Charleston Travel Guide

USA  #1 in Best Places to Visit in the Carolinas
Credit

Courtesy of Sam Antonio Photography/Getty Images

Charleston Area Map

Neighborhoods

Laid out on a grid pattern, Charleston is an easy city to get one's bearings. The Southern end of the city is constricted by the Charleston Harbor while King Street runs the length of the city, through the most northern ends of the historic district.

Visitors will probably spend most of their time in Charleston's downtown. Packed with most of the city's historic attractions, Charleston's past has been well-preserved with stunning architecture that's not to be missed. Downtown is split into two halves, separated by Broad Street, with a large number of hotels and restaurants scattered throughout the area.

South of Broad Street is more residential and generally quieter than the rest of the city. Located on the tip of a peninsula, the area consists of a large collection of historic mansions and churches. Be sure to spend some time visiting the Nathaniel Russell House and the Edmondston-Alston House. St. Michael's Episcopal Church, built in 1752 and still standing as the city's oldest church, is also in this area.

At the most southern edge is the Battery, a promenade that provides fantastic views of the rest of the city and the Charleston Harbor.

North of Broad Street is known as Charleston's Historic District since it contains many of the attractions from the city's antebellum days. Many Charleston hotels and restaurants are situated in the North of Broad area, and some of the best shopping spots are located here as well, concentrated around King Street. 

The area shelters the Aiken-Rhett House and the Joseph Manigault House, both of which are available to tour. North of Broad is also where you will find the city's collection of museums; from the Charleston Museum to the interactive Children's Museum of the Lowcountry to the Old Slave Mart Museum, housed in a building once used for slave auctions.

Located east of downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant is an entirely different city. Although it does not have as many places of interest for tourists, it makes for a nice trip if you have the time. The Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens, where parts of "The Notebook" were filmed, is located here. Across the street is the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, the former estate of Charles Pinckney, whose signature is on the U.S. Constitution.

The area's best beaches are less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Charleston. Folly Beach, south of downtown, is home to a range of accommodations and wildlife, including Loggerhead turtles and bald eagles, as well as a fishing pier. A bit south of Folly Beach is Kiawah Island, whose main feature is The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Northeast of downtown Charleston is the Isle of Palms, which is more residential and mainly filled with shopping spots and paths for walking and biking. You'll find Sullivan's Island a little less than 10 miles east of the downtown area. The town's beaches, local restaurants and shops and pre-Civil War-era fort beckon to travelers looking for a relaxing day away from Charleston's bustling downtown.

Explore More of Charleston

Recommended

12 Top Texas Wineries to Visit

From the Texas Hill Country to the Texas High Plains, the Lone Star State offers top-notch wineries for oenophiles.

Kyle McCarthyMay 23, 2019

The 7 Best San Francisco Bus Tours

Visit the top attractions in this hilly city without breaking a sweat.

Lyn MettlerMay 22, 2019

The 15 Best Washington, D.C., Tours

The nation's capital has more to offer than free museums and tons of history.

Kim Foley MacKinnonMay 22, 2019

10 Amazing Montana Vacations

Breathtaking landscapes and year-round outdoor adventures will inspire you to visit Big Sky Country.

Gwen PratesiMay 20, 2019

The 13 Best Savannah Tours

Experience real southern hospitality when visiting Savannah with these top tours.

John RodwanMay 16, 2019

The 15 Best Boston Tours

Get to know one of America's most historic cities with these tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonMay 14, 2019

The 18 Best New Orleans Tours

With so much to see and do in New Orleans, these tours will help you maximize your time in the Big Easy.

Claire LawtonMay 10, 2019

The 7 Best Chicago Boat Tours

These low-key tours offer unique views of a city famed for its skyline.

Holly JohnsonMay 9, 2019

30 Cheap Weekend Getaways in the USA

From beach destinations to amusement parks, these vacations are perfect for an affordable and quick trip.

Holly JohnsonMay 9, 2019

The 15 Best Chicago Tours

Foodies, boat enthusiasts and historians alike will appreciate any one of these tours of the Windy City.

John RodwanMay 8, 2019