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Total Guide to Your Trip in Charleston, South Carolina

Ashley Akridge

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 5, 2023

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If you are taking a trip to Charleston, this guide will be your "go-to" source. Whether it is a business trip or a pleasure trip, there are plenty of great things to do and see in this beautiful state. You will discover 10 best things to do in Charleston, 5 day trips in Charleston and 10 restaurants to try in Charleston. You will also find 5 hotel ideas for staying in Charleston. So let's begin!

10 Best Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina

A city that epitomizes history, rich culture, and architecture, Charleston is one of the most popular cities to visit in the United States. Teeming with patriotic history and known for its cobblestone streets and elegant antebellum houses, this Southern city is bound to charm any traveler that takes the time to visit. While it may not be as large as other cities in America, there's a lot to see and do here so if you're planning your trip then check out our list of the best things to do in Charleston SC.

Charleston City Market

Historic Charleston City Market Place, South Carolina, USA

The Charleston City Market is a tourist attraction in Charleston, South Carolina. It is one of the largest and most well-known public markets in the United States. Dating from 1804, the market spans four blocks and includes several buildings, with sheds covering three of the blocks. The market is an excellent place to buy souvenirs, local artworks, and crafts, clothes, food products, as well as eat at a variety of eateries.

South Carolina Aquarium

Fort Sunter Ferry Dock and Aquarium, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The South Carolina Aquarium is a great place for families. It has many interactive exhibits that are both educational and fun. The aquarium offers a lot of different experiences like meeting sea turtles, seeing sharks, rays, and fish in the Great Ocean Tank or getting up close to both land and water animals in the Mountain Forest. You can also see alligators on your way to the Lowcountry Estuary exhibit.

Joe Riley Waterfront Park

Joe Riley Waterfront Park, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

A fun thing to do in Charleston is to visit the Joe Riley Waterfront Park. You can stroll through the beautiful park, enjoying the breathtaking views of the Charleston Harbor and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The park is open year-round and free to visitors, so you can visit at any time of year. There's also a playground for children to enjoy. While you're here, head to our next destination on the list located inside the park - Pineapple Fountain.

Pineapple Fountain

Pineapple Fountain in Joe Riley Waterfront Park in the historic downtown district of Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The Pineapple Fountain is a popular spot for locals to come and cool off in the summer and it's also a great place to take pictures or even get married!

Pineapple Fountain, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

If you want to take a picture with the fountain, do it in the morning before 10 a.m. as this is when there are less people around taking pictures of themselves or posing with their wedding parties. The fountain was built in 1983 and has been a popular destination for visitors ever since then.

Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Rainbow Row is the name of a series of thirteen colorful historic houses located on East Bay Street in Downtown Charleston. Rainbow Row is one of the most photographed sites in Charleston, partly because it's so pretty and partly because it's extremely instagrammable.

While the houses were originally built during the early 18th century, they weren't called Rainbow Row until 1931. The name was coined by American artist Elizabeth O'Neill Verner, who restored several pastel-colored houses that had fallen into disrepair. They quickly became known as "Verner Row," which eventually evolved into their current moniker: "Rainbow Row."

The Battery

The Battery, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The Battery is one of the most important historical landmarks in Charleston. It was first constructed as a way to protect the city from British invaders during the Revolutionary War. Today you will find some of Charleston's most iconic landmarks near the Battery, such as White Point Gardens and Waterfront Park. There are also much more modern additions to the area, including Pineapple Fountain and Battery Carriage House Inn.

Angel Oak Tree

Angel Oak Tree near Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island is one of the most beautiful sights in Charleston. This stunning, live oak tree is estimated to be around 500 years old, which means that it has likely seen more history than most of us can imagine.

The spreading branches are up to 187 feet wide, and there are thought to be as many as 19 trunks. There's a reason why this tree is called the Angel Oak: it truly looks ethereal – like something out of a fairytale. It's not just a pretty sight though; the ancient tree provides shade for picnics and special events held at this site.

