15 Best Things To Do in Charleston (SC)

Charleston is a city and the most populated in South Carolina, it is Charleston’s County seat and the main city in Charleston Metropolitan Area.

Due to its proximity to South Carolina’s Coastal Lines, the city is known as the port city.

The city has a lot of tourist attractions such as museums, beaches, restaurants, boating excursions, and so many more.

The city’s past has a deep history and opportunities for the new generation with endless fun and educational activities.

The best way to see Charleston is by taking a walk around the downtown area from King Street to see all the bars, southern-style restaurants, boutiques, and many more.

Today, a lot of travellers visit Fort Sumter, an old sea fort which was built on an artificial island close to Charleston to defend against invasion by sea in the region. It is a national monument and a must-see for any visitor to the city.

Other places to see include Middleton Place, the age-old Oak Tree and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, and so much more.

There are boat tours and other water activities that will get you engaged whether you are alone or with family and friends.

Check out the top things to do in Charleston, SC, below.

South Carolina Aquarium

South Carolina AquariumSource: wikimedia.org/JonathanLamb | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

One of Charleston’s most popular attractions, the South Carolina Aquarium features the wildlife and history of the lowcountry.  

The South Carolina Aquarium was initiated as a conservative effort to cater for Sea Turtles, it is a world-class centre for the rehabilitation of injured and sick sea turtles.

The aquarium is home to more than 5,000 species of aquatic life, from pelicans to river otters to alligators, and massive groupers.

Some of the efforts of the Aquarium are also mainly focused on the reduction of plastic pollution in the seas and encouraging the reduction of seafood consumption to preserve the ocean.

Visitors can check out a rare albino alligator, pet stingrays, and enjoy a stunning view of the harbor.

This is a family-friendly attraction and you will enjoy every bit of the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.

Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

Charleston Tea Garden

Charleston Tea GardenSource: wikipedia.org/Bruce Tuten | CC BY 2.0 GenericPin

Charleston Tea Garden or Plantation is a long-living historical site in American History.

It is an American Classic Tea is grown, harvested, and processed.

It used to be a 127-acre potato farm back in the 1700s.

The tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) was brought from China in the US and for more than 150 years, it was difficult to grow the plant and produce tea in the country until Dr Charles Shephard’s breakthrough in 1888.

He founded the Summerville, Pinehurst Tea Plantation in South Carolina, after 48 years and the death of Dr Charles in 1963, the plants were moved to Charleston Tea Garden where it is today.

It is a great place to learn about the history of tea and the factory, explore the scenic views and stop by the gift shop to buy some things for friends and family.

Visitors can catch a trolley to tour the scenic grounds and the working Tea Factory to learn about the history and manufacture of Camellia Sinensis tea.

Address: 6617 Maybank Hwy, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487, United States

Folly Beach, South Carolina

Folly Beach, South CarolinaSource: Wikipedia.org/Brian Stansberry | CC BY 4.0 InternationalPin

Folly Beach is a county park with an unspoiled, old-south feel.

Just about 15 miles South of Downtown Charleston, is the 6-mile stretch of Folly Beach along the coastline with an amazing view.

It is a great place to day trip and stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The beach is popular for its numerous activities such as surfing, walking, swimming, boating and so much more.

Birding is a popular activity, along with simply taking in the breathtaking ocean views.

Water sports are offered near the only oceanfront hotel.

This is especially a good option for travellers who love a friendly atmosphere, although the beach gets crowded at Centre Street so it is advised you get there early.

Visitors who would love to relax over a couple of drinks or food can do so by visiting the beach bars, eateries and restaurants.

There are rental shops to get chairs, water sports equipment, and so much more.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

Arthur Ravenel Jr. BridgeSource: Wikipedia.org/Juliancolton | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is an 8-lane suspension bridge with an amazing view that spans across the Cooper River from Charleston to Mount Pleasant.

The astonishing view it offers travellers and residents is captivating and one of the best spots where you can watch the sunset over Charleston.

Also known as “Wonders Way” the bridge features a 12-foot pedestrian and bike path named after an accident victim (Garret Wonders) who died on the bridge before the construction of the path began.

The bridge is just the best place to be if you want to see Charleston from a different perspective from its skyline to its harbour on a walking tour.

