Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Dr. Shannon Barrett
Charleston, South Carolina, is a city where history breathes through its cobblestone streets and antebellum architecture. Nestled on the Atlantic coast, it’s a place where the past and present coalesce to create a unique Southern charm.
I was lucky enough to call it home for 12 years. It will always hold a special place in my heart. Here is your ultimate visitors guide from a local and all around fangirl of Charleston.
- Overview of Charleston's Historical Significance
- Charleston Today: A Blend of Old and New
- Getting to Charleston
- Must-Visit Historic Sites in Charleston
- Best Ways to See the City
- Best restaurants in Charleston
- Outdoor Activities and Nature in Charleston
- Shopping in Charleston
- Accommodation Options in Charleston
- Charleston Events and Festivals
- Local Tips for Travelers
- Final Thoughts from a local
Overview of Charleston’s Historical Significance
Charleston, South Carolina is often referred to as “The Holy City” due to its historical significance in religious tolerance and its skyline dotted with numerous church steeples.
This nickname dates back to the city’s founding, when it was one of the few places in the original thirteen colonies that allowed religious freedom and where various denominations and religions could practice openly. This rich religious diversity and the prominent presence of churches have given Charleston its enduring and affectionate moniker.
Charleston, South Carolina, is steeped in a rich and complex history that dates back over three centuries, making it one of America’s most historically significant cities.
Founded in 1670, it played a pivotal role in both the American Revolution and the Civil War, with the latter beginning at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The city’s well-preserved architecture, from antebellum mansions to historic churches, tells a story of opulence, conflict, and cultural fusion.
Charleston was also a central point in the transatlantic slave trade, and its legacy in this dark chapter of history is acknowledged through numerous historical sites and museums.
Today, this history is honored and explored through various tours, museums, and preserved historical sites, making Charleston a must-visit for anyone interested in the early chapters of American history. The city’s commitment to preserving its past provides visitors with an immersive and educational experience into the roots of American culture and society.
Charleston Today: A Blend of Old and New
It is a vibrant, charming city that masterfully blends its rich history with contemporary culture, making it an irresistible destination for travelers. Known for its well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and warm Southern hospitality, Charleston offers a unique experience that merges the allure of the past with modern amenities.
The city has received numerous accolades, notably being named “America’s Best Small City” by Condé Nast Traveler for several consecutive years, highlighting its appeal in the realms of history, cuisine, and culture. Charleston’s culinary scene is particularly noteworthy, with an array of acclaimed restaurants showcasing both traditional Southern fare and innovative cuisine.
The city’s scenic beauty, from its picturesque waterfront parks to its historic plantations and gardens, adds to its allure. With a vibrant arts and culture scene, including numerous festivals and events, Charleston is a destination that offers something for every traveler, epitomizing a perfect blend of tradition and modernity.
Getting to Charleston
The Holy City is easily accessible by various modes of transportation, with the Charleston International Airport being the primary gateway for those flying in. Located approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Charleston, the airport offers numerous domestic and international flights, making it a convenient option for travelers from all over.
Upon arrival, visitors can choose from various transportation options to reach the city, including taxis, ride-sharing services, shuttles, and rental cars, all available at the airport.
For those preferring to drive, Charleston is well-connected by major highways and is a scenic drive from many parts of the United States. Additionally, Charleston is serviced by Amtrak and has a bus system for those who prefer public transportation. For travelers planning a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, the city is easily accessible by various modes of transportation, with the Charleston International Airport being the primary gateway for those flying in. Located approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Charleston, the airport offers numerous domestic and international flights, making it a convenient option for travelers from all over.
Upon arrival, visitors can choose from various transportation options to reach the city, including taxis, ride-sharing services, shuttles, and rental cars, all available at the airport. For those preferring to drive, Charleston is well-connected by major highways and is a scenic drive from many parts of the United States. Additionally, Charleston is serviced by Amtrak and has a bus system for those who prefer public transportation.
For more information about the Charleston International Airport and transportation options, visit their official website: Charleston International Airport.
For more information about the Charleston International Airport and transportation options, visit their official website: Charleston International Airport.
Must-Visit Historic Sites in Charleston
Charleston is a living museum, with its historic sites offering insights into the nation’s past.
Exploring the French Quarter
The French Quarter in Charleston, a historically rich and visually stunning neighborhood, is nestled within the original walled city of old Charleston.
This area, known for its well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets, exudes an old-world charm that captivates travelers. The French Quarter is renowned for its art galleries, churches, and historic buildings, including the famous Dock Street Theatre and the picturesque St. Philip’s Church. Visitors can immerse themselves in the area’s vibrant history by exploring its numerous alleyways and courtyards, which reveal hidden gems at every turn.
