Things to do in
Charleston

The epitome of good ole Southern charm and charisma, it's no surprise that the Charleston dance originated here.

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Our most recommended things to do in Charleston

Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

1. Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

Enjoy 2 convenient ferry departure points: Liberty Square in downtown Charleston or Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant. See the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge as you ride the ferry along, and take in sights of Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes.  As you approach Fort Sumter, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene. If you depart from Mt. Pleasant you will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Arrive at The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, which sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense.  While here, explore the grounds of Fort Sumter. Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The first shots were fired here, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a National Park Ranger. Your approximate 1-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse Museum Store souvenirs. A visit to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Learn about the events leading to the war from knowledgeable National Park Rangers who will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a National Park Ranger. Then enjoy the beautiful views of the city as you ride the ferry back to Charleston.

Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise

2. Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise

Embark on a true Charleston Harbor dining experience aboard the Spirit of Carolina. Enjoy a three-course dinner, made to order from local seasonal ingredients. As you dine on a delicious multi-course plated dinner, cruise through the beautiful Charleston Harbor, past Fort Sumter, along the Battery and beneath the Ravenel Bridge. Take in the views from the large enclosed air-conditioned dining decks or the open-air observation deck. Enjoy music throughout the cruise, as well as a full-service bar.

Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

3. Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

Take in the amazing sights of Charleston Harbor on a 1.5-hour boat tour with live narration from an expert guide. Pick up insight into the fascinating Charleston history while you glide through the gentle waves of the harbor. Your knowledgeable and entertaining guides have been licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Make sure to bring your camera for famous American landmarks, such as Fort Sumter, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the Battery, the Ravenel Bridge, Castle Pinckney, and other sites from Charleston's past and present. This relaxing and fun tour departs from Patriots Point and Aquarium Wharf daily. Get ready to hear enthralling tales of the city’s colorful past as well as scintillating facts about its most interesting former citizens. Perfect for all ages, the whole family can enjoy cruising along the coastline of the beautiful “Holy City”. Do you know why it's called the "Holy City"? Find out on this trip around the Charleston Harbor.

Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

4. Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

This tour begins at the Big Red Barn in downtown Charleston, where you'll meet a knowledgeable driver-guide and settle into a carriage drawn by either horses or mules. Follow a route that takes in some of the historic downtown district’s most elegant mansions and gardens, learning about the architecture of each place as you drive along. Catch the scent of jasmine flowers from deep, shady porches, and pass by rows of bristling palmetto trees. Get an overview of Charleston’s dramatic history, from long-ago pirate raids to plantations, Revolutionary battles, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The city was founded in 1670, and Charleston's historic buildings have been meticulously preserved and restored. Guides combine humor with history for a lighthearted experience of Charleston’s atmospheric center, and you'll cover between 25 and 30 blocks of the downtown district. This tour concludes with drop-off at the Big Red Barn.

Charleston: Magnolia Plantation & Historic City Tour

5. Charleston: Magnolia Plantation & Historic City Tour

Begin your half-day tour by boarding a climate-controlled coach in Charleston. Meet your professional guide and ride to Magnolia Plantation, dating from 1676 and the time of the British colony. Witness a slice of living history at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and get an amazing perspective on Charleston's past and present. The Magnolia Plantation and its world-famous gardens have been owned by the Drayton family for 12 generations. Enjoy your visit to one of America's first tourist attractions and first public gardens, which have been open to the public since 1870. Take a guided walk through America's last large-scale Romantic garden, and experience history on a 45-minute narrated nature tram ride through the Audobon swamp gardens. Step out among the Romantic gardens and Spanish moss to see wildlife such as alligators, egrets, herons, and turtles on the nearly 600-acre plantation. Cap it all off with a 30-minute tour of the Magnolia Plantation Home before boarding your bus back to Charleston. Back in the Holy City, your deluxe, climate-controlled shuttle will take you for a 1.5-hour tour of the city’s historical highlights. Accompanied by a knowledgeable, local guide, visit over 100 of Charleston’s most iconic sights of the past and present whilst listening to amazing tales and anecdotes about the city. On your tour, travel through some of the most historic parts of the city and visit Charleston’s historic homes, The Battery Sea Wall, the Four Corners of Law, and Rainbow Row to name but a few. Other highlights of the tour include a number of historic churches, old markets, and picturesque neighborhoods.

Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

6. Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

Discover 300 years of Charleston history from land and sea with passionate licensed tour guides. Experience a 90-minute narrated tour of Charleston in a climate-controlled luxury coach and then head to the water for another perspective of the city from Charleston Harbor. Learn fascinating historical facts about Charleston while you cruise the gentle waves of her harbor. Knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides are licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Don't forget your camera as you will see all that the Holy City has to offer: Charleston's Historic Homes and Churches, the Old Market, Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter, USS Yorktown, and incredible views from Charleston Harbor.

Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

7. Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

The tour departs from Charleston Visitor’s Center where you’ll hop on board a deluxe, climate-controlled shuttle for a 90-minute tour of the city’s historical highlights. Accompanied by a knowledgeable, local guide, visit over 100 of Charleston’s most iconic sights of the past and present whilst listening to amazing tales and anecdotes about the city. On your tour, travel through some of the city’s most historic parts. Visit Charleston’s Historic Homes, The Battery Sea Wall, the Four Corners of Law, and Rainbow Row to name but a few. Other highlights of the tour include several historic churches, old markets, and picturesque neighborhoods.

Charleston: Guided Pub Crawl and Haunted History Tour

8. Charleston: Guided Pub Crawl and Haunted History Tour

Embark on a guided pub crawl through the city of Charleston and hear the dark history lurking behind each turn. Learn about the colonists, pirates, and bootleggers that shaped the city over a few drinks. Visit Charleston's important sites, including Joe Riley Waterfront Park, The Pink House, the Old Exchange Provost Dungeon, and Powder Magazine. Follow in the footsteps of the pirates and bootleggers, and learn about the ghosts that linger in the dark corners of the city from your guide. Make stops along the route for a refreshing drink at The Griffon, Bar Vaute, Blind Tiger Pub, and Tommy Condon's Irish Pub. Trade stories over a few drinks and learn about local life and culture in Charleston.

Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

9. Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

Test your nerve and explore the dark edges of Charleston's haunted historic district, deeply steeped in South Carolina's low country superstition. Venture through Charleston's haunted historic district, one of the oldest places in America, and learn about its terrifying history. Continue along the eerie back alleys and churches to find out why the Charleston is known as "The Holy City." Visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon to learn about its harrowing past, confining enslaved people, American revolutionaries, and British soldiers.

Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

10. Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

Witness a slice of living history at Magnolia Plantation and its world-famous gardens, owned by the Drayton family for 12 generations. Visit the Historic Gardens, Petting Zoo, and The Conservatory. Begin your half-day tour by boarding a climate-controlled coach in Charleston. Meet your professional guide and ride to Magnolia Plantation, dating from 1676 and the time of the British colony. Step into one of America's first tourist attractions and first public gardens, which have been open to the public since 1870. Take a guided walk through America's last large-scale romantic garden. Experience history on a 45-minute narrated tram ride through the Audobon Swamp Gardens and visit important locations like Drayton Home (not Drayton Hall), Orientation Theater, and the Old African American Cabin.

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What people are saying about Charleston

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 3,406 reviews

The history surrounding Fort Sumter is so interesting. The walk around this place and hearing the significance it plays in our history is worth the ferry ride out there. Seeing the site in person is so moving. The ferry ride could be more interesting. Some sites were pointed out along the way.

We were fortunate to be the last tour of the day (4 p.m. ), and our group was able to witness the lowering of the flag and helped fold it. The museum was very informative and interesting.

Interesting, beautiful ride to and from Fort Sumter. Perfect amount of time at the fort.

Slave cabin tour was well done and informative. Beautiful grounds and great staff.

Comfortable. Very knowledgeable narration. Covered all the sights well.