Looking for things to do in Charleston, South Carolina? Look no further. This vibrant and historic city has something for everyone.
From world-class museums to stunning coastal views, Charleston has plenty to see and do.
This blog post will provide a comprehensive guide to the best of Charleston. So whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime resident, read on for the ultimate list of fun things to do in Charleston.
#1 Historic Charleston City Market
The Charleston City Market is a popular tourist attraction and is, in fact, the #1 most visited attraction in Charleston, SC.
The farmer’s market is over 200 years old and was established in the 1790s. It is one of the oldest public markets and a vibrant cultural hub.
Bring good walking shoes. The Charleston farmer’s market covers four city blocks. Inside this historic building, hundreds of vendors sell local art, jewelry, and many unique things such as sweetgrass baskets.
Sweetgrass baskets are a sought-after souvenir in Charleston.
The Charleston City Market is also among the best places to try fresh local cuisine and authentic Lowcountry dishes. So whether you are looking for a unique souvenir or want to taste some local southern food, the Charleston City Market is a must-see.
#2 Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter is one of the most historical places in the United States. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, it was the site of the first shots of the American Civil War.
Today, it is a national monument and a popular tourist destination. A visit to Fort Sumter is a step back in time.
The fort has been carefully preserved, and its walls are lined with exhibits telling the Civil War story. Visitors can also explore the fort grounds, which offer sweeping views of Charleston Harbor.
To get to Fort Sumter, you must take a 30-minute ferry from Mount Pleasant. The ferry ride is about $10-$17 per person and is great fun for the kids.
Plan on spending about 2-3 hours for this whole adventure. A trip to Fort Sumter is an enlightening experience that everyone should have.
#3 Middleton Place
Middleton Place is one of America’s most scenic and historic plantations and is a national landmark. It is located in North Charleston.
Middleton Place is the perfect place to step back in time and experience life in the antebellum South with its manicured gardens, stately oak trees, and house museum.
Visitors can explore the plantation’s gardens, tour the house museum, and learn about the lives of the enslaved people who once called this place home.
Middleton Place is owned by the Middleton Place Foundation and serves as a way to bring understanding and positive change.
Middleton Place has 65 acres of America’s oldest landscaped gardens, including a 900-year-old oak tree.
General admission ranges from $15-$29, depending on age. In addition, various tours can run for as much as $300, but plenty are more affordable.
Plan on spending the day at Middleton Place and make a reservation at the restaurant to experience some organic Low Country fare.
#4 Waterfront Park
If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, Charleston’s Waterfront Park is the perfect spot. Situated along Charleston Harbor, the park offers gorgeous views.
Also known as Joe Riley Waterfront Park, the 10-acre park is a great way to spend a few hours. One of the park’s highlights is the pineapple fountain, whimsical addition to the landscape.
The pineapple fountain is surrounded by colorful flowers and lush greenery, making it a lovely spot to take a break from sightseeing.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the Waterfront Park is also a great place to walk or bike, as there are several miles of trails winding through the property.
It is a prime location to watch the sunset. So whether you’re searching for fresh air or soaking up some history, Charleston’s Waterfront Park is definitely worth visiting.
#5 Folly Beach
Folly Beach is the perfect place for a family vacation. The beaches are beautiful, and the kids will love playing in the sand and surf.
Plenty of activities keep everyone entertained, from fishing and crabbing to kayaking and paddleboarding as well as other outdoor adventures.
And, of course, no trip to Folly Beach would be complete without indulging in some delicious seafood. There is always fun to be found at Folly Beach.
Check out the local festivals or listen to live music from one of many restaurants and bars.
If you are looking for a relaxing getaway or a fun family vacation, Folly Beach has something for everyone. So pack your bags and head to Charleston’s coolest beach town.
#6 Ravenel Bridge
The Ravenel Bridge (aka Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge) is one of Charleston’s most iconic landmarks.
The bridge stretches over two miles and delivers awesome views of the city and its harbor. The Ravenel Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge with two diamond-shaped towers that light up at night.
The bridge is iconic to the Charleston city skyline. Walking along the Ravenel Bridge is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise, and it’s also a perfect opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of Charleston.