The French Quarter also hosts the popular French Quarter Art Walk, where local galleries open their doors for an evening of art and culture. This neighborhood is not just a step back in time; it’s an artistic and cultural hub that offers a unique glimpse into Charleston’s past and present.
The Significance of Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter, a national monument steeped in American history, is located on an island in Charleston Harbor and is accessible only by boat.
This historic site is famously known as the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861. Today, travelers can visit Fort Sumter to explore its well-preserved ruins and learn about its pivotal role in American history through informative exhibits and tours. The journey to the fort provides stunning views of the Charleston skyline and the surrounding waters.
Guided tours offer insights into the events that led up to the Civil War and the impact of the conflict on the nation. The visit to Fort Sumter is not only an educational experience but also a poignant reminder of the nation’s past.
It’s a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in understanding the complex heritage of the United States. For more information about visiting Fort Sumter, including tour details and schedules, visit the website: Fort Sumter
Charleston’s Pineapple Fountain, an iconic and picturesque landmark, is located in the scenic Waterfront Park along the Cooper River in downtown Charleston.
This unique fountain, shaped like a pineapple, symbolizes hospitality and welcomes visitors and locals alike.
It has become a beloved spot for taking photos and enjoying the serene waterfront views. At night, the fountain is beautifully illuminated, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere.
Surrounding the fountain, the park offers lush green spaces, perfect for picnics, leisurely walks, or simply relaxing by the water’s edge.
The Pineapple Fountain is not just a stunning piece of public art; it’s a symbol of the warmth and charm that Charleston is known for.
Visitors are encouraged to take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the fountain and the panoramic views of the harbor.
Best Ways to See the City
Horse and carriage tours
This is a charming and leisurely way to explore the rich history and stunning architecture of this historic city.
These guided tours provide an intimate glimpse into Charleston’s past, meandering through cobblestone streets and past grand antebellum homes, churches, and gardens. Each tour is led by knowledgeable guides who share fascinating stories and insights about the city’s history, culture, and landmarks.
The gentle clip-clop of the horses adds to the ambiance, making for a relaxing and picturesque experience. These tours are perfect for those who want to see the city from a different perspective.
Suitable for all ages, horse and carriage tours are a delightful way to connect with Charleston’s charm and elegance. I recommend taking a private tour if possible.
Local Tip: The horse and carriage tours have a few routes to show you around the city. You don’t get to pick the route you take. It is determined by a lottery before you take off.
For more information and to book a tour, visit the official Charleston Carriage Works website: Charleston Carriage Works.
Walking tours in Charleston are an excellent way to immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of history, culture, and architecture that this storied city has to offer.
These tours, led by knowledgeable and passionate guides, take visitors through the historic streets, revealing the hidden gems and storied past of Charleston.
From the cobblestone alleys of the French Quarter to the grandeur of the Battery’s antebellum homes, each tour offers a deep dive into specific aspects of the city’s history, such as the Civil War, the Gullah culture, or the city’s famed ghost stories.
These walking tours are not only educational but also a delightful way to experience the charm of Charleston up close, with opportunities to appreciate the intricate details of its architecture and gardens.
Local Tip: If a guided tour is not your speed, consider taking a self guided tour on Broad and Tradd street.
You can admire some of our city’s most beautiful homes. If you are lucky, you may even get a peak of some courtyard gardens attached to these homes.
For more information and to book a tour, visit the official Walks of Charleston website: Walks of Charleston.
Best restaurants in Charleston
FIG Restaurant, located in the heart of Charleston at 232 Meeting Street, has become a culinary landmark for travelers and locals alike.
FIG stands for Food is Good and this acronym definintely matches the flavors from the kitchen. This celebrated establishment, known for its commitment to fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, offers a unique dining experience that captures the essence of Southern cuisine with a contemporary twist.
The ambiance of FIG is both cozy and elegant, making it an ideal spot for a memorable meal. Renowned for its seasonal menu, the restaurant ensures that every dish served is at the peak of its flavor.
The professional and friendly staff add to the welcoming atmosphere, ensuring a delightful dining experience. For those planning a visit, it’s recommended to make reservations in advance due to the restaurant’s popularity. Discover more and book your table at their website: www.eatatfig.com.
Poogan’s Porch, a charming and historic restaurant in Charleston, SC, offers travelers a delightful taste of Southern hospitality and cuisine. Situated in a beautifully restored Victorian house at 72 Queen Street, this restaurant exudes a warm and inviting atmosphere.
Poogan’s Porch is celebrated for its classic Southern dishes, like their famous shrimp and grits and the decadent buttermilk fried chicken.
