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33 Best Things to do in Charleston, South Carolina

33 Best Things to do in Charleston, South Carolina

If you’re looking for a charming Southern destination with plenty of things to do, Charleston, South Carolina is the perfect place. The city is brimming with things to see and do, from historic homes and museums to gorgeous parks and gardens.

There’s also a lively arts and culture scene, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music, theater, and dance. 

There’s something for everyone in this vibrant cultural hub we call the Holy City – from exploring the city’s many museums and art galleries to taking a stroll through the picturesque streets or a relaxing riverboat cruise.

And of course, no trip to Charleston would be complete without sampling some of the area’s signature dishes, like shrimp and grits or she-crab soup, all served with a healthy dollop of Southern Hospitality.

Charleston Aerial View

I had the opportunity to visit Charleston last year and was amazed by the friendly people and their Southern charm, historic buildings, and probably my favorite part of all – the delicious food! Foodies will be in heaven with all of the great restaurants to choose from here.

Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s history, enjoy its arts and culture, or simply eat your way through town, you’ll find plenty of fun things to do in Charleston to keep you busy.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmarkFort Sumter National Monument
  • Best park – Waterfront Park
  • Best free activityCharleston Walking Tours
  • Best activity for kids – South Carolina Aquarium
  • Best activity for adults – Revelry Brewing
  • Best food – She-Crab Soup
  • Best nightlife – The Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre
  • Best all-round accommodationMarket Pavillion Hotel

Best & Fun Things to do in Charleston, South Carolina

1. Sullivan Island

Sullivans Island Beach Scenery

In the Charleston harbor, just offshore of the city, is Sullivan’s Island, one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. If you’re looking for a more relaxed beach day, there are plenty of spots to sunbathe or take a leisurely stroll along the shore.

For those looking to spend the day out on the water, it’s also a great place to catch some waves, as the island is known for its variety of watersports like kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, fishing, and kiteboarding.

At just about 3.3 miles long, it’s also a great place to go for a run or bike ride, with plenty of breathtaking waterfront views along the way. Sullivan Island is filled with charming little mom-and-pop shops, local restaurants, and bars, making it the perfect place to spend a day or two explorings.

In the evening, enjoy the sights of Sullivan Island from the water on a sunset island cruise.

If you’d like to spend a little extra time on the island, consider staying the night in one of the many vacation rentals or hotels nearest to Sullivan Island.

I recommend the Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina – it’s equipped with a gorgeous pool and offers a free hotel trolley that takes you directly to Sullivan Island beach!

See Related: Best South Carolina Beaches | Top Getaway Options

2. Middleton Place

Trail in Middleton Place
image by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414

This 18th Century’s rice plantation is one of Charleston’s most significant historic sites. The plantation grounds of Middleton Place are beautifully landscaped and home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens, which span 65 acres.

It is also the birthplace of Andrew Middleton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Visitors can take a tour of the plantation house, which has been restored to its original 18th Century appearance or explore the grounds on their own. The plantation also has a museum with exhibits on the history of the plantation, as well as a restaurant and gift shop.

Middleton Place is a must-visit for history buffs and anyone interested in learning more about Charleston’s rich past.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in December on a Budget

3. Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument Grounds
image by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: Charleston Harbor, Charleston, SC

Fort Sumter National Historic landmark is where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired, on April 12, 1861, commencing the savage conflict between the Confederacy and the Union.

Today, it’s a popular tourist attraction with a museum, ranger-led tours, and an observation deck with views of Charleston harbor.

Fort Sumter (which also incorporates Fort Moultrie) is located on an island in Charleston Harbor and can be reached by ferry from downtown Charleston.

Visitors can take a tour of the fort, which has been preserved to look as it did during the Civil War or explore the museum and exhibits on their own for more information on the history of the fort and the war.

The site is also a popular spot for birdwatching, as it is home to a variety of birds, including pelicans, herons, and egrets.

See Related: Where to Stay in Charleston, SC: 8 Best Areas & Neighborhoods

4. Charleston Walking Tours

Colorful Houses in Charleston

Address: 108 Meeting St, Charleston, SC

One of the best ways to see the city and soak up some local history is by taking a walking tour.

Free Tours by Foot offers a variety of tours around Charleston, including a general history tour, a food tour, and even a ghost tour! The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who are passionate about the city and its history, and best of all – they’re completely free!

These walking tours are held twice per day (9:30 am and 1 pm daily) and will last about two hours.

