America's Love Affair with Charleston, SC
From the minute you step onto the streets of Charleston, SC, you feel like you’ve been transported to another time. A bygone era