The restaurant’s quaint porch setting provides an ideal backdrop for a leisurely meal, whether it’s a hearty brunch or an elegant dinner.
The friendly staff and the home-like ambiance make it a must-visit for those seeking an authentic Charleston dining experience. Due to its popularity, reservations are recommended. Explore their menu and reserve your table at their website: www.poogansporch.com.
Rue De Jean
Rue de Jean, nestled in the heart of Charleston at 39 John Street, is a haven for travelers seeking a taste of French cuisine with a Southern twist.
This sophisticated yet relaxed bistro is renowned for its Parisian-style ambiance, offering an authentic French dining experience. Guests can indulge in classic dishes such as Escargot, Coq au Vin, and Moules Frites, each prepared with a dedication to flavor and quality.
The restaurant’s chic interior, complete with a charming outdoor patio, provides the perfect setting for both casual and special occasions.
The attentive service at Rue de Jean enhances the dining experience, making each visitor feel like a valued guest. Reservations are recommended to ensure a table at this popular spot. Discover more about their culinary offerings and make a reservation at their website: Rue De Jean
Gabrielle Charleston, located within the luxurious Hotel Bennett at 404 King Street, is a must-visit culinary destination for travelers in Charleston.
This upscale restaurant offers an exquisite fusion of Southern and French cuisines, presenting a menu that’s both innovative and deeply rooted in local traditions.
The elegant setting, with its opulent decor and panoramic views of Marion Square, provides a dining experience that’s as visually stunning as it is gastronomically satisfying.
Signature dishes, such as the Duck a L’Orange and She Crab Soup, showcase the chef’s expertise in blending classic techniques with regional flavors.
The attentive service and sophisticated ambiance make Gabrielle an ideal choice for a special dinner or a refined, leisurely meal. To ensure a memorable experience at this popular dining spot, reservations are highly recommended. Discover more about Gabrielle and reserve your table at their website: Gabrielle
Edmund’s Oast, a unique and vibrant addition to Charleston’s culinary scene, is located at 1081 Morrison Drive, offering travelers a distinctive blend of brewery and restaurant.
This innovative spot stands out for its extensive selection of craft beers, brewed on-site, and a diverse menu that combines traditional Southern flavors with modern culinary creativity.
The restaurant’s spacious and contemporary setting, complete with an outdoor beer garden, makes it a perfect place for both casual gatherings and special occasions. Highlights of their menu include inventive small plates, hearty entrées, and artisanal charcuterie, all designed to pair beautifully with their wide range of beers.
The atmosphere at Edmund’s Oast is lively and welcoming. For beer enthusiasts and foodies alike, this is a must-visit destination in Charleston. Explore their menu and learn more about their brewery at their website: Edmunds Oast
Home Team BBQ
Home Team BBQ, a must-visit for barbecue enthusiasts traveling to Charleston, offers a delightful fusion of traditional Southern barbecue and contemporary culinary techniques.
This restaurant is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, friendly service, and, most importantly, its mouth-watering barbecue. Diners can indulge in a range of smoked meats, from succulent pulled pork to tender brisket, all complemented by a selection of unique, house-made sauces.
The menu also features Southern staples like mac and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread, ensuring a well-rounded and authentic barbecue experience. Home Team BBQ is not just about great food; it’s also known for its live music events, making it a perfect spot for those looking to enjoy good food and entertainment in a casual setting.
Whether you’re a barbecue aficionado or just looking for a taste of Southern hospitality, Home Team BBQ is an excellent choice.
To nibble on some of this delicious BBQ, go to 126 Williman Street, Charleston, SC 29403. For more information and to check out their menu, visit the Home Team BBQ website: Home Team BBQ.
Outdoor Activities and Nature in Charleston
Charleston’s natural beauty is as captivating as its urban charm, offering a plethora of outdoor activities.
Parks in Charleston
Charleston Waterfront Park, a picturesque and serene public space, is a jewel in the heart of downtown Charleston, located along Concord Street. This beautifully landscaped park stretches along the Cooper River, offering visitors stunning views and a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.
Renowned for its famous Pineapple Fountain, the park is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, ideal for leisurely strolls, picnics, and soaking in the charming vistas of the harbor. The expansive lawns and shaded benches provide perfect spots for relaxation, while the pier offers a unique opportunity to observe passing boats and local wildlife.
The park’s accessibility and family-friendly environment make it a must-visit for anyone exploring Charleston. Whether for a morning jog, an afternoon of exploration, or a sunset view, Charleston Waterfront Park is a delightful escape into nature’s embrace. More information about the park can be found on the City of Charleston’s official website: Waterfront Park
Marion Square, a historical and vibrant green space, is centrally located in downtown Charleston at the intersection of King and Calhoun Streets.
