Charleston, South Carolina, is a highly desirable destination for residents and tourists, famous for its historic downtown covered in beautiful Spanish moss, waterfront real estate, and beautiful beaches. Historical landmarks give visitors and locals a taste of Charleston’s instrumental role in United States history, while the festive Rainbow Row boasts beautiful, Instagram-worthy homes. From high-quality shopping and relaxing beach days to a plethora of outdoor recreation and beyond, there is plenty of things to do in Charleston.
Attractions in Charleston
The Battery is a spectacular waterfront promenade and seashore defense overlooking the Charleston Harbor. It's one of Downtown Charleston's most frequented tourist attractions.
Nestled between gorgeous antebellum mansions, the Battery offers incredible Fort Sumter and Sullivan's Island lighthouse vistas.
While several companies offer paid walking tours, our favorite, Free Tours by Foot, operates on a pay-what-you-want model. Specialized tours include first-hand glimpses at Charleston’s architecture and window boxes and will help you get familiar with the ins and out of this coastal city. From glances at the city’s native greenery and top attractions to deep looks into the area’s most beloved shops and eateries, you’ll find more things to do in Charleston on a walking tour than you could have imagined.
An oasis of green in the midst of Charleston, Waterfront Park has become a well-loved community feature since its opening in May 1990. Boasting nearly 10 acres and located just one mile north of The Battery, Waterfront Park houses one of Charleston’s most iconic sights: a glittering pineapple fountain. During hot summer days, locals can be seen frolicking about as they cool off in its shallow depths.
South Carolina Aquarium
Located on the historic Charleston Harbor, the South Carolina Aquarium is a must-visit. Boasting plenty of awe-inspiring exhibits, the aquarium also features a sea turtle care center, rotating daily programs, and a guided discovery area for kids. This is the perfect activity for families or anyone looking to connect with wildlife and sea life.
Beaches in Charleston
After you've spent some days exploring Charleston's historic sites, escape from the hustle of city life and retreat to Folly Beach, a massive stretch of Atlantic coastline
just twelve miles south, for a fun day in the sun! To dodge traffic congestion on Folly Beach's single two-lane access road, plan to arrive before 9 a.m. and leave by 2 p.m.
Despite its small size of only 3.3 square miles, Sullivan's Island is a hidden gem that should not be overlooked by visitors. Located just 10 miles east of the city center at the mouth of the harbor, this beachfront town features an intriguing history, beautiful beaches, delicious restaurants, and unique shops.
Isle of Palms
Isle of Palms is just 16 miles away from Charleston proper. Known to be slightly more family-oriented than Folly Island, Isle of Palms offers a more extensive selection of beachfront accommodation options. While there, visit the Wild Dunes Resort and The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort.
Historical Activities in Charleston
Fort Sumter State Park
Relive the moment that ignited the Civil War by visiting Fort Sumter
, accessible only via ferry. Take a guided tour of the fort's caverns and cannons, which have stood since 1861. Let your mind wander through history as you explore its intricate corridors and discover more about this pivotal event in our nation’s story.
H.L. Hunley Submarine
History buffs get a first-hand glimpse into Civil War history with a tour of the H.L. Hunley Submarine, which was constructed in 1863 for the Confederate Army and is known as the world’s first combat submarine. It was lost at sea until its discovery off Sullivan's Island in 1995, which led to its recovery and newfound home at Charleston Naval Base.
Constructed in 1755, Arthur Middleton's estate teaches visitors about Charleston's history. Arthur Middleton's home features 65 acres of lush gardens modeled after traditional French designs. Camellias, azaleas, magnolias, and crepe myrtles bloom throughout the year and provide guests with stunning visuals at every turn.
Outdoor Activities in Charleston
Angel Oak Tree
As one of Charleston's most photogenic locations, the Angel Oak tree on Johns Island is a must-see. Boasting an impressive 65-foot height with 25.5 feet in circumference, this majestic live oak casts its shadow over 20,000 square feet and dates back three centuries or more! Visitors flock here for a chance to experience its grandeur up close.
Take a boat tour
Explore Charleston from the water and learn more about this city's maritime history. Enjoy the view of Charleston’s iconic landmarks via boat, taking in the sights from a new perspective. We suggest taking a boat tour around sunset, as sunsets over Charleston Harbor on a clear day are indescribable and unforgettable.
Stroll Rainbow Row
After the Civil War, the houses that sit on present-day Rainbow Row went through a rigid revitalization process, which included vivid paint jobs to draw people back into the area. Today, these colorful properties are popular attractions and have transformed the neighborhood into a prominent destination. Rainbow Row is close to the waterfront, so we recommend enjoying it at sunset — maybe after that boat tour.
Hit the Green
Charleston is home to some of the best golf courses in the country. For golf lovers, one popular option is RiverTowne Country Club, which is just 30 minutes outside of downtown Charleston. Designed by Arnold Palmer, the course features beautiful vistas and a well-stocked pro shop. Two other premier courses can be found at Wild Dunes Resort, which is Links Course and Harbor Course. Another spectacular option is Charleston National, which is a course designated for public play that was designed by Rees Jones.
Shopping in Charleston
Charleston City Market
Bustling stalls packed with toys, clothes, artworks, leather goods, and regional souvenirs alike attract both locals and travelers to the Charleston City Market, located in the heart of downtown. Countless locally-made products are available for purchase here, from jewelry to apparel and beyond.
No visit to the market is complete without stopping by the "Basket Ladies," a group of Gullah artisans who’ve weaved authentic West African baskets
over the centuries. Sweetgrass and palmetto leaves, sourced locally, are woven into intricate designs that reflect a deep connection with their African American roots. Be sure to purchase one!
Begin Your Life in Charleston
If you're considering a move to Charleston or simply looking for things to do in Charleston, contact the real estate experts at the Andy Bovender Team
to learn more about how to get the most out of your stay — or residence — in Charleston. We’re excited to meet you!