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Courtesy of the Historic Charleston Foundation

Key Info

48 Elizabeth Street

Price & Hours

$12 for adults; free for kids 5 and younger
Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Sun 2-5 p.m.

Details

Museums, Historic Homes/Mansions Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 2.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

According to many, there's no better example of antebellum life than the Aiken-Rhett House Museum. Originally built in the early 1800s and then expanded by Gov. William Aiken Jr. and his wife in the 1830s and 1850s, much of the house's original style has been preserved. As you wander through, pay special attention to the antique furnishings, the original wallpaper and the stunning bronze chandeliers installed by the Aiken family. Also, spend some time exploring the grounds: You can visit the slave quarters, the stables and the kitchens, all of which have been preserved to satisfy discerning history buffs.

Recent visitors praised the house tour, specifically the fact that it's a self-guided audio tour (included with admission). Travelers said the audio tour allowed them to view the house at their own pace, without having to wait or rush to catch up to an entire group. However, visitors provided more mixed reviews of the state of the house itself. Some were pleased that the Historic Charleston Foundation chose to leave the property untouched, but others were less impressed, commenting on the need for restoration and general feeling of dilapidation exhibited throughout the house's grounds.

Sitting a little more than a mile north of downtown Charleston, the museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with last admission at 4 p.m.). Admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children and includes an audio tour. You can also buy a joint ticket for both the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House for $18; dual admission for children costs $10. For more information, check out the Aiken-Rhett House section on the Historic Charleston Foundation's website.

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#1 The Battery

Many visitors say you can't leave Charleston without seeing this stretch along the city's southern tip, which they call beautiful and a must-visit. This row of Southern-style mansions overlooking Charleston Harbor was formerly the heart and soul of the city's maritime activity. Today, the area attracts camera-toting tourists from all over the country.

As you explore this picturesque neighborhood, make sure to also spend some time in the nearby White Point Garden, where several Civil War relics and memorials commemorate the city's role in the battle. Start your tour of the Battery at the 12-acre Waterfront Park (home to the giant pineapple fountain featured on many Charleston postcards), then follow the walking paths on East Battery Street for the nearly mile-long stroll to White Point Garden. If you're staying at one of the hotels or bed-and-breakfasts located downtown, you can easily walk along the Battery from your digs. If you're driving to the Battery, you'll find some limited street parking, and some lots closer to Waterfront Park. Bus route No. 211 provides service to Waterfront Park and East Bay Street. Several of the city's best walking tours make stops along the Battery. If you're interested in the history of the mansions or the promenade's role in the Civil War, consider signing up for a tour.

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