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CharlestonUnited States of America

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

Top Hotels in Charleston

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Cambria Hotel Charleston Riverview
Cambria Hotel Charleston Riverview
3 out of 5
84 Ripley Point Dr, Charleston, SC
The price is CA $132 per night

Situated on the waterfront, this hotel is within 3 miles (5 km) of Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, Cannon Park and American Theater. PURE Theatre and Music Farm are ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (318 reviews)

"Great Service All Around!! We really enjoyed ourselves. We recommend this stay to anyone who is visiting or just want to get away."…"

Reviewed on Jun. 2, 2020

Cambria Hotel Charleston Riverview
The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel
The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel
4 out of 5
115 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC
The price is CA $218 per night

Located in Historic Charleston, this romantic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Gibbes Museum of Art and Charleston City Market. Waterfront Park and Port of ...

4.4/5Excellent! (2,208 reviews)

"Great location, great staff, great amenities. Pool, courtyard and restaurant are lovely. Can’t beat this historic hotel in the most beautiful city."…"

Reviewed on Jun. 2, 2020

The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel
Harborside at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina
Harborside at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina
4 out of 5
20 Patriots Point Rd, Mount Pleasant, SC
The price is CA $160 per night

Situated in Mount Pleasant, this beach resort is within 1 mile (2 km) of Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum and Patriots Point. Patriots Point Links and ...

4/5Very Good! (2,490 reviews)

"Peaceful, relaxing, beautiful scenery! They could relax a bit about how many pool towels and chairs per room...we understand the recent circumstances, but we had 4 adults in our room and “allowed” 2 chairs? Otherwise, water taxi to Charleston was great, and many restaurants close by."…"

Reviewed on May 24, 2020

Harborside at Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina

Popular places to visit in Charleston

Charleston City Market
Image for Charleston City Market

Charleston City Market

4/5(94 reviews)

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

Patriots Point
Image for Patriots Point

Patriots Point

4.5/5(23 reviews)

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

Waterfront Park
Image for Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park

4.5/5(67 reviews)

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

South Carolina Aquarium
Image for South Carolina Aquarium

South Carolina Aquarium

4/5(5 reviews)

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

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Image for Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

4.5/5(20 reviews)

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

USS Yorktown
Image for USS Yorktown

USS Yorktown

4.5/5(24 reviews)

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

Top things to do in Charleston

Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston
Image for Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston

Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston

96% of travellers recommend
CA $41
Per adult
Historic City Walking Tour
Image for Historic City Walking Tour

Historic City Walking Tour

96% of travellers recommend
CA $25
Per adult
Evening Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston
Image for Evening Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston

Evening Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston

96% of travellers recommend
CA $28
Per adult
Savor the Flavor Walking Tour
Image for Savor the Flavor Walking Tour

Savor the Flavor Walking Tour

92% of travellers recommend
CA $91
Per adult
Ghosts & Graveyards Walking Tour
Image for Ghosts & Graveyards Walking Tour

Ghosts & Graveyards Walking Tour

80% of travellers recommend
CA $39
Per adult
Charleston Harbor Tours by SpiritLine Cruises
Image for Charleston Harbor Tours by SpiritLine Cruises

Charleston Harbor Tours by SpiritLine Cruises

92% of travellers recommend
CA $38
Per adult

Reviews of Charleston

4.8

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
65
5 - Excellent 76.47058823529412%
4 - Good
19
4 - Good 22.352941176470587%
3 - Okay
1
3 - Okay 1.1764705882352942%
2 - Disappointing
0
2 - Disappointing 0%
1 - Terrible
0
1 - Terrible 0%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Mar 7, 2020

Highly recommend a carriage tour! An amazing way to see the city and hear the history. Loved touring some of the historic homes.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Feb 4, 2020

Lots of food options!

5/5 - Excellent

Marathon

Jan 17, 2020

Lots of interesting history and architecture

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Jan 4, 2020

The only sad point was the history of slavery and the feeling of some folks that it was too bad but the success of the rich in Charleston was worth it!! Wealth over humanity.

5/5 - Excellent

Susanne

Dec 9, 2019

We really enjoyed our stay from the visit to the plantation homes to the great southern cooking and hospitality.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

Dec 9, 2019

We visited the Holiday Festival of Lights and really thought itwas amazing. Unfortunately we were only passing through. Would like to come back and really do Charleston properly. We also visited the restaurant The Wild Olive I believe and it was grea

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Charleston

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