USS Yorktown CV-10

USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier in Charleston, South Carolina, USA

US Navy aircraft carriers are a staple of the United States military. The USS Yorktown is one of these vessels, and it played an important role in World War II. Since then, it has been used for various purposes and is now docked in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina as a museum. Though retired since 1970, the USS Yorktown still attracts many visitors each year who want to see this remarkable ship.

Folly Beach County Park

Folly Beach only driving distance from Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Are you looking for a fun family adventure? Take the kids to the Folly Beach County Park. The park is located on Folly Beach and has everything a family needs to have a great time. Your day can be spent building sandcastles, sunbathing, fishing, surfing or swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. There's also plenty of space for picnicking with your whole family.

Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park

View from Mount Pleasant park at Arthur Ravenal Bridge looking toward Charleston South Carolina

This family-friendly park, located on Shem Creek, is a great place to play, fish, walk, or just relax. It has a large grassy area perfect for a picnic and several pull-off spots where you can stop to enjoy the water view. The Promenade is a boardwalk that runs along the waterfront.

It's an ideal spot to take photos of your friends and family with the marshlands in the background. There are also plenty of benches where you can sit down and rest whenever you need to take a break from sightseeing.

5 Day trips and tours in Charleston, South Carolina

For anyone visiting Charleston, there's so much to see and do in this charming southern city! Charleston was voted "best city in the world" by Travel + Leisure, and for good reason. In addition to its rich history and delicious food, Charleston is known for its southern charm.

The cobblestone streets are lined with beautiful old homes and gorgeous gardens. If you're in town for a few days, spend at least one day exploring downtown and the surrounding area.

Charleston Marsh Eco Boat Cruise

Charleston, South Carolina, USA skyline over the Ashley River

For a relaxing day of water and nature, hop on the Charleston Marsh Eco Boat Cruise. This is a great way to see the Harbor in combination with some natural wildlife and vegetation. Explore marshlands, islands, and animals you may never have gotten to see otherwise. Bring your camera for this one!

On this tour, you'll learn about the history of these areas from an experienced guide who will point out important landmarks along the way. While suitable for all ages, it's interesting enough that even adults will be engaged throughout the boat ride.


French Quarter Historic Charleston Walk

Charleston, South Carolina, USA in the French Quarter

If you love history, then you're in luck. This tour will take you through the city's most important landmarks, explain their significance and discuss how the city has changed over time.

Your guide will be able to answer any questions that you may have about Charleston's history or culture. You can also learn more about what life was like during colonial times by talking with your guide as well.

Charleston Sightseeing Day Trip with Lunch from Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

This tour is a great way to see Charleston in one day if you're staying out at Myrtle Beach. Your tour guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel in Myrtle Beach, and from there it's a smooth ride to Charleston. They'll take you through historic sites, with time for photos at the Angel Oak Tree.

For lunch, enjoy a low country boil of shrimp and sausage. You'll also visit the Market where local artists sell handmade goods and have time to browse other attractions like a carriage ride or Fort Sumter before heading back to your hotel in Myrtle Beach.

Morris and Sullivan's Lighthouses, Citadel and Fort Moultrie Tour

Morris Island Light - James Island, South Carolina

Lighthouses have been used for thousands of years to help ships find their way, so it's no surprise there are many lighthouses in the state of South Carolina. The Morris Island and Sullivan Lighthouse tour is a unique opportunity to learn more about the history of these coastal beacons.

Charleston's Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Walking Food Tour

Downtown Charleston King street in South Carolina, USA

Charleston's Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Walking Food Tour is a tour that teaches visitors about the city by taking them to local restaurants, showing them where the locals eat, and teaching them about Charleston's culinary history.

On this tour, you will spend just over three hours walking around the city and sampling food from five different restaurants. You can rest assured that you won't leave hungry. Additionally, Charleston's Savor the Flavors of Upper King Street Walking Food Tour is excellent for those looking for exercise because there are many opportunities to walk during the tour.