Address: Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge, Charleston, SC 29403, United States

Pineapple Fountain (Riley Waterfront Park)

Pineapple FountainSource: Wikipedia.org/JonathanLamb | CC BY 3.0 UnportedPin

Pineapple Fountain is located in one of the most popular attractions in Charleston known as the Riley Waterfront Park.

    Riley Waterfront Park is situated in a sweet spot overlooking the Cooper River and Charleston Harbour with an amazing waterfront view.

    It is a 10-acre water park with lots of activities for family, friends, and single travellers.

    From spectacular interactive fountains, spacious expanses of lawn, small gardens enclosed by ingenious planting, a path for walkers or joggers, and a long wooden pier, it’s a great place for a bracing jog, a romantic picnic, or a fun family outing.

    At night, the Pineapple Fountain is lit and shines bright and beautifully.

    It has been a top spot for locals and visitors in Charleston since 1990 when it was established. It is a great place to relax and unwind after a long day’s activity.

    Address: 1 Vendue Range, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    Nathaniel Russell House

    Nathaniel Russell HouseSource: Wikipedia.org/DiscoverWithDima | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

    This 19th-century house was constructed by Nathaniel Russell, he was a wealthy merchant in the South Carolina area.

    The house is famous and known by locals and tourists for its spiral staircase, landscaped gardens, and detailed furnishings.

    It is a 3-story building with a free-flying cantilever staircase and one of the major reasons visitors troop into the house to learn about its history and long-standing endurance.

    Today, the Nathaniel Russell House has been restored both inside and out and used as a museum where visitors get an insight into how Russell and his family brought enslaved people who built the house and stayed with them on the property.

    Address: 51 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    White Point Garden

    White Point GardenSource: Wikimedia.org/Billy Hathorn | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

    In the heart of Charleston’s historic downtown district is the White Point Garden which offers amazing views of the Charleston Harbour and Fort Sumter.

    The park features many green areas with oak trees that beautifully shed the spaces.

    It has a wealth of history with displays of Civil War cannons, monuments and statues, and many more.

    There is a gazebo just in the middle of the park for visitors to take breaks and rest on the benches along the pathways around the park.

    It is a cool environment to take a stroll and relax while learning a thing or two about American history.

    Address: 2 Murray Blvd, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    Fort Sumter National Monument

    Fort Sumter National MonumentSource: Wikimedia.org/Bubba73 | CC BY-SA 3.0 UnportedPin

    Fort Sumter is another amazing location in Charleston, South Carolina, it was here the first shot of the American Civil War was fired in 1861.

    It is a place rich in American history today and offers visitors the most out of their tour with a lot of history to learn.

    The fort is accessible by ferry where you get to explore the house where many Civil War cannons are preserved.

    This National Monument is a must-see for every traveller in South Carolina as you see the think stone chambers around the fort.

    There is a museum that offers a deep knowledge of the role the fort played during the war. Check it out and you will never forget about it.

    Address: 340 Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens

    Boone Hall Plantation & GardensSource: Wikipedia.org/Heinz-Vale | CC BY-SA 4.0 InternationalPin

    Boone Hall is an elegant and still working plantation that reflects the glory of the old south. Visitors can tour the gardens, the slave cabins, and the magnificent mansion at the end of the Avenue of the Oaks, a spectacular tree-lined entryway.

    It has so many historic things to see and experience in the city with a wealth of history and nature.

    It is a well-preserved plantation that served as enslaved people’s quarters with eye-opening insight into the lifestyle and culture of enslaved people.

    Visitors get to learn about the traditions of planting families of the South, the history of enslaved people, farming practices, and a lot of knowledge in the main hall.

    On the outside, the gardens offer a serene environment for a relaxed walk around and it is home to many butterflies and lots of age-old flowers.

    There’s also the cafe, live performances during the season, and coach tours.

    Address: 1235 Long Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464, United States

    Middleton Place

    Middleton PlaceSource: Wikipedia.org/Brian Stansberry | CC BY 3.0 UnportedPin
    The Rice Mill at Middleton Place with the picturesque “Butterfly Lakes” in the foreground and to the left.

    Built in 1741, Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark featuring 65 acres dubbed the the oldest landscaped gardens.

    Middleton Park used to be a plantation for the Middleton Family which was converted into a museum to preserve the history of the people who lived and worked there.

    Visitors can explore life in the 18th century with authentic demonstrations in the plantation and stable yards.

