Charleston, South Carolina is a beautiful city with a rich history, stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and plenty of outdoor activities. With temperatures ranging in the 70s and 80s from spring through autumn, anytime of the year is ideal for enjoying the gorgeous beaches, pristine parks, and thrilling waters of the Holy City. There's something for everyone in this historic town — continue reading to learn about some of the best things to do in Charleston.
Let's Dive Into Some of the Best Things To Do in Charleston
Stroll Through The Historic South of Broad Neighborhood
South of Broad encompasses all of the magical components of a Charleston vacation – cobblestone streets, beautiful architecture, historic churches, charming shops, and the charming Rainbow Row. As you wind through the meandering streets of this upscale Charleston neighborhood, you’ll find plenty of ideal backdrops for photo opportunities, in addition to one of the best parks in downtown Charleston — the Battery and White Point Gardens.
Anytime of year is optimal for taking a walk with your dog along the sea wall and marveling at the grand estates that bolster this top-visited area. Just make sure you’re wearing durable footwear – these historic cobblestones take no prisoners! Precarious streets aside, a walk or horse and carriage tour through the beautiful South of Broad neighborhood is one of the best things to do in Charleston.
Shop Til You Drop At King Street And The City Market
A shopping mecca in its own right, a shopping spree though one of Charleston's top shopping districts is one of the best things to do in Charleston. The King Street shopping district is perfect for finding eclectic jewelry, high fashion pieces, and luxury accessories. You’ll find recognizable brands like Lily Pulitzer, Billy Reid, and Madewell, along with unique Charleston labels, such as Hampden Clothing, Copper Penny, and Berlin’s.
Market Street is the spine of the Historic City Market, where the shopping experience is more akin to a Moroccan bazaar. There, you’ll encounter peppy vendors selling local goods and treats, including sweetgrass baskets, gyotaku fish-print art, and prints of Charleston’s most gorgeous landscapes. Fortunately, some of the best hotels in Charleston, like the Charleston Place Hotel, are direct neighbors with some of the best boutiques an shopping plazas in Charleston.
Explore Charleston By Water
Flanked by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers and yawning into the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston is a paradise for beach-goers, anglers, and boating enthusiasts. Charleston has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, such as Isle of Palms, which is home to the Wild Dunes Resort. Across the breach, Sullivan’s Island serves as an idyllic beach town with busy cafes and bars.
Folly Beach is the “dive beach” of Charleston, featuring hole-in-the wall bars, eclectic shops, and live music. If you’re hoping to catch a big one or get in some exercise, a kayak or paddleboard tour on one of the area's many tidal creeks is one of the best things to do in Charleston.
Savor Local Lowcountry Cuisine
Of course, a culinary tour through one of the top foodie destinations in the US is one of the best things to do in Charleston! The Holy City is known for its delicious Lowcountry cuisine, which includes dishes like shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and fried green tomatoes. While many of the best restaurants in Charleston are situated along King Street, you’ll find plenty of hidden gems in areas like Johns Island, North Charleston, and Mt. Pleasant.
Locals and visitors alike can take advantage of Charleston Restaurant Week in either September or January, where they can enjoy three-course meals for reduced prices. In the beginning of March, the Charleston Wine & Food Festival draws thousands to downtown Charleston for exclusive lunches, dinners, chef demos, and hands-on classes. The incredible dishes from the best restaurants in Charleston will stay in your memory for a long time!
Visit One Of Several Exciting Museums
Whether you’re a budding marine biologist, art connoisseur, or history buff, there’s a museum in Charleston to satiate your thirst for knowledge. Learn about the history of Charleston and the Lowcountry at the Charleston Museum, which features exhibits on everything from Native American culture to the Civil War. Not too far away, the South Carolina Aquarium keeps locals and visitors returning with stingray encounters, a sea turtle hospital, the deepest shark tank in North America, and more aquatic creatures.
At the Gibbes Art Museum, you can peruse permanent collections highlighting 20th century American regionalism and the Charleston Renaissance, modern and contemporary pieces, and a series of rotating featured exhibits. If you're looking for one of the best things to do in Charleston on a rainy day, a visit to any one of these museums is your best bet.
Go Hunting For Ghosts Is One Of The Best Things To Do In Charleston
Charleston is known for its haunted history, so take a ghost tour to learn about the city's spooky past. You will never know what to expect, as each tour takes guests to different haunted locations. The Battery Carriage House may be one stop on your itinerary, where Civil War-era phantoms are said to roam the hotel premises. Have a drink at the Blind Tiger Pub, but watch out for angry ghosts up to no good.
The Old Charleston Jail – one of Charleston’s most haunted locales – will bring you up close to some of the most insidious torture practices conducted on some of the country’s most diabolical criminals, including the first female serial killer in the US. If you're looking for one of the best things to do in Charleston at night, a spooky ghost tour will keep your heart racing!
Make Friends At A Festival
Charleston is home to several festivals throughout the year. Springtime is unarguably the season of festivals, with Spoleto Festival USA, the Blessing of the Fleet, and Cooper River Bridge Run taking place across town. In the summertime and fall, you can attend favorites like Charleston Fashion Week, MOJA Arts Festival, and the Fall Festival of Homes & Gardens.
Even winter is a great time to visit Charleston. The James Island County Park Holiday Festival of Lights runs nightly during the holidays, while SEWE – the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition – draws thousands of hunting and gaming enthusiasts to Charleston’s best parks and city squares. Other events take place at the SC Aquarium, popular breweries in Charleston, or at one of many glistening Charleston beaches.
Tour Some Of The Best Breweries In The State
Did you know that Charleston is home to no fewer than 30 breweries? With such high competition, it’s no surprise that Charleston’s best breweries offer top-notch pours. We could go on and on about the best breweries in the Charleston area, but for now, we’ll recommend pours from our top three favorites.
For the best beer in downtown Charleston, head to Revelry Brewing’s rooftop patio, where you can enjoy flavorful pints like the Claret Rose Folder-aged American sour, 1865 Rice Lager made from Carolina Gold rice middlins, and Smooth Like Jazz Eisboch. Off the beaten path, Low Tide Brewing on Johns Island is the best dog-friendly brewery in Charleston, serving flights made up of the Tura’Lu red Irish ale, Strawberry Shortcake milkshake IPA, or Aloha Beaches pineapple wheat beer.