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Things to do in Charleston

Things to do in  Charleston

Welcome to Charleston

Charleston is a jewel of the South, renowned for its beautiful mansions, magnolia-scented gardens, and heady mix of influences from as far away as France, Africa, and the West Indies.

Top 10 attractions in Charleston

#1
Charleston City Market

Charleston City Market

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Smack in the middle of historic Charleston, the Charleston City Market is a central landmark for Holy City visitors. In addition to being one of the most visited historic attractions in town, the City Market—opened in 1807—is also one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the United States.More
#2
Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row

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This street of brightly colored homes in Charleston is easily the most photographed spot in the city, and it’s easy to see why. The 14 colorful Georgian row houses along East Bay Street date back to 1730, when they were built as merchant stores.More
#3
Charleston Waterfront Park

Charleston Waterfront Park

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Waterfront porch swings, a giant pineapple fountain, and grassy areas perfect for lazing the day away make Waterfront Park feel like Charleston’s personal backyard. Watch the boats float by on the river, snap photos, and enjoy the park’s family-friendly amenities—they keep this park a favorite hangout spot for locals and visitors alike.More
#4
The Battery and White Point Garden

The Battery and White Point Garden

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The Battery wraps around the edge of Charleston’s peninsula, providing an elegant buffer between the city and the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Stroll and sightsee along the wide pedestrian paths, which pass by antebellum homes and historic sights, or perch beneath the live oaks in White Point Garden and watch the world go by.More
#5
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

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The Old Exchange is one of the oldest structures in Charleston, a famous city landmark, and one of the most historically significant buildings in the United States. Once the site of important political events, the building is now open to the public for fascinating tours, including a walk-through of its haunted Provost Dungeon.More
#6
Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument

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A top historic attraction in South Carolina, Fort Sumter National Monument is famous for being the site where the Civil War began. Today, the sea fort, accessible only by boat, retains much of its original stone structure—plus a few lodged cannonballs—letting visitors experience a piece of American history firsthand.More
#7
St. Michael's Church

St. Michael's Church

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Towering above surrounding Charleston, the nearly 200-foot tall white steeple of St. Michael’s signals the site of the city’s oldest church. Inside, visitors and parishioners are transported back to the colonial era: alcoves shine with Tiffany stained glass windows, the original 1768 organ still pipes tunes and creaky wooden pews have seated centuries of worshipers including notables George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The central chandelier once blazed with candles, but has since been retrofitted with bulbs. Otherwise little altered, the church has survived tornadoes, an earthquake and even civil war bombings. The pulpit still bears battle wounds suffered in the 1865 Siege of Charleston Harbor. A table in the main vestibule along the western wall details the building’s long and storied history.Choral music still emanates from St Michael’s on Sundays, and, as a still-functioning Episcopal Church, it can be sometimes challenging to tour the inside. Still, the exterior is a highlight of many historic downtown tours. It's still possible to see the old colonial clock— though minute hands weren’t added until the mid-1800s—and tour the adjacent cemetery, the final resting place of, among several other notables, two signers of the US Constitution.More
#8
St. Philips Church

St. Philips Church

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This historical church is home to the oldest religious congregation in South Carolina. The first St. Philips Church was a small wooden structure built in 1681, where St. Michael's Episcopal Church stands today. The church withstood hurricane damage in 1710, was reconstructed, burned to the ground in 1835, and finally rebuilt to the present day church in 1836. Before it burned completely, it was saved from one fire by a slave who was granted his freedom for the act. Notable South Carolinians such as John C. Calhoun are buried in the old cemetery on the grounds.Architect Joseph Hyde incorporated some design elements from the previous structures as well as adding in new features to the stuccoed brick exterior, such as the three Tuscan porticoes and Corinthian columns. The church’s impressive steeple that towers over Church Street was added over a decade later. Today it is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.More
#9
Aiken-Rhett House

Aiken-Rhett House

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This historic museum is known for being one of the best examples of Southern antebellum architecture in Charleston. It was originally built as a private home—owned in 1820 by local merchant John Robinson and later bought in 1858 by Gov. William Aiken, whose family is responsible for the lavish interior decoration. With antique furnishings and original wallpaper, much of the period style remains intact. Many of the family’s objects and fine art, acquired for the home while touring Europe, can still be found in the rooms they were purchased for.Walk through the grounds’ historic double side porch, stables, a carriage house, a kitchen and slave quarters. You’ll learn about the house staff, which included footmen, cooks, gardeners and seamstresses, as well as life in the pre-Civil War era. Then step inside and view the collection of sculptures, paintings and chandeliers as you tour the home and learn about the history of the home and the family.More
#10
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (Cooper River Bridge)

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (Cooper River Bridge)

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At 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) long, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the United States. It connects downtown Charleston to the city of Mount Pleasant and the beaches beyond, plus it provides bike and pedestrian paths that lead to unobstructed views of Charleston Harbor and the city skyline.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Charleston

Charleston Harbor Sunset Cruise
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Charleston Harbor Sunset Cruise

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Charleston Marsh Eco Boat Cruise with stop at Morris Island Lighthouse
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2-Hour Guided Kayak Eco Tour in Charleston
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Narrated Haunted Ghost Cruise of Charleston Harbor
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