Things To Do In Charleston

CHARLESTON

Things To Do In Charleston

One of the most popular destinations in the country, Charleston is a hands-down favorite among travelers who appreciate gracious Southern hospitality served in a setting that is equal parts romantic and historic. Antebellum architecture, horse-drawn carriages, harbor tours, oyster roasts, and sweetly scented confederate jasmine all add up to a city that captivates visitors year after award-winning year. A thriving cultural and culinary scene, dozens of boutiques and art galleries, and beaches mere minutes away add to Charleston’s one-of-a-kind charm.

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History Hubs

A guide to Charleston’s past and where to find it

Charles Towne Landing
1500 Old Towne Rd
Discover 664 acres of archaeological digs, an indigenous animal zoo, and more on the grounds of the original 1670 Charleston settlement.

Fort Sumter National Monument & Visitor Center
340 Concord St
Today, this gone-era-stronghold-turned-official monument encompasses three sites: the original offshore fort, the Visitor Education Center (basecamp for island-bound ferries), and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, a linchpin of coastal fortification from the Palmetto-log days of 1776 to WWII.

Charleston Library Society
164 King Street
Even in our history-rich city, this library stands out, both for its vast archives and for its age (it has been lending materials since 1748!).

Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
1254 Long Point Rd
Explore a Founding Father’s sprawling estate—plus exhibits, film screenings and a roster of special programs—for free.

McLeod Plantation Historic Site
325 Country Club Dr
From home to hospital to Freedman’s Bureau headquarters, this circa-1851 property is a pivotal cultural and historical landmark.

Avery Research Center
Charleston’s first secondary school for African-Americans is now part-museum (public tours offered) and part-archive.

Museums

Where to get schooled in all manner of local knowledge

Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St
The galleries inside this Beaux Arts landmark house four centuries of American and Southern art.

Best Friend Museum
36 John St
A crash-course in railroad history via a replica of the 1830 steam-powered Best Friend of Charleston—the first locomotive built entirely within the U.S.

Charleston Museum
360 Meeting St
The oldest museum in America caters kids and adults, with permanent exhibits on everything from decorative arts to fossils.

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
40 Patriots Point Rd
This waterfront complex is home to the USS Yorktown, a legendary World War II aircraft carrier, along with a fleet of historic ships.

Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
25 Ann St
From Tuesday through Sunday, families pack every engaging room of this place, from the art space to the tot-sized grocery store.

Old Slave Mart Museum
6 Chalmers St
On a cobblestone street in the French Quarter, one of the last-standing slave auction galleries now centers around the study of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Joseph Manigault House
350 Meeting St
For a glimpse of Charleston’s gilded age, replete with early 19th-century furnishings, stop by this three-story antebellum residence-turned-museum

Karpeles Manuscript Museum
68 Spring St
The Charleston branch of this ambitious library network is headquartered in a former 1791 Methodist sanctuary.

Gardens

A cultivated hit list of the Lowcountry’s most stunning landscapes

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
3550 Ashley River Rd
Public-access since 1870, this legendary site boasts a watercolor-worthy garden of year-round blooms, from daffodils and daisies to hydrangeas.

Middleton Place
4300 Ashley River Rd
Time has only enhanced the appeal of the pastoral landscape, where sheep and horses mingle with museum guests and overnight visitors.

Cypress Gardens
3030 Cypress Gardens Rd
A short ride from downtown leads to miles of garden trails, wild backwater beauty, and a greenhouse filled with butterflies.

Boone Hall Plantation
The circa-1743 live oaks that line the approach to this preservation site form one of the most breathtaking canopies in the South.

Angel Oak
3688 Angel Oak Rd
The oldest living thing east of the Mississippi is rooted on Johns Island, about 20 minutes from downtown.

Hampton Park
A might corps of volunteers and municipal landscapers keep this Olmsted-designed public greenspace lush and in bloom year-round.

Neighborhoods

A geographic guide to the Peninsula

South of Broad
Spectacular architecture—including awe-inspiring residences and gardens, landmark public institutions, and, yes, Rainbow Row—marks these southernmost addresses.

