Charleston, the oldest city in the state of South Carolina, is a fun destination for everyone from those interested in the city's rich history, to people looking to enjoy some of Charleston's exciting attractions. It can be hard to pick which things to do in Charleston, or Chucktown, simply because of the variety of famous sites which call the city home.…
Top 26 Things to do in Charleston, South Carolina
Set out behind your guide to check out the vibrant, 18th-century homes of Rainbow Row, and then cross the park at the historic Waterfront Battery—this green space is still dotted with cannons from its time as a fort during the Civil War.
Admire the lavish residences as you approach the city's antebellum mansions, including the Palmer Home—this historic, 18,000-square foot (1,672-sq m) home overlooking the harbor is referred to as "The Pink Palace" by locals. Visit Fort Sumter, the sea fort where the shots that started the Civil War were fired, and learn about Charleston's military history—it played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War, too.
Duck into hidden gardens and courtyards, and step into solemn, centuries-old churches and historic graveyards as your guide recounts the legends, stories, and notable moments of this city's fascinating past.
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Start your carriage journey at the City Market—one of the nation's oldest public markets. The historic market begins at the Market Hall, one of the finest examples of 1800s architecture. This space has long played a role in Charleston's presentation of its history. Keep your camera handy to capture a few of Charleston's highlights, including the Old Exchange Building, the last British building built in America before the Revolutionary War.
See one of Charleston's most recognizable districts at the vibrant Rainbow Row, a unique stretch of mid-1700s homes and buildings. These pre-revolutionary buildings are time capsules of southern American history. Pass several of Charleston's historic highlights, including Meeting Street and its famous White Point Gardens. Listen as your guide provides insight into the role these places had in Charleston's early history.
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Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
Meet your knowledgeable local guide, grab coffee and a pastry, and hit the pavement for a food-fueled exploration of Charleston's culture. Learn what sets Lowcountry cookery apart from traditional Southern food, and learn about the modern movement that's bringing this down-home cuisine into refined restaurants with world-class renown.
As you visit some of Charleston's most cutting-edge dining rooms and established eateries, learn about the restaurants' backgrounds. Listen as a professional breaks down the dishes on each menu, and tour the kitchens and prep areas as you learn about each chef's individual approach to serving fine food in Charleston. Read More close
Meet your guide and set off through the darkened avenues of Charleston, listening as your guide shares twisted tales about powerful generals, murderers and thieves, slaves and free men. Imagine a time when duels were the law of the land, and hear about an era when pirates ruled the seas.
As you weave through gas-lit streets, uncover the darker side of Charleston's past Keep your ears tuned for the whispers of long-gone poets, and feel a chill run up your spine—whether you believe in the paranormal or not—as you enter areas where ghosts are said to linger. Just keep your fingers crossed they don't follow you home!
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Step aboard a carriage for an informative and entertaining trip through 25 blocks of Charleston's oldest residential and business districts. Then hop on the Carolina Belle boat for a tour of the harbor. You see the white steeple of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, which was saved from destruction during the Revolutionary and Civil wars. Also admire the stately homes along the Battery that have survived war, hurricanes, and earthquakes, and are now a symbol of Southern elegance and perseverance.
During your day trip enjoy a deli-style boxed lunch and refreshments. Finish your adventure with a tour of the Boone Hall Plantation, a National Historic Site and 1 of America's oldest working plantations. Drive down the world-renowned Avenue of Oaks to the 738-acre (1,823-ha) plantation to view historical brick slave cabins, a smoke house, and a cotton gin. Costumed hostesses greet you at the mansion and provide guided tours of the first floor.
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Categories: Tickets & Passes
Set out with your intrepid guide to tour the shadowy places, centuries-old buildings, and mysterious locals around Charleston's colonial heart. Venture into the dungeon at the Exchange and Provost Building—the British stashed prisoners here during the Revolutionary War—and watch for mysterious lights or ghostly shadows.
Learn about the haunted houses scattered around town, the eccentric character of Charleston's most famous poltergeists, and the voodoo and Lowcountry superstitions that keep locals looking over their shoulders when they walk in the dark.
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Begin your tour in the historic, colonial center of Charleston—these charming cobbled streets take on a new life at night. As the shadows shift around you, listen as your guide fills you in on some of the city's supernatural phenomena and ghostly tales.