This six-acre park, rich in history and surrounded by the city’s urban landscape, offers a tranquil respite for travelers and locals alike. Once a military ground, Marion Square now serves as a gathering place for festivals, farmers’ markets, and casual strolls under its shady trees.
The square is also notable for its significant landmarks, including the Confederate Soldiers Monument. Its expansive lawns are perfect for picnics, outdoor activities, or simply relaxing and watching the world go by.
Visitors will appreciate the square’s proximity to many of Charleston’s key attractions, making it an ideal spot to unwind during a day of exploration. For more information about events and the history of Marion Square, visit the website: Marion Square
Battery Park & White Point Garden
Battery Park & White Point Garden, located at the southern tip of the Charleston peninsula, is a historic and scenic destination that travelers should not miss.
This picturesque park, known simply as “The Battery,” offers panoramic views of Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, and the beautiful antebellum homes that line the street.
The garden is steeped in history, with Civil War cannons and statues dotting the landscape, providing a tangible connection to Charleston’s past. The shaded paths and lush greenery make it a peaceful retreat for a leisurely stroll or a picnic.
Additionally, its location makes it a perfect starting or ending point for a walking tour of the historic district.
The address for Battery Park & White Point Gardens is 2 Murray Blvd, Charleston, SC 29401.
While visiting The Battery, make sure to snap some pics of the iconic Rainbow Row. It is a charming and picturesque series of thirteen colorful historic houses that have become one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
This vibrant stretch, known for its pastel-colored Georgian row houses, dates back to the mid-18th century and represents a beautiful example of Charleston’s rich architectural heritage.
Rainbow Row’s distinct and cheerful façade makes it a favorite subject for photographers and artists, capturing the essence of Charleston’s historic charm.
Stroll over to 83 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401 to see these historic homes.
The Angel Oak, located on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina, is a majestic and ancient Southern live oak tree that is a must-see for travelers. Estimated to be around 400-500 years old, this awe-inspiring natural wonder stands as a testament to the enduring beauty of the
Lowcountry’s landscape. The Angel Oak’s massive, gnarled limbs stretch out over a wide area, creating a canopy that provides a cool, shaded retreat. This tree is not just a botanical marvel; it’s a symbol of strength and resilience, having withstood centuries of natural challenges.
Visiting the Angel Oak offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and experience a piece of living history. It’s an ideal spot for photography, relaxation, and appreciating the incredible beauty of one of the oldest living things in the South. The Angel Oak is a serene and enchanting destination that leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.
You can find it at 3688 Angel Oak Road, Johns Island, SC 29455. For more information, visit the Angel Oak website: Angel Oak.
Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms is my favorite beach in the low country. We called it home for over a decade so know it very well.
The island is located just a short drive from downtown Charleston, offering travelers a perfect blend of natural beauty and recreational activities.
An added bonus is that you get to drive over the Ravenel Bridge to get there. This barrier island, known for its wide, sandy beaches and clear, blue waters, provides an idyllic setting for sunbathing, swimming, and water sports.
The Isle of Palms County Park, in particular, is a popular spot with well-maintained facilities, including picnic areas and beach volleyball courts. Beyond the beach, the island boasts charming local shops, delicious seafood restaurants, and scenic golf courses.
The laid-back atmosphere of the Isle of Palms makes it an ideal escape for families, couples, and solo travelers seeking a peaceful beach experience. Its easy accessibility from Charleston ensures a hassle-free day trip or a longer, relaxing stay. For more information, visit the official Isle of Palms website: isle of Palms
Local Tip: All of the beaches mentioned are dog-friendly.
Sullivan’s Island, a charming and tranquil beach community, is situated at the entrance of Charleston Harbor and is a treasured destination for travelers seeking a serene coastal experience. You can get there by crossing Breach Inlet which is where the Atlantic ocean meets the Intracoastal waterway.
Sullivan’s Island is a perfect spot for sunbathing, leisurely walks, and bird watching. The island is also home to the iconic Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse and the historic Fort Moultrie, a key site in American history.
Despite its small size, the island offers a variety of dining options, from casual beachfront eateries to upscale restaurants, all serving fresh local seafood. Make sure to stop by the original Home Team BBQ location or grab a burger at Poes.
Accessible via a short drive from Charleston, it offers a tranquil escape with picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean and Charleston Harbor. For more information on Sullivan’s Island, visit the official website: Sullivans island
Folly Beach, affectionately known as “the Edge of America,” is a captivating barrier island located just 12 miles south of downtown Charleston.
