Things to Do in Charleston
Looking for things to do in Charleston? In addition to the centuries-old mansions, cobblestone alleys, and gas lamp-lit streets, Charleston is home to award-winning restaurants, excellent boutiques, beautiful waterfronts, historical landmarks, museums, family attractions and more.
CHARLESTON CITY MARKET
The Charleston City Market is one of the city's most visited tourist attractions and has been a shopping hub since the early 1800's; making it one of the country’s oldest public markets.
KING STREET SHOPPING
Named one of the “10 Top Shopping Districts in the USA” by Forbes magazine, the King Street Fashion District is an eclectic mix of fashion, arts, antiques, home décor, and extraordinary food.
HISTORIC FORT SUMTER NATIONAL MONUMENT
See where the first shot of the Civil War was fired back in 1861. According to most visitors, Fort Sumter is a must-see, especially for kids and history buffs.
USS YORKTOWN & PATRIOTS POINT NAVAL MUSEUM
Step aboard three museum ships: USS Yorktown; USS Laffey; USS Clamagore. USS Yorktown, saw significant action in the Pacific offensive in 1943 during WWII and recovered the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968.
This series of 13 brightly-colored houses along the waterfront is one of Charleston’s most photographed spots. In the years following the Civil War, this area was considered a slum. Since 1930, these houses have been painted bright pastels; a trend started by Dorothy Haskell Porcher.
SOUTH CAROLINA AQUARIUM
The South Carolina Aquarium is home to more than ten thousand plants and animals call. You can see all sorts of sea critters; including stingrays, sharks, horseshoe crabs, and more. There is also an opportunity to learn about efforts to help sick and injured turtles make it back to full health.
MAGNOLIA PLANTATION & GARDENS
One of “America’s Most Beautiful Gardens” according to Travel + Leisure Magazine, Magnolia is the oldest public garden in America and is responsible for introducing the azalea to the United States.
The Citadel is a landmark noted for its educational reputation as well as its rich history. Founded in 1842, it is best known for its Corp of Cadets, who live and study under a classical military system.
Take some time to kick back, relax and enjoy the Southern sun. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this massive stretch of coastline makes for a great daytrip away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
While only 3.3 square miles, this beachfront town packs a punch boasting beaches, tasty restaurants, unique shops, a colorful history and promises a time well remembered.
CHARLESTON GHOST TOURS
Thanks to its pre-Revolutionary heritage, its wealth of ancient tombstones, and ghost-centric folklore, Charleston is often considered one of America’s most haunted cities. From Carriage rides to historic jailhouses, several companies offer tours offering a spooky good time.
HORSE DRAWN CARRIAGE TOURS
Learn about Charleston’s history, colonial style. Hear hundreds of years of history set against the sound of hoofbeats. There are five excellent companies that offer different tours; all of them are regulated by the city and offer highly trained and entertaining guides and draft animals.
CHARLESTON WALKING TOURS
Take a stroll through cobblestone streets and discover some the city’s most intriguing sites while also getting in a little exercise. From its well-preserved architecture to its rich history, vibrant culture, and breathtaking views, you won’t be able to help falling in love.
HARBOR AND SAILING CRUISES
Enjoy the beauty of the Charleston Harbor and learn about the rich history of the Holy City from a different perspective. Harbor tours, sailboat cruises, dining cruises, and sunset sails for a perfect ending to an awesome day are all available.
CHARTERED FISHING EXCURSIONS
How does a day on the water with family and friends on an unforgettable fishing adventure sound? People come from all over the world to fish in Charleston. The city is surrounded by salt marshes and tidal creeks and farther out, ancient wrecks litter the seafloor where currents draw in fish from all across the Atlantic.
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Looking for something a little different? From Kayak rentals, to self-guided speedboat rentals and guided pub and distillery tours, Charleston has it all. Ask any one of our local experts to help create an itinerary just for you.
Some Other Favorites Include:
Charleston Museum: The Charleston Museum is said to be the country’s first museum and is the start to Charleston’s Museum Mile. Enjoy hundreds of artifacts that give personal insight into the city’s colonial, agricultural, and wartime past.
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon: The Old Exchange Building is the site of some of the most important events in South Carolina History and is one of only four structures remaining where the United States Constitution was originally ratified.
Battery & White Point Gardens: This prominent landmark provides a spectacular view of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor. Today you can also find an impressive display of historic mortars and cannons from the Civil War among this public garden.
Nathaniel Russel House: Visitors can expect an in-depth look into the city’s history, starting with Russells and focusing on both the wealthy residents and the enslaved African Americans who maintained one of the country’s grandest homes at the time.
Edmondston-Alston House: The Edmondston-Alson House, one of the oldest houses along the High Battery, has withstood the Civil War, the Earthquake of 1886, numerous hurricanes, and presents a unique history of the people, both free and enslaved, who lived and labored here.
Aiken Rhett House: A unique and educational place to learn about the ways of Charleston life in the early 1800s. Visitors suggest spending time exploring the grounds, which hosts the stable, kitchens, and slave quarters before touring the house. The slave quarters have remained untouched over time and serve to illustrate the harsh living conditions endured.
Joseph Manigault House: A prime example of Charleston’s hardworking efforts to protect relics of its lush, although, somber past. This sprawling Charleston showpiece paints a complete portrait of typical pre-Civil War Charleston life, from the decadent rooms owned by the city’s wealthiest residents, to the enslaved hands that crafted them.