Charleston, South Carolina is a beautifully preserved vacationer’s delight. Just wandering the streets, you get a feel of its history and how the city has managed to maintain its southern pride and charm. Charleston is the second biggest city in South Carolina, after Colombia, but don’t worry about feeling overwhelmed here. In this laid back town, the atmosphere is more that of a small town with a distinct Southern feel. Among the many popular Charleston SC attractions are Fort Sumter National Monument and the South Carolina Aquarium. If you are in Charleston between late-May and early-June, you can take in the artistic and cultural Spoleto Festival. For some ideas about other things to do in Charleston, check the following list of suggestions to help you plan activities for your Charleston vacation.
Relax at Charleston’s Waterfront Park
Exploring the historic downtown district of Charleston by foot is definitely a good way to spend a day. Centrally located, take a break from your adventurous day by relaxing for a while at Waterfront Park. Set along the Charleston Harbor, the park is a good spot to find a bench and watch the ships as they come and go. If you like people watching and just taking it all in, then you can’t miss this popular spot among Charleston SC attractions. Stroll along a palm-lined walkway or let the kids splash in one of the two large fountains.
Visit Drayton Hall
Located at 3380 Ashley River Road, Drayton Hall dates back to 1742 and is arguably the finest example of the Georgian-Palladian style of architecture in the United States. Spread over 630 beautiful acres, Drayton Hall was founded by John Drayton, and it remained immaculately preserved by the Drayton family for seven generations. Drayton Hall is a National Historic Site and it remains largely unrestored, an American treasure waiting to be explored. Its hours of operation vary by season, but generally you can expect it to be open from 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. daily. Admission is $14 for adults, $8 for ages 12-18, $6 for ages 6-11 and free to ages 5 and under. You can tour the grounds only, if you’d like, for $8.
Arrange a Horse-Drawn Tour of Charleston with Classic Carriage Tours
If you are looking for a unique way to see the city, a horse-drawn carriage ride is a great idea for things to do in Charleston South Carolina. Learn interesting facts about the sights you’ll see as you are pulled through the historic city streets by Percheron Draft horses. Classic Carriage Tours can accommodate private, group and wedding tours and offers a discount for advanced reservations. If going with a group, the fares are $20 for adults and $12 for children. A private fare for two people costs $100, $115 for 3 people, and private groups of four pay $125.
Spend a Few Hours at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
Not far from Drayton Hall, at 3550 Ashley River Road, you’ll find the beautiful grounds of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. This site was also founded by the Drayton family, and dates back to 1676, making it the oldest public garden in the United States. As you walk along the numbered paths, you are swept along waterways and groves of oak and cypress trees. If you are a bicycle enthusiast, consider taking your bicycle to this impressive site among Charleston SC attractions. You can ride the trails that meander through the woods. Magnolia Plantation offers several tours and for those planning a South Carolina wedding, you can have your ceremony here, or celebrate your reception. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is open every day year round. Basic hours of operation are from 8:00 a.m. to dusk. Ticket sales generally close at 5:30 p.m. Admission for ages 13 and older is $15, seniors pay $14 and kids ages 6-12 get in for $10. Additional tours, such as the boat and train rides, cost $7 per tour. Kids 6 and under get in free.
Book a Trip with Gullah Tours
This is a tour like no other and begs to make your list of things to do in Charleston South Carolina. Found at 43 John Street, Gullah Tours operates a 21-passenger bus whose guide is nothing if not entertaining. The tour focuses on the history of the Gullah culture, which originated from slaves brought to South Carolina and Georgia. The Gullah people preserved more of their cultural heritage than any other African community in America. You can still hear the Gullah language spoken in places like Charleston, and the guide of this tour offers occasional quips in the Gullah tongue. Gullah Tours shoves off at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Saturdays. The tour requires reservations and costs $18 for adults, $15 for middle and high school students, and $12 for elementary students.
Take a Lowcountry Ghost Walk
These tours meet at the Broad Street entrance at Washington Park and last 1 ½ hours. The Ghosts and Legends of Charleston is the city’s original ghost tour and operates year round. As you walk through historic downtown Charleston, your guide recants tales of real people, factual history and plenty of folklore. Learn about “The Whistling Doctor” and get the story behind Gullah “Boo Hags”. These tours depart at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. nightly. For the best scare, the 9:30 tour is recommended. Tour costs are $18.50 for adults and $10.50 for children ages 8-14. If you order your tickets online, you can save $3.00 on the price.
Make Reservations for the SpiritLine Dinner Cruise
Depart from Patriots Point Military Museum and enjoy a 3-hour dinner cruise through Charleston Harbor. Take in the sights of Rainbow Row during sunset while you dine on a 3-course meal with menu items that include grilled beef tenderloin, she crab soup and pesto chicken. Each dining salon is comfortably suited for the weather and you can breath in the fresh sea air from one of the open observation decks. Evening entertainment involves live music and plenty of dancing if you are up for it. A dinner cruise is ideally suited for couples looking for fun and romantic things to do in Charleston.