Rich in southern charm, Charleston is an ideal destination for a romantic holiday. Don’t miss your chance to explore this historic city.
Horse-drawn carriages, authentic mansions of the Deep South, and iconic churches. These are just some of the attractions of this charming city.
Fortunately, there are plenty of other things to do in Charleston. Here are the highlights that should make it onto your itinerary.
#1 – Visit Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park is a great place to enjoy a relaxing sunset over Charleston Harbor.
This park covers 12 acres and features vintage benches and double swings facing the waterfront. You’ll also find a beautiful Pineapple Fountain that lights up at night.
Best of all, you’ll be within walking distance of other historic sights. There’s also free Wi-Fi on offer, which adds another reason as to why the park is popular with residents and tourists alike.
#2 – Explore the Old City Market
The building of the Old City Market is among the most fascinating landmarks in Charleston. You’ll be amazed by the red sandstone exterior and massive green iron railing. The structure dates back to the mid-19th century and has made the National Register of Historic Places.
Many vendors at the market sell local handicrafts, with sweetgrass baskets perhaps the most memorable souvenir you can take home. You’ll also be able to see the Gullah artisans as they weave low-country rushes into beautiful baskets.
Interestingly, the patterns and weaving techniques that have become synonymous with Charleston are West African in origin.
#3 – Go to Sullivan’s Island
Those looking for cool things to do in Charleston, SC, might want to spend a day on Sullivan’s Island.
Just 10mi from the city center, the island has a lot more to offer than the rich local history. You’ll find excellent beaches, restaurants, and shops all over the place.
It’s also a viable spot to seek privacy and accommodation away from the city. There are many traditional bed-and-breakfasts and boutique hotels to choose from.
#4 – Take Snapshots of the Angel Oak
The Angel Oak has been a resident of John’s Island for centuries.
Experts estimate that it’s up to 400 years old and is believed to be the biggest of its kind in this part of South Carolina. The tree measures 65ft by 25,5ft, with branches extending well beyond the tree trunk.
You can sit on the branches and take a memorable photo. But if you’re traveling with children, keep in mind that climbing the tree is forbidden.
#5 – Visit Local Breweries and Distilleries
When you tire of all the historical sites, one of the best things to do in Charleston is to tour the breweries and distilleries.
It typically takes about five hours and starts at a distillery where you’ll have five tastings. After that, you’ll visit two local breweries and grab a pint in each one. Some of the stops may include Holy City Brewing, Highwire Distilling, and Freehouse Brewery.
As you might suspect, the guide will also tell you more about the history of the city in general, and particularly its distilling and brewing industry.
#6 – Check out Middleton Place
Situated almost 15mi from downtown Charleston, Middleton Place was the home of Arthur Middleton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Today, the mansion holds an enviable collection of portraits and historic furniture. But the most impressive features of the estate are actually on the outside.
The house is surrounded by a 65-acre garden modeled in the French style. You’ll find beautiful magnolias, camellias, and myrtles, within or without the carriage that is there to show you the entire garden.
Another highlight is the historical reenactments of the technology and skills necessary to run a plantation in the 18th century.
#7 – Hop Aboard the USS Yorktown
Wondering about what historical things to do in Charleston, SC?
Head over to Patriots Point and admire one of the most iconic vessels in U.S. Navy history. The USS Yorktown is the proud recipient of 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation in the Second World War, with five more tacked on in the Vietnam War.
Did you know that the battleship also starred in a film?
The Fighting Lady is a 1944 documentary that chronicles the proud history of the USS Yorktown, which was also selected to pick up the astronauts aboard Apollo 8 on their journey back to Earth.
#8 – Take In the Marine Life at the South Carolina Aquarium
If you’re visiting Charleston with the kids, make sure to visit the aquarium. It’s home not just to sea creatures but to reptiles and mammals as well.
However, the main attraction is the two-story tank where you can see interactive shows. The Shark Shallows exhibit, meanwhile, provides an amazing experience in which you get to touch some of the marine creatures.
And if you visit the Sea Turtle Hospital, you can see how the staff takes care of the rescued animals. While you’re at it, meet Caretta the giant sea turtle who’s the aquarium’s most famous resident.
#9 – Visit Boone Hall Plantation
Created in the late 17th century, Boone Hall is the oldest operational plantation in the United States. It sports one of the most picturesque Avenues of Oaks and it’s where you can inspect preserved slave cabins.
In its 300-year history, the plantation never stopped producing crops.
You can even stop by the Boone Hall Farms Market to buy some vegetables, fruits, or berries grown right on the property. But do note that the market is off a nearby highway rather than on plantation grounds.
#10 – Cross the Ravenel Bridge
Finished in 2005, the Ravenel Bridge is the most prominent contemporary landmark in Charleston. This eye-catching structure has been designed to withstand earthquakes and prevent collision with vessels.
As a tourist, the best way for you to cross the bridge is on foot or a bike. It’s completely safe since there are pedestrian and biking lanes on the entire stretch of the bridge.
While on the bridge, you’ll get to soak in the sights, sounds, and scents of the city.
Travel to the Bygone Times
When it comes to things to do in Charleston, this list is only the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, the attractions presented are enough to get you excited about exploring American history in South Carolina.