This walking tour is a great way to see some of Charleston’s most popular landmarks and learn more about the city’s rich and complicated history while getting in some exercise at the same time. Be sure to sign up in advance, as spots fill up quickly!

See Related: The Ultimate Summer Trip Packing List

5. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
image by Dougtone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: 3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414

This plantation is one of the oldest in the country, dating back to 1676. This plantation has miraculously survived over centuries and has stood tall throughout major historical events, from the American Revolution to the Civil War and beyond.

It is best known for its sprawling plantation gardens, which span nearly 70 acres and are home to a variety of flowers, plants, and trees.

The plantation also has a nature center, which offers tours and educational programs about the local wildlife, as well as a historic house museum.

Visitors can take a tour of the plantation grounds on their own or with a guide, or explore the gardens at their leisure. The plantation is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, with extended hours during the summer months.

See Related: Best State and National Parks in South Carolina

6. Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park Fountain
image by Dougtone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: Vendue Range, Concord St

Waterfront Park is a public park located along the Charleston Harbor and an iconic spot in the city. The park offers stunning views of the water and the Ravenel Bridge, as well as a playground, picnic areas, a walking/jogging path, and bike lanes.

It’s marked by its famous Pineapple Fountain, which is one of the most well-known landmarks in the city and the centerpiece of this park.

Waterfront Park is also a relatively short distance from the Charleston Maritime Center, which offers tours of the harbor and educational programs about Charleston’s maritime history.

Waterfront Park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the scenic Charleston Harbor, and it’s also a great spot for people-watching or a picnic under the sun.

The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is free for anyone to enjoy. The park is a fascinating place to tour and explore on a Charleston history and bar walking tour.

See Related: Best Vacation For A Group of Friends

7. Folly Beach 

Folly Beach Sunset

Just a short drive from Charleston is Folly Beach, another great spot for a day by the water. The beach is located on Folly Island and is known for its laid-back atmosphere and surfing community. If you’re looking to catch some waves, this is the place to do it!

There are tons of surfing schools and rental shops along the beach, so even if you’ve never surfed before, it’s easy to give it a try.

And when you’re ready to try out your sea legs, you can book a surfing lesson with a private instructor and put your skills to the test! Those who aren’t into surfing can opt to go stand-up paddle boarding instead, or kayaking.

The beach is also great for swimming, sunbathing, fishing, or simply just relaxing. From the shore, visitors can also see direct views of the Morris Island Lighthouse, a beautiful old lighthouse located just offshore from Folly Beach.

If you get hungry and need a bit to eat, there are a few restaurants and bars located on the island, as well as a small pier where visitors can take a stroll or fish.

If you do find yourself looking for a restaurant to try here, I highly recommend The Crab Shack! The food is amazing and the views of the water are even better.

Folly Beach is open to the public year-round from sunrise to sunset and is easily accessible by car or public transportation. There is a small fee to park on the island.

See Related: Best Travel Sunglasses for Beaches & Vacations

8. Charleston City Market

Charleston City Market and Skyline
image by Spencer Means is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: 188 Meeting St

The historic Charleston City Market spans four city blocks and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The market is home to a variety of vendors and local artists selling everything from handmade arts and crafts, to sweetgrass baskets, jewelry, and more.

Visitors can also find food vendors selling local specialties like shrimp and grits, as well as souvenirs like t-shirts and Charleston-themed gifts. The Charleston City Market was voted “Best Place to Bring A Tourist”, so obviously, it’s a must-see when you’re in town!

A stroll through this market is perfect for someone who wants to do a bit of shopping and soak up the local culture at the same time. The lively atmosphere of the market is contagious, and it’s the perfect place to chat with locals or find a unique souvenir to bring home with you.

The farmers market is located in the center of town, with plenty of hotels nearby if you’d like to stay close to the action during your time in Charleston. Market Pavillion Hotel and The Saint Hotel are two great options that are within walking distance of the market.

The Charleston City Market is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 6 pm, with extended hours during the summer months. On Fridays and Saturdays, the night market is open from 6:30 pm to 10 pm, with local vendors selling food and drinks, as well as live music and entertainment.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Burlington, NC

9. McLeod Plantation Historic Site 

McLeod Plantation Historic Site Ground
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 325 Country Club Dr, Charleston, SC

Founded in 1851, McLeod Plantation is a former slave plantation that was once home to over 500 enslaved Africans. Today, the plantation is preserved as a Gullah historic site and museum that offers tours and educational programs about the plantation’s history and the lives of those who worked there.

