Charleston, South Carolina is a hidden gem of the south. Its history, beautiful architecture and scenic waterways make it a unique experience. The city has renowned restaurants and art galleries. It’s an all-encompassing tourist destination with something for everyone.
The city’s historic district features streets with colorful homes, old churches and museums. Horse-drawn carriage rides, live performances in parks, traditional southern food – you name it! Check out Fort Sumter National Monument to explore Civil War battlegrounds and take in stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
And, only in Charleston, you’ll find sweetgrass basket weaving demonstrations – a reminder of the city’s Gullah culture. Local breweries let you taste beer while admiring cobblestone streets and harbor vistas.
In 2021, Travel & Leisure Magazine named Charleston number one in their list of “The Best Cities in The World”. Amazing culinary scene, friendly character and not-to-be-missed sights – it’s a must-visit! Plus, no crowds at restaurants – bonus!
Reasons why Charleston is underrated as a tourist destination
To understand why Charleston is an underrated tourist destination, dive into the reasons why this charming southern city is often overlooked by travelers. Historical significance and architecture, local cuisine and dining scene, and natural beauty and outdoor activities are all unique offerings that make Charleston a standout destination.
Historical significance and architecture
Charleston, South Carolina – a coastal city with remarkable historical importance and immense architectural beauty. It dates back to 1670 and its buildings were designed by renowned architects like Robert Mills. Not just visually pleasing, this architecture carries historical value. For instance, the Nathaniel Russell House Museum reveals the exquisite taste of wealthy 19th century citizens. Additionally, there are various ancient churches in the city like St. Michael’s with its steeple towering the skyline.
Uniquely, many homes have a side entrance known as a “Little Door.” This was utilized during times when street vendors would enter without disturbing the family. In addition, some buildings share walls due to restrictions imposed by colonial laws.
In 1835, five years after Nat Turner’s rebellion, Denmark Vesey plotted an insurrection in Charleston, but it failed when two slaves informed the authorities. His house, still on Gadsden Street, remains a reminder of his life.
Experience Southern hospitality without spending much – Charleston’s local cuisine is as underrated as its charm.
Local cuisine and dining scene
Charleston is a must-visit spot for tourists who love to experience new culinary delights! Its food scene offers a unique blend of Southern cuisine and seafood. There are signature dishes with bold flavors that can satisfy any palate. Must-try fares include crab cakes, shrimp and grits, hushpuppies, and fried chicken.
You can opt for fine dining or just enjoy some casual eats while taking in the sights. Mixologists have also made their mark on the city, crafting creative cocktails with fresh ingredients. Bars across town offer unique concoctions that you can try out.
Food tours have become increasingly popular for tourists wanting to experience Charleston’s diverse cuisine. Tours take you on guided walks in historic neighborhoods with plenty of food stops to savor classic eats.
Additionally, Charleston is known as the “Holy City” due to its over 400 religious buildings. This has influenced southern gospel music, adding to its cultural heritage. Come experience the wonders of Charleston for yourself!
Natural beauty and outdoor activities
Charleston is a hidden gem of natural beauty and outdoor activities. Its beaches, gardens, and waterfronts make it perfect for nature-lovers. Furthermore, it has some of the USA’s top beaches. You can relax on the sand and surf or paddleboard. The parks provide great hiking trails and bird watching too.
The wetlands, gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries are wonderful. They are a great escape from busy life. The city also has some unique landmarks, like the Angel Oak Tree – over sixty feet tall and its branches stretch for acres.
One visitor remarked on the stunning beauty: “I never knew there was so much raw beauty in one place! I can’t wait to come back here again.” With its landscapes, Charleston is an amazing destination for outdoor adventures. People need to recognise what it has to offer!
Top tourist attractions to visit in Charleston
To discover the best tourist attractions to visit in Charleston, South Carolina, check out our top picks for must-see destinations. First, explore The Battery and Waterfront Park for charming scenery and historic landmarks. Next, make your way to Fort Sumter National Monument, where you’ll learn about the pivotal role this location played in the Civil War. Visit Middleton Place and Magnolia Plantation and Gardens for beautiful gardens and stunning architecture. Finally, be sure to stop by the bustling Charleston City Market for unique shops, delicious food, and lively entertainment.
The Battery and Waterfront Park
The Battery and Waterfront Park offer amazing views of Charleston Harbor! Popular for picnics and a nice breeze, you can explore historic homes and landmarks like Fort Sumter National Monument. Keep an eye out for dolphin pods and pelicans, not to mention cannons, oak trees, azaleas, magnolias and pathways.
Gather here during sunset hour for a unique view of the city skylines. It’s no wonder why many consider Waterfront Park the most romantic spot in town! Get a fun splash for your Instagram feed with the Pineapple Fountain. On hot summer days, relax in hammocks under shade trees – ideal for families with kids.