10 Restaurants to Try in Charleston, South Carolina

Butcher & Bee

Butcher & Bee: Sandwiches and Middle Eastern fare. The plate of Lebanese favorites is a great deal, and it's nice to be able to try all their signature dishes. The lentil salad is also fantastic and a good value.
This place has a hipster vibe with exposed brick walls and industrial accents, but the service is super friendly and helpful. You get the best of both worlds—great food in a welcoming space that feels cool at the same time.

167 Raw Oyster Bar

Located in a historic home in the French Quarter, 167 Raw Oyster Bar is a fancy casual seafood spot headed by Executive Chef Adam Hodgson. The menu offers a wide variety of local seafood like shrimp, crab claws and oysters (of course), plus other dishes like soup and salads. They also offer beer, cocktails and wine to wash down your meal.

What makes this restaurant unique is that they have a raw bar right up front. If you sit there, you can watch the shucker open fresh oysters as part of your dining experience.

High Cotton Charleston Restaurant

Located in the heart of Charleston's historic district, High Cotton is a must-visit. Executive chef and partner Jermaine Brown has crafted a menu that combines Low country staples with modern culinary touches, and it all gets rave reviews from locals and tourists alike.

High Cotton is an important restaurant for anyone interested in eating locally sourced fare: from its herbs to its sodas and ice cream, almost all of the restaurant's ingredients come from within 100 miles of Charleston. The garden-to-table concept comes through in the flavor, too—the vegetables are always fresh. The vegetarian options are top-notch (even the carnivores you're dining with will be impressed).

The Glass Onion

While there are plenty of places for traditional Southern food in Charleston, The Glass Onion stands out for their imaginative interpretation of the classics. Known for their fried green tomatoes, beignets and shrimp and grits, this is a great spot to try Lowcountry cooking with a twist. Besides their delicious entrees, which also include chicken and waffles and lamb meatballs, The Glass Onion's charcuterie and cheese plates are top-notch. You can't go wrong here whether you're looking for something familiar or something new.

Halls Chophouse

Halls Chophouse is a high-end restaurant located in downtown Charleston. The restaurant has a cozy, 1920s vibe and specializes in the best steaks and chops. Halls Chophouse knows that even the most delicious steak needs to be balanced out with a great salad or side dish, which is why they also serve delicious soups, salads, sides, and desserts. This is not just any old steakhouse: it's an experience you're sure to remember fondly.

Poogan's Porch

This restaurant is a Charleston classic, offering you the opportunity to dine on Southern favorites in an atmospheric setting. It's also unique: it's named after the dog who was once a resident of the home that houses Poogan's Porch. As legend has it, Poogan loved to claim porch real estate for himself and greet every visitor who stopped by.

At Poogan's Porch, you can enjoy southern favorites such as shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and buttermilk fried chicken. If you have room for dessert, try their famous caramel cake.

Hank's Seafood Restaurant

When you're ready for a break from the southern cuisine, Hank's Seafood Restaurant will provide you with an upscale seafood experience. The restaurant is located in the Historic District and features beautiful nautical decor that includes a boat hanging from the ceiling. Their menu changes daily based on what has been caught fresh that morning, but some of their most popular dishes include the crab soup, fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits. Hank's even offers cooking classes where you can learn how to make one of their most popular dishes at home!


If you do go, the experience you'll have at Magnolias will likely be a memorable one. It has been serving traditional Southern cuisine since 1990 in its restaurant located in the historic district, and it has built a reputation for being one of the best restaurants in Charleston.

The menu is filled with all kinds of seafood and traditional Southern dishes like fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, and chicken-fried steak. And if you are looking for something else to round out your meal, there are plenty of unique side dishes like fried okra and collard greens to choose from. The menu changes daily based on what's fresh.

Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar

Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar This Charleston institution has been serving up fresh seafood, with a full bar and wine list, since 1989. Fleet Landing is unique because it's located on a pier overlooking the water, giving you a great view of Charleston Harbor. Take your meal outside to enjoy the breeze while you eat. The atmosphere is casual and fun, so don't worry about getting dressed up too much. Fleet Landing's menu features Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, shrimp 'n' grits, creamy crab pasta and more. There are also plenty of lighter options if you're trying to stay healthy during your trip to Charleston or just watching your figure in general. Splurge for dessert—the bread pudding is just as good as it looks!