Renowned for its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque coastline, Folly Beach is a favorite among surfers, sunbathers, and nature lovers. This island offers six miles of sandy shores, ideal for beachcombing, swimming, and fishing from its famous pier. Beyond the beach, Folly Beach’s eclectic downtown area is lined with local shops, bars, and restaurants that exude a quintessential beach town vibe.
The island’s relaxed charm and natural beauty make it a perfect destination for a day trip or an extended beach vacation. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or just a peaceful spot to unwind, Folly Beach provides an authentic and enjoyable coastal experience. For more information, visit the official Folly Beach website: Folly Beach
If you like beaches, you can read about the beaches along the Forgotten Coast of Florida.
Plantations and Gardens
The surrounding plantations and gardens showcase the area’s agricultural heritage and natural beauty, offering a glimpse into the antebellum South.
Boone Hall Plantation
Boone Hall Plantation holds a special place for me. It’s where we got married and since then, have attended numerous festivals on the grounds.
It’s located just a short drive from Charleston in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, is one of America’s oldest working plantations and a site of immense historical and cultural significance. Known for its picturesque Avenue of Oaks, a stunning, nearly mile-long drive lined with massive, centuries-old oak trees, the plantation offers an unparalleled glimpse into the antebellum South.
Visitors can explore the elegant mansion, numerous outbuildings, and the well-preserved slave cabins, which provide a sobering reminder of the plantation’s past. Boone Hall has also served as a backdrop for several films, most notably “The Notebook” and “Gone With The Wind,” adding to its allure for movie enthusiasts.
Additionally, its breathtaking landscapes and romantic ambiance make it a sought-after venue for weddings and special events. A visit to Boone Hall Plantation offers a blend of natural beauty, historical education, and a touch of Hollywood, making it a must-visit destination for travelers in the Charleston area.
Boone Hall Plantation is located at 1235 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, 29464. For more information about tours, events, and its rich history, you can visit their official website: Boone Hall Plantation.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, is a historic and breathtakingly beautiful site that beckons travelers with its lush gardens and rich history.
Founded in 1676, it is one of the oldest plantations in the South, renowned for its expansive and romantic gardens that bloom year-round.
The plantation offers a variety of tours, including the house tour, nature tram, and boat tours, providing a comprehensive insight into both the natural beauty and historical significance of the area.
Magnolia Plantation has been the setting for several films, with its picturesque scenery offering a perfect backdrop for cinematic storytelling. Visitors are drawn to its tranquil and enchanting ambiance, making it a favorite for both history buffs and nature lovers.
The combination of stunning gardens, wildlife, and historical depth makes Magnolia Plantation a must-visit destination.
Magnolia plantation is located at 3550 Ashley River Road in Charleston, South Carolina. For more information and to plan your visit, explore the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens website.
This historic plantation that offers travelers a profound glimpse into America’s deep South’s past.
This National Historic Landmark stands on the banks of the Ashley River and is renowned for having America’s oldest landscaped gardens, which feature an enchanting variety of flowers, ancient oak trees, and serene water features.
The plantation’s house museum, a portion of which dates back to 1755, provides insights into the lives of the Middleton family and their role in American history.
Visitors can also explore the stableyards, where they can see demonstrations of traditional crafts and get an understanding of the workings of an 18th-century rice plantation.
You can find it at 4300 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29414. For more information and to plan your visit, explore the Middleton Place website: Middleton Place.
Charleston is a family-friendly destination, with attractions that cater to all ages.
The South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium is a fantastic destination for families and children, offering an educational and engaging experience.
With a wide range of exhibits showcasing diverse marine life, from the mountains to the sea, the aquarium provides an opportunity to learn about the region’s rich aquatic ecosystems. Interactive exhibits, such as the touch tank, allow children to get up close with sea creatures, fostering a hands-on learning environment.
The aquarium’s commitment to conservation and education is evident through its programs and displays, including the Sea Turtle Care Center, where visitors can witness the rehabilitation of injured sea turtles.
Additionally, the aquarium offers spectacular views of the harbor, making it not just an educational visit, but also an enjoyable day out for the whole family. With its focus on fun, learning, and conservation, the South Carolina Aquarium is an ideal place for families to explore and appreciate the wonders of marine life.
It is located at Charleston Harbor at 100 Aquarium Wharf. More information can be found at The Aquarium’s website.
Childrens Museum of the Lowcountry
The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, is an interactive and imaginative playground that offers an enriching experience for kids and families.
This vibrant museum is packed with hands-on exhibits that encourage creativity, exploration, and learning through play. From a medieval castle to a kid-sized grocery store, each exhibit is designed to ignite the curiosity and imagination of young minds. The museum’s focus on interactive and experiential learning makes it an ideal destination for children to engage in activities that are both educational and entertaining.