The plantation was occupied by Confederate troops during the Civil War, and the main house operated as a military hospital during the war.

The best way to experience McLeod Plantation is to take a guided house tour led by one of the knowledgeable historians. These tours last about an hour and a half, and take visitors through the plantation grounds, as you learn about the buildings, gardens, and lives of those who worked and lived here.

The tour of the plantation includes the main house, as well as several outbuildings like the kitchen, the slave quarters, and the barn. The tour gives visitors a glimpse into what life was like on the plantation for both the slaves and their owners.

The McLeod Plantation is a powerful and sobering reminder of Charleston’s dark past. However, it is also an important part of the city’s history, and I believe that it is important to learn about and acknowledge this history, even if it is difficult to confront.

The plantation is located just outside of downtown Charleston and is easily accessible by car or public transportation. Tours are offered daily, and advance reservations are recommended.

See Related: Where to Stay in Asheville, North Carolina: Best Areas & Neighborhoods

10. H.L. Hunley Submarine

H.L. Hunley Submarine
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 1250 Supply St, North Charleston, SC

The famous H.L. Hunley, also known as CSS Hunley, was the first submarine in history to sink an enemy warship. The submarine was built in 1863 and used by the Confederacy during the Civil War to attack Union ships blockading Charleston Harbor.

Unfortunately for her crew, after attacking the USS Housatonic, the submarine sank and all eight crew members aboard were killed. Curiously, this was the third time she had sunk – and the third time she had taken a new crew with her!

The submarine remained lost at sea for over 130 years, until it was finally discovered and recovered in 2000.

Today, the submarine is on display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, where visitors can see the submarine up close and learn about its fascinating history.

The conservation center is also home to a museum with exhibits about the submarine’s discovery and excavation, as well as the lives of the crew members. The H.L. Hunley is a must-see for anyone interested in Charleston’s maritime history of the Civil War.

The Warren Lasch Conservation Center is located just outside of downtown Charleston and is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission to the conservation center includes a tour of the submarine and the museum.

See Related: Best Museums in Charleston, South Carolina, to Visit

11. Charleston Food Tours

Calamari
image by Viator

You know what they say, the best way to experience a city is through its food! And Charleston is definitely a city with some great food. From southern classics like fried green tomatoes or shrimp and grits to Lowcountry specialties like she-crab soup, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

One of the best ways to sample all that Charleston has to offer is to take a food tour. Charleston Food Tours offers several different tours that focus on different areas of the city and different cuisines.

The Downtown Dining Tour is a great way to sample some of the best restaurants in downtown Charleston, while the Lowcountry Lunch Tour takes you to some of the best places for a casual lunch.

If you’re looking for something a little different, these Charleston Culinary Tours take you to some of the city’s best-kept secrets, like local markets and bakeries.

No matter which tour you choose, you’re sure to have a delicious time! Tours are offered daily, and reservations are required to be booked in advance. Trust me – this is one Charleston activity you do not want to miss!

See Related: Best Charleston Tours | Walking, Boating & Food Tours

12. Candlefish

Candles in Candlefish
image by Amanda G/TripAdvisor

Address: 270 King St, Charleston, SC

For visitors in Charleston looking for a unique activity, Candlefish is the perfect place. Candlefish offers candle-making classes, where participants can choose from a variety of scents and colors to create their custom candles.

The best part?

You get to take your candles home with you at the end of the class!

In addition to candle-making classes, Candlefish also offers a variety of other classes, like terrarium making and wreath making. They also have a retail shop, where you can purchase candles, home decor, and other gifts.

Candlefish is the perfect place to find a unique souvenir or gift for someone back home. This is a great option for anyone who wants a break from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant Charleston city life. It’s also the perfect choice of activity for families traveling with kids.

Classes at Candlefish are offered throughout the week, and you can check the website for the most up-to-date schedule. Classes typically last one to two hours, and all materials are included in the price of the class. Class sizes are limited, so reservations are recommended.

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations For Families

13. Striped Pig Distillery

Striped Pig Distillery Drinks
image by Lara H/TripAdvisor

Address: 2225 Old School Drive A, North Charleston, SC

Parents, this one is for you! Charleston is home to a variety of great distilleries, but my personal favorite is Striped Pig Distillery. This family-owned and operated business offers tours of their facility, as well as tastings of their award-winning spirits. You could easily spend a few hours here tasting everything they have to offer!

