The Charleston Museum#16 in Best Things To Do in Charleston, SC
Founded in 1773, the Charleston Museum is said to be the country's first museum, and with a focus on the South Carolina low country, it's a perfect place to learn about the area. There's a gallery devoted to natural history, a Civil War exhibition, an exhibit about Charleston silver and the interactive "Kidstory" area. Recent visitors were impressed with the museum's historical overview and said it is definitely worth a few hours of your time (especially if you're visiting in the summer and need a place to cool off). Reviewers were particularly impressed with the artifacts on display from the Revolutionary and Civil wars.
For more insight into Charleston's history, visitors can also head to the Joseph Manigault House, which was built in 1803 and offers insights into the lives of a wealthy, rice-planting family and the enslaved African Americans who worked there. The Heyward-Washington House, which was the home of Thomas Heyward Jr. – one of four South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence – is also open to visitors. Combo tickets to the museum and the historic homes are available.
The museum, which sits about a mile north of downtown, is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $12 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 12. Tickets for additional site visits, including the historic homes, range from $18 to $25, depending on the number of sites visited. For more information, visit the museum's official 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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