If you're looking for a restaurant that serves contemporary Southern cuisine, then look no further than Husk. Popular dishes here include the fried chicken and shrimp and grits, but biscuits are also a must try. If you manage to get a reservation here—which is no easy feat—you'll see why it's so popular. Located in an old Victorian home, it's one of the most charming restaurants in Charleston, but it's also quintessentially Charlestonian. In fact, all of their food is sourced from local farmers and purveyors as much as possible. It not only has great food and atmosphere, but it might be the best place to experience some of Charleston's unique culture and history while you're visiting.

5 Hotel ideas for staying in Charleston, South Carolina (Prices May Vary)

Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston - $109/per night

Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston is a great choice for those who want to keep their budget under $150 a night. Located only a few blocks from the waterfront, this hotel features a bright and airy lobby area. The rooms offer practical amenities such as coffee makers, flat-screen TVs, hairdryers, and complimentary Wi-Fi access. The hotel also offers breakfast options in the morning, which is convenient for those who like to get an early start when exploring a new city.

If you're looking for something cheap but cheerful that's also located within walking distance of some of Charleston's top attractions, Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston might just be right for you!

Sleep Inn Charleston - West Ashley - $124/per night

The Sleep Inn Charleston - West Ashley is one of the cheaper options for a place to lay your head in Charleston. It still manages to offer a lot of amenities that you might expect from pricier hotels, including free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and an outdoor pool and hot tub.

If you're looking for an affordable hotel that's within walking distance of popular attractions in Charleston, the Sleep Inn isn't it. But with all the money you'll be saving on this hotel room, you can splurge on a rental car or taxi rides throughout your stay. The Sleep Inn is located right off Highway 17 in West Ashley, about 8 miles south of downtown Charleston. If you don't have a car with you and need to get around town, there are two bus routes nearby as well.

Best Western Charleston Inn - $148/per night

The Best Western Charleston Inn is located just a few blocks from the city's historic district, putting you within walking distance of many of Charleston's greatest landmarks: Fort Sumter, the Battery and the Charleston Museum. It's also just a mile away from great shopping at The Citadel mall.

The hotel offers free breakfast, high-speed wireless Internet access and easy access to local restaurants and attractions. There's even an outdoor pool and hot tub for your relaxation. This makes it perfect for families or those looking to travel on a budget.

Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina - $191/per night

If you're looking for a place to stay where you can get in touch with nature, this is the ideal spot. If you're into sports, this resort is excellent for golfing, tennis and biking. The hotel also has a fitness center, an outdoor pool and nearby kayaking. Plus it has a spa on site!

And if that's not enough to convince you, the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina comes equipped with three restaurants: Three Rivers Grill and Bar, On the Rocks Tiki Bar, and the Sunset Grille. And don't forget about their room service!

The rooms themselves have everything you could need for your stay including 42 inch plasma TVs, free Wi-Fi and private balconies with views of Patriots Point or Charleston Harbor Marina. Each room has a kitchenette so you can prepare your own meals as well as two bathrooms each!

The Mills House - $273/per night

The Mills House Hotel, a Wyndham Grand Hotel, is the best place to stay if you're looking for an elegant Charleston experience. Situated right in the heart of downtown Charleston, The Mills House offers easy access to all of the city's finest restaurants and nightlife. This hotel actually has its own restaurant on site, as well as a rooftop bar with panoramic views of historic King Street.

The Mills House is also close enough to the beach that you can take advantage of your proximity to the coast, but far enough away that you won't have sand in your socks.

Final Thoughts

Charleston, South Carolina at sunset, looking past the spire of St Philip's Church towards the harbor

Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand a little more about the city of Charleston and what it has to offer. If you are looking for an entertaining and unique getaway, look no further than the Holy City—it's one of the best in the world!

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