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9 Reasons to Visit Charleston in Winter

a river with a city in the background

Charleston is beautiful at any time of year. Yes, we’re a bit biased, but this city has so much to offer year-round that we wouldn’t usually recommend visiting one month over another. Yet, for Charleston in January and February, the city is quieter, the climate is milder and the beaches are (dare we say?) prettier. Here are our top reasons to visit Charleston, South Carolina, in winter.

Reasons to Visit Charleston in Winter

The Weather 

Charleston weather is pretty mild all year long, but South Carolina winters see temperatures other areas of the U.S. can only dream about in spring. 


In February, you can expect the highs to be in the 60s and the lows in the 40s. And the best part? We rarely get any rain in the month of February (about five days on average).


That means, you can spend more time outside and less time in your hotel. And with so many outdoor activities (boating, hiking, picnicking and touring), you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors here.


It’s the Perfect Time to Visit the Beach

Yes, we’ll say it again: the best reason to visit Charleston in winter is the weather. But we’ll go as far as to say that this is also the best time of year to head to the beach.


The days are warm and the nights are cool (but not bitterly cold). Which means there’s more time to spend on one of our white-sand beaches. While you won’t be able to don your two-piece and jump in the surf, you’ll enjoy a few rays of the sun and some fresh sea air. 


We recommend:


  • Dressing in layers (in case the sun makes a longer appearance or the clouds roll in a little faster)
  • Bringing a few beach games to keep your crew entertained
  • Packing a picnic to enjoy while you gaze at the horizon


Tourist Season Doesn’t Start Until Spring

If you’re the type of traveler that doesn’t like running into other travelers, you’ll love Charleston in winter — because you probably won’t run into any tourists this month.


January, February, and March are relatively quiet in the Holy City, and most of our tourist attractions are equally quiet. That means you can stroll through the historic market without running into crowds, take a boat tour with little or no wait or visit one of our plantations without fighting through the crowds.

While spring in Charleston is marvelous, you’ll experience higher crowd levels at this time. 


Charleston Winter Wine Festival

If you love wine, we recommend heading to Charleston in January and February. Our Winter Wine Festival takes place here every winter and features some of the best wineries in the Lowcountry.


Talk to the winemakers, taste a few vintages and enjoy some light snacks. It’s a great reason to visit Charleston in February and geek out with fellow wine lovers. 


Charleston in January and February: It’s the Perfect Time for a Walking Tour

a group of people walking in front of a building

Yes, we happen to believe that pretty much any time of year is the perfect time for a walking tour. Maybe we’re biased? But we also happen to believe that walking tours in Charleston in January and February are simply wonderful for the following reasons:


  • Smaller group sizes
  • Comfortable temperatures for wandering the city
  • Quiet ambiances
  • Less foot traffic


We love our tours (and guests) so much this time of year, we’d have to say they’re one of the best reasons to visit Charleston, South Carolina, in winter.

Want to go solo? Check out our Charleston self-guided history tour!


Charleston Is Romantic

Let’s face it: we always consider Valentine’s Day when thinking about February getaways. Not only is Charleston a great destination for nature lovers and outdoorsy types, but it’s also perfect for couples.


Visiting Charleston in January and February gives you another opportunity to snuggle up with your sweetie.


Charleston is home to dozens of romantic restaurants and hotels. If you’re headed to Charleston for Valentine’s Day, we recommend taking a romantic boat ride, heading to a spa for a couples’ massage or taking a bike ride for two across the Ravenel Bridge. Or, take a tour of the prettiest streets in Charleston.


And if you’re single? There are still plenty of things to do in Charleston that don’t require you to partner up.


South Carolina Winter: It’s Oyster Season

Charleston is known for its seafood — especially it’s oysters. And the best time to slurp a few salty morsels? Winter!


Winter is ‘oyster season’ in Charleston. The handy trick for determining the best months for oysters? Any month with the letter ‘R’ in its name! Generally, that means the colder months. 


Oysters love the South Carolina coast because of its flat coastline. You’ll find plenty of oyster beds along our coast, but if you’d rather take it easy by heading to a restaurant, we recommend:


  • Amen Fish & Raw Bar
  • The Shellmore
  • NICO
  • The Darling Oyster Bar


Winter Is Great for Budget Travelers

One of the savviest reasons to visit Charleston in winter? The heaviest season for tourism in Charleston is the summer (when most families have the flexibility to travel because kids are on summer break). 


Since fewer people can jet off to the Holy City in winter, this also happens to be one of the cheapest months for travelers! You’ll find some of the lowest seasonal prices at hotels and certain attractions. You might even discover a few deals here, too. 


Some hotels even offer package deals in winter that include a discounted room rate and tickets to popular attractions. 


You’re a Lover of Wildlife

The Southeastern Wildlife Expo takes place in Charleston every February! That means wildlife aficionados head here for a three-day showcase of nature and wildlife. The expo attracts nature lovers, artists, hunters, and fishermen. 

Just some of the events include an art auction, a sheep and duck herding demo, and a wildlife sanctuary show. There are even a few events for kids, so feel free to bring your wildlife lovers in training. 

Or, head to our wildlife sister city for a Savannah day trip.

What are your favorite reasons to visit Charleston in January and February? What do you love about South Carolina winters?


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