Cool down with a dip in the fountain and grab an ice-cream from nearby vendors. Fort Sumter will be bustling with tour guides trying to out-historian each other – with cannons providing the soundtrack!
Fort Sumter National Monument
In the center of Charleston lies Fort Sumter: a national monument full of history! It’s a popular destination for tourists wanting to explore the site of the first battle of the Civil War.
Take a guided tour or explore on your own. With its scenic views, you’ll feel like you stepped into a scene from Gone with the Wind. Learn about the events of the era at the museum, and don’t forget to grab souvenirs at the gift shop!
Pack a picnic or get snacks from the kiosks – food options are limited. Be sure to check the hours of operation before visiting, so you don’t miss out on any exciting events.
This historic plantation, located on the banks of Ashley River, is one of Charleston’s most sublime sights. Middleton Place boasts stunning porcelain collections, grand gardens, and 18th-century sculptures. Enjoy the essence of true southern hospitality as you wander its walking paths.
Tours are available to learn about the lives of slaves who lived and worked here. Plus, explore an organic farm producing ingredients for local restaurants. The Middleton Place Restaurant overlooks the garden terraces and serves delicious dishes with local ingredients.
Built in 1705, this heavenly retreat has withstood fires, hurricanes, and war. Its main house features antiques and artwork from centuries ago. Ruins throughout the plantation tell of its turbulent history during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
If you’re a fan of Southern charm and eerie tales, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Discover a historic home in Charleston, filled with magnolia and oak gardens! Visit one of America’s oldest plantations. Explore the ornate gardens, trails, and wildlife refuge. Witness rare flora from around the world.
At Magnolia Plantation, observe abundant birdlife at Audubon Swamp Garden. Admire cypress trees draped with Spanish moss.
Experience the cultural heritage of this Southern gem. Visit slave cabins, and museums with displays of ancient artifacts. See handcrafted items made by natives since the 17th century.
Learn about the history that shaped Charleston, then experience it firsthand. One woman said that strolling through the plantation gardens felt like being transported back to another century – peaceful and grand.
Take a stroll through City Market. Buy souvenirs instead of paying rent this month.
Charleston City Market
The Charleston City Market is located in the heart of the Historic District. It’s a bustling marketplace filled with vendors showcasing handmade arts, crafts, clothing, jewelry and yummy local foods!
Discover Gullah-crafted baskets, taste sweetgrass tea – a city icon – and savor seafood delicacies at nearby restaurants.
On special events days, enjoy live music, workshops and demonstrations featuring creative locals.
This 1807 historic spot radiates culture and connection to Charleston’s heritage. Take time to explore each stall and listen to vendors’ unique stories and conversations.
You’ll feel welcomed here, as the market embraces all cultures. Hotels in Charleston offer soft beds and warm hospitality, just like their sweet tea and humid climate.
4290 Ashley River RD, Charleston, SC email@example.com,-80.135008299999
To find the perfect accommodations while visiting Charleston, South Carolina, with a focus on luxury, boutique or bed and breakfast options, turn to this section. Each option offers unique benefits to enhance your trip and ensure a comfortable stay. Begin exploring the suggested luxury hotels, boutique hotels, and bed and breakfast options to find the one that best suits your preferences.
Splurge on a lavish hotel experience in Charleston! Look for upscale accommodations here – from five-star hotels with exquisite dining and spa treatments, to boutique hotels with unique design elements. Enjoy plush bedding, high-end electronics, private balconies with stunning views, and personalized services.
My friend recently stayed at one of Charleston’s luxury hotels. She said the staff went the extra mile to make her stay special. So if you’re after an extravagant vacation, it’s definitely worth it. If you want to find a different hotel on your own, cozycozy search engine helps you to compare all available options from different travel companies.
Travellers wanting something special should try out Charleston’s charming hotels. These smaller, independent places offer luxurious amenities and intimate atmospheres. On-site spas, high-end dining and exclusive rooftop lounges provide stunning cityscapes. Plus, the service is tailored to you! Boutique hotels also show off the beauty and culture of Charleston.
Tip: Book a room early to get the best hotel during peak season. And don’t forget the Southern charm of a Charleston bed and breakfast!
Bed and breakfasts
Visiting Charleston? You’re in luck! There are plenty of unique, cozy lodgings that offer Southern hospitality. These quaint accommodations provide a comfortable, memorable stay for those looking for a “home away from home”! Plus, they tend to include personal attention and delicious homemade Southern dishes for breakfast.
Plus, some of these bed & breakfasts are within walking distance of the city’s historic landmarks and attractions. So, sightseeing is a breeze!
Take The Governor’s House Inn, for example. This historical marvel was built during the British Colonial period (1760) and was one of Charleston’s most prominent homes before it was converted into a B&B in 1996. It features high ceilings, spacious rooms, hand-carved moldings, Italian marble fireplaces and more.