There is a lane for bikers and another for walkers. But, of course, the bridge is also how commuters get to and from Mount Pleasant. Don’t worry, though. The walking and biking path is safely protected from traffic.
From the bridge, you can see many of Charleston’s historical landmarks, such as Fort Sumter and the USS Yorktown.
Walking across the Ravenel Bridge is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Charleston.
#7 South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium is home to a lot of unique animals, including sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, and a wide variety of fish.
The Aquarium’s sea turtle rescue program is one of the most popular attractions. Visitors can see sea turtles up close and learn about rehabilitation at Zucker Family Sea Turtle Recovery.
The Aquarium is also home to a 220-pound loggerhead sea turtle named Caretta. The nurse and tiger sharks are other popular attractions, and visitors can learn about these fascinating creatures in the Great Ocean Tank.
The stingrays are also a must-see at the South Carolina Aquarium. Visitors can pet the stingrays in the touch tanks or watch them swim in the big tank.
The river otters are another popular animal at the Aquarium. These playful creatures often play in the water or swim through the tunnels.
General Admission ranges from $28-$35. Plan on spending about 2-3 hours at the Aquarium.
#8 King Street
One of the best things to do while visiting downtown Charleston is to take a stroll along King Street. King Street is the most famous street in Charleston and has the best shopping.
From local boutiques to antique shops, there’s something for everyone. The pedestrian-friendly sidewalks are wide enough to enjoy meandering through the unique shops.
Croghan’s Jewel Box is a jewelry store on King Street and a must-visit. They have such a unique selection of antique and one-of-a-kind pieces. They are also known for their high-end estate jewelry.
Of course, you must pop into one of several cafes along King Street for some traditional sweet tea. That is a must for a day of shopping.
There’s always something new to see, and it’s the perfect place to find a gift for someone special. So whether you’re looking for a new outfit, a gift for a friend, or just a nice afternoon stroll, King Street is the place to be.
King Street is worth a visit and has one of the most vibrant downtowns you’ll ever see.
#9 Sullivan’s Island
Sullivan’s Island is a barrier island off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. The island is named for Captain Florence O’Sullivan, stationed here in the 17th century as a lookout.
Sullivan’s Island is a beautiful place to visit, with its sandy beaches, inviting waves, and relaxed pace. It is al known for its award-winning restaurants.
Several shops on Sullivan’s Island also make it the perfect place to spend the day. And, of course, no visit to Sullivan’s Island would be complete without taking a walk at the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse.
The lighthouse is fenced off, so visitors cannot go inside but are welcome to explore the surrounding area.
So if you’re ever in Charleston, include Sullivan’s Island on your list of places to see.
#10 Charleston Cuisine
There’s something extraordinary about Southern cuisine, and Charleston, South Carolina, is no exception. The city is renowned for its seafood, and there’s nothing quite like fresh oysters straight from the harbor.
Lowcountry cuisine is also famous for its use of rice, cooked in various ways. One of the most popular dishes is shrimp and grits, a hearty meal that is perfect for any time of day.
No visit to Charleston would be complete without trying the city’s she-crab soup made with heavy cream and crab or fish. These simple yet delicious dishes are a must-have when visiting the Holy City.
If you’re in the mood for seafood or rice dishes, Charleston has something to offer everyone’s taste buds.
#11 Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is one of Charleston’s most popular tourist destinations. The plantation was built in 1676 by the Drayton family, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.
The plantation gardens are world-renowned and feature various gardens, including a camellia garden, an azalea garden, and a cypress swamp.
Visitors can take a tram tour of the plantation grounds or explore the gardens on foot. A museum on the property also tells the story of the plantation’s history.
Admission ranges from $10 to $30 depending on age and the tours you plan to visit. Set aside at least a couple of hours to explore to gardens.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a beautiful place to visit, and it is a great way to learn about Charleston’s history.
#12 Old Slave Mart Museum
The Old Slave Mart Museum is one of the most important historical sites in Charleston, South Carolina. The museum is housed in a former slave auction gallery, and it tells the story of Charleston’s role in the slave trade.
