Explore Charleston

Explore Charleston
Charleston is a charming city situated along the coast of South Carolina. Sheltered by Charleston Harbour and tucked in between the Cooper River and the Ashley River, the waterways and coastal shoreline offer some pretty spectacular beaches, parks, and golf courses. Charleston is the second largest city in South Carolina and has been ranked the top tourist destination in the US by Conde Nast Traveler for four years in a row.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Historic Battery Park
Historic houses on Rainbow Row

Places to Visit in Charleston

  • Battery Park
  • Waterfront Park
  • Cooper River Bridge
  • Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
  • John’s Island
  • Confederate Museum
  • Heyward-Washington House

Unique Things to See and Do in Charleston

  • Tour the 18th C. Drayton Hall Plantation
  • Explore Fort Sumpter – the national monument where the Civil War first began in 1861
  • Visit Patriot’s Point where you can board US Naval boats
  • Talk a walk down Rainbow Row to view and admire the colourful historic homes
  • Enjoy a culinary tour in the heart of downtown
  • Eat pork rinds at the Old City Market
  • Shop along King Street

The Heart of Charleston

Downtown Charleston is where most travellers will spend their time touring the historical monuments and stunning 17th-century architecture. Broad Street divides the downtown core between north and south. The more popular side is North of Broad, where most of the historical architecture (Historical District) is, and where the majority of the unbelievably good southern food restaurants are. The food culture has really put Charleston on the map. One restaurant you don’t want to miss is SNOB, Slightly North of Broad, with owner and Chef Frank Lee. To really experience the food that Charleston has to offer, come during the first week of March when the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival is held.

The Aiken-Rhett House Museum, originally owned by Gov. William Aiken and his wife, is a stunning example of a beautifully preserved 18th-century house. Even the slave quarters, stables, and the kitchens have been preserved, so be sure walk around the property. Nothing has been restored so you get a real sense of what it felt like, but it is not in pristine order like other museums. Another site to visit, although it bears a heaviness in spirit, is the Old Slave Mart Museum – where slave auctions were held. Owned by the city, the significance of African Slavery in the making of US history has been well preserved in Charleston.

South of Broad is the quieter section of downtown, where most of the residential properties are. Take a walking tour to view the historical mansions and churches. Travel down to waters edge and take in the promenade at Battery Park – the city’s defensive seawall during the civil war.

The islands and the beaches are always a good addition to the itinerary when visiting Charleston. Folly Beach is a popular spot, just south of downtown, it offers bald eagle and loggerhead turtle viewings, plus pier fishing. The Isle of Palms, just north of downtown, offers beautiful beaches and superb golfing. Kiawah Island is the probably the best for beaches in terms of size – 10 miles worth.

Getting Around Charleston

The majority of attractions are located within walking distance of the Charleston’s Historical District, and really the best way to see everything is by walking. That being said, visiting the plantations just outside the city is easier when driving. If you are flying into Charleston you can pick up a rental car at the airport. There are plenty of parking garages around the city too.

Did you know…?

All the houses  with patios or verandahs in Charleston face either west or south because the prevailing winds were the only way to keep the houses cool in the summer.

Typical patio facing west or south

Did you ALSO know…?

Pineapples were given as prestigious gifts by sea captains returning from the Caribbean, who also stuck them on their gates announcing their return and as a way to welcome visitors. Today they are a symbol of hospitality and friendliness.

Pineapple Fountain, Waterfront Park
Within the city you can travel around by buses, trolleys, and taxis. Plus there many shuttle bus services to and from the airport and major hotels, and some hotels offer shuttle services to major attractions.

Best Time of Year to Travel to Charleston

Spring and fall are the most comfortable times to visit Charleston when the temperatures are warm but not stifling hot.

Summers are hot with temperatures reaching 32C and the humidity is the highest in August.

For the food lovers out there, visit during the first week of March when the city hosts the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival. For all the Europeans out there, be advised that no children are permitted at this festival. The US is very strict on their drinking laws, and legal age is 21.

Ready to plan your visit to Charleston? Check out these popular guides and trips.

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