Special workshops and programs, tailored for various age groups, provide additional opportunities for creative expression and discovery. The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is a perfect spot for families to spend a fun-filled day, fostering learning and bonding through shared experiences.
It is located at 25 Ann Street, Charleston, SC 29403. For more information about the museum and its programs, visit their website: Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.
One of our favorite things to do in Charleston is to attend a Riverdogs Baseball game.
The Charleston RiverDogs, the beloved minor league baseball team, offer a quintessentially American family experience at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Attending a RiverDogs game is more than just watching baseball; it’s an event filled with entertainment, from humorous on-field promotions to post-game fireworks, ensuring fun for all ages.
The team’s commitment to a family-friendly atmosphere is evident in their affordable ticket prices and kid-centric activities, including a play area and frequent mascot appearances. The ballpark itself offers stunning views of the Ashley River, enhancing the experience with a beautiful backdrop.
Not just for sports enthusiasts, RiverDogs games encapsulate a relaxed, joyous spirit, making it a perfect outing for families looking to enjoy a night of sport, food, and fun.
With their engaging entertainment and welcoming environment, the Charleston RiverDogs provide an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults alike.
It is located at 60 Fishburne Street, Charleston, SC 29403. For schedule, tickets, and more information, visit their website: Charleston RiverDogs.
Patriots Point is located just across the harbor from downtown Charleston, is a remarkable destination for families and children with a keen interest in history and naval operations. T
his naval and maritime museum is home to the historic USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier, where visitors can explore the flight deck, aircraft, and living quarters, offering a real-life glimpse into naval history.
Interactive exhibits, such as the Vietnam Experience Exhibit, provide an immersive educational experience that brings history to life. For younger visitors, the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum offers engaging activities and exhibits designed to educate and entertain, making learning about history fun and accessible.
The site also includes a Cold War Submarine Memorial and the Medal of Honor Museum, further enhancing its educational value. With its unique combination of history, education, and hands-on experiences, Patriots Point is an ideal outing for families looking to explore and learn together.
It is located at 40 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464. For more information, including ticket details and opening hours, visit their website: Patriots Point.
Shopping in Charleston
Charleston’s shopping scene is a mix of boutique shops, local markets, and antique stores, perfect for finding unique souvenirs and local crafts.
King Street is a shopper’s paradise. One of the main streets in Charleston, it stretches through the heart of downtown Charleston.
This historic street is divided into three distinct areas: Lower King for antiques and design, Middle King for fashion and lifestyle, and Upper King for home decor and modern boutiques.
As you stroll down King Street, you’ll find an eclectic mix of high-end retailers, local boutiques, art galleries, and souvenir shops, each offering unique finds and charming keepsakes.
On the second Sunday of each month, King Street transforms into a pedestrian-only zone, allowing shoppers to leisurely explore and enjoy street performances, outdoor dining, and a vibrant, festive atmosphere. Shopping on King Street is not just about finding the perfect item; it’s an experience that captures the essence of Charleston’s charm and elegance.
For more information on second Sunday on King: visit this website
This is not only a great place to stay (see the hotels and accommodation section below) but is one of the shopping hubs in the city.
Charleston Place is a premier shopping destination that offers travelers an upscale and diverse retail experience. This elegant shopping area, situated within the Charleston Place Hotel, features a range of luxury boutiques and well-known brand stores, catering to a variety of tastes and preferences.
From high-end fashion and jewelry to unique gifts and local artisan products, Charleston Place provides a refined shopping environment in a beautifully designed space.
The center also boasts fine dining options and charming cafes, making it a perfect spot to take a break and indulge in some culinary delights.
The convenient location of Charleston Place, amidst the historic charm of downtown Charleston, adds to its appeal, making it a must-visit for those looking to combine shopping with the exploration of the city’s rich heritage and culture.
Local Tip: If you are in town around the holidays, make sure to visit Charleston Place to see their amazing holiday decorations.
For more information about the shops and amenities at Charleston Place, visit their website: Charleston Place.
205 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401
Accommodation Options in Charleston
Hotel Bennett is a pinnacle of luxury and elegance, making it an exceptional choice for travelers seeking a high-end experience.
This lavish hotel, known for its stunning design and impeccable service, offers guests an unparalleled stay in one of the city’s most prestigious locations.
Each room and suite is exquisitely decorated, providing a perfect blend of comfort and sophistication. The hotel boasts fine dining options, including a rooftop bar with breathtaking views of the historic cityscape.
The signature spa at Hotel Bennett offers a tranquil retreat for relaxation and rejuvenation. Its prime location allows easy access to Charleston’s renowned historic sites, shopping, and dining.