The Old Slave Mart Museum is the first museum on the history of slavery in the United States. Visitors can see artifacts from the slave trade, learn about the lives of enslaved people, and hear first-hand accounts of the abolitionist movement.
The Old Slave Mart Museum is a powerful reminder of the horrific realities of slavery and is an essential part of understanding American history.
#13 Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens
Boone Hall Plantation is one of America’s oldest working plantations, founded in 1681 by Englishman Major John Boone. The plantation is located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, just outside Charleston.
Boone Hall is rated the #1 Plantation in the Charleston area according to USA TODAY 10BEST.
Visitors can tour the plantation grounds, which include a restored antebellum mansion, slave quarters, and lush gardens. Boone Hall is also home to a working farm, with crops still harvested using traditional methods.
Boone Hall is one of America’s oldest still working farms. The plantation hosts various events throughout the year, including concerts, festivals, and historical reenactments.
Boone Hall Plantation is a beautiful historic site that offers visitors a glimpse into the past.
#14 Charleston Tea Plantation
Charleston Tea Plantation is the one and only tea plantation in the US, and it’s located on Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina. The tea garden covers 127 acres and is home to black and green teas.
The plantation was founded in 1888 and was initially located in Summerville, South Carolina. The tea plants grew wild for the next 48 years after the owner died.
In 1963 the tea plants were transplanted to the Charleston Tea Plantation. The plantation is open for tours, and visitors can learn about the history of tea production in America. In addition, the plantation has a gift shop and a cafe, where visitors can enjoy fresh-brewed tea and homemade snacks.
The Charleston Tea Plantation is a unique destination that offers visitors a chance to learn about America’s tea industry and to enjoy some of the best-tasting tea in the world.
#15 Battery and White Point Gardens
Charleston is a beautiful, history-rich city. One of my favorite places to explore is Battery and White Point Gardens. The gardens offer gorgeous views of the harbor and the cityscape beyond.
It’s a great place to stroll on a warm evening or to enjoy a picnic lunch with friends. The garden’s center is a beautiful gazebo shaded by several old oak trees.
The gardens are also home to various monuments, statues, and an impressive display of Civil War cannons. These monuments serve as a reminder of Charleston’s rich past, and they add an element of interest to the gardens.
Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or to learn more about Charleston’s history, Battery and White Point Gardens is definitely worth a visit.
#16 Shem Creek Boardwalk
Shem Creek Boardwalk is one of the best places in Charleston to take a stroll and enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
The boardwalk is located in Mount Pleasant, a large suburb of Charleston. Shem Creek is said to be one of the most picturesque waterways in Charleston.
The boardwalk is 220 feet long and winds through tall marsh grasses, providing great views of the creek and the wildlife that calls it home. Along the way, you’re likely to see herons and even dolphins swimming in the waters.
Shem Creek is lined with coastal restaurants with the day’s freshest catch. It is also a great place to kayak or paddleboard. As you walk along the boardwalk, you can enjoy the fresh air and look at all the boats docked or out fishing.
If you’re looking for a peaceful place to relax or an exciting place to bird-watch, Shem Creek Boardwalk is sure to please.
#17 Horse Drawn Carriage Tours
If you’re looking for a unique way to experience Charleston, South Carolina, you should consider taking a horse-drawn carriage tour.
This is a great way to see the city at a leisurely pace and learn about its history and culture. You’ll also get to see some of the most beautiful parts of the city that you would never be able to see from a car or bus.
The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who will ensure you have a memorable experience. And of course, the horses are just lovely.
So if you’re looking for a charming and romantic way to explore Charleston, horse-drawn carriage tours are definitely the way to go.
#18 Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum
Nestled in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is a must-see for any history buff or maritime enthusiast.
Patriots Point is home to three museum ships, including the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown. Visitors can explore the ships at their own pace or take a guided tour to learn more about the history of each vessel.
In addition to the ships, the museum also houses several interactive exhibits. The staff are very knowledgable and are passionate about the history of the ships and aircraft.
Operation Overnight is by far the coolest experience at Patriots Point. You can stay aboard the USS Yorktown and sleep in traditional Navy berthing compartments.
