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.
Situated in near Waterfront Park in the heart of Charleston’s historic district, Rainbow Row features on just about every Charleston walking tour and carriage ride, along with other popular points of interest like the Dock Street Theatre, White Point Gardens, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, and the Waterfront Battery. Once commercial buildings, the houses today have all been converted to private residences—meaning you can only gawk at them from the outside.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Rainbow Row is a must-see for architecture lovers and first-time visitors.
- Don’t forget your camera; Rainbow Row make for one of Charleston’s best photo ops.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes, especially if you’re visiting as part of a walking tour.
- Guided tours that stop at Rainbow Row last anywhere from 80 minutes to three hours, depending which you’ve chosen.
How to Get There
Rainbow Row is located on the stretch of East Bay Street between Tradd and Elliot streets in Charleston. It’s located a short walk from Waterfront Park, and it’s easily accessible on foot from just about anywhere in the historic district.
When to Get There
For the best light for your photo—and sparser crowds to interfere with shot—plan to visit early in the morning or around sunset. In summer, expect hot, humid weather with highs in the upper 80s.
Why the Pastel Colors?
No one’s sure just why the Rainbow Row houses got their signature sherbet-hued paint job. One theory posits that the houses were painted like this so drunken sailors returning from the port could easily find the right one. Another suggests the colors once indicated the type of goods sold within each house, making it easier to attract illiterate shoppers.