For those looking for an indulgent and memorable stay in Charleston, Hotel Bennett stands out as a top-tier accommodation, offering a unique blend of Southern charm and contemporary luxury.
The hotel is located 404 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403. Discover more about this exquisite hotel and book your stay at the Hotel Bennett website: Hotel Bennett.
Planters Inn, nestled downtown, is a distinguished boutique hotel that offers travelers an authentic taste of Southern elegance and hospitality.
This Relais & Châteaux property, set in a restored 19th-century building, exudes a timeless charm, making it a unique and luxurious choice for accommodation.
Each guest room is tastefully decorated with classic furnishings and plush fabrics, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. The inn is renowned for its exceptional service, ensuring a personalized and memorable experience for every guest.
A highlight of staying at Planters Inn is dining at the acclaimed Peninsula Grill, known for its exquisite Lowcountry cuisine and romantic garden setting.
Its central location provides convenient access to Charleston’s famed historic sites, shopping, and cultural attractions. For travelers seeking a blend of historical ambiance, modern luxury, and impeccable service, Planters Inn stands out as one of the best places to stay in Charleston.
Visit the Planters Inn at 112 North Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401. Explore more about Planters Inn and plan your stay at their website: Planters Inn.
The Market Pavillon Hotel
This hotel is a symbol of luxury and refinement, making it a top choice for travelers seeking an exceptional stay.
This elegant hotel, renowned for its opulent decor and attentive service, ensures a memorable experience in the heart of the historic district. Each guest room is designed with sophisticated comfort in mind, boasting rich furnishings and modern amenities.
The hotel’s rooftop pool and bar offer stunning views of the city and harbor, providing a perfect oasis for relaxation and socializing. Dining at the hotel’s Grill 225 is a culinary delight, known for its sumptuous steaks and fresh seafood.
The Market Pavilion Hotel’s prime location allows easy access to Charleston’s famous landmarks, shopping, and vibrant cultural scene.
For those who value luxury, comfort, and a central location, the Market Pavilion Hotel stands out as one of the finest accommodations in Charleston.
You can find it at 225 East Bay Street, Charleston, SC 29401. Discover more and book your luxurious stay at the Market Pavilion Hotel website: Market Pavilion Hotel.
Charleston Place Hotel
Charleston Place, situated in the heart of downtown Charleston on Meeting street, stands out as one of the city’s premier accommodations, offering an exquisite blend of luxury, Southern charm, and exceptional service.
This elegant hotel is renowned for its stunning architecture, refined interiors, and a level of hospitality that captures the essence of the region. Its convenient location provides easy access to the historic district’s most famous attractions, including the bustling City Market, numerous art galleries, and fine dining establishments. Guests at Charleston Place can enjoy a range of amenities, including a world-class spa, a rooftop pool with panoramic city views, and multiple dining options that cater to every palate.
The hotel’s attention to detail, from the beautifully appointed rooms to the personalized guest services, ensures a stay that is both luxurious and comfortable.
Whether you’re visiting for leisure or business, Charleston Place offers an experience that epitomizes the sophistication and warmth of Charleston, making it a top choice for discerning travelers.
Charleston Place is located at 205 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29401. For more information and reservations, visit the Charleston Place website: Charleston Place.
Wentworth Mansion is more than just a luxurious place to stay; it’s a journey into the city’s opulent past.
This meticulously restored, 21-room mansion, dating back to the 19th century, offers travelers an unparalleled experience of Southern grandeur and hospitality. Each room in the mansion is exquisitely furnished, blending historic elegance with modern comforts, and many feature original marble fireplaces and sunlit bay windows.
The mansion’s location allows easy access to Charleston’s famed historic sites, charming boutiques, and exquisite dining. Guests can indulge in a complimentary Southern breakfast, afternoon wine and hors d’oeuvres, and nightly homemade chocolates, all adding to the lavish experience.
The Wentworth Mansion encapsulates the essence of a bygone era, making it a perfect choice for those seeking a unique and luxurious insight into Charleston’s rich history.
This historic home is located at 149 Wentworth Street, Charleston, SC 29401. For more information and to book your stay, visit the Wentworth Mansion website: Wentworth Mansion.
Charleston Events and Festivals
There are so many great events and festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from food to music. Here are some of our favorites.
Charleston Farmers Market
The Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square is a vibrant, must-visit attraction. The market operates seasonally, typically from April to November, every Saturday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
This bustling market is a feast for the senses, offering a wide array of local produce, artisanal foods, and handcrafted goods. It’s not just a place to shop; the market is a lively hub of activity, featuring live music, entertainment, and a variety of food vendors serving delicious, locally-sourced meals and snacks.
