Explore Charleston’s historic landmarks and enjoy Southern cuisine on a visit to this charming city. Take a carriage tour, or stroll through the vibrant French Quarter.
Charleston, South Carolina, brims with a rich history, stunning architecture, and renowned restaurants, making it an ideal destination for travelers keen on experiencing the depth of Southern culture. Nestled on the coast, this picturesque city invites you to meander through cobbled streets lined with pastel antiques houses, delve into the past at Fort Sumter National Monument, and revel at the beauty of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.
The city’s bustling marketplaces and the iconic waterfront Battery promenade provide a glimpse into the area’s colonial past, blending seamlessly with the lively energy of modern-day Charleston. Visitors can savor delectable Lowcountry cuisine, partake in ghost tours, or simply soak in the panoramic ocean views at Folly Beach. Charleston’s blend of cultural activities and relaxing vistas makes it an all-encompassing spot for an unforgettable escape.
Explore The French Quarter
St. Philip’s Church beckons as a cornerstone of Charleston’s historic French Quarter. Recognized for its iconic steeple and rich history, this site demands a visit. As you wander the grounds, the sense of the past envelops you, echoing stories of yesteryear, making it an essential experience for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts alike.
Stepping out from the hallowed halls of St. Philip’s, take a jaunt down the renowned Rainbow Row. This charming street boasts a kaleidoscope of pastel-hued homes, representing some of the most photographed scenes in the city. The row serves as a vivid canvas that captures the essence of Charleston’s vibrant history and impeccable preservation efforts.
Before leaving the French Quarter, immerse yourself in the world of creativity and heritage through its numerous art galleries and museums. Each gallery showcases a variety of artistic expressions, while the museums provide a window into the cultural tapestry that has shaped Charleston. Art lovers and history aficionados will find a treasure trove of exhibitions to explore, further enriching their understanding and appreciation of this storied city.
Tour Magnificent Plantation Homes
Exploring Charleston SC offers a glimpse into America’s deep-rooted history, especially within the walls of its majestic plantation homes. Boone Hall Plantation stands out with its breathtaking Avenue of Oaks and is renowned for its antebellum-era mansion and scenic landscapes. Visitors can soak up history on one of the guided tours or during one of their many festivals and events.
For those who fancy horticulture and heritage, Middleton Place features America’s oldest landscaped gardens, swathed with beautifully manicured terraces, reflecting pools, and vibrant parterres. A living history program further brings the past to life, narrating the stories of the people who lived and worked on these grounds.
Drayton Hall, an architectural marvel, is the oldest preserved plantation house that’s open to the public. Unlike other homes, Drayton Hall has survived both the Revolutionary and Civil wars and remains in nearly original condition. This historical gem provides visitors with an unembellished look at 18th-century plantation life and the ongoing preservation efforts.
Savor Southern Cuisine
Charleston, SC, boasts a rich culinary scene that highlights Lowcountry cuisine, an array of flavors unique to the coastal South. Visitors have the opportunity to experience authentic Southern cooking by indulging in local dishes like shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and fried green tomatoes. A must-try for any food enthusiast is the renowned Charleston red rice, a savory blend of tomatoes, rice, and smoked sausage.
Award-winning restaurants dot the cityscape, each offering a distinct take on traditional recipes. Patrons are encouraged to immerse themselves in the local culture by dining at establishments that transform staple ingredients into gourmet experiences. The dedication to preserving the history and integrity of Southern flavors is evident in every bite of these meticulously crafted dishes.
|Shrimp and Grits
|Classic Lowcountry dish with a creamy texture and rich spices
|A creamy bisque with fresh crab meat, a touch of sherry, and a hint of cayenne
|Fried Green Tomatoes
|Deliciously tart slices, breaded and fried, often served with a remoulade
Enjoy Waterfront Dining Experiences
Charleston’s scenic harbor forms the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable waterfront dining experience. Visitors can indulge in the fresh flavors of the sea while taking in breathtaking views of the water. Several restaurants along the harbor offer the opportunity to enjoy a meal with a panoramic vista.
