Charleston - Beaches in South Carolina, Tourist Attractions, Family Vacation Spots, Tours, Night Life, Historic Sites, Gardens, Parks

The Charleston Visitor Center is located at 375 Meeting Street.

The city has some wonderful seafood restaurants. The city is known for its gourmet cuisine. However, if you are not familier with the area, finding a good restaurant is hit and miss. The best thing to do, is take a culinary tour. This will give you an overview of the best restaurants in town making it easier to decide where to go to eat. You will need to make reservations as this tour is quite popular.

There are so many historic places and other interesting things to see and do in Charleston. That said, I recommend taking a narrated carriage tour or a harbor tour to get a good overview of the city of Charleston. The tours cover the highlights discussing a brief history and pointing out interesting facts about the city. After you take a tour, you can then decide if you want to further explore the area more or not.

Charleston Beaches

There are plenty of beaches in the Charleston area to enjoy. The closest beach to Charleston is Folly Beach.

Here is a partial list of public beaches in the vicinity:

  • Isle of Palms county Park
  • Sullivan’s Island
  • Folly Beach County Park
  • Kiawah Island
  • Beach Walker county Park
  • Palmetto Island County Park
  • North Charleston Wannamaker County Park

 

Historic Sites

The historic district of Charleston is one of the main attractions of the city. It is located between the Ashley River and the Cooper river. The area was established in 1680. There are carriage rides available for touring the historic district.

There are lots of antebellum homes in Charleston built around the 1800's. The Nathaniel Russell house is located at 51 Meeting street. It was built in 1808. Aiken Rhett House was originally built in 1817. Aiken was the governor of South Carolina from 1844 - 1846. Joseph Manigault House was built in 1803.

The Battery was a strategic location for the defense of the city. Many antebellum homes are located here too. In 1700, a high seawall was built. IN 1812, Guns were placed here to defend the city against the British. The area was reinforced during the Civil War. Today the area is a park.

 

Old Exchange Building is located at 122 East Bay St. at Broad St. was built in 1771. It was the last building built by the British in Charleston. The US constitution was ratified in this building in 1788. The Provost Dungeon located downstairs. The British used this dungeon to put Political prisoners.

Power Magazine was built in 1713. It is located at Cumbersome St. It was used to store munitions and gunpowder. This is the oldest public building in Charleston. It also has an exhibit on colonial Charleston

Other sites of interest in Charleston are: the old city market which is located from Meeting street to Market Street along the river. Vendors still sell their merchandise in open air sheds as they have done since the 1700s. The old slave mart is located at 6 Chalmers St. Market hall is located on Market St and Meeting St. It is a Greek Revival building built in 1841 and resembles a Roman temple. The Confederate museum is in Market Hall and has lots of Civil War artifacts. Dock Street Theatre is located at 135 Church St. at Queen St. built in 1809 for use as a hotel. It is now used as a theater. Charleston has over 180 historic churches.

The Charleston museum is near the visitor center. It features exhibits on Native Americans, Colonial days, Revolutionary War, Plantations, Civil War, Reconstruction and more. The museum was founded in 1773.

Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12 18620. You can visit the Fort by Boat for a self guided tour. there is a museum with Civil War artifacts. Fort Sumter visitor education center is located on Liberty St or Patriot's Point Mt. Pleasant. You can catch a boat to Fort Sumter from here.

Fort Moultrie is located at 1214 Middle St. on Sullivan Island which is northeast of Charleston off US 17. It was built in 1776 to protect the coast from British attack.

Charles Town landing is located at 1500 Old Towne Rd off US 17. The first English colonists landed here and built a fort. The town was named in honor of King Charles II.

The Citadel is located at 171 Moultrie St. along the Ashley River. It is a Military academy that was founded in 1829 and used then as an arsenal to protect the city of Charleston. In 1842, the Citadel was converted to the South Carolina Military Academy. The Citadel museum located on Moultrie St. has artifacts, weapons, uniforms, medals and pictures.

HL Hunley is located at the Cosgrove Ave. The Hunley is a Confederate submarine that was sunk in 1864 and found outside the Charleston harbor n 1995.

USS Yorktown is located a Patriots Point in Mt Pleasant. This is not the USS Yorktown that was sunk at Midway however they have a movie and a memorial. This is quite interesting. You can tour the boat. The stairs are quite steep so wear comfortable shoes. It makes you wonder how sailors were able to move so quickly to their battle stations without trampling one another. You can see the sleeping quarters, the kitchen, the hospital and more. On the deck are old planes. Other ships: a WWII submarine, a destroyer and a coast guard cutter.