From there, go beyond the wrought iron fence for a tour of the graves at Charleston's oldest cemetery after dark. Learn about the spirits that haunt this space, including Sue Howard, who grieves nightly at her dead child's tomb, and rebel warrior John C. Calhoun, who has been dancing in the streets with his wife for 150 years.
Hear about Charleston's questionable medical practices—doctors back in the day weren't risk takers, so if you were sick and fell asleep in a hospital, you had a good chance of waking up 6 feet under. Finally, discover cemetery lore as your guide explains terms such as "saved by the bell" and "graveyard shift" before you leave the gravesites behind. Read More close
Come experience Charleston's history by sailing aboard the Carolina Belle. Your boat departs from the Charleston Maritime Center and takes you on a historical cruise. This tour features impressive views as well as live commentary about 75 points of interest seen along the way, such as Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, and Fort Johnson. Other sights include waterfront mansions along the Battery, Rainbow Row, White Point Gardens, and Sullivan's Island.
During the cruise stop by the onboard cash bar for imported and domestic beer, wine, soft drinks, and water. Take in views of the majestic area churches, including the white steeple of St. Michael's Episcopal Church. While you sip a refreshing drink, the Carolina Belle sails past the USS Yorktown. Be sure to snap a photo of the famous "Fighting Lady of World War II" before heading under Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and returning to the dock.
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Categories: Day Cruises & Water Activities
1 hour 30 minutes
Ghost tours have a way of creeping into your schedule during a visit to beautiful Charleston. Join your expert guide on this memorable trek through the hallways and gallows of the USS Yorktown, known as the "Fighting Lady. " As you make your way through the ship, hear the many unexplained mysteries of this legendary World War II aircraft carrier.
While your guide shares stories about fallen war heroes, walk in their footsteps and listen for a sign that they may still be watching. On this exclusive tour, explore areas that are normally restricted from the public. Keep your eyes peeled for a ghost while you learn about strange activity documented by numerous ghost-hunting groups and creep around the deck as you dare to explore the unknown. Read More close
Categories: Tours & Sightseeing
1 hour 30 minutes
Meet up with your guide and set off on foot through lovely side streets, hearing what life was like in Charleston during colonial times. Discover the independent roots of Charleston, the site of the first decisive victory of the Revolutionary War, the first American flag to be flown, and even the first tea party—which preceded Boston's more famous version.
Continue on through the decades to the Civil War as your guide disentangles the complexities of this troubled time in the country's past. Explore the birthplace of secession, and hear how it took more than century for Charleston to regain its identity and come back to life. Throughout the tour, hear about the tenacity, perseverance, and optimistic nature of Charleston's spirited residents. Read More close
Start your tour outside the Charleston Visitor Center, where you board a specially designed minibus and set out through a parade of landmarks in the heart of the city. With comfortable, spacious seating aboard a minibus designed specifically to navigate narrow downtown streets, you get up-close views of the most hard-to-reach sites.
After a look at charming colonial-era row houses, the Greek Revival-style hall that anchors the City Market, and the palmetto trees along the shores of Colonial Lake, it's time to board a boat for a voyage on beautiful Charleston Harbor. As you cruise along the waterfront, your guide points out landmarks from the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown to the island of Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began. Read More close
Get picked up from your hotel and snag a seat on an air-conditioned vehicle for a 90-minute ride around utterly charming Charleston. Packed with buildings that predate the American Revolution, this city bears traces of more than 300 years of history. Cruise down residential lanes lined with colonial townhouses, and pass by the stately churches and government buildings at the intersection known as The Four Corners of Law.
Snap photos of the pastel-hued Georgian houses along Rainbow Row, and delve into the days of the Civil War at the Battery Waterfront, where you can spot beautiful mansions along the harbor, old cannons in the shade of leafy oak trees, and surf crashing against the sturdy stone walls of Fort Sumter.
Afterward, visit the Charleston Museum, which was founded all the way back in 1773—before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Admire collections of antique furniture and silver, Lowcountry textiles and ceramics, and 19th-century firearms. You can also peek at the only known fossil of the extinct Pelagornis sandersi, which was discovered during construction at Charleston's airport. Read More close
After you're picked up from your hotel, settle into a comfortable coach and prepare to travel back in time as your guide shares trivia and tales from more than 300 years of American history. Weave through charming lanes lined with colonial townhomes, and spot centuries-old places of worship and government buildings at the intersection known as The Four Corners of Law.