    Tours of the house showcase a huge collections of Middleton family portraits, jewels, furnishings, and other belongings.

    A lot of the plantations in South Carolina were owned by those who enslaved people and also the founding fathers.

    This makes it a great place to learn more about the history of the people in the region.

    An inn and a restaurant on the grounds are available for hearty libations.

    Address: 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414, United States

    The Museum at Market Hall

    The Museum at Market HallSource: Flickr.com/Warren LeMay | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

    Located just upstairs in the building of the Historic Charleston City Market is the Museum at Market Hall.

    It is home to a lot of war-time pieces of Confederate Soldiers which were donated after the Civil War ended in 1865 such as swords, cannons, uniforms, diaries, and flags.

    Market Hall was the primary location where many young men came to join the Confederacy in 1861 to defend the South.

    Daughters of the Confederacy was formed in 1894 and they started collecting war artifacts which is evident today at the museum in Market Hall.

    Make sure you visit this attraction for more insight.

    Address: 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    Circular Congregational Church

    Circular Congregational ChurchSource: Flickr.com/Warren LeMay | Public Domain Mark 1.0Pin

    Formed by the English Congregationalists, French Huguenots, and Scots Presbyterians in 1681, the Circular Congregational Church was established by those who sought religious freedom.

    The first church building was known as the “White Meeting House” and today Meeting Street is named after the church.

    The church grew fast and soon became a household name with the structure being replaced in 1806 with a larger building.

    It survived a fire in 1861, an earthquake in 1886, and many more. This is another good place to experience history and the people.

    Address: 150 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    Bennett’s Rice Mill Facade

    Bennett's Rice Mill FacadeSource: Flickr.com/Warren LeMay | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

    Bennett Rice Mill facade is located in downtown Charleston right in the middle of South Carolina’s Ports Authority Union Pier Terminal.

    The mill was launched in 1845 to cater for the southern region and today it is still recognized as one of the finest American industrial architectural examples of the 19th century.

    Make sure to visit Bennet Rice Mill and learn about the history of this attraction and how it served the South until after the Civil War when it died out.

    Address: 19 Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    Simmons-Edwards House

    Simmons-Edwards HouseSource: Flickr.com/Warren LeMay | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

    Built in 1800, the Simmons-Edwards House also dearly known as the “Pineapple Gates House” served as the town home of Francis Simmons, a wealthy planter in the 18th century.

    It is three and a half stories and a brick single building with amazing decorative finishing, that Simmons lived in all through his stay in Charleston.

    Although he had a wife she stayed in a separate house on Tradd Street which was an agreement between them before they got married.

    After Simons died in 1814, ownership was moved to Goerge Edwards who bought it 2-years later and made an addition to the decorative gate with his initials embedded in the ironwork.

    It is a good place to also get a glimpse of the people and history of South Carolina.

    Address: 14 Legare St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States

    Drayton Hall

    Drayton HallSource: Flickr.com/Warren LeMay | CC BY-SA 2.0 GenericPin

    Drayton Hall has been around since 1738, it is regarded as one of the oldest plantation houses that has survived and remained in exquisite condition.

    The house is a clear example of the work of Andrea Palladio also known as “Palladian architecture”.

    Drayton Hall was the best and first example of style in America, it was designed with red bricks and detailed decorative windows and doors symmetrically.

    The plantation also housed enslaved people and a tour around the house today will give you insight into the day-to-day activity on the plantation.

    Address: 3380 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414, United States

    Sandlapper Water Tours

    Source: Unsplash.com/Markus Spiske (Representative Image) | Unsplash LicensePin

    Explore Charleston Harbor with a twist – take a history or nature tour,  a sunset cruise, or even find out about the otherworld with a haunted harbor ghost tour.

    Tour guests discover the rich history of the Lowcountry while enjoying the beautiful views and astounding variety of harbor life. Playful dolphins are a frequent sighting.

    Address: 10 Wharfside St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States


    South Carolina was big in rice and indigo farming in the 17th century and coupled with the fact it had a port, the state was known for huge exports of these commodities.

    Charleston port played a significant role in the trade as well and soon the state and city became a society of enslaved people, with slavery at the core of the economy.

    A lot of these top attractions will give you an insight into the history of enslaved people and how they impacted the city.

    So, on your next visit to Charleston make sure to visit the museums and also gardens and parks to relax after the tour.

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