We answer is Charleston Worth Visiting, by sharing some of the best things to do in Charleston SC as well as some reasons to visit this historic city.
South Carolina, often lovingly referred to as “The Palmetto State,” is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
In the heart of this beautiful state lies Charleston, a city that encapsulates the historical charm, culinary delights, and natural beauty that South Carolina has to offer. There are many things to do in Charleston SC, to keep plenty of visitors entertained.
Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a nature lover, or an art enthusiast, Charleston has something special in store for you.
Is Charleston Worth Visiting? Reasons to visit Charleston SC
Charleston boasts a rich and vibrant history that’s evident in its charming cobblestone streets, historic homes, and plantations. This is one of the most romantic places in the USA and to fully appreciate the city’s historical charm, consider exploring these iconic sites:
- Fort Sumter: As the site where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired, Fort Sumter holds a special place in American history. A short boat ride from Charleston takes you to this historic gem.
- Rainbow Row: Stroll down East Bay Street and you’ll encounter the picturesque Rainbow Row. This series of pastel-colored historic houses is not only Instagram-worthy but also a delightful representation of Charleston’s architectural heritage.
Charleston’s culinary scene is renowned for its Lowcountry cuisine, which blends Southern and coastal flavors in a unique and delicious way. Southern food is a must for your USA Bucketlist, so get around and eat as many local dishes as you can.
Where to eat in Charleston SC?
- Husk: Located in a historic building, Husk is celebrated for its farm-to-table philosophy. Savor dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients.
- Charleston Wine + Food Festival: If your visit coincides with this annual event, it’s a must-attend. Sample a wide array of wines and delectable dishes.
The nature and beauty
Charleston’s natural beauty is truly captivating, from its stunning gardens to its nearby beaches:
- Magnolia Plantation and Gardens: Stroll through the lush gardens, admire the beautiful flowers, and discover the history of this plantation.
- Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island: For some beach time, Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island are the go-to spots. Both offer a laid-back atmosphere and fantastic seaside views.
If you are asking if Charleston is worth visiting if you don’t have a car, the answer is still yes! There are various ways you can get around the famous South Carolina city, no matter what transportation you prefer.
- CARTA: The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority offers a fleet of buses that take you to every part of the city. Check the website for routes and schedules to help you plan your day in Charleston SC.
- Horse-Drawn Carriages: For something a little different, why not take a horse-drawn carriage whilst you are in the historic district? Learn about the history of this calm, romantic journey.
- Walking: The historic district is compact and pedestrian-friendly, so you can easily travel between attractions, restaurants, and shops.
- Biking: Biking is another popular option in Charleston. You can rent a bike here or bring your own and take advantage of the bike lanes and racks all over the city.
- Car rental: For a bit more flexibility, you can rent a car to see the sights. If you are moving to South Carolina, you could find a car through online car auctions in South Carolina and discover the sights on the outskirts of the city and elsewhere in the state.
- Water Taxis: If you need to get across the harbor, you can jump on a water taxi. These run between Downtown Charleston and other interesting areas such as Shem Creek and Patriots Point.
Festivals and Events in Charleston
- Charleston’s Unique Festivals: Charleston is a city that knows how to celebrate. Throughout the year, it hosts a wide array of festivals that cater to a range of interests. If you’re a foodie, don’t miss the annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival. This culinary extravaganza features renowned chefs, wine tastings, and delicious local dishes. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in Charleston’s culinary culture.
- Festival of Houses and Gardens: For a taste of Charleston’s historic architecture and lush gardens, the Charleston Festival of Houses and Gardens is a must-visit. During this event, you can explore private historic homes, and beautifully landscaped gardens, and gain insights into the city’s architectural heritage.
- Spoleto Festival: As mentioned earlier, the Spoleto Festival is the crown jewel of Charleston’s cultural calendar. This internationally acclaimed performing arts festival spans 17 days and features a diverse array of performances, from opera and theater to dance and contemporary music. Artists from around the world converge in Charleston to share their talents, making it an experience that transcends cultural boundaries.
- Charleston International Film Festival: Film enthusiasts should keep an eye out for the Charleston International Film Festival. This event celebrates the art of cinema, showcasing a diverse selection of films from both established and emerging filmmakers.
- Lowcountry Oyster Festival: If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, visit Charleston during the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, often held in January. It’s one of the largest oyster festivals in the world, where you can savor endless oysters, live music, and a festive atmosphere.
- Cooper River Bridge Run: For those who prefer a more active festival, the Cooper River Bridge Run is a highlight. This 10K race attracts thousands of participants and spectators, offering an opportunity to join in or cheer on the runners while taking in stunning views of Charleston.
- Charleston Fashion Week: Fashionistas will appreciate Charleston Fashion Week, a multi-day event that showcases emerging designers, established brands, and a variety of styles. It’s a chance to witness the latest trends and the city’s fashion-forward culture.
The Local Gems
Apart from its well-known attractions, Charleston is dotted with hidden local gems:
- Angel Oak Tree: Located on John’s Island, the Angel Oak Tree is believed to be around 400-500 years old. It’s an awe-inspiring natural wonder.
- Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor: Explore the history and culture of the Gullah Geechee people in this corridor, which stretches from Florida to North Carolina.
The Outdoor Adventures
- Kayaking and Paddleboarding: Charleston’s waterways offer excellent opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding. Head to Shem Creek or Folly Beach to rent equipment and explore the serene creeks and marshes.
- Nature Trails: The Lowcountry is home to numerous nature trails and parks, ideal for hiking and birdwatching. Check out the Audubon Swamp Garden at Magnolia Plantation or the Francis Marion National Forest.
The Day trips from Charleston
- Coastal Road Trip: For a truly memorable experience, embark on a coastal road trip. Drive along scenic routes like Highway 17, also known as the Ocean Highway, and enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline.
- Beaufort: A two-hour drive from Charleston takes you to Beaufort, another charming South Carolina town with its own unique appeal. Explore its historic district, waterfront, and antebellum architecture.
A contrast of new and old
- Shopping and Markets: Charleston is known for its historic markets, like the City Market. Stroll through these markets to discover local crafts, art, and unique souvenirs. The Upper King Street Design and Antique District is a haven for shoppers.
- Ravenel Bridge: For a modern contrast to the city’s historic charm, take a drive or walk on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. It offers spectacular views of the city skyline and the Cooper River.
Things to know before you go to Charleston
- We LOVE this camera for our travel photography.
- For a cheap, easy, and compact camera, we use this to vlog and take photographs.
- We use this microphone for all our Youtube voiceovers.
- We use this travel drone (but make sure to check drone laws in your chosen destination first).
- This is our favorite travel insurance because it covers so many activities and travel situations that could arise on longer trips but also offer year coverage.
What to pack
- No matter where we travel, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
- We love these toiletry bags (especially great for smaller bathrooms) and choose a laptop bag like this as our hand luggage.
- We keep our devices charged on long travel days with these lightweight battery packs and bring these worldwide travel adaptors on all our trips.
- I still struggle not to overpack so stick to using an expandable suitcase like these and always take my trusty luggage scales to avoid being charged at the airport.