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Charleston

Known for Historical Building, Tour and Architecture

Visit America’s first museum and theater, stroll through historic plantation gardens and savor Southern dining at its best in subtropical Charleston.

How do you get to Charleston?

South Carolina’s oldest city sits on a peninsula flanked by the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Downtown Charleston is packed with architecture, gardens and public buildings built by rich merchants and plantation owners of the 18th and 19th centuries. As the population grew, the city expanded to encompass the Cainhoy Peninsula, John’s Island, Daniel Island, James Island and West Ashley.

Charleston’s early plantation history comes alive a few miles west from the downtown area. Explore the contrast between the luxurious lives of rich planters and the slaves that worked on the plantations at Drayton Hall, and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Charles Towne Landing, the original English settlement, immerses visitors in the way of life in 1670.

Back in downtown, stroll the “Museum Mile” along Meeting Street. This walk is a convenient way to see many of Charleston’s historical and architectural attractions, including the Charleston Museum, America’s first museum, Nathaniel Russell House and Joseph Manigault House.

It can get rainy in Charleston in the summer, but don’t let that stop you from sightseeing. Visit the rare albino alligator at the South Carolina Aquarium or explore the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.

In spring, Charleston’s performing arts festival, Spoleto Festival USA, draws thousands of visitors into the city. Over a hundred performances take place across artistic disciplines, including theater, opera, classical music, jazz and dance. The Festival of Houses and Gardens also runs throughout spring, when you can tour Charleston’s historic neighborhoods and visit gardens in full bloom.

Gardeners and foodies alike will appreciate the emphasis on locally grown heirloom ingredients in the city’s restaurants. Taste the flavors of the South in updated classics such as deviled farm egg, and wood-fired clams.

Buses, bicycles and free trolley buses provide easy transport to downtown Charleston, but you should devote some time to sightseeing on foot. The weather is generally balmy and many attractions are within walking distance of each other.

Things to do in Charleston

Purchase food, jewelry and handicrafts in the market and learn about local tradition, the Civil War and slavery at its museum.

Learn about American military heroes, climb aboard the vessels in the harbor and sleep the night in the quarters of a ship.

Stroll the city’s waterfront esplanades at sunset, when the afternoon sun begins to dip and the harbor is lit with soft colors.

See an array of aquatic creatures, including an albino alligator, in underwater habitats ranging from salt marshes to coastal plains.

Turtles, alligators and birds abound in this former plantation, now swampland, gardens, lakes and forest.

Tour an aircraft carrier that earned its battle stars in World War II and the Vietnam War.

Wander through excellent gardens, stroll along the scenic banks of the river and learn about Charleston’s dark history in the museum.

Tickets & Tours

See the highlights of Charleston on this day trip from Myrtle Beach. Your full-day tour includes a carriage ride, top rated harbor tour with Charleston Harbor Tours, a delicious boxed lunch, and a tour of Boone Hall Plantation.

Tickets & Tours

Climb aboard the Carolina Belle for a daytime voyage through Charleston's harbor. This sightseeing cruise covers more than 20 miles (32 km) and 300 years of interesting area history. Come experience Charleston's history by sailing aboard the Carolina Belle.

Tickets & Tours

Travel back in time as you delve into the colorful past of Charleston on a memorable walking tour. Admire the elegant architecture of grand mansions, the lavish landscaping of mature gardens, and listen to unique tales about events and individuals that shaped the character of this Southern city.

Tickets & Tours

Roam centuries-old streets weathered by time and tragedy as you walk in the footsteps of Charleston's most notorious criminals—and resident phantoms—on this spooky walking tour through the city's haunted past.

Tickets & Tours

Taste your way through the flavors, savors, and aromas of Charleston on this guided walking tour of the city's favorite eateries and cuisines. Explore the city's history and culture as you sample grits, pralines, sweet tea, and other delicious Lowcountry specialties.

Tickets & Tours

Climb aboard for a trip through Charleston that takes you across 300 years' worth of history in this great American 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.

Visitor guides from our travel experts

Local experts explore every corner of Charleston for you

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