Some of the most popular spirits offered at Striped Pig Distillery are their rums, including their vanilla-butterscotch flavored rum and their famous Striped Rum, a unique blend of brown sugar and cinnamon.

They also offer a variety of other spirits, like vodka, gin, and whiskey. In addition to tours and tastings, Striped Pig Distillery also has a retail shop, where you can purchase bottles of their spirits to take home with you.

Tours of Striped Pig Distillery are offered Tuesday through Saturday and start every hour on the hour. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and includes a tasting of three different spirits. The cost of the tour is $20 per person. Reservations are required in advance and can be made online.

See Related: Best Minnesota Distilleries to Visit

14. Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

Girl Playing in Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 25 Ann St, Charleston, SC

Families traveling with kids and looking for something entertaining and educational Charleston attractions should look no further than The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.

This non-profit museum is dedicated to providing educational and interactive experiences for children. The museum offers a variety of exhibits and programs, all designed to engage and educate young minds.

Some of the museum’s most popular exhibits include the Kids Garden, where children can play outside and experiment with different scientific concepts.

Also, the Art Studio, where children can create their own masterpieces; and even a fake Publix Market, where kids can learn about healthy eating and nutrition and go shopping for food.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry also offers a variety of educational programs, like story time and arts and crafts.

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm, and admission is $15 for adults and children over 13 months old.

See Related: Things to Do in Mississippi & Places to Visit

15. Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge

Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge and Sunset

The stunning Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is a must-see for anyone visiting Charleston and one of the most famous Charleston attractions.

This magnificent suspension bridge spans over the Cooper River, connecting Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The bridge began construction in 2001 and was completed in 2005. It is named for former South Carolina senator Arthur Ravenel Jr., who was instrumental in getting the funding for the bridge approved.

Spanning 1,546 feet, it is the third-largest cable bridge in the Western Hemisphere. The best part? The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is open to pedestrians and cyclists, so if you’re feeling adventurous (and not scared of heights) you can spend the day walking, biking, or running across the bridge.

The pedestrian and bike paths are located on either side of the bridge, so you can enjoy stunning views of Charleston and the surrounding area while getting some exercise. Just be sure to bring water and sunscreen, as there is no shade on the bridge.

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is open daily from sunrise to sunset, and there is no charge to walk or cycle across the bridge.

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even walk or cycle all the way to Mount Pleasant, where you can explore more of Charleston’s history, shop and dine in the historic district, and enjoy the beach.

See Related: Top Vacations with Minimal Walking

16. Nathaniel Russell House

Nathaniel Russell House Archiitecture
image by Elisa.rolle is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Address: 51 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC

This historic house standing at 51 Meeting Street was built in 1808 for wealthy Charleston slave merchant Nathaniel Russell. The house is an excellent example of Federal style architecture and features a grand central staircase, as well as intricate plasterwork and woodworking.

After years of decline, the Nathaniel Russell House underwent a major restoration in the 1990s to restore the house’s details to their original 1800s finishes.

Today, it is a protected landmark under the Historic Charleston Foundation and is now one of Charleston’s most popular historic attractions.

A guided tour of the house will take you through the main floor, where you can see the dining room, parlors, and other public rooms. You’ll also get to see the kitchen and slave quarters, which are located in the basement.

Tours of the house are offered daily from 10 am to 5 pm, or you can opt for a self-guided tour through the house’s halls.

See Related: Best Family Vacation Spots in the World

17. South Carolina Aquarium

South Carolina Aquarium Building
image by qubodup is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC

Another family-friendly thing to do in Charleston, the South Carolina Aquarium is a great place to learn about the state’s diverse marine life. The aquarium has over 5,000 animals representing more than 350 species, all of which are native to South Carolina.

The aquarium is divided into different galleries, each with its own theme. The Sea Turtle Care Center is a favorite among visitors, where you can see turtles being rehabilitated before they’re released back into the wild.

Other galleries include the Mountain Forest, Ocean Floor, and Great Hall, where you can see animals like sharks, alligators, river otters, and more.

The South Carolina Aquarium is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, and the last entry time is 3:30 pm.

A day spent here is a great choice for things to do in Charleston, SC with kids, as there are plenty of interactive exhibits and shows for them to enjoy. General admission is $34.95 for adults and $24.95 for children ages 3-12.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Rock Hill, South Carolina

18. The Charleston Museum

Charleston Museum Building
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 360 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403

Founded in 1773, The Charleston Museum is the oldest museum in America. It houses a variety of exhibits on the history of Charleston, from its days as a colonial city to the present day.