 

Rice Plantations

Most plantations were built along the Ashley River. The river served as a main route to and from the Plantation.

Drayton Hall is located at 3380 Ashley river. It was built in 1742. It is a Brick mansion. The main entrance is on the side of the river. This plantation survived the civil war without any major damage.

Middleton Place is located 4300 Ashley River Road was built 1741. On the grounds re formal 18th century English gardens, house museum, guest quarters, stable yards with farm animals. There are demonstrations of 18th century artisans like weaving, carpentry and blacksmith. The plantation home was burnt to the ground by union troops. guided tours

Magnolia Plantation, a Victorian manor home, was built in the mid 1700s. It has 50 acres of gardens. The plantation home has lots of antiques from the 18th century. guided tour only.

Boone Hall Plantation is located at 1235 Long Point Rd in Mount Pleasant. The plantation was built in the 1700s. Guides are in 18th century costumes. On the grounds are slave cabins, a smokehouse and a cotton gin. there are formal gardens with the original plants.

Hopsewee Plantation is located at 494 Hopsewee Rd in Georgetown off US 17 North.

Hampton Plantation State park is located at Rutledge Rd in McClellanville off US 17 North

.Aquarium

The South Carolina Aquarium is located at the Aquarium Wharf on Calhoun Street. It is overlooking the Cooper River and the Charleston harbor. At the aquarium you will seahorses, Sharks, lots of fish, loggerhead turtles and more. There are also other exhibits that include alligators, otters and rattlesnakes. There is a touch tank, a riverside terrace, Imax theater and much more.

Gardens

White Point Gardens is a very romantic destination. Many people get married here. In fact, the gazebo for a wedding ceremony is reserved a year ahead. If you want to make a reservation contact the City of Charleston Recreation Department. Anyway, From the gardens, you have a view of the harbor and Fort Sumter. If you aren’t getting married, you can still stroll hand-n-hand through these beautiful flower gardens. The gardens are within the historic district of Charleston with old homes dating back way before the American Civil War.

Many of the local Plantations have gardens too.

Audubon Swamp Garden is a cypress and tupelo swamp. it is a wildlife refuge with a nature trail and boat cruise. Lots of birds

Night Life

Charleston at night can be an experience. There are clubs and theaters. There are some very good restaurants that offer fine cuisine. Its a beautiful city at sunset too.

Water Parks

There are several waterparks around the Charleston area. Splash Island Waterpark is near Mt. Pleasant in the Palmetto Islands County Park. There is a 200 ft. waterslide here and more fun things to do. Splash Zone Waterpark is near Charleston in the James Island County Park. there are tube slide, waterfalls, a pool. a lazy river ride and more. The Whirling’ Waters Adventure Waterpark is near North Charleston in the Wannamaker County Park. There are 15 acres of water play including waterslides, wave pool, tube slides, lazy river rides and more.

Tours

In Charleston SC, you can take a horse-drawn buggy ride to tour the city. This is a very romantic way of seeing the historic sites around town if you are on your honeymoon or just on a weekend getaway with your lover. Or, if you rather get some exercise, take a self guided walking tour by foot.

Culinary tours are popular. You will need reservations. This will give you a good idea of where to eat.

There are ghost tours available where you can visited the haunted houses of Charleston. There is also a haunted tour of the USS Yorktown.

Harbor tours depart from Patriots Point and Liberty point. They take you out to Fort Sumter. On the way, you will pass the Battery, Fort Moultrie, the Harbor Bridge and many other interesting sites. The tours are narrated and take about an hour and a half.There is a harbor tour that takes you out to Fort Sumter and allows you to explore the fort on the grounds. This tour takes over 2 hours.

Charleston at Christmas is beautiful place to tour. The city lights up Marion Square with over 10,000 lights for the holiday season. then the tree of lights has 7,000. King street is decorated for festive shopping. The area plantation homes dress up in period decorations for the holidays too.

Shopping

Charleston has a lot of antique shops, clothiers and other shops to browse. There are open air shopping in the Old Market sheds in the Historic district. Shopping in Charleston can be a lot of fun.

Golf

The first golf course and golf club in the US was established in Charleston over 200 years ago. Today, there are over 16 golf courses in the Charleston area. The 68th senior PGA Championship was held on Kiawah Island just outside of Charleston in May 2007.

North Charleston

North Charleston is off I-26 along the Cooper river. The regional airport, train and bus stations are here. It has shopping and entertainment. There’s the coliseum which hosts sports and music events. There’s also a convention center here.

The North Charleston Visitor Center is located at 3107 Firestone Rd, North Charleston.