French Quarter
Just north of Broad Street’s business district, this area features some of the city’s oldest churches, theaters, and libraries, along with pioneering art and history museums.

Charleston Village
From the College of Charleston to the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, Charleston’s scholastic legacy starts here.

Midtown
An innovative mix of businesses, shops, kid-friendly attractions, and the Official Charleston Visitor Center define the commercial corridor.

The Boroughs
Ansonborough’s Gaillard Center presides over an amalgamation of culturally renascent districts, including creative Cannonborough and student-friendly Radcliffeborough.

Wagener Terrace
From long-established residents to relocated young families, this leafy pocket north of the Crosstown is buzzing with life.

Hampton Park Terrace: The Citadel, an Olmsted Brothers–designed park, and tickets to see the River Dogs compete at Joseph P. Riley Ballpark attract a diverse and spirited crowd.

Architecture

A guide to the many facades of Charleston

Drayton Hall
3380 Ashley River Rd
This architectural icon and living history site is the oldest unrestored plantation house in the U.S.

Bethel ME Church
222 Calhoun St
The roots of this meeting house date back to 1798, when both African-American and white Methodists paid for its construction.

Cabbage Row
89-91 Church St
A precursor to the modern farmers’ market, vendors peddled produce in front of these former tenements until the late 1920s.

Rainbow Row
East Bay St at Tradd St
These 13 vibrant, supremely photogenic buildings make up the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the country.

Calhoun Mansion
16 Meeting St
With 24,000 square feet of living space, this Gilded Age stunner is Charleston’s largest private residence.

Nathaniel Russell House
51 Meeting St
The ornamental breadth and beauty of this restored neoclassical landmark appeals to a broad crowd.

Heyward-Washington House
87 Church St
In 1791, George Washington overnighted at this Georgian-style double house (now a historic museum).

Fireproof Building
100 Meeting St
The pioneering architect Robert Mills designed this 1820s structure to protect Charleston County offices and records.

Historic Charleston Courthouse
Head to the corners of Meeting and Broad Streets—known locally as the Four Corners of Law—to view this majestic structure designed by White House architect James Hoban.

Aiken-Rhett House
48 Elizabeth St
The Historic Charleston Foundation oversees this museum house (a bold blend of three architectural styles) and its many outbuildings.

Culture & Entertainment

Where the locals go for fun

Gaillard Center
95 Calhoun St
In 2015, the revered performance hall underwent a major overhaul; the result is a gleaming hub of world-class art, culture, and entertainment.

North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center
5001 Coliseum Dr
From big-name concerts and hockey games to ballets and symphonies, there’s always something exciting on the marquee at this multi-purpose entertainment complex.

South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Get a mountains-to-the-sea view of thousands of native animals and habitats.

Joseph P. Riley Ballpark
360 Fishburne St
Home to the Riverdogs minor league baseball team (co-owned by Bill Murray), “The Joe” is famous for its coleslaw-pickled-okra-and-bbq-sauce-topped hot dog.

Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St
This landmark playhouse—the first performance venue of its kind of the country—has been the heart of Charleston’s cultural life since 1736.

North Charleston Riverfront Park
1001 Everglades Ave
Venture beyond downtown for one of the best panoramic views of the Cooper River (plus a lush meadow and a performance pavilion).

Beaches

A white sand guide to the Lowcountry’s coastal hotspots

Kiawah Beachwalker Park
8 Beachwalker Dr
Powder-like sand and warm Atlantic water make this public-access beach on the island’s west end one of the Lowcountry’s best-kept secrets.

Folly Beach
Surfers head to the Wash Out. Bird watchers prefer the west end of the public park for a view of the Eastern Brown Pelicans on Skimmer Flats. Everyone else just enjoys the laid-back vibe and bathing-suit-friendly restaurant options.

Isle of Palms
1-14th Ave
Enter at the County Park for easy beach access, dressing rooms, volley ball courts and picnic and play areas.

Palmetto Islands County Park
444 Needlerush Pkwy
This tropical treasure plays host to tidal fishermen, crabbers, dog lovers, children, biking enthusiasts, and relaxation-minded locals.

@thedewberrycharleston

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