Inspired by the British Museum in London, The Charleston Museum was founded shortly before the American Revolution and has stood the test of time since. It is home to several artifacts, documents, and works of art that tell the story of Charleston’s long and rich history.

The museum has many permanent exhibits, as well as rotating temporary exhibits.

Permanent exhibits include the “Sweetgrass Basketry Gallery”, which showcases the traditional craft of sweetgrass basketry, and the “Doubtful Sound Gallery”, which is a maritime exhibit with a focus on the city’s relationship to the sea.

One of the most popular exhibits is the reconstruction of a Charleston single house, which was the most common type of dwelling in the city during the 18th and 19th Centuries. The museum also has an exhibit on the Civil War, as well as a variety of temporary exhibits that change throughout the year.

See Related: Best Things to do in London, England

19. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and Skyline
image by Marcus M/TripAdvisor

Address: 40 Patriots Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

This maritime museum is located in Charleston Harbor and is home to several historic ships. Visitors can tour the World War II USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, USS Laffey, a WWII destroyer, USS Clamagore, a Cold War submarine, and the USS Edmund Fitzgerald, a Vietnam-era supply ship.

In addition to the historic ships, the museum also has a variety of interactive exhibits on maritime history.

The Medal of Honor Museum tells the stories of the 3,498 recipients of the Medal of Honor, and the Vietnam Experience Exhibit is an immersive exhibit that brings visitors back to what it was like to experience the Vietnam War.

History buffs and maritime enthusiasts will love spending a day at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. The atmosphere is interactive and informative, making it one of the best things to do in Charleston for those who want to learn more about the city’s history.

20. The Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre

Performers in Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre
image by Tina W/TripAdvisor

Address: 164 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401

If you’re looking for a night out that’s a little different from the usual bar scene, head to The Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre. This dinner theatre offers interactive comedy shows that will have you laughing all night long.

The Black Fedora is a dinner theatre that offers a unique entertainment experience. They are known for their whodunit mystery shows, which are set in the 1920s and are full of intrigue, humor, and suspense.

Some of the most popular shows include “Who Killed the US Attorney?”, “The Murder at the PTA Meeting”, and “The Mafia Murders”.

They also offer other types of shows, like musicals and holiday-themed shows- all of which are interactive and allow the audience to participate.

The theatre also offers private shows for groups, as well as corporate events. No matter what type of show you see, you’re in for a night of entertainment that you won’t soon forget!

If you’re looking for something different to do in the historic city of Charleston, The Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre is a great option.

The shows are entertaining and interactive, and the dinner theatre setting is unique and inviting. It’s a fun and unique way to spend an evening in Charleston, and you’re sure to have a good time!

See Related: Best Tropical Vacation Spots in the World

21. The Citadel

Citadel and Skyline
image by ProfReader is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: 171 Moultrie St, Charleston, SC 29409

The Citadel is a public military college in Charleston, South Carolina. It is one of six senior military colleges in the United States and is best known for its Corps of Cadets, which is a student military organization.

Located on the banks of the Ashley River, The Citadel campus was founded in 1842 and has been operating continuously since The Citadel is best known for its Corps of Cadets.

A student military organization The Corps of Cadets is made up of about 2,000 students who live on campus and follow a strict military lifestyle.

However, not every student here is in the military, The Citadel also has a large civilian student body who take classes alongside the cadets.

The college offers a wide range of degree programs, including engineering, business, and liberal arts, and its graduates go on to successful careers in a variety of fields. The Citadel also has several athletic teams, which compete in the NCAA Division I.

The Citadel is a unique college that offers students a well-rounded education with an emphasis on leadership and service. It is one of the best colleges in Charleston for those interested in a career in the military or engineering, or simply just a cool place to visit when you’re in town.

If you want to learn more about The Citadel, its history, and its students, spending a day on campus is a great way to do it!

22. Rainbow Row

Charleston Rainbow Row

Address: 83 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

Rainbow Row is a series of 13 colorful historic houses on East Bay Street in Charleston, South Carolina. The houses were built between 1712 and 1740 and are some of the oldest surviving homes in the city.

Rainbow Row is named for the pastel colors of the houses, which were once typical of Charleston’s architecture. But surprisingly, these gorgeous Gregorian homes weren’t always these brightly colored.

In fact, they were only painted these colors in the 1930s as part of a citywide effort to restore and preserve Charleston’s historic architecture.

