical emporium and you’ll find yourself transported back to a simpler time. The building that houses Mast General Store was constructed in 1870 and is positively brimming with historic charm. The store itself carries a little bit of just about everything, and they have a reputation for being exceedingly dog-friendly. Your best pal can come in with you, where they’ll find water bowls, treats, and lots of love from the attentive staff.
- Congaree National Park – Leash up your furry friend and set out to enjoy nature! This picturesque park features the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeast U.S., and it’s home to an astonishing array of wildlife. Hike along trails that wind through breathtaking forests, plan a canoe or kayak adventure, or set up camp for the night in one of the designated camping areas.
- Saluda Shoals Barking Lot – This two-acre fenced park is the perfect place to let your dog have some off-leash fun. There’s lots of wide-open space for running, playing, and socializing, plus an agility course, two doggy pools and a drinking fountain. Humans can hang out in the shaded gazebo while their canine companions have a blast. The only disappointing part? Leaving.
- Publico – For Latin-Asian fusion cuisine and craft beer, look no further than Publico. The diverse menu will satisfy just about any palate, with a delicious blend of fare ranging from tacos and chilaquiles to ramen and poke. Best of all: there’s a special Puppy Menu! Order some Tempting Turkey or a Seafood Casserole for your best pal and prepare for some fierce tail-wagging.
- Jake’s on Devine – Consistently voted “Most Dog-Friendly Restaurant in Columbia,” Jake’s is a spot you and your pooch can’t pass up! The huge patio is the perfect place to enjoy a burger or po’ boy, and there are over 20 beers on tap. Visit on a Tuesday or Thursday evening for Yappy Hour: dogs can run freely on the back deck, with access to water and treats, and there are drink specials for their humans too.
- Blue Marlin – This seafood haven promises the best low-country classics and coastal Louisiana cuisine in the area. With fare such as Salmon Pontchartrain, Oyster & Shrimp Skillet Bienville, and Crispy Gulf Oysters, we’d say they live up to that promise. Not a fan of seafood? Fear not: steaks are on the menu, too. Bring your best pal to the dog-friendly patio and dive in!
- Graduate Columbia – Whimsical, artistic, and offbeat, the Graduate is the perfect retreat for fun-loving travelers and their four-legged friends: they’ve gone a step above dog-friendly, choosing to label themselves “dog-enthusiastic” instead. The hotel does not charge a pet fee, and your pup will receive a BarkBox upon check-in. Food and water dishes, as well as blankets, are also available to either rent or purchase should the need arise. You’ll be in awe of the eclectic decor and location, which is right in the heart of downtown Columbia, meaning lots of great walking and people-watching opportunities for you and your best pal.
Although Charleston is not the capital of South Carolina, it might, however, be the most well-known city in the state. As a port town that was founded in 1670, Charleston has retained much of its historic charm, with cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and elegant pastel-colored houses that are reminiscent of a bygone era. There’s certainly plenty to explore in this charming city, especially with a paw-some friend.
- Folly Beach – Craving the waves? Bring your pup to Folly Beach for some fun in the sun! Dogs are allowed on the beach anytime between October 1 and April 30. The rest of the time, they’re welcome to visit before 10am or after 6pm. The leash laws are strict, so make sure you comply, but the surf is oh-so-good.
- Old Charleston Ghost Tours – Whether you’re into history, ghost stories, or a bit of both, this walking tour delivers. Led by Charleston’s most experienced tour guide, it’s consistently ranked among the best in the area. Your leashed dog is welcome to join you as you explore the sights and learn the ghostly tales behind them.
- Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – This gorgeous estate was founded in 1676 and survived the American Revolution and the Civil War to become the oldest public gardens in the United States. Lush and tranquil landscapes abound as you and your pup explore the estate. Dogs are welcome on the tram tours as well, and, for those small enough to be carried, even in the house.
- Poogan’s Porch – Located in Charleston’s Historic District, this charming destination is the perfect spot for a cozy Southern dinner or a weekend brunch. Your dog will be greeted with a bowl of water as you take your seat on the patio, and you can enjoy classics like chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, or lump crab cakes.
- Crave Kitchen & Cocktails – The year-round patio at Crave welcomes you and your pup with open arms. Dedicated to sustainability, this upscale eatery utilizes fresh seasonal ingredients from local farms in its inspired contemporary dishes. Short rib gnocchi, New Bedford scallops, and even – prepare yourself – “the most life-changing Mac-N-Cheese in America,” with its signature three-cheese blend of 10-year cave-aged sharp cheddar, imported parmigiano, and handmade mozzarella. Yes, please.
- 39 Rue de Jean – This quaint sidewalk cafe and bar is so good, you’ll think you’ve died and gone to… Paris. Bring your pup to the patio, where they’ll be greeted with a water bowl, and enjoy an array of delightful French classics such as foie gras, steak frites, multiple preparations of mussels, duck confit, and escargot. C’est bien!
- Wentworth Mansion – Voted #1 hotel in Charleston and #8 in the United States, Wentworth Mansion provides southern charm and elegant hospitality like none other. You’ll love the historic building and ample amenities, such as the luxurious spa and fine dining options. Take advantage of the “A Dog’s World” package, which will provide your pup with a welcome gift, as well as gift cards to local dog-friendly destinations.
