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Things to do in Charleston

Things to do in  Charleston

Welcome to Charleston

Charleston is a jewel of the South, renowned for its beautiful mansions, magnolia-scented gardens, and heady mix of influences from as far away as France, Africa, and the West Indies.

Top 15 attractions in Charleston

#1
Charleston City Market

Charleston City Market

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Smack in the middle of historic Charleston, the Charleston City Market is a central landmark for Holy City visitors. In addition to being one of the most visited historic attractions in town, the City Market—opened in 1807—is also one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the United States.More
#2
Charleston Waterfront Park

Charleston Waterfront Park

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Waterfront porch swings, a giant pineapple fountain, and grassy areas perfect for lazing the day away make Waterfront Park feel like Charleston’s personal backyard. Watch the boats float by on the river, snap photos, and enjoy the park’s family-friendly amenities—they keep this park a favorite hangout spot for locals and visitors alike.More
#3
St. Michael's Church

St. Michael's Church

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Towering above surrounding Charleston, the nearly 200-foot tall white steeple of St. Michael’s signals the site of the city’s oldest church. Inside, visitors and parishioners are transported back to the colonial era: alcoves shine with Tiffany stained glass windows, the original 1768 organ still pipes tunes and creaky wooden pews have seated centuries of worshipers including notables George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The central chandelier once blazed with candles, but has since been retrofitted with bulbs. Otherwise little altered, the church has survived tornadoes, an earthquake and even civil war bombings. The pulpit still bears battle wounds suffered in the 1865 Siege of Charleston Harbor. A table in the main vestibule along the western wall details the building’s long and storied history.Choral music still emanates from St Michael’s on Sundays, and, as a still-functioning Episcopal Church, it can be sometimes challenging to tour the inside. Still, the exterior is a highlight of many historic downtown tours. It's still possible to see the old colonial clock— though minute hands weren’t added until the mid-1800s—and tour the adjacent cemetery, the final resting place of, among several other notables, two signers of the US Constitution.More
#4
Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument

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A top historic attraction in South Carolina, Fort Sumter National Monument is famous for being the site where the Civil War began. Today, the sea fort, accessible only by boat, retains much of its original stone structure—plus a few lodged cannonballs—letting visitors experience a piece of American history firsthand.More
#5
Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row

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This street of brightly colored homes in Charleston is easily the most photographed spot in the city, and it’s easy to see why. The 14 colorful Georgian row houses along East Bay Street date back to 1730, when they were built as merchant stores.More
#6
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

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The Old Exchange is one of the oldest structures in Charleston, a famous city landmark, and one of the most historically significant buildings in the United States. Once the site of important political events, the building is now open to the public for fascinating tours, including a walk-through of its haunted Provost Dungeon.More
#7
The Battery and White Point Garden

The Battery and White Point Garden

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The Battery wraps around the edge of Charleston’s peninsula, providing an elegant buffer between the city and the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Stroll and sightsee along the wide pedestrian paths, which pass by antebellum homes and historic sights, or perch beneath the live oaks in White Point Garden and watch the world go by.More
#8
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

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As the last large-scale Romantic garden left in the United States, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens seek to provide an escape from the struggles and stresses of everyday life. Unlike a formal garden that seeks to “control” nature, a Romantic garden cooperates with nature to create a peaceful landscape where people and nature exist in harmony. Magnolia’s are also the oldest unrestored gardens in the United States, and the historic house is one of the oldest in the South.More
#9
St. Philips Church

St. Philips Church

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Located in the historic French Quarter, St. Philip’s Church is home to Charleston’s oldest congregation and was the first Anglican church established south of Virginia. A National Historic Landmark, the beautiful stuccoed brick building features an impressive steeple, three Tuscan porticoes, and Corinthian columns.More
#10
Circular Congregational Church

Circular Congregational Church

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Founded in 1681 by an eclectic group of English Congregationalists, Scots Presbyterians, and French Huguenots, the Circular Congregational Church of Charleston is the oldest, continuously-operating house of worship in the United States. The unique meeting hall was designed and built in a circular shape to reflect the spaces’ open and free-flowing exchange of ideas.More
#11
Middleton Place

Middleton Place

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The 65-acre (26-hectare) Middleton Place is a former rice plantation along the Ashley River. Visitors to this National Historic Landmark home—built in 1755 by the father of Arthur Middleton, who signed the Declaration of Independence—can explore the Middleton Place house, landscaped gardens, and the stable yards, where staff dressed in period clothing demonstrate weaving, blacksmithing, carpentry, and more.More
#12
Charleston Museum

Charleston Museum

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As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Charleston is known for its deep history. The Charleston Museum, which marquees itself as America’s First Museum, is a great first stop for a broad overview of Charleston’s past, featuring exhibits ranging from Lowcountry dinosaur skeletons to niche Revolutionary War artifacts.More
#13
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (Cooper River Bridge)

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (Cooper River Bridge)

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At 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the United States. It connects downtown Charleston to the city of Mount Pleasant and the beaches beyond, plus it provides bike and pedestrian paths that lead to unobstructed views of Charleston Harbor and the city skyline.More
#14
Aiken-Rhett House