Cruise past the 13 colorful Georgian row houses known as Rainbow Row, and stop at the Battery Waterfront, where you can admire elegant mansions, statues, and old cannons set among leafy oak trees. Take in the view of Fort Sumter as you hear about pivotal moments in the American Civil War, and then make your way to the City Market, a National Historic Landmark that spans 4 city blocks.
Finally, step into the antebellum beauty of a fully restored historic home. Admire the elegant interiors as you imagine what life was like in this grand residence during a bygone era before your excursion into America's early days comes to a close. Read More close
With your expert guide, embark on this informative walk through a Southern paradise. Begin at the historic City Market and explore the heart of the French Quarter including the Dock Street Theatre and St Philips Church. Then head to White Point Garden, a 5. 7-acre (2. 3-ha) public park at the end of the Battery, a seawall and promenade.
As you stroll through the city, snap photos and listen to educational information from your expert guide. Encounter hundreds of historic homes and buildings, beautifully designed and perfectly manicured gardens, as well as stately churches. Leave with a breadth of knowledge on Charleston's amazing history and culture.
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Set out through the city's parade of landmarks that tell a centuries-old story. Visit charming row houses that date back to the colonial period, admire the historic City Market anchored by the Greek Revival-style Market Hall, and hear about the Civil War-era coastal defenses built along The Battery.
Let your guide entertain you with stories that range from the American Revolution to the battle of Fort Sumter, explaining Charleston's pivotal role in the nation's formative years. Check out the palmetto trees along the shores of Colonial Lake and learn the many roles of the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon to get a deeper perspective on the stories this town has to tell. Read More close
Put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes and listen to uncomfortable tales of Charleston's many spirits. Take a walk through the perpetually overgrown cemetery at the Unitarian Church, and watch for the casual poltergeist as you navigate a labyrinth of headstones. Your guide recounts the life of Sue Howard, a mother who grieved so intensely for her dead infant that her spirit has made an imprint on the physical realm that has lasted for more than a century.
This storied tour has been making the rounds for more than 20 years, and is chock-full of historic tales about real people and the chilling legends they left behind. Hear stories of people being burned alive, and learn about Issac Hayne, who was found guilty of treason and marched through the streets of Charleston to be hanged at the gallows at White Point. Even make a visit to Bloody Alley, known for sightings of the "man in grey," who some claim to be the Grim Reaper. Read More close
Meet your guide for an interactive, mysterious stroll through the gas-lit streets of Charleston, where an affluent family has hired you and your group of fellow gumshoes to solve a cold-blooded murder.
Work to piece together the timeline of the crime as your guide shares clues, alibis are provided, and the background stories of the suspects are revealed. Follow in the footsteps of the killer as you work to uncover whodunit—picking up a few interesting real-life facts along the way. Read More close
Known for its rich history, classic architecture, award-winning restaurants, and friendly residents, Charleston gives you a sense of the famous Southern hospitality. Board a charming horse-drawn carriage and set out for a unique narrated tour covering more than 2. 5 miles (4 km) and 30 blocks of historic Charleston.
Bring your camera on this joyride with some of the finest tour guides, draft horses, and carriages in Charleston. Along the way, spot historical houses, churches, wrought iron gates, the old city market, and the downtown peninsula—known for its art, music, and cuisine. Ride through more than 300 years of history in a city blending Southern culture with English, French, and West African elements. Read More close
Set sail on the Tideline, a fast and agile vessel offering extreme flexibility negotiating tidal creeks and beach landings, and see the beauty of the water surrounding Folly Beach. Experience the maze of tidal creeks lined with oyster beds and teeming with fish, birds, and mammals. Keep an eye on the water as you coast down the tides to catch glimpses of playful bottlenose dolphins skimming the surface along the sides of the boat.
Next, take an audible and visual journey under the water, and listen in with a hydrophone to hear sounds and activities taking place beneath the surface. Watch as the captain casts a net and checks the blue-crab traps. Later, take a step off the boat and scour the sand on historical Morris Island for shells and driftwood as you learn about the natural and manmade history of the area. End your tour with a new wealth of knowledge, a greater appreciation of nature, and maybe even a few treasures found buried in the sand. Read More close
Set out with your knowledgeable local guide for a food lover's journey through Charleston. Learn about what sets Lowcountry cuisine apart from traditional Southern cooking, and listen to stories from the region's 300-year-old history.
