10 Educational Day Trips From Columbia


As a history buff, I love educational trips. Isn’t it fun to go to a completely new place that you’ve never been to before and learn and experience something new? I sure think so! As South Carolinians, we are especially lucky our state is rich in history and natural beauty. There are many places off the beaten path (and on the beaten path as well) that are worth a visit.

One of my favorite activities to plan with my family are day trips. They provide the opportunity to leave town for the day, explore a new place, and come back home to sleep in my own bed!

Our time in the car is special as well. We sing together, tell funny stories, talk about life … and of course, end up making several unplanned stops because someone is hungry or needs to use the restroom. Hey, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies! Regardless, it all adds up to fond memories and a time for bonding.

Over the years, my family has taken many road trips to exciting places that provide learning opportunities. Here is my list of 10 educational day drips you can take from Columbia!

Angel Oak Tree

3688 Angel Oak Road, Johns Island, SC 29455

Located close to Charleston, the Angel Oak tree is believed to be one of the oldest living things in the country. It stands at 66.5 ft tall, measures 28 ft in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet. It is truly breathtaking! Whenever we visit Charleston, The Angel Oak is always a must-see on our list.

My sweet daughter napping at the Angel Oak in John's Island, South Carolina.
My sweet daughter napping at the Angel Oak in John’s Island, South Carolina.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Old Sheldon Church Road, Yemassee, SC 29945

It is believed during the Revolutionary War, the Patriots stored gunpowder in the Old Sheldon Church. It was burned during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and, has laid in ruins for more than 120 years. Plan to spend a few hours on the property soaking in the history. There are graves on the property as well. This is also a beautiful place for pictures with the old columns and oak trees. Parking is across the street so be prepared to cross a two-lane highway to get to the ruins.

BMW Zentrum

1400 Highway 101 South Greer, SC 29651

Got a car lover on your hands? The BMW plant located near Spartanburg, SC is the only BMW plant in North America. The tour is for youth ages 12+ – perfect for you and your teenage children if they are interested in BMWs or cars in general. At the BMW museum, you can experience the power and history of BMW firsthand from its beginnings in aviation and motorsports to its rise to prominence on the global stage. 


Sassafras Mountain

1399 F. Van Clayton Memorial Highway, Sunset, SC 29685

Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina. The drive up the mountain is very beautiful and there are lookout points near the top. There is a short trail to the summit so be sure to wear your tennis shoes. Sassafras Mountain sits on the Eastern Continental Divide and is in the Appalachian Mountain chain. You can take your family and explain just what exactly the Eastern Continental Divide is all about!

Botany Bay

1066 Botany Bay Road, Edisto Island, SC 29438

The views at Botany Bay are nothing short of amazing! This 4,630-acre plantation on Edisto Island boasts several original structures that date back to the 1930s. Given to the state in 1977 by the Pepper family, it is currently operated by the Department of Natural Resources and was made accessible to the public in 2008.

The land contains tons of natural beauty – from the sunflower fields to the salt marsh and freshwater ponds to the Spanish moss-draped oaks to the miles of untouched private beach; it is truly breathtaking and a great way to immerse yourself in much of the beauty our state has to offer.

Walk down the trails and you could very easily spot deer, fiddler crabs, egrets, alligators, and Loggerhead turtles who live in the area. If you do decide to visit the beach, be prepared to walk half a mile from your vehicle (so you may want to bring some water shoes or good-quality sandals). Please note you are not allowed to take the shells from the beach and the rules are strictly enforced. There are no restroom facilities on the property so be sure to go beforehand.

Botany Bay on Edisto Island is absolutely beautiful!
Just one of the beautiful, untouched natural resources you can see on their private beach.

Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary

4542 Silver Bluff Road, Jackson, SC 29831

Located near Aiken, the Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary sits on 3,250 acres along the Savannah River. The paths are well maintained and marked so as long as you pay attention you shouldn’t get lost. The sanctuary appreciates donations, but the visitor center is free!

Charleston Tea Plantation

6617 Maybank Highway, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487

The Charleston Tea Plantation is a great educational destination for any age! From the tea samples to the amazing tour, this is a place in SC that you don’t want to miss.

In the factory, you get to walk through and see exactly how the tea is made. Large TV screens direct you through the process. The Charleston Tea Plantation is the only tea plantation in North America. Tea bushes line the property for almost as far as your eyes can see. It’s truly beautiful!

Tea Plantation
Ever wondered what a tea plantation looks like?

Diamond Hill Mine

100 Diamond Mine Road, Abbeville, SC 29620

Crystal mining here is the real deal, meaning everything you find is from this site. Search through dump piles for stones, or dig through untouched areas and find crystals exactly where they were formed over 400 million years ago!

At just a two-hour drive from Columbia, the Diamond Hill Mine is an easy day trip or overnight stay. The caretaker is very helpful and friendly and will keep you well informed during your visit. Don’t wear your nice clothes and be prepared to get dirty! Take a packed lunch and cold drinks if you plan on staying for a while. And don’t forget to bring a bucket for your loot!

You never know what treasures you might leave with!

World of Energy

7812 Rochester Highway, Seneca, SC 29672

The World of Energy at the Duke Nuclear Power Station is a perfect educational experience for any age. Whether you want to learn the basics of nuclear energy, the environmental impact, or what it does for our homes and communities, this is a must-do day trip for inquiring minds. There are several hands-on activities and games, along with an exhibit you can walk through to see how nuclear energy works!

God’s Acre Healing Spring

Springs Court, Blackville, SC 29817

Wounded soldiers were led to this spring by the Native American Indians during the Revolutionary War. It was believed by the Indians that this spring had healing powers. You can take jugs and bottles and fill them from a spigot, which lots of people were doing when we arrived. 

The spring is located right behind a church and is really easy to find if you use the address listed above. Watch out for your little ones in the creek. My son spotted a baby Water Moccasin while we were there! The spring’s water tastes amazing, it’s cool and refreshing. 


What are your favorite educational day trips from Columbia?


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