Today, Rainbow Row is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Charleston and certainly one of the most photographed areas in the city.

Visitors come from all over to admire the beautiful houses, take photos, and learn about the city’s history. On any given day on East Bay Street, you can find people taking engagement photos, families posing for portraits, and tourists taking selfies in front of the colorful houses.

If you’re visiting Charleston, be sure to add Rainbow Row to your list of places to see! It’s a must-see for any first-time visitor. Each house has its own unique history, and together they paint a picture of what life was like in Charleston in the 18th Century.

See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Vacations in the US

23. Dock Street Theatre

Dock Street Theatre Building

Address: 135 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401

The Dock Street Theatre is a historic theatre in Charleston, South Carolina located in the famous French Quarter. It is the oldest surviving theatre building in America and the first to be built specifically for theatre.

The theatre was constructed in 1736 and opened its doors with a performance of The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar. This iconic theater operated continuously until it was closed in 1809 and turned into a hotel.

In 2011, the theatre was restored to its former glory and reopened to the public.

Today, it is used for a variety of events, including live theatre performances, musical concerts, dance recitals, and more. This theater produces over 120 performances annually and hosts upwards of 40,000 patrons in its seats annually!

The Dock Street Theatre is a must-see for any theater lover or Charleston history buff. It’s a beautiful and historic building that houses a lot of culture and history. If you’re in Charleston, be sure to check out a performance at the Dock Street Theatre!

24. Old City Jail

Charleston Old City Jail Entrance
image by pocketwiley is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 21 Magistrate St, Charleston, SC 29401

The Old City Jail is a historic jail in Charleston, South Carolina that operated from 1802 until 1939. It is best known for being the site of the hanging of Denmark Vesey, a slave who planned a large-scale rebellion in 1822.

The Old City Jail was home to many other infamous criminals over the years, including Lavinia Fisher, who is believed to be America’s first female serial killer.

The jail was decommissioned in 1939 and turned into a museum. Today, it is one of Charleston’s most popular tourist destinations. Visitors can take tours of the jail, learn about its history, see the cells and learn about the people who were incarcerated there.

You might know this already, but Charleston is among the most haunted cities in the states!

The jail is also said to be haunted, and ghost tours are available for those interested in learning more about the paranormal activity that has been reported here. For fans of all things supernatural, this is one of the best things to do in Charleson, South Carolina.

If you’re interested in Charleston’s history, or in visiting a place with a dark past, the Old City Jail is a must-see. It’s a fascinating place with a lot of stories to tell. And who knows, you may even see a ghost!

See Related: Most Beautiful Places in the World

25. Revelry Brewing

Revelry Brewing Entrance
image by Evan Guthrie/TripAdvisor

Address: 10 Conroy St, Charleston, SC

Looking for a place to cool off with a cold beer on a hot day in Charleston? Look no further than Revelry Brewing! This local brewery is one of the best in the city, and its taproom is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a pint or two.

Revelry Brewing was founded in 2013 by three friends who share a passion for craft beer. They started small, brewing their beer in a garage, and today they are one of Charleston’s most popular breweries.

Their taproom is open seven days a week, and they offer a variety of year-round and seasonal beers on tap. They also have a food truck on site that serves up delicious local cuisine, like burgers, tacos, and more.

If you love craft beer, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t, then Charleston is the place for you. With so many great breweries to choose from, it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. But if we had to pick just one, it would be Revelry Brewing.

This local brewery has a great selection of beers, and its taproom is always lively and welcoming. Their beer is some of the best in town and the customer service experience is unmatched.

Whether you’re a beer lover or just looking for a place to relax and have a good time in Charleston, swing by Revelry Brewing. It’s definitely one of the Charleston tourist attractions adults will enjoy most!

See Related: Best Restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina

26. Charleston City Hall

Charleston City Hall

Address: 75 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC

Charleston City Hall is the seat of government for the city of Charleston, South Carolina. It is located in the French Quarter at 75 Calhoun Street and houses the offices of the mayor, city council, and other city government officials.

The building was constructed in 1801 and is one of the oldest municipal buildings in the United States. Its doors opened in 1803, and it has been the home of Charleston’s government ever since. The building underwent a major renovation in 1992 and today is a beautiful example of neoclassical architecture.

These days, Charleston City Hall is one of the most iconic buildings in the city. It is best known for its grand staircase, which is a popular spot for photos.