Whether you’re looking to pick up fresh ingredients, find a unique gift, or simply soak up the local culture, the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square is an experience that encapsulates the charm and vibrancy of the city.
You can visit the market at Marion Square. The address is 329 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29403. For more information about the market, including specific dates and vendor details, visit the Charleston Farmers Market website: Charleston Farmers Market.
The Spoleto Festival, hosted annually in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the country’s premier performing arts festivals, attracting visitors and artists from around the globe.
Typically held in late May to early June, the festival spans 17 days and showcases a remarkable array of performances. It features a diverse lineup that includes opera, theater, dance, and music, ranging from classical to jazz and everything in between.
The festival’s events are held in various venues throughout the city, including historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces, providing a unique opportunity to explore Charleston’s cultural and architectural beauty.
Highlights often include world premieres and innovative productions, making it a destination for those who appreciate cutting-edge and traditional performing arts.
For more information about the festival, including specific dates and program details, visit the Spoleto Festival USA website: Spoleto Festival USA.
Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE)
SEWE is a celebrated annual event in Charleston, South Carolina, typically taking place in February.
As the largest wildlife art and nature event in the nation, SEWE attracts thousands of visitors each year.
The exposition offers a unique blend of art, wildlife, and outdoor lifestyle, making it a magnet for nature enthusiasts, conservationists, and art lovers. Highlights include wildlife art exhibitions from renowned artists, live animal demonstrations, and interactive educational experiences.
SEWE also features sporting demonstrations and opportunities to engage with environmental and conservation organizations.
Local Tip: Our favorite activities during SEWE are the live bird demonstrations in Marion Square and the dog dock diving competition.
For more information about the exposition, including specific dates and event schedules, visit the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition website: Southeastern Wildlife Exposition.
We have 2 favorite places to park when visiting downtown. Both centrally located and ideal for exploring the city.
The Visitors Center offers ample parking space and serves as a perfect starting point for tourists, providing easy access to various tours and a wealth of information about Charleston’s attractions.
This is another excellent parking option, especially for those planning to explore the nearby historic district, shops, and restaurants. It also gives you easy access to King Street.
Both locations are well-maintained and secure. They both offer covered parking which is great during summer when their can be pop-up rain showers.
Their central locations mean that many of Charleston’s most famous landmarks, including Rainbow Row, the Battery, and the City Market, are just a short walk away.
For more information on parking and attractions, visit the Charleston Visitor’s Center website: Charleston Visitor’s Center.
- Visitors Center: 375 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29403
- Charleston Place: 85 Hasell Street, Charleston, SC 29401
Local Tips for Travelers
Traveling to Charleston is an adventure, and these practical tips will help you make the most of your visit.
Best Time to Visit
While Charleston is a year-round destination, some seasons offer unique experiences and events. It can get very hot in the summer months. This is also when it is the most crowded.
My favorite time to visit after the rush of summer in September and October. The weather is still warm enough to enjoy the beaches but the lines are not as long when searching for your favorite dishes at restaurants.
Bring Bug Spray and Sunblock
The sun is intense in the lowcountry so make sure to bring plenty of SPF. You’ll want it whether you are on the beach or taking a walking tour through historic Charleston.
We often joke that the mosqiuto is the South Carolina state bird. Mosquitos are everywhere even in the winter so pack accordingly.
Wear comfortable Walking Shoes
You’ll be glad you are not wearing heels when walking around all of Charlestons attractions. Many of the streets in Charleston are still cobblestone which makes it easy to twist an ankle.
Final Thoughts from a local
We love Charleston and hope you have a wonderful time in this amazing city. There’s a reason that we lived there for 12 years. As digital nomads, we get to see some beautiful places however the southern hospitality and natural beauty make this place a must-visit.
As someone who has experienced the magic of Charleston first-hand, I assure you that a visit here is more than a journey – it’s an unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can I find the best traditional Southern cuisine in Charleston?
Magnolias restaurant is the best place to get upscale Southern cuisine including the best fried chicken you have ever had!
When is the best time to visit Charleston for festivals?
Charleston has events all year but I recommend visiting May-September when you can enjoy local festivals and live music. Also, there are lots of holiday events during December.
Dr. Shannon BarrettVeterinarian/Travel Writer/Digital Nomad
Dr. Shannon Barrett is a veterinarian and digital nomad. She owned a housecall practice, Island Veterinary Care, for over a decade and now travels full time. She lives in different beach towns and then writes travel guides based on her time there. If you’re looking for resources on travel destinations or how to become a digital nomad, then you’ve come to the right place! Love to bring your pets with you? Even better!