Best Places to Visit in Charleston: Soak in the romantic character of the Old South as you explore the charming city of Charleston. With aristocratic mansions, cobblestone streets, antebellum houses, and horse-drawn carriages, the city offers a peek into the grandeur of its rich past.
It is also home to a host of attractions from impressive museums, bountiful parks, and stunning plantations to fascinating historic sites.
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Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat, a fun family holiday, or a solo adventure, the historic city won’t disappoint.
Wondering where to begin?
We’ve got you covered with our list of the best places to visit in Charleston, South Carolina:-
Waterfront Park #1
Watch the fascinating Pineapple Fountain as a cool ocean breeze wafts by. Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it? The 12-acre Waterfront Park offers many such rejuvenating experiences.
It provides picturesque views of Charleston Harbor with the various sailboats that pass through it. It also features seasonal flower gardens and beautiful fountains that light up at night.
The park’s proximity to the City Market and free Wi-fi makes it extremely convenient for visitors.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens #2
What’s more romantic than strolling amidst a bountiful garden with magnolia flowers all around?
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens offer this special experience. First opened in 1870, they are considered the country’s largest romantic-style gardens.
From enjoying a boat tour, exploring the Antebellum cabin, and taking the kids to a petting zoo and nature center, there is an array of activities to enjoy here.
Old City Market #3
Soak in the local flavor at the vibrant Old City Market. It is home to the Old Market building which was built in 1841.
The red sandstone building is built in the Greek Revival style architecture and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
You’ll find plenty of vendors selling a variety of things here from traditional food items to locally made handicraft items.
You’ll also find the popular Gullah artists making sweetgrass baskets in their open-air sheds.
Weaving these beautiful baskets is one of the oldest traditional crafts in the country. They are perfect for a souvenir to remember your trip.
Fort Sumter National Monument #4
Take a boat tour to reach this impressive monument which has a rich history to depict. When the American Civil war began in 1861, the Confederacy attacked the Federal Fort of Charleston.
The ruins are well preserved, offering visitors a peek into the significant part it played in the nation’s history.
Curious to know more?
The National Park Rangers here will satiate your curiosity as they tell the story of this incredible site.
The pleasant boat ride to the island makes the experience even more enjoyable.
The Battery & White Point Gardens #5
Witness stately homes and mansions, lounge amidst lush natural surroundings, or see the mortars and cannons from the Civil War, there is plenty to do at The Battery and White Point Gardens.
At the promenade on the Charleston Harbor sits this impressive attraction.
It was established in 1837 and offers another opportunity to know more about the rich history of the city.
South Carolina Aquarium #6
Visiting with kids?
Head to South Carolina Aquarium.
It has a two-story high massive aquarium tank and is home to a host of creatures, from marine animals to mammals, reptiles, and plants. There are daily interactive shows held at the facility.
It also features ‘Shark Shallows’ where you can touch sharks and rays. Fascinated by starfish? They also have a touch tank.
While you’re there, do visit Caretta, a 220-pound loggerhead sea turtle.
The Ravenel Bridge #7
Seeking some outdoor adventure?
Bike along this scenic bridge across the Cooper River that connects Charleston to Mount Pleasant.
Apart from traffic lanes, the bridge also has ‘Wonder’s Way’, a common path for pedestrians and bikers where you can enjoy stunning views of the city at a relaxed pace.
The Charleston Museum #8
Founded in 1773, The Charleston Museum is also known as “America’s First Museum” and has a rich collection to showcase.
Its various galleries house wide-ranging exhibits, some of which depict rare slave badges, farming tools, and historic costumes while some illustrate weaponry life during the Revolution and the city’s role in the civil war.
You can even see an Egyptian Mummy and case, George Washington’s Christening Cup along with roman antiquities, and much more.
There are also numerous hands-on exhibits, offering an immersive learning experience. With so much to offer, it is one of the best places to visit in Charleston.
Drayton Hall #9
Drayton Hall Plantation was one of the few sites that survived the Civil War fully intact. The plantation house’s walls, fireplace, floors, and other elements are well-preserved.
A stroll in the house will make you feel like you’ve been transported to the 18th century. It’s a treat to witness the intricate ornamental details.
There is even a 300-year-old children’s growth chart to check out. The grounds also have one of the oldest African-American cemeteries in the country.
Old Slave Mart Museum #10
Housed inside a building where slaves were auctioned for trade before the Civil War, Old Slave Mart Museum gives a peek into their trials and tribulations. .
Take a self-guided tour as you explore the various personal accounts of slaves. There are also several artefacts and audio-visual exhibits, adding to the immersive experience.
Got some more time on your hands?
Visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon nearby where you can learn about the pirates and patriots who were once the inmates of the prison.
USS Yorktown and Patriots Point #11
How about getting on a US Navy ship that won 11 battle stars for serving in the second World War and Vietnam?
You can board this massive vessel at Patriots Point. It was also chosen to recover the Apollo 8 astronauts.
Retired in 1975, a visit to the vessel offers a sneak peek into its wartime history. While you’re there, you can also explore submarines, aircraft, and other historic exhibits.
Middleton Place Plantation #12
How about a stroll in America’s oldest landscaped gardens? Head to Middleton Place Plantation.
It features a fully furnished plantation house, slave cabins, and 17th-century European design grounds with terraces, pools, and galleries.
The bountiful gardens exude a tranquil vibe, featuring rare camellias in the winter and azaleas in the spring. The plantation house from 1775 depicts various portraits, furniture, books, and portraits kept by the four generations of the Middletons.
You can even watch a representation of the life of slaves as costumed interpreters depict different skills such as pottery, carpentry, and blacksmithing amongst others that the slaves on such a plantation would do.
Nathaniel Russel House #13
Located at 51 Meeting Street, this stately mansion features a Neoclassical style architecture and is known for its free-standing three-story staircase.
Take a stroll in its beautiful gardens or explore its rich collection of artworks housed inside the mansion.
It’s a great place to spend an afternoon reveling in the grandeur of the past.
Loved your experience here?
You can also visit The Aiken-Rhett historic house at 48 Elizabeth Street. It is one of the best-preserved antebellum homes in the city.
The Gibbes Museum of Art #14
If you’re an artsy person, this is a must-have on your itinerary. Housed inside a historic building, this museum has a rich collection of over 10,000 artworks.
It also has a rotating series of collections that are borrowed from different museums across the globe.
The first-floor gallery is free to visit whereas you’ll need a ticket to explore the other galleries.
Rainbow Row #15
Want a postcard-worthy picture?
Head to Rainbow Row.
Consisting of a series of 13 colorful houses featuring Georgian-style architecture on the East Bay Side, this place is a photographer’s haven.
The bright pastel colors of the houses against a beautiful backdrop of the azure sky make it one of the most picturesque places in the city.
So, start with the one that attracts you the most and head to this charming city for an incredible holiday.
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Q. Are 2 days enough for Charleston?
You can explore most of the significant attractions in Charleston within two days, making it a great choice for a quick getaway.
Q. What should I not miss in Charleston SC?
Fort Sumter National Monument, Old City Market and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens are some of the attractions you must not miss in Charleston SC.
Q. What is Charleston best known for?
Charleston is known for its stately historic mansions, beautiful plantations, and impressive museums.
Q. Is Charleston worth visiting?
Charleston is a well-preserved historic city with, stately mansions, tree-lined streets, sprawling plantations, and fascinating historic sites, making it well worth a visit.