1. Cheraw State Park- Located about 3 hours from Charleston, it's perfectly more north for cooler nights. This is number one our list for future camping because we really want to try the boat in camping. Boat in camping means you can rent or bring a boat and paddle to an island where there are primitive camping spots. Cheraw also boasts some nice hiking trails and just looks beautiful.
2. Dreher Island State Park- Also located about 3 hours from Charleston, Dreher offers waterfront camping on Lake Murray without the hassle of boating to it. The waterfront pictures seem magical to me. I love waking up to a waterfront view! Dreher has a little bit of trails, but most of the fun seems centered on the lake life.
3. Givhans Ferry State Park- Givhans Ferry is less than 1 hour away from Charleston on the Edisto River and has been on my bucket list for far too long. There is a nice 1.5 mile trail for easy walking and of course tons of boat ramps and rentals nearby for kayaking and canoeing the Edisto. I have always wanted to do the kayaking trip with just adults, but also really want to camp and relax there with just the family one weekend. For a quick weekend trip, Givhans is a great choice at only $15/site/night.
4. Santee State Park- Located 1 hour, 15 minutes outside of Charleston, Santee is perfect for wildlife observing with kiddos! I first experienced Santee on a class trip in middle school. We stayed at the cabins and learned so much about lake ecosystems, etc. on the pontoon tours. I can't wait to take J, probably next summer. And of course, I love Santee because they have water-front camping and good trails.
5. Poinsett State Park- Poinsett is less than 2 hours away from Charleston and the only one on this list that we have tackled so far. I was truly blown away by this park. Humble, yet very nice all in one. Poinsett attracted us with their canoe rentals. We wanted to practice with J in the boat before going to a canoe-to-camp park. I'll do a full post on Poinsett soon, but for now I'll just say the nature there is beautiful. A great little lake/large pond, boat rentals, a spillway, lots of trails, and a huge field near the campground that boasts a large bonfire area and the most amazing view of the stars. When you drive down to the park ranger, trails, and swimming area, it's like a snapshot of amazing summers past. Where a kids summer memories should be made. And all that for only $15/site/night.
Bonus National Park: Want to camp but not spend money? Checkout the National Parks that allow camping! Our first family trip was to Congaree. It was a stormy, muggy, buggy weekend, but the boardwalk trail through the swamp forest there is gorgeous and camping is free!
Have a SC park you love to camp at? Let me know! There are a few others we want to try, but this list is a good starting point. :) And just in case you hadn't already noticed- the SC State Parks website is amazing! Seriously, great work put into this site. Every bit of information you could need to choose the perfect spot for your family AND always check the deals page for discounts at the different parks on specific weekends!
I also plan to write a post about camping with a 3yo soon. Hint: It involves mutually beneficial bribes like this shirt- I love it, he gets excited. Win!