One of the signature experiences to consider is a sunset dinner cruise. These cruises combine the pleasure of a sumptuous dinner with the romance of sailing at dusk. Guests can witness the sky change colors over the historic skyline, all while savoring delectable dishes and perhaps a glass of fine wine.
|Seafood & American
|Outdoor seating with harbor views
|Views of marina and sunset
|Rooftop dining overlooking the harbor
Walk The Famous Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Embarking on a stroll across the impressive Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge offers unmatched panoramas of the Charleston Harbor. This iconic landmark serves as a pedestrian-friendly passageway, allowing visitors to leisurely admire the sweeping views. Engage in the unique experience of watching ships glide by beneath you as you ascend the bridge’s gentle incline.
The journey across the bridge seamlessly helps visitors to connect with Patriots Point, a maritime museum that is a trove of history and fascination. A literal bridge to the past, Patriots Point links those on foot to the historic ships and submarines, serving as silent sentinels of the nation’s naval heritage. Exploring this slice of military history is made all the more poignant with the majestic backdrop of the harbor’s waters.
Experience Charleston’s Beaches
Charleston’s beaches offer an array of sun-soaked experiences for visitors. At Folly Beach, take advantage of the watersport activities such as surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Join other enthusiasts or take private lessons to hone your skills on the waves.
For those seeking serenity, Sullivan’s Island is the ideal retreat. Here, relaxation takes center stage – simply spread a blanket and enjoy a picnic, or lose yourself in a good book as the ocean’s soundtrack plays in the background. Don’t miss a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, where the soft sands and the rhythmic tides create a truly therapeutic environment.
Attend Local Theater Performances
Charleston, SC, brims with cultural experiences, and among these, attending local theater performances stands as a highlight for visitors and residents alike. Dock Street Theatre, known as America’s first theater, provides an exquisite backdrop for various live performances ranging from dramatic classics to contemporary plays, all set within a historic venue that has been enchanting audiences since the 18th century.
Equally engaging is The Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre, which offers a unique blend of comedy and intrigue. This venue specializes in interactive mystery shows, inviting the audience to participate in the unfolding narrative — a perfect choice for those who enjoy a side of laughter with their sleuthing. Steeped in the charm of downtown Charleston, these cultural hubs are essential for any itinerary.
Admire Local Art Scene
Charleston’s vibrant art scene is a must-see, with dynamic events that captivate art lovers and culture enthusiasts alike. A notable monthly occurrence is First Fridays on Broad, where art connoisseurs can indulge in Charleston’s finest galleries, which offer an array of exceptional art pieces along with refreshments. This event provides a unique opportunity to interact with local artists and gallery owners, creating an intimate and enriching experience.
The Piccolo Spoleto Festival, a complement to the famous Spoleto Festival USA, showcases emerging and established artists through a variety of performances and exhibitions. Celebrating Charleston’s local art scene, the festival’s diverse agenda includes visual arts, music, and dance, allowing attendees to immerse themselves in the artistic vibrancy of the city. This festival is a cornerstone event for experiencing Charleston’s rich cultural tapestry.
Naval & Maritime Museum At Patriots Point
Charleston SC offers a plethora of attractions, and among the must-visit sites is the Naval & Maritime Museum at Patriots Point. This historical hub proudly features the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier, an emblem of American bravery and naval power. Guests can explore this monumental ship, which houses an impressive collection of aircraft and offers a glimpse into naval life.
The Vietnam Experience Exhibit is a compelling addition, providing a realistic portrayal of the combat environment faced by soldiers during the Vietnam War. This interactive exhibit combines sight, sound, and informative displays to immerse visitors in an intense, educational journey through history.
Discover Historic Fort Sumter
Embark on a journey to historic Fort Sumter, a pivotal site in the American Civil War, where the first shots were fired. A memorable ferry trip to the fort offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into the nation’s past. Engage with history through insightful tours, led by knowledgeable guides ready to immerse you in the details of military strategies and historic events. Exploring Fort Sumter is not just a lesson in history, but an opportunity to honor the bravery and strategies that shaped the future of the United States.
|Multiple times daily
|Approx. 2 hours
|Guided tour, museum exhibits
Explore Charleston City Market
Explore Charleston City Market stands as a centerpiece of local culture and creativity, offering visitors a chance to indulge in an array of crafts and local products. This historic market stretches for four city blocks, with vendors showcasing handmade jewelry, sweetgrass baskets, and other unique souvenirs that reflect Charleston’s rich heritage.
