Best Things to Do in Charleston, SC

With its brick streets and historic homes, beautiful Charleston beckons visitors from all over the world. Located on an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, it features a dazzling setting and comfortable subtropical climate. In fact, the city attracts people throughout the year. From its antebellum architecture to its riveting cultural attractions, Charleston is well worth exploring.


01 Take a Walking Tour of Charleston’s Downtown District

Charleston attractions

Charleston is a beautifully preserved city. One of the best ways to enjoy the downtown area is to take a professional tour. As tour operators escort you through the city, they’ll provide loads of information about the city’s most important sites. You can explore the downtown district on foot or by carriage. During your visit, be sure to see its highlights like the Battery and Rainbow Row. Be sure to wear good walking shoes as you explore the city’s historic district.

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02 Witness the Old Exchange Building

downtown Charleston

Built in 1771, the Old Exchange Building is one of Charleston’s best-loved historic attractions. With its ties to the city’s colonial past, the Old Exchange was the site of the state’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The building also includes a dungeon where pirates were held captive.

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03 Discover the South Carolina Aquarium

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Home of loggerhead sea turtles, sharks, and rays, the South Carolina Aquarium is a favorite Charleston attraction. The aquarium is home to marine creatures as well as seabirds and even land-dwelling mammals like North American river otters. If you’re visiting with kids, be sure to check out the exhibit known as Shark Shallows where the resident sharks and rays can be touched. Other popular creatures that make their home at the aquarium include blue herons, alligators, pythons, pufferfish, and green moray eels.

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04 Relax in Waterfront Park

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Encompassing twelve acres, Waterfront Park is revered for its old-fashioned charm. Many visitors enjoy relaxing on the park’s benches to watch the sailboats glide through the coastal waters. The Pineapple Fountain is a park highlight and popular meeting place. When the weather is nice, few places in Charleston are as pleasant to visit.

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05 Visit Fort Sumter

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Historic Fort Sumter is the famous site where the first shots of the Civil War took place. The fort is located on an island in Charleston Bay. Many people visit the fort to take one of the tours. Operated by the National Park Service, Fort Sumter tours are informative and enjoyable. It only takes about thirty minutes to reach the island by ferry. Be sure to include it on your travel itinerary when visiting the city.

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06 Explore Drayton Hall

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Constructed in 1738, Drayton Hall is the state’s oldest surviving plantations. In fact, it’s one of the oldest in the south. Drayton Hall isn’t air-conditioned, so keep that in mind if you choose to visit on a hot day. The tour guides provide an astounding array of history about the structure. The grounds also include an African American cemetery and two trails that follow the Ashley River.

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07 Experience Johns Island

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Famous for Angel Oak, a 400-year-old live oak tree, Johns Island is the largest island in the state. The island is also well known for its farms and picturesque setting. When visiting the island, be sure to check out the Mullet Hall Equestrian Center and witness some of its marvelous historic structures like the Johns Island Presbyterian Church.

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08 Enjoy a Concert at Charleston Music Hall

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Charleston Music Hall is one of the city’s most popular cultural attractions. The hall hosts music concerts as well as musicals and theatrical performances. The building was originally constructed in 1849 but was transformed into a performance hall in 1995. The hall hosts a wide array of diverse acts that range from pop to bluegrass.

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09 Celebrate the Past at the Charleston Museum

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The Charleston Museum has the claim to fame of being the first museum to open in the United States. The museum preserves the city’s rich cultural and historical past. It features permanent exhibits that celebrate milestones in Charleston’s history. The museum showcases a myriad of artifacts that depict life in Charleston from its earliest days.

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10 Shop at the Charleston City Market

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Located in downtown Charleston, the City Market is a historic attraction and a wonderful place to purchase a souvenir. Once a place where plantation slaves visited to purchase food for their households, the market is now filled with vendors who sell a wide array of goods in their stalls including marvelous handicrafts. You’ll find everything from handmade toys to baskets when you visit.

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