Things to do in Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC History
Author John Milton Mackie once said of Charleston, South Carolina "It was pleasant to find an American city not wearing the appearance of having all been built yesterday. The whole town looks picturesquely dingy, and the greater number of buildings have assumed something of the appearance of European antiquity." The funny thing is, Mackie wrote this in 1864. 145 years later, the same can still be said of Charleston. It's about as old an American city as you'll find.
There aren't many other places in the United States that can claim historical importance like Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1670 on the Charleston peninsula which is known to us now as Downtown Charleston. She was one of the biggest ports in the colonial states. Plantations were prosperous and society was high.
Charleston was a favorite playground of pirates in the early years, so to combat this the King of England sanctioned the building of as many churches as the then walled city could fit. Most of these churches are still here today. Charleston then became and is currently known as the "Holy City." The most well known church is St. Phillips which is also the tallest church in the city. Charleston is home to one of the few remaining Huguenot congregations in America and also home to Synagogue Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, the fourth oldest Jewish congregation in the continental United States, after New York, Newport, and Savannah.
Charleston is a direct reflection of her inhabitants, a survivor. She was a pivitol player in both the Revolutionary and the Civil War, with the first shot of the Civil War taking place in the Charleston Harbor. The city has survived hurricanes, city wide fires, earthquakes and wars and she still stands as proud as she ever was. Charleston is the gem of the Low Country and the pride of the Palmetto state. The city was a favorite destination for most of our founding fathers, final resting place for several signers of the Declaration of Independence, and today, after 3 and a half centuries, people still come from all over the world to see all she has to offer.
Things To Do
Charleston, South Carolina is one of those cities where you need at least a few days to sample what this gem has to offer. I've been here a hundred times and find something new each visit.
It's worth investing a few dollars to take some of the guided tours that are offered. There is a tour for just about every taste: Pirates, Ghosts, Cemetaries, Churches, Plantations, Gardens, Parks, Museums, and Historical Homes, are just a few of what is offered. You can find more in the link capsule under charlesontours.net.
As I stated earlier, Charleston is about as old an American city as you will find and along with that, the city is full of Antique shops. Most are on King St. but they are scattered through out the city. So, if antiquing is your thing then Charleston should be your place.
Charleston offers several beaches, and water parks are in the surrounding suburbs. Choose from over 30 world class golf courses if you like or charter a deep sea fishing experience. This city has it all.
Something to do for everyone and everything
The best time of day to visit is in the early evening. This part of town is along the waterfront so it's usually a few degrees cooler but the sun will take it's toll on you. Bring along a water bottle or canteen to keep yourself hydrated.
Walking the city on your own can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours and it's well worth the effort.
Links To Help Plan Your Vacation
- Spoleto Festival USA 2009 - Welcome!
Spoleto Festival USA is an amazing tradition here in SC. It's a 17 day long festival celebrating the arts. New artists as well as the masters show off their talents here. Paintings, sculptures, live theater, and orchestras are just a sample.
- South Carolina Aquarium on Charleston Harbor
This is a nice Aquarium and kid friendly. The center tank is a must see. It's full of area aquatic life including sharks!
- Charleston\'s Finest City Guide - Travel Planner, Hotels, Attractions, Real Estate, & Business G
Charleston City Guide to help plan your travel: Hotels, Attractions, Restaurants, etc...
- Charleston City Paper - Restaurants | Music | Events | Arts | News
Charleston's best source of restaurant, music, and entertainment news.
More Stuff To Do
I suggest walking the downtown after taking a guided tour or at least after going to the Charleston visitor center so you can purchase a map detailing the sites to see. A good thing to do is before taking off on your walking journey plan out the sites you want to see, bring plenty of water and batteries for your cameras.
Charleston has a great nightlife scene. There is plenty to do for all ages and all tastes:
- Live Theater (Charleston is home to the oldest theater in North America. It's called the Dock Street Theater. The theater building is undergoing some renovations and will be out of service until May of 2010)
- Concerts ( There are several concert venues all over the city and the suburbs.)
- Restaurants (Every type of cuisine can be found here. There are plenty of guides and reviews in the links I'm providing to the right)
- Pubs to Clubs (Just looking for a good place to hang and have a brew, or would you like to sample some fine wines and liquors? Maybe getting your dance on is what you seek. Check out the citypaper link to the right)
- Sporting Events (Besides the Riverdogs minor league baseball team and Joe Riley stadium and the ECHL Hockey team, the Stingrays, there are also major events like the Ryder Cup Golf or the Woman's Family Circle Tennis)
Off The Beaten Path
By planning your trip in advance, you can sometimes find some great things to experience. Try conversing with locals in some travel forums or on social networks. Ask about the things that the locals do for fun. The locals visit the downtown area often but they will also tell you that there is a plethora of fun outside the city.
Just recently, a Facebook group of locals organized what they called a Megafloat down the Edisto River. My sister and nieces insisted that I go along with them. I have to admit, it was fun... for the first few hours. But they called this the Megafloat for a reason, it lasted Seven hours. The river was refreshing and I used some SPF 85 sunblock which helped a lot. There were hundreds of floaters and all had plenty of beer and spirits to pass around.
Below are some photos of my experience.
- Plan your trip in advance. Check out all the links. You can't see everything in just 2 days. You can get an idea of costs for tours and restaurants and transportation and everything else to make a great trip with those links.
- There is a lot of standing water, especially in the parks and plantations. Where there is standing water, there is mosquitos so bring bug spray.
- Drink lots of water to keep hydrated. South Carolina and the US South East is very hot in the summers and very humid. Also bring sunblock.
- Hurricane season starts on the first of June and lasts until Novemeber so watch the weather forcasts, Charleston hasn't been hit by a big storm in 20 years (Hugo) and all the locals say, "we're due."
- North Charleston is not the same city as Charleston. It can be a very dangerous place for unsuspecting tourists. Just like visiting any new city, use commons sense.
- Relax, slow down, you're in the South where things move at a different place than the rest of the world. Enjoy your time here.