After the sun sets, embrace the vibrant energy at the Night Market festivities. This event transforms the market into a lively street fair under the stars. Artisans present their masterpieces, while music and performance arts fill the air, providing an authentic taste of Charleston’s cultural flair. Don’t miss the opportunity to stroll, shop, and savor this remarkable evening experience.
Boutique Shopping In King Street
King Street in Charleston, SC, beckons with its unique melange of boutique shops, renowned for their exclusive fashion pieces and exquisite handmade goods. This shopping district captures the essence of Southern charm and modern elegance, presenting a diverse range of shops that cater to the discerning tastes of fashion-forward visitors and locals alike.
The area is sprinkled with specialty shops that showcase one-of-a-kind items, ranging from artisan jewelry to bespoke garments. You will find historical buildings reimagined into chic boutiques, each with its own story and curated collection. These havens of style and craftsmanship embody the uniqueness of Charleston’s local culture.
|Nordic-inspired furniture and decor
|Blue Bicycle Books
|Rare books, local authors, and literary gems
|Handcrafted candles with custom scents
|Handwoven textiles and women’s apparel
Ghost Tours And Haunted Walks
Charleston Sc boasts a myriad of activities, but for those seeking an adrenaline rush mixed with history, ghost tours and haunted walks are a must-try. These eerie excursions lead brave souls through historic graveyards, past antebellum mansions, and down cobblestone streets teeming with tales of the supernatural. The city’s rich past serves as the perfect backdrop for spine-chilling stories that have been passed down through generations.
Thrill-seekers eager to encounter Charleston’s spectral inhabitants will find no shortage of guided tours, each promising a glimpse into the haunted lore that shrouds the city. Notable haunted sites include the Old City Jail, Provost Dungeon, and the Battery Carriage House Inn. The best routes are those that encompass the full spectrum of Charleston’s haunted history.
Rooftop Bars And Nightlife
Charleston SC boasts a spectacular selection of rooftop bars offering breathtaking panoramic views of the historic skyline and waterways. One can immerse oneself in the ambience of the Vendue’s rooftop bar, enjoying not just the scenery but also live bands that add rhythm to the night. Across the city, The Pavilion Bar atop the Market Pavilion Hotel provides an upscale experience with an extensive collection of local brews and craft cocktails, alongside an elegant poolside setting.
Stars Rooftop & Grill Room is yet another hot spot where both locals and tourists converge to savor the flavorful Southern cuisine under the stars, with the melodies of local musicians in the background. Indeed, Charleston’s nightlife shines brightly with these destinations, ensuring every evening is paired with the perfect mix of scintillating views and soulful music.
Frequently Asked Questions Of Things To Do In Charleston Sc
What Are Top Attractions In Charleston Sc?
Charleston SC is known for its rich history and stunning architecture. Top attractions include the Historic Charleston City Market, the waterfront Battery promenade and the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Don’t miss visiting the plantations and gardens too.
Is Charleston Sc Good For Foodies?
Absolutely, Charleston SC is a haven for foodies! The city’s culinary scene offers traditional Southern cuisine, fresh seafood, and innovative dining experiences. Make sure to try local specialties like shrimp and grits, and visit the acclaimed restaurants downtown.
Can You Tour Historic Homes In Charleston?
Yes, you can tour many historic homes in Charleston. The Aiken-Rhett House, Nathaniel Russell House, and the Edmondston-Alston House are just a few examples where visitors can step back in time and explore Charleston’s rich heritage and antebellum architecture.
Are There Beaches Near Charleston Sc?
Charleston is close to several beautiful beaches. Folly Beach, known as the “Edge of America,” Sullivan’s Island, and Isle of Palms are all within a short driving distance. Each offers unique charm, from laid-back vibes to family-friendly atmospheres.
Charleston, SC, bursts with charm, history, and adventure. Whether it’s exploring historic sites or savoring local cuisine, your itinerary overflows with possibilities. Remember, every cobblestone street leads to another unforgettable memory. So pack your bags, embrace the Southern hospitality, and discover the heart of the Lowcountry.
Thank you for joining us on this journey through Charleston’s wonders—until your own travels bring them to life.