20 Charming Things to Do in Charleston

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Charleston, South Carolina certainly doesn’t lack for enthusiastic fans from all over the world. At Charleston Carriage Works, one of the greatest perks for us is getting to meet so many of these excited visitors each and every single day on our Charleston carriage tours.

We asked a few Charleston enthusiasts for their top suggestions on the best things to do, the best places to eat, the best things to see, from the hidden local gems to the big name tourist hot spots. Here is the full top 20 list of the most classic and charming things to do in Charleston, SC.

  1. Embrace “charming,” since that’s how everyone describes Charleston, when you check into a 19th century boutique hotel. Don’t be surprised if you find a sweet southern treat on your four-poster bed, it’s just our southern hospitality welcoming you to our charming city.charleston churches
  1. Wander in and out of beautiful churches and cathedrals to see why Charleston has been nicknamed, “Holy City.”
  1. Snap a photo of the famous pineapple fountain at Charleston’s Waterfront Park. It’s the symbol of Southern hospitality. Or, you can relax on a bench in the shade, watch the ships in the harbor, push the kids on a swing or walk down the battery to spot a dolphin or two.
  1. Learn some Civil War history on a harbor cruise out to Fort Sumter, where the National Park Service rangers will show you around.
  1. Listen to a jazz band at brunch while sipping sweet southern iced tea on an outdoor patio.
  1. Admire the evocative Spanish moss draped over the limbs of old live oak trees, the most famous of which is Angel Oak that is located just a few minutes from downtown Charleston.angel-oak-live-oak
  1. Have an evening cocktail at Charleston’s only rooftop cascading pool. Hint: it’s on top of the Market Pavilion Hotel. Or, take in panoramic views with drinks at The Vendue, during Sunday Scene live entertainment, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  1. Dine on local oysters harvested daily. Consume liberally, with a locally crafted brew, a few saltines, and a little hot sauce, just like the locals do.
  1. Pick out your favorite one-of-a-kind handmade sweetgrass basket for sale at the Old City Market. Chances are it will become a cherished family heirloom.
  1. Instagram the pastel-colored houses on Rainbow Row in the Battery. Try to decide which one is your absolute favorite. Don’t miss The Battery and White Point Gardens, better than ever at sunset.
  1. Go shopping at the gorgeous boutiques on King Street.
  1. Admire the elegant three story free-flying ornate staircase at the 1808 Nathaniel Russell House and don’t overlook the stunning gardens. Save on a joint ticket if you’re planning to visit the Aiken-Rhett House as well.
  1. Visit at least one authentic plantation, grounds and gardens. Save a few hours for Middleton Place, Magnolia
    Plantation & Gardens or Drayton Hall. It’s a difficult choice to choose just one, so if you have time, try to see them all.Magnolia Plantation
  1. Have a bowl of shrimp and grits or she-crab soup, another one of Charleston’s signature dishes, made from the sweet meat of a female blue crab.
  1. Go for a Sunday bike ride across the graceful Ravenel Bridge spanning 2.7 miles over the Cooper River from downtown to Mount Pleasant.
  1. It’s much more than fish. The albino alligator is a star resident. See the Sea Turtle Hospital at the South Carolina Aquarium and check out the views of Charleston Harbor.
  1. Tap your toes to a jazz band over brunch, sipping ice tea in the shade of an outdoor patio.
  1. Dip your toes in the Atlantic Ocean. Three public beaches with smooth sands and gentle water within a few minutes of town is part of the Charleston experience. You can choose to go to Folly Beach, Isle of Palms or Sullivan’s Island, or even all three if you have enough time.
  1. Stroll along three blocks of the Gateway Garden Walk for its gardens, churches and cemeteries. Notice the old tombstone art, angel wings and skull-and-crossbones, from the 17th century.rainbow row carriage
  1. Board your horse-drawn carriage ride with a tour guide on Charleston Carriage Works for a classically charming experience and the best way to see historic Charleston and why it is America’s favorite city.