Top 10 Things to Do in Charleston

Charleston frequently makes it on ‘best places to visit’ or ‘friendliest city’ lists and there’s good reason for all the accolades the Holy City receives. With world-class dining, beautiful surrounding beaches, great shopping, and so much Southern charm, it’s no wonder the city is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the South. And with temperatures rarely falling below 60 degrees fahrenheit, there really isn’t a bad time to visit this city near the sea. Here are the top ten things to do in Charleston:

  1. Spend a day at Charleston’s best beaches – If visiting Charleston during the warmer months, spending a day or two at the beach should be an absolute must on your itinerary. The best beaches for lounging and swimming near Charleston are Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Edisto, Kiawah, or Seabrook. The closest ones are Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island, but all are great options for a day of fun in the sun. We would recommend Folly Beach as it is only about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston and will allow you the opportunity to also visit what is locally known as “The Edge of America.” If you drive to the end of East Ashley Avenue, you can hop out of the car, walk to the end of the sidewalk and get a view of the Morris Island Lighthouse.
  2. Walk the Cooper River Bridge – The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, more commonly known as the Cooper River Bridge, connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The bridge is a long and impressive structure that hosts the Cooper River Bridge Run every April and is a perfect opportunity for getting some spectacular photos of the harbor during sunset.
  3. Visit the awe-inspiring site of the massive Angel Oak – The iconic Angel Oak tree is roughly 500 years old and is a sprawling mass of limbs that not only reach for the sky, but also stretch out and touch the ground in an awesome display around the perimeter of the twisted and gnarly trunk. This tree is housed on John’s Island about 30 minutes from downtown Charleston and located in Angel Oak Park. Be sure to get there early, however, as the park closes at 5pm sharp every day.
  4. Go see a Charleston RiverDogs baseball game – The Charleston RiverDogs are a Class Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees and have a stadium located on the west side of the city. Tickets are very affordable, the games are fun, and visitors can enjoy great craft beer along with much better than average ballpark food, along with all of the staples.
  5. Learn about some history on the USS Yorktown – The USS Yorktown is a retired naval aircraft at Patriot’s Point that is now a massive floating museum. A portion of the boat is open to the public where visitors can spend a couple hours walking along the hallways and learning of the ship’s rich history. On the flight deck, visitors will see examples of different aircraft that have landed on it in the past, and also get some pretty fantastic views of the Charleston Harbor.
  6. Tour Charleston’s historic cemeteries – Some of Charleston’s oldest cemeteries date back to the 1600s before the United States had gained independence and residents of the area were establishing the region as one of the 13 colonies. There are several cemeteries worth visiting in the historic district of Charleston, many with beautiful gardens throughout. Check out Magnolia Cemetery, the Circular Congregational Churchyard, along with several others accompanying churches throughout the city.
  7. Spend some time at the Charleston Waterfront Park – The Charleston Waterfront Park is a gorgeous park along the Inner Harbor and Cooper River in Charleston and is a great place to have a picnic lunch, people watch, and enjoy a great day of weather. There are plenty of shaded benches if you need a reprieve from the sun. You’ll also find long stretches of riverfront walkways, a pier that juts out into the harbor, and the iconic Pineapple Fountain. The park is also just a short walk to the Historic Charleston City Market.
  8. Grab lunch and do some shopping at the Historic Charleston City Market – The Historic Charleston City Market was originally established in 1804 and is considered one of the nation’s oldest public markets. The market stretches four city blocks and houses tons of local artisans, souvenirs, and several options for dining. Spend an hour or so browsing the goods at the City Market and you won’t be disappointed.
  9. Explore Charleston’s rich history at The Charleston Museum – As one of the oldest museums in the United States, The Charleston Museum was established in 1773 and houses a diverse and eclectic collection telling the rich and storied history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Visitors can see everything from the skeleton of a great blue whale that made its way into Charleston’s Inner Harbor in the 1880s to classic Revolutionary and Civil War weaponry to other cultural and historical exhibits.
  10. Visit the Nathaniel Russell House Museum – Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973, this house was built in 1808 by the wealthy shipping merchant of which the house is named. The house is widely recognized as one of America’s most important Neoclassical homes. Opulent, meticulous, and wealth are all adjectives that could be used to describe the Nathaniel Russell House. The home along with many of its original furnishings have been kept in excellent condition since the house was made open to the public.