- Hotel Emeline – Mid-century touches and understated elegance await at Hotel Emeline. You’ll feel right at home in the inspiring and creatively-adorned space – and your pup will too. The hotel’s Pawsome Package includes a bowl and a comfy bed for your best pal, as well as a custom-made treat from the in-house pastry chef. CBD-infused treats are also available upon request.
- The Barksdale House Inn – Built in 1778, this charming bed and breakfast is perfect for the historically-inclined traveler and their furry friends. Its location within the historic downtown district makes it perfectly suited for walks, with lots of parks, restaurants, and businesses nearby. There’s no size limit in their pet policy, and the pet fee is only an additional $20 per night, making this a great bargain.
Located just over the Georgia border line, Aiken was named “best small town in the South” by Southern Living magazine. Whether meandering through beautiful green spaces or shopping in the retail stores downtown, there’s plenty to explore on a trip with your pet.
- Hitchcock Woods – Offering 2100 acres of beautiful pine leaf forests with over 60 miles of trails, Hitchcock Woods is an idyllic spot for a relaxing stroll with your canine companion. You’re sure to enjoy the wide variety of ecosystems and abundant wildlife – just make sure to stay on the trail and keep your dog leashed to protect the delicate environment.
- Barnwell State Park (Blackville) – Outdoor recreation awaits you and your well-behaved pup at Barnwell State Park. Occupying more than 300 acres about 45 minutes southeast of Aiken, the park offers trails for hiking and biking, fishing spots, and campsites. It’s the perfect place to spot wildlife, enjoy the remote beauty, and connect with nature.
- Apizza di Napoli – Delicious wood-fired goodness is on the menu at this authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. How authentic, you ask? Apizza di Napoli was awarded with the prestigious Certification of True Neapolitan Pizza from AVPN in Naples, Italy – it’s a rare distinction few establishments in America can claim. That’s authentic. Your pup is welcome at one of the outdoor tables, where they’ll sit at your feet and silently pray for you to drop a slice.
- New Moon Cafe – This quaint and cozy little cafe offers coffee, pastries, breakfast, salads, and panini sandwiches, with a hefty dose of artistic charm. Your dog will appreciate the nice patio and the large shared water bowl, and as it’s a popular destination for pups, they may even meet a new canine friend.
- TakoSushi – Far east meets southwest at this casual eatery, where inventive flavors dominate the menu. Seafood lovers will appreciate the length and diversity of their sushi roll list, and there’s quite a bit of novelty in being able to order a Bento Box and a burrito at the same time. Dogs are welcome on the patio.
- The Willcox – Stately and majestic, this award-winning resort stops at nothing to provide guests with the finest in elegance and hospitality. From the fine dining restaurant, to the chic lobby bar, to the rejuvenating day spa, luxurious touches and thoughtful finishes await. Your pet is welcome here too: upon arrival, they’ll receive a hand-baked treat, a welcome bag, and a Willcox pet tag to ensure their safe return, should they stray. In the room, your pup can relax on a plush pet bed or dine on a gourmet made-to-order meal from the hotel’s pet menu. Now that’s fancy.
Hilton Head and Bluffton
Like Myrtle Beach, the coastal towns of Hilton Head and Bluffton line the Atlantic Ocean and boast renowned golf courses and resorts for visitors. Lesser known attractions in these beach towns include the Ocean Discovery Museum and the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to deer, alligators, and birds, but not necessarily pet-friendly, so be sure to check the rules and regulations before heading out there with your furry friend (or just stick to the beaches).
- Best Friends Dog Park at Chaplin Community Park (Hilton Head) – You and your pal are sure to love this spacious and tree-shaded off-leash dog park. Featuring a separate area for small or skittish dogs, covered benches, and water fountains, it’s perfect any time of year.
- Burkes Beach (Hilton Head) – A beautiful spot for a morning or evening stroll along the sand, Burkes Beach welcomes dogs before 10am or after 5pm. As long as they’re leashed, your pup can splash around in the sea and chase the waves to their heart’s content.
- Old Oyster Factory (Hilton Head) – This seafood restaurant was built on the site of a nearly 100-year-old oyster cannery and serves up all kinds of delicious from-the-ocean fare, including – you guessed it – oysters in various preparations. If that’s not your thing, you can choose from a variety of fish, shellfish, and steaks. Your well-behaved pup is welcome on the deck, where you can share a bite and enjoy the waterfront views.
- The Cottage (Bluffton) – Quaint and homey, The Cottage serves breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, and afternoon tea. Bursting at the seams with old world charm and Southern hospitality, it offers a year-round dog-friendly patio that’s heated in the wintertime. Don’t let its humble space fool you, either; this establishment has won an impressive array of awards for its food and bakery selections. Rumor has it, there’s even a doggy menu… but you didn’t hear it from us.
- Montage Palmetto Bluff (Bluffton) – At this luxury southern resort, pets are free to explore the 20,000 acres along the scenic May River. You’ll get to meet the property’s Canine Ambassadors – English Labrador Retrievers May and Cooper, and rescue dog Cauley – who will be ready and waiting to greet you and your four-legged friend. Your pup will be treated like royalty, with a gourmet Pet Cuisine menu, comfy beds, food and water bowls, and treats. Pet-sitting, dog-walking, and grooming services are available on-site, as well as resources for pet-friendly destinations throughout the community.