As you stroll, pop into bakeries, markets, restaurants, and beloved Charleston establishments to taste the city’s signature dishes. Sip on sweet tea, scoop up buttery homemade grits, nibble on collard greens, and tuck into some hearty barbecue before getting a little Southern sugar kick—pralines, Charleston Benne Wafers, and locally made gourmet chocolates bring your tasting tour to a close. Read More close
Welcome aboard The Schooner Pride, Charleston's public sailing ship taking you to a variety of local sights. See the city from the peaceful waters of the harbor aboard this classic 84-foot (26-m) tall ship. With no set course, your schooner sails with the ever-changing winds and tides, making each cruise a unique experience.
Choose to bring aboard a picnic lunch and select from water, domestic or imported beer, and wine at the cash bar. Your expert crew is available to answer questions, point out famous historic sights, and alert the ship when wildlife are playing in the harbor. Charleston's finest attractions, including Fort Johnson, Fort Sumter, and the historic Battery, are all within easy viewing distance. Come on a memorable sailing excursion and take home photos and memories for a lifetime. Read More close
Home to more than 10,000 plants and animals, the South Carolina Aquarium features a state-of-the-art learning center that encompasses the mountain forest, coastal plain and ocean. Find amazing aquatic animals like river otters and loggerhead turtles. Don’t miss the rare albino American alligator which is only one of 50 in the world.
Roll up your sleeves and reach into the Touch Tank. The aquarium staff is always there to guide and answer questions while you explore reef creatures like the hermit crabs and sea urchins. Divers interact with visitors during daily dive shows from the Great Ocean Tank. Stroll through the Mountain Forest exhibit keeping an eye for birds flying overhead.
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Bring your spirit of adventure and meet up with your guide for a walking tour with more to it than meets the eye. Go beyond the regular textbook facts and discover little-known facts about Charleston's craziest residents and zaniest moments. Snap photos of downtown landmarks as your guide leads you between locations, rattling off entertaining tales along the way.
Hear about long-shuttered brothels, Prohibition-era speakeasies, and historical happenings that range from the odd to the debauched. Weave through gas-lit alleys and side streets to cover ground that other tours don't touch, discover what makes Charleston so unique, and catch the sunset over the harbor before parting ways with your guide to continue the rest of your evening. Read More close
Charleston has many sides, including historical areas with a surrounding beautiful natural environment. Experience both on this expertly captained cruise full of sights, sounds, and multiple photo opportunities. See all 4 forts, including Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Your 84-foot (26-m) boat offers plenty of room and multiple areas for ideal viewing.
Watch in awe as the setting sun cascades a plethora of warm and vibrant colors through the sky. Your expert crew is available to point out historical points of significance as well as the many types of wildlife that call this area home. This sunset cruise offers a new perspective on the historic 18th- and 19th-century buildings. So grab a camera, your friends, and your family as you set sail on a memorable cruise around Charleston.
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Set out with your guide for an uncensored evening journey through the darker chapters of Charleston's history—it's peppered with corruption, crime, and criminals. Walk past former brothels and centuries-old crime sites as you get a glimpse of the city's R-rated secrets.
Learn about the violent murder of Rumpty Rattles, whose killer was acquitted on self-defense despite having shot his victim in the back. Scope out the speakeasy owned and run by the town's chief investigator of alcohol-related crimes, and learn about the city's scandalous "mattress girls" on this intriguing, adults-only tour.
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After meeting your tour guide, enter the dark and sinister Old City Jail. This centuries-old structure has tales to tell, and the rumored hauntings by its more fearsome convicts are enough to send chills up your spine as you walk the halls. Hear the story of the beautiful Lavinia Fisher, who murdered unsuspecting guests at the hotel she ran with her husband.
Learn about the tragic fate of Denmark Vesey, hanged for planning a slave revolt. Peer into the cells that held Confederate prisoners of war and plundering 19th-century pirates, and watch carefully—there may be more to those glowing orbs and mysterious flickering shadows than meets the eye. Read More close