Charleston
Culture & History

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Our most recommended Charleston Culture & History

  • Fort Sumter: National Monument Entry Ticket & Ferry

    1. Fort Sumter: National Monument Entry Ticket & Ferry

    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 sighes 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...

    It was raining so we didn't have the ability to enjoy the fort but the ranger provided a good, detailed history.

  • Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

    2. 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 co...

    Very good narrator. Slightly disappointed with the visuals but the information was quite good.

  • Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise

    3. 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.

    It was a great tour but I would pay extra for my own table. The shared tables were very small.

  • Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

    4. Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

    Experience Charleston on board a 1920s-Bay-Steamer-replica yacht. Listen carefully as your captain guides you on a journey through more than 300 years of American history. You’ll pass by 75 landmarks and points-of-interest on this 20-mile trip. Get close-up views of the “Holy City,” including Fort Sumter - where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Glide past Confederate and Union army forts and see the famous “Fighting Lady” of World War II. As you pass by remnants of the Civil and Revolutionary wars, don’t forget to look for dolphins and pelicans splashing nearby. Choose between indoor or outdoor seating. There is also an enclosed observatory and a partially-covered upper deck in case of rain.

    Incredibly fun, easy activity to enjoy on the water in Charleston! We appreciated the history we learned and the sunset was just gorgeous! Plenty of dolphin to watch and food/drinks for ourselves and the kids!

  • Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

    5. 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.

    The bus transportation was comfortable and the views from inside the bus were unobstructed. Our guide was very knowledgeable and out going. The tour pointed out the majority of points of interest and our driver was informative without being boring. Halfway through the tour we stopped at The Battery and stolled the seawall for a few minutes.

  • 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.

    Great way to watch experience the city especially on a rainy day! Great value for the money!

  • Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

    7. Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

    This 60-minute narrated carriage tour covers more than 2.5 miles and 30 blocks of historic downtown Charleston. It really is the best way to see the “Holy City” and learn about its rich and vast history. The tour begins at our stables just one block from the city market, where a number of our horses live. Restrooms and water are available as well as a loading ramp to easily board one of the custom-built carriages.  Departing from the barn, you will continue to the city gate located in the Old City Market. Historic Downtown Charleston is split up into a number of areas that each tour is directed to travel to. Some highlights of these areas are Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, 4 Corners of Law, King Street, White Point Gardens, and the Charleston Battery.  A licensed tour guide will be narrating the entire tour with informative and entertaining commentary. At the end of the tour you will...

    Our guide was very knowledgeable of the area and its history. We enjoyed our time on the tour and were impressed on how well they treated their horses. Compared to other companies we walked by, they seem to have the best facility and the horses their top priority.

  • Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

    8. 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, ...

    The good-looking John and Prince treated me to a wonderful tour! Every second was interesting and fun. John even sang a song from Porgy and Bess and sang it beautifully! I will be back!

  • Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

    9. Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

    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 You'll be able to visit the Historic Gardens, Petting Zoo, The Conservatory, Drayton Home (Note: this is not Drayton Hall), Orientation Theater. The Old A...

    Had a great tour! Our driver, Scott, gave us lots of great historical information on the way to the plantation. On the way back he recommended so many great restaurants and he did not disappoint.

  • Boone Hall Plantation: Admission & Day Trip from Charleston

    10. Boone Hall Plantation: Admission & Day Trip from Charleston

    Tour the historic Boone Hall Plantation, a beautiful gem nestled in the town of Mount Pleasant, just across the harbor from Charleston. Enter through the Avenue of Oaks and take a guided tour of the historic mansion. Enjoy a self-guided tour through the original slave cabins and learn about the experience of enslaved people with a presentation by a knowledgeable guide. Learn the history of the area, tour the grounds and homes with expert storytellers and guides.

    The oak trees are amazing and worth the trip because you are not going to see them anywhere else. The performance by Jackie the Gullah was also amazing and informative. If you take the tour definitely see it. And the tractor ride because it gives you an overview of the plantation and it’s history. The food in the snack bar is pretty good too, especially the pulled pork.

Other Sightseeing Options in Charleston

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What people are saying about Charleston

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 581 reviews

The bus transportation was comfortable and the views from inside the bus were unobstructed. Our guide was very knowledgeable and out going. The tour pointed out the majority of points of interest and our driver was informative without being boring. Halfway through the tour we stopped at The Battery and stolled the seawall for a few minutes.

Both tours were a great way to get a "feel" for and overview of the area. Consider taking these or other tours in which you're interested on your first or second day visiting Charleston. Grayline Tours were conducted in small, approx 20 passenger van-type vehicles, much better than on a large bus!

Great way to watch experience the city especially on a rainy day! Great value for the money!

Very good overall description of most important places in town.

This is a must see for anyone interested in civil war history.