You will also have meals in one of the ship’s many galleys and live like a Sailor. All this for only $85, and you will have an experience like no other.
Regular admission ranges from $16-$27, depending on age. However, patriots Point is more than just a museum; it’s a tribute to the brave men and women who have served our country.
#19 The Nathaniel Russell House Museum
The Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston is one of the most visited mansions because of its opulent architecture. The house itself is gorgeous, with intricately detailed woodwork throughout.
The most notable feature is the free-flying three-story staircase. Each step is cantilevered to support the step above and below it. The Nathaniel Russell family was one of the most prominent families in Charleston during the 18th and 19th centuries, and the house reflects their wealth and status.
Even though it’s been turned into a museum, you can still feel the grandeur of the Russell family’s former home. I highly recommend visiting the Nathaniel Russell House Museum if you’re ever in Charleston.
#20 Charleston Music Hall
The Charleston Music Hall is centrally located in the upper King Street area in historic downtown Charleston.
The music hall hosts various music from jazz, rock, and country; touring artists and local artists play at the Charleston Music Hall.
The acoustics are the best in the town, and there is not a bad seat in the house. The theatre-style seating makes for a classy venue. The Charleston Music Hall also hosts comedy shows, dance, and theatre, something for everyone.
The hall was built in 1850 and is unique with 19th-century Gothic Revival architecture. The theatre holds 965 seats and can also be rented for corporate functions.
The location is perfect, with many shops, hotels, and restaurants on King Street.
#21 Ghost and Graveyard Tours in Charleston
Ghost and graveyard tours are popular activities in Charleston, South Carolina.
Many of the city’s historic buildings and homes are said to be haunted, and the city’s cemeteries are full of stories of love, loss, and tragedy.
Visitors can choose different tours, each offering a unique perspective on the city’s history and ghosts.
The tours are a great way to learn about Charleston’s past and also a lot of fun. Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, a ghost tour will be an unforgettable experience.
#22 Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site is a must-see for history buffs and nature lovers. In addition, it is a perfect way to spend the afternoon with the family.
The historic point is located in a marshy point just off Ashley River, where in 1670, English settlers landed. This is the birthplace of Charleston.
The park is 184 acres, so plan on spending several hours and bring good walking shoes. You can walk through the self-guided trail and listen to the audio tour along the way.
Visit the Adventure, Charleston’s only 17th-century replica ship. Meet history demonstrators all dressed in costume and learn about Charleston’s history.
Explore in the animal forest, where you can see animals native to the area in 1670 in a zoo-like setting. Admission is only $7-$12 depending on age, which is well worth the trip.
#23 Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island Golf Resort is one of the most prestigious golf resorts in the country. This 5-star luxury resort is also known to have some of the best beaches in the area.
The beautiful scenery and the challenging courses make for a fantastic golf day. It is a public golf course, but you should plan on spending almost $400 for a round (yikes!).
If this is not for you, just enjoy exploring the area. The island is a true paradise, with sandy beaches, lush vegetation, and spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Whether you’re a diehard golfer or simply looking for a lovely place to vacation, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is sure to exceed your expectations.
#24 Aiken-Rhett House Museum
Aiken-Rhett House Museum is one of Charleston’s most unique and exciting places. It is a historic townhouse complex built in 1820 and furnished with items dating back to the early 1800s.
Aiken-Rhett House is unique in that it is one of the best preserved townhouse complexes in the nation. For 142 years, the house belonged to the Aiken family and then was sold to Charleston Museum in 1975.
The structure, furnishings, and contents have been left “as-found.” The only area of the house that has been stored is the art gallery.
The art gallery displays the many artworks collected by the Aiken family over the years. I recommend visiting the Aiken-Rhett House Museum if you are ever in Charleston, South Carolina.
There are so many reasons why you should visit Charleston, South Carolina. The city is rich in history, and you can learn about it through the many tours available.
The food is fantastic – you can find everything from seafood to barbecue, and the locals are always happy to share their favorites. The city is also charming, with its grand mansions and weeping willows.
Don’t forget the beaches. Charleston has some of the best damn beaches in the country. So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to Charleston today.