Top 9 of the Best Things to do in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a charming and historic city with a wide range of activities and attractions to explore. On your next trip to Charleston, these are some of the best things to see and do.

1) Visit the Historic District

Stroll through the historic downtown area, known for its cobblestone streets, pastel-colored buildings, and historic architecture. At the top of the list is the Charleston Market. The market is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the culture and history of Charleston while also finding unique and locally made goods. It’s a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike and an excellent place to shop for souvenirs, sample local cuisine, and soak up the city’s vibrant atmosphere.

The Charleston City Market's Main Entrance.
The Charleston City Market’s Main Entrance.

2) Tour Charleston’s Historic Homes

Charleston is famous for its beautifully preserved historic homes and plantations. These houses are a must for architecture enthusiasts and history buffs who want to explore the city’s rich cultural heritage:

Aiken-Rhett House | This well-preserved antebellum townhouse offers visitors a glimpse into the lifestyle and architecture of the mid-19th century in Charleston.

The Nathaniel Russell House | This house is a wonderful way to experience the elegance and architectural beauty of the Neoclassical period while gaining a deeper understanding of Charleston’s history and the lifestyle of its prosperous citizens.

Boone Hall Plantation | Visiting historic plantation offers a well-rounded experience, providing insight into the plantation’s history, the complex history of slavery in the American South, and the beautiful natural surroundings. It’s an opportunity to learn about the past while also appreciating the plantation’s ongoing agricultural and cultural contributions to the region.

3) Take a Carriage Tour

A horse-drawn carriage tour is a great way to learn about the city’s history and architecture. The local guides that conduct these tours provide fascinating insights into the local history of Charleston.

4) Walk Along the Waterfront

The Battery is a historic defensive seawall and promenade located at the southern tip of the Charleston peninsula where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet to form Charleston Harbor. It’s a significant historical and recreational area in the city with mansions and Antebellum homes, cannons and artillery pieces, statues & monuments and gardens with incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean.

5) Explore Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter is a historic military fort and renowned for being the site of the first shots of the American Civil War fired on April 12, 1861. Visiting Fort Sumter is an educational and moving experience. It allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the events and impact of the American Civil War and the on the United States.

Fort Sumter is a short ferry ride from central Charleston.
Fort Sumter is a short ferry ride from central Charleston.

6) Visit the Charleston Tea Garden

Located on Wadmalaw Island, The Charleston Tea Garden was established in 1987 and is the only tea plantation in North America. It was developed with the goal of producing American-grown tea, and it has become a beloved destination.Th e tea garden is situated on a beautiful, 127-acre property and the mild climate and fertile soil of the South Carolina low-country provide an ideal environment for growing tea. American Classic Tea, which is a type of black tea is produced here and samples can be tasted and purchased in the gift shop.

7) Take a Food Tour

Charleston is celebrated for its rich culinary heritage and food tours are a fantastic way to explore the city’s vibrant food scene where you can taste a variety of local dishes and learn about the city’s history, culture, and culinary traditions. There are BBQ tours, seafood tours, farm-to-table tours, Gullah tours and culinary workshops available.

A food tour is a great way to discover the southern culinary delights in Charleston.
A food tour is a great way to discover the southern culinary delights in Charleston.

8) Visit the Gibbes Museum of Art

The Gibbes Museum of Art is one of the oldest art museums in the United States and is known for its extensive collection of American art, especially works related to the American South.

9) Go on a Ghost Tour or Cruise

Did you know Charleston is known for its rich history and reputation as one of the most haunted cities in America? As a result, there are numerous ghost tours that allow you to explore the city’s spooky and paranormal side. These tours let you delve into the city’s dark past with tales of restless spirits, haunted locations, and historical events.

These attractions and activities offer a well-rounded experience of Charleston, showcasing its history, culture, and natural beauty. No matter what you are interested in, there’s something for everyone in this charming Southern city.