Aiken-Rhett House

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Charleston’s historic Aiken-Rhett House offers a rare glimpse into antebellum plantation life in South Carolina. The only surviving urban plantation, the 1818 townhouse complex remains largely intact, its rooms decorated with original wallpaper, fine art, and antique furnishings purchased by the owners more than 150 years ago.More
#15
Joseph Manigault House

Joseph Manigault House

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This historic Charleston home, now part of the Charleston Museum, is a well-preserved example of Federal architecture. Built in 1803 by architect Gabriel Manigault for his brother Joseph, a Charleston rice baron, the 3-story townhouse is now a National Historic Landmark, showcasing the wealthy family’s 19th-century lifestyle.More

Trip ideas

A Spooky City Guide to Charleston

A Spooky City Guide to Charleston

Top activities in Charleston

Charleston Harbor History Day-Time or Sunset Boat Cruise
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Charleston Marsh Eco Boat Cruise with stop at Morris Island Lighthouse
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Charleston Harbor Sunset Cruise
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2-Hour Guided Kayak Eco Tour in Charleston
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Magnolia Plantation Admission & Tour with Transportation from Charleston
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Narrated Haunted Ghost Cruise of Charleston Harbor
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Downtown Charleston Food Tour

Downtown Charleston Food Tour

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Recent reviews from experiences in Charleston

star-5
Great history tour of Charleston
Karen_P, Aug 2022
Charleston’s Old South Carriage Historic Horse & Carriage Tour
The tour was super interesting and we got to see all of the destinations I had heard about like rainbow row and the battery
star-5
Great experience
Lanie_S, Aug 2022
Charleston’s Old South Carriage Historic Horse & Carriage Tour
A great way to see Charleston and learn about the history of the beautiful city.
star-5
Dennis was an amazing...
Karen_S, Aug 2022
2-Hour Historic Charleston Guided Sightseeing Walking Tour
We took his advice on other points to see in the city as well.
star-5
The tour guides were so...
Taylor_D, Aug 2022
Narrated Haunted Ghost Cruise of Charleston Harbor
Got to see Charleston from the water which was also a plus!
star-5
Breathe Taking Evening
Edwardine_C, Aug 2022
Charleston Harbor Sunset Cruise
Getting to see Charleston from the water was amazing.
star-5
The Culinary tour was a...
Renee_M, Aug 2022
Charleston Upper King Street Food Tour
Summer was extremely knowledgeable about the history of Charleston.
star-5
Josh did a great job...
Elizabeth_B, Aug 2022
Charleston Marsh Eco Boat Cruise with stop at Morris Island Lighthouse
The tour was a fun way to explore the area and gave us new sights to see during our short stay in the Charleston area.
star-5
Great time
Joseph_C, Aug 2022
Haunted Evening Horse and Carriage Tour of Charleston
The scenery was mostly enchanting and unreal to see not being from Charleston
star-5
Great
Baylee_h, Aug 2022
Dark Side of Charleston Guided Night-Time Walking Tour
The walking tour was a great way to see Charleston.
star-5
Throughly enjoyed the...
Deborah_H, Jul 2022
Private 2.5-3 Hour Sailboat Harbor Cruise
A great way to see the Charleston harbor and hearing more of the history.
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Excellent tour
Dorothy_B, Jul 2022
Charleston's Hidden Alleyways & Historic Sites Small-Group Walking Tour
Charleston is a beautiful city and there is a lot of interesting things to do.
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The best thing about this...
Debra_N, Jul 2022
Charleston Harbor History Day-Time or Sunset Boat Cruise
You can see where most of the tourist attractions are.
star-5
Very informative
Doug_H, Jul 2022
Highlights of Charleston Guided Walking Tour
It was a very hot day but Dustin made sure we were in shade when we stopped to see history.
star-5
Do it, you won't regret it.
Nancy_S, Jun 2022
Charleston in a Nutshell Private Tours
He really showed us parts of Charleston we wouldn't have been able to see on other tours.
star-5
Loved this tour. Hopefully you can have Kay as your guide!
Karen_K, Jun 2022
Charleston's Hidden Alleyways & Historic Sites Small-Group Walking Tour
She was very informative and had great tips on what to do and see in Charleston.
star-5
Best way to see Charleston
Justin_V, Jun 2022
Charleston History and Hops Tour: Bar and History Walk
Best way to see Charleston.
star-5
History from a historian
Alison_B, Jun 2022
Small-Group Tour: Charleston Old Walled City Historical Walking Tour
We saw a combination of the larger obvious attractions as well as some gems off the beaten path.
star-5
Excellent tour
David_C, Jun 2022
2-Hour Historic Charleston Guided Sightseeing Walking Tour
We learned a ton about Charleston and got to see many very interesting and historic sites.
star-5
Definitely worth the trip
klaw1, Jun 2022
Charleston City Sightseeing Bus Tour
Excellent way to see and learn about Charleston's interesting history.
star-5
Great time!
Danielle_D, Jun 2022
Charleston Harbor History Day-Time or Sunset Boat Cruise
Great way to see Charleston.
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All about Charleston

Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
EDT (UTC -5)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English
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