Getting around Charleston
To navigate Charleston easily during your trip, turn to the various transportation options available to you. With this section on ‘Getting around Charleston’ with ‘Public transportation options, Car rentals and driving, Walking and biking tours’ as solution, explore the best modes of transportation to match your travel preferences and itinerary.
Public transportation options
Planning a trip to Charleston? There are lots of options to get around the city. Check out CARTA buses, taxis, ride-sharing apps, pedal cabs, Charleston Water Taxi and bike rentals. Plus, the Free DASH shuttle takes you on an informative downtown tour. Hotels offer complimentary shuttles to attractions, too. Just note that these services may be limited or vary by time of day.
For a unique experience, try a sunset sailboat tour. Sip drinks and enjoy the harbor views. To make your travels smoother, arrange a rental car before you arrive. Then you can explore Charleston without a Rubik’s cube-level challenge.
Car rentals and driving
Visitors to Charleston need transport. There are many options. People like to drive around in a car. Avis, Hertz and Enterprise provide cars for hire. Roads in the city are in good condition and signs easy to follow. Be aware of parking rules in the historic district. Gas prices may be higher here than other places. Pre-booking a rental car is recommended. Enjoy the convenience of discovering Charleston at your own speed!
Why take a tour when you can wander about, lost and confused?
Walking and biking tours
Explore Charleston on foot or bike! Here’s what you need to know:
- There are guided walking and biking tours in the city, with themes such as history and architecture.
- Self-guided options are also possible using apps like ‘Charleston Walking Tours’ and ‘Cycle Party.’
- Rent bikes from shops such as Affordabike or Holy Spokes if you prefer to explore alone.
Guided tours have adapted to the new health rules. Groups are smaller and social distancing is observed. There are also electric bikes available for rental.
Did you know Charleston was a major 18th century seaport? It played an important role in the Revolutionary War. Visit to enjoy its history and food culture. Pack good walking shoes and a GPS to navigate the cobblestone streets.
Tips for visiting Charleston
To make the most of your visit to Charleston, South Carolina, you need to be well-prepared. That’s why we’ve compiled some useful tips for visiting Charleston, such as the best time to visit, safety and security tips, and etiquette and cultural norms to keep in mind during your stay. Read on to ensure a safe, enjoyable, and respectful visit to this underrated tourist destination.
Best time to visit
Charleston is the perfect travel spot year-round, with its warm climate and fun outdoor activities. But when is the best time to go? It depends on you! If you’d like mild temps and fewer people, consider spring (March-May) or fall (Sept-Nov). Summer (June-Aug) is hot and humid, but it has lots of festivals and outdoor events. Winter (Dec-Feb) has fewer tourists, but it’s chilly.
Keep in mind that peak season is June-August. Accommodations cost more and attractions are crowded. Plus, hurricane season is June-November and September is the busiest month. Pro tip: Book in advance during summer and visit outside peak season for cheaper prices and less people. Safety first – don’t let your trip be ruined by getting mugged!
Safety and security tips
The culture and history of Charleston is amazing, but safety is key. Here are three tips to keep in mind:
- Be aware in busy areas – pickpockets love them.
- Know your surroundings, especially at night near the waterfront.
- Lock your car and taxi doors and windows when crossing bridges.
Charleston is generally safe, but you should still be prepared. Pro Tip: Store important things in a hotel safe while exploring the city. Not to worry, if you accidentally step on someone’s toes, they’ll probably think you’re doing the Charleston dance.
Etiquette and cultural norms
Respect the local customs and cultural norms when visiting Charleston. Greet strangers with a smile or head nod. When dining out, it is expected to tip between 15-20%. Dress modestly when visiting places of worship.
Bring a gift or flowers if you are invited to someone’s home. Take off your shoes before entering the house. Avoid loud noises and profanity in public.
In some areas of Charleston, drinking alcohol outside is not allowed. Smoking is not permitted indoors in public places.
Experience southern hospitality by immersing yourself in the local culture. Participate in events such as food festivals or live music concerts. Don’t miss out on the vibrant arts scene. Respect customs and traditions and embrace all that Charleston has to offer.
Conclusion: Why Charleston, South Carolina should be on every traveler’s bucket list
Experience a unique and underrated tourist destination – Charleston, South Carolina! Rich history, southern hospitality, and stunning natural beauty – it’s got something for everyone.
Taste the world-renowned cuisine, shop the local boutiques, take a stroll through the historical neighborhoods, or just relax by the waterfront. Tour Fort Sumter, Magnolia Plantation, and learn about Charleston’s role in American history.
The locals welcome visitors with open arms and ensure an unforgettable stay. The vibrant nightlife offers a chance to meet new people from around the world.
Make memories that will last a lifetime – book your dream trip to Charleston today! Don’t miss out on exploring one of America’s hidden gems.