Things to Do in Charleston
There’s no shortage of things to do in Charleston. We’re a city that’s known for its architecture, culture, food, and history.
How does one narrow down all of Charleston’s activities into just one list? We only suggest the must-do items on any traveler’s bucket list.
Our favorite way to see the city of Charleston is by foot, but you can also get around by bike, horse-drawn carriage, or car. Depending on what time of year you visit, you may even want to stop by one of our famous festivals.
Top 10 Things to Do in Charleston
Here is our list of the top things to do in Charleston. If you need any help planning your trip or getting from point A to point B, we also offer private tours of Charleston as well as day trips from the Holy City.
Eat Iconic Charleston Foods
One of our favorite things to do in Charleston is eat! Charleston is known for its iconic foods. In fact, we’d guess that some travelers visit Charleston just for the food alone.
When you come, you’ll need to try some of our most iconic foods. Charleston is known for its:
- Shrimp and grits
- Frogmore stew
- Boiled peanuts
- Planters Punch
- Baked goods
You could spend an entire visit learning about Charleston’s history and culture only by eating the food this city is known for!
Learn About History
Another one of our favorite things to do in Charleston is learn about its history.
Charleston is one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Established in the 1600s as a trading port, the city is home to some of the nation’s oldest structures and has a storied history.
You can’t miss historical sites, like Fort Sumter National Memorial and Patriot’s Point (where the first shots of the Civil War rang out), the Old Slave Mart Musem (to learn about slavery history in Charleston), Rainbow Row, and the Historic Charleston Market.
If you want to really immerse yourself in history, you’re going to need to learn some of the Holy City’s stories. The best way to do so? Take a tour!
Walks of Charleston hosts two public tours, one of which is our classic Charleston History Tour.
Don’t just see the sights of the city; learn about how Charleston’s downtown contributed to American history on one of our acclaimed tours.
Take Some Amazing Photos
If you only visit Charleston to relish its beauty, we won’t blame you one bit!
Our city is consistently voted one of the most beautiful in the U.S. It’s marked by stunning water views, cobblestone streets, historic buildings, moss-covered trees, and delicate-looking wrought iron gates.
If you’re a photographer, you won’t want to miss Rainbow Row, our famed pineapple fountain, or the Ravenel Bridge.
Go On a Boat Ride
Charleston is practically surrounded by water. We happen to think that one of the best ways to see the city is from its rivers and harbor.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Charleston’s best boat tours — no matter your budget or style.
If you’re on a budget, take the water taxi, which will ferry you to Patriot’s Point, Waterfront Park, or Harbor Resort & Marina. You can even book a dolphin watch through them.
Or, if you’re looking for something a little more “high-end”, might we suggest a ride on a schooner?
Take a Day Trip
There’s an entire world at your fingertips just outside of Charleston’s borders.
You can take a day trip from Charleston, SC, to South Carolina’s famed plantations to learn about their history. Or, take a trip to nearby Savannah, another pretty city of the South that (like Charleston) is famous for its food and culture.
Hilton Head is only a two-hour drive south of Charleston and is known for its resorts.
Don’t want to go it alone? Book a private day trip with one of our tour guides!
“Travel” the World
Charleston is one of the most international cities in the U.S. We’ve got some serious Caribbean and French flair.
Take an architectural tour of the city (which could include the French Huguenot Church) and Rainbow Row (which looks like Dutch row homes), and enjoy miles of cobblestone streets along the way.
Charleston is one of the most romantic cities in the contiguous states. If you’re headed here for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or your honeymoon, you’ll be in good company!
We’re known for being a city of luxury, so staying at one of our five-star hotels or getting pampered at a spa (like at the Wentworth Mansion) are popular activities.
Of course, the best romantic way to see the city is by horse-drawn carriage. Cozy up with your sweetie and enjoy the sights by candlelight.
Shop Till You Drop
If you’ve come here to shop, you’re going to be busy! We’re known for our one-of-a-kind souvenirs, high-end boutiques, and hand-made goods. We’ve got the scoop on the best spots for shopping in Charleston.
Take a stroll through the Charleston City Market if you’re looking for sweetgrass baskets, baked goods, or souvenirs.
Walk down King Street, home to some of the most exclusive boutiques in Charleston. Or, head over to Mount Pleasant for a selection of kitschy stores.
The Shops at Charleston Place is where to go if you’re looking for more high-end fashion and home goods.
Go Off the Beaten Path
Want to see a side of Charleston not everyone gets to see? Charleston is known for its back alleyways — used by household staff and high society alike.
These pathways offer a rare glimpse into Charleston’s history and are some of the prettiest streets in Charleston. Listen to the stories of some of the city’s most prestigious families, like the Ravenels, Legares, Aikens, and Boones.
Our Alleys and Hidden Passageways public tour will get you behind the scenes and help you navigate these winding streets with ease.
Enjoy the Beach
Just outside of Downtown, you’ll find some of the best beaches in Charleston.
Take a blanket and a picnic lunch and spend the day relaxing on the sand to the sound of gentle waves. Or, head to Folly Beach for some surfing.
Round out a day on Sullivan’s Island with dinner or drinks at Poe’s Tavern or the Obstinate Daughter.