Tips on What To Do in Charleston
The first places you will most likely visit are the stately antebellum homes in the city's walkable downtown area. We recommend the city's museums and the islands nearby.
- Wander through the streets and admire Charleston's elegant architecture. Visit the old Battery, now a park shaded by stately live oak trees covered in Spanish moss. Or tour such renowned Civil War–era plantations as Drayton Hall, Middleton Place, and Boone Hall. The Dock Street Theatre is America's oldest playhouse." -- Concierge.com
- The city is home to more than 100 galleries, so you'll never run out of places to see world-class art. The Charleston Museum and dozens of others add to the mix." -- Fodor's
- Take a short detour to the Angel Oak, a tree so large it could whomp 10 Hogwarts willows (3688 Angel Oak Road). The tree, which is thought to be at least 300 to 400 years old, is threatened by plans for a nearby shopping center. It is protected by a fence; the gate closes at 5 p.m." -- New York Times
The historic homes built before the Civil War are considered some of Charleston's main attractions. Recent leisure travelers recommend a visit downtown to the Aiken-Rhett House (located North of Broad) as well as the Nathaniel Russell House (South of Broad). Others suggest a walk down to The Battery, also known as the White Point Gardens. This promenade south of Broad Street is noteworthy for its spectacular views of the Charleston Harbor, as well as Fort Sumter, where the first shot of the Civil War was fired.
East of downtown in Mount Pleasant is the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens. The Spanish moss-covered grounds have provided the backdrop for films like The Notebook and tours of the house, garden and slave quarters are available.
- Charleston's gorgeous antebellum homes make it one of the most well-preserved cities in the Deep South. It's easy to see them on foot and various companies offer guided walking tours, including Charleston Strolls … . Or go house hopping via horse-drawn carriage operated by Old South Carriage Company." -- Concierge.com
- Stand on the Battery and gaze across the harbor. ... It's easy to imagine bustling docks, clipper ships, Civil War blockade runners by light of day, and the Confederate submarine Hunley slipping through the darkness en route to sink the U.S.S. Housatonic." -- Away.com
- A 1/2-mi drive through a live-oak alley draped in Spanish moss introduces you to the still-operating plantation [Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens], the oldest of its kind. Tours take you through the 1935 mansion, the butterfly pavilion, the heirloom rose garden, and nine antebellum-era brick slave cabins." -- Fodor's
The Charleston museums located North of Broad Street explore the city's impact in American history, especially during the Civil War. Visitors highly recommend the exhibits at the Old Slave Mart Museum, housed in a building once used for slave auctioning. Charleston is also home to the oldest museum in the country, the Charleston Museum, which features a comprehensive Civil War exhibit with snuffboxes and the era's most popular toys.
Recent visitors especially suggest the interactive and education exhibits at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry for families.
- Hands-on exhibits at this top-notch museum keep kids up to 12 occupied for hours [at the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry]. They can climb on a replica of a local shrimp boat, play in exhibits that show how water evaporates, and wander the inner workings of a medieval castle." -- Fodor's
- Why Go? A living museum for Civil War buffs." -- Concierge.com
Small islands like Folly Beach, Kiawah Island (southwest of downtown) and the Isle of Palms (located northeast) are all within driving distance of downtown Charleston. Tourists and residents alike flock there (especially during the summer months) since they provide plenty of shoreline for when the temperatures get too hot. They're all worth a visit if you have time and want to catch some rays on the sand.
We suggest you fish off the pier at Folly Beach, or golf at Kiawah Island. Recent visitors to Charleston recommend the Isle of Palms for bike-riding and shopping.
- Summers can be humid, with high temperatures and a chance of rain, making it the least popular time. The beach communities, however, peak in the summer, when visitors rush to the shore for sunbathing and water activities." -- Smarter Travel
- Kiawah Island has the area's most pristine beach -- far preferable to Folly Beach, to our tastes -- and draws a more upmarket crowd. The best beachfront is at Beachwalker County Park, on the southern end of the island. Get there before noon on weekends; the limited parking is usually gone by then." -- Frommer's
Charleston features great shopping spots too. From antiques to affordable chains and expensive designer stores, the best place for shopping is King Street, north of Broad Streets. You can even pick up works from local artisans.
- The densest and some say most appealing collection of upscale shops in the Carolinas is on King Street. … A short stretch of trendy, youth-conscious boutiques known as 'Upper King Street Design District' is where about a dozen avant-garde artisans ply their penchant for jewelry, millinery, and crafts." -- Frommer's
- Sample a pastry at the fashionably French Macaroon Boutique (45 John Street, 843-577-5441; macaroonboutique.com), then browse the baffling assortment of odds and ends at Read Brothers stereo and fabric store, established in 1912 (593 King Street, 843-723-7276; Brothers stereo and fabric store, established in 1912 (593 King Street, 843-723-7276; www.readbrothers.com)." -- New York Times