The building is also home to several historical artifacts, including a piece of the Berlin Wall and a cannon from the Revolutionary War. Visitors can take a guided tour of Charleston City Hall to learn more about the building and its history.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

27. Aiken Rhett House Museum

Aiken Rhett House Museum Building
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 48 Elizabeth St, Charleston, SC 29403

Built-in 1820 by slave merchant John Robinson, The Aiken Rhett House Museum is a historic house museum in Charleston, South Carolina.

And one of the best examples of antebellum architecture in the city. It was the home of Governor William Aiken from 1827 to 1868, and it is now a museum that is open to the public for viewing and free to enter.

Inside the house, you’ll find an art exhibit by Mary Edna Fraser and a flight textile installation. The Aiken Rhett House has even been named one of the best-preserved historical townhouses in the nation.

A house tour of this historic Charleston attraction is a fun and unique way to learn about some of Charleston’s complicated history.

See Related: Best Breweries in Charleston, South Carolina

28. Charleston Music Hall

Charleston Music Hall Building
image by lns1122 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 37 John St, Charleston, SC 29403

The Charleston Music Hall is one of the best places to see a live show in the city! The Charleston Music Hall is a 1,500-seat concert venue in Charleston, South Carolina.

The hall is located in the historic district of downtown Charleston, and it is adjacent to the city’s Marion Square. It hosts a variety of musical events and concerts throughout the year, ranging from rock and pop to classical and jazz.

This historic theater was built in 1849 and is steeped in history – it’s known to be the oldest building on the block! Originally called Tower Depot, this building was actually initially made to be a passenger station along the South Carolina Railroad.

Since then, this prominent music hall has been restored to its former glory and is now a state-of-the-art facility with a modern sound system and lighting. The venue also has a full-service bar and restaurant, so you can enjoy a meal or a drink before the show.

If you’re looking for things to do in Charleston at night, seeing a show at the Charleston Music Hall is a must! Check the venue’s schedule to see what they’ve got in store.

See Related: Best Charleston Walking Tours: Explore South Carolina on Foot

29. White Point Gardens

Sculpture in White Point Gardens
image by Spencer Means is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: 2 Murray Blvd, Charleston, SC 29401

White Point Gardens is a public park located in South Carolina that spans over 5.7 acres and is deep-rooted in local and Civil War history.

This park was initially built in 1837 as a public space for Charleston residents to visit, but quickly became a fortification for the city once the Civil War broke out. Within the gardens, you can see remnants of cannons and historic mortars that were once used to defend this southern city.

Not only is White Point Gardens a historical attraction, but it’s also a relaxing place to take a morning stroll or have a picnic with the family.

The large shady oak trees that line the park and the ocean views of the Charleston Battery make White Point Gardens a great place to go if you’re looking for a little peace and quiet or want to get away from the vibrant city center for a while.

30. Charleston Tea Garden (Charleston Tea Plantation)

Charleston Tea Garden
image by Manegement/TripAdvisor

Address: 6617 Maybank Hwy, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487

Next up on the list, we’ve got The Charleston Garden; formerly the Charleston Tea Plantation. The Charleston Tea Garden is the only large-scale tea plantation in America – and it’s right here in Charleston, South Carolina!

The Charleston Tea Garden is a working plantation in Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. The plantation offers guided tours of the facility so you can learn all about how tea is grown and harvested.

Visitors can learn about the history of tea production on the plantation and see how tea is made from start to finish and even get to see the on-site factory where the tea leaves are processed into delicious tea bags.

The plantation is open to the public for tours daily and features a tea tasting room, gift shop, and café. Be sure to take some tea home with you when you leave!

31. Old Slave Mart Museum

Old Slave Mart Museum Building
image by たかぼ/TripAdvisor

Address: 6 Chalmers St, Charleston, SC

An important stop on any Charleston sightseeing tour is the Old Slave Mart Museum.

The museum is located in the historic district of downtown Charleston and is housed in a former slave market building that was built in 1856, where it operated until 1863 before being occupied and closed down by the Union Army in 1865.

The Old Slave Mart was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 due to its role in African-American History in Charleston. Today, the building operates as a museum and is dedicated to educating the public about the history of slavery in America.

Visitors here can tour the museum and enjoy 19th Century African American art while learning about the sobering history of the slave trade in South Carolina. For a more in-depth look at Charleston’s slave history, take the African American History walking tour that stops at this museum.

32. Angel Oak

Angel Oak Tree
image by Christmas w/a K is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Address: 3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455

The Angel Oak tree is a popular tourist destination in Charleston, South Carolina. This massive oak is estimated to be 400-500 years old, making it one of the oldest living things in the state. The tree has survived many storms and serious natural disasters, including Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

In addition to its age and resilience, the Angel Oak is also rumored to be haunted!

At night, some visitors here have claimed to see ghosts of former slaves from plantations around the tree. Visitors in Charleston can tour the Angel Oak tree and grounds, and there are also several picnic spots nearby.

33. Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Kiawah Island Golf Resort Dining Area
image by heatherc503/TripAdvisor

Address: One Sanctuary Beach Drive, Kiawah Island, SC 29455

For those looking for more of a luxury experience in Charleston, spending a day at Kiawah Island Golf Resort is the way to go. This premier beach resort in Charleston, SC offers a top-of-the-line golf course and world-class accommodation with incredible amenities.

Located on the beachfront property of Kiawah island, visitors to the resort can enjoy oceanside views while they hit a few holes of golf under the sun. Several famous tournaments have been played at this luxury golf resort, including the 1991 Ryder Cup and the PGA Club Professional Championship in 2005.

For those who aren’t interested in golf, the resort also includes the Roy Barth Tennis Center, which is equipped with 22 tennis courts that are open to play on.

Guests at the resort can also enjoy fine dining at one of their many on-site restaurants, take a boat tour around the island, bicycle rentals, a fitness room, or book a day of relaxation at their luxury spa.

And the beach villas and cozy cottages at Kiawah Island Golf Resort make for a great place to stay while on the island!

Best things to do with kids in Charleston

The kids are in luck when it comes to family-friendly attractions in Charleston – there are several great things to do with kids in Charleston!

The South Carolina Aquarium is a popular attraction, as is the Charleston Museum. For something a little different, take a sunset boat cruise to see the dolphins at the Sunset Dolphin Safari, or go on a horse carriage ride through the city.

Getting around Charleston

Charleston is a very walkable city, and best explored on foot. The French Quarter, where most of the city’s attractions are located, is especially pedestrian-friendly. However, there are also a number of public transportation options available for those who prefer not to walk.

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) operates buses throughout the city. CARTA also offers a free shuttle service that runs every 15 minutes and stops at all of the major attractions in the French Quarter.

There is also a train that runs from Charleston to Columbia, South Carolina. The Amtrak Silver Meteor stops at the Charleston Amtrak station, which is located just outside of the French Quarter.

For those looking to see some attractions outside of the city, there are many car rental companies located in Charleston. RentalCars, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Hertz, and Avis all have locations in the city.

Be sure you’ve opted for travel insurance through a reputed agency like World Nomads or TravelInsurance.com before renting a car here, as the roads can be very congested. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

The closest airport to Charleston is the Charleston International Airport (CHS), which is located about 10 miles from the city center.

CHS is served by a number of major airlines, including American Airlines, Delta, United, and more. Depending on where you’re arriving from and what time of the year you’re traveling, you can easily find cheap flights to Charleston.

FAQ

What are some fun things to do in Charleston?

There are plenty of fun things to do in Charleston, South Carolina no matter what your interests are. For history buffs, a visit to Charleston City Hall or the Charleston Museum is a must.

Nature lovers will enjoy a walk through one of the city’s many parks or a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium. And for those looking for a little excitement, there are plenty of bars and clubs to check out in the city. For shopaholics, check out King Street.

What are some things to do in Charleston when it’s raining?

There are still plenty of things to do in Charleston when the weather isn’t perfect. Take a tour of the Charleston Museum or the Edmondston-Alston House.

Or, explore one of the city’s many shops and boutiques. If you’re looking for something to do with kids, head to the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.

What is there to do in Charleston for free?

There are many things to do in Charleston for free. Visit the Battery, walk through White Point Garden, or explore Waterfront Park. You can also take a self-guided walking tour of the city or visit one of Charleston’s many historical churches.

What are the best tourist attractions in Charleston?

The best tourist attractions in Charleston depend on your interests. Overall, some of the most popular tourist attractions in Charleston include Charleston City Hall, the Charleston Museum, Waterfront Park, and the Edmondston-Alston House.

When is the best time to visit Charleston?

The best time to visit Charleston depends on what you’re looking to do while you’re in town. If you’re interested in exploring the city’s historical attractions, then visiting during the spring or fall is a good idea.

However, if you’re more interested in taking advantage of the city’s outdoor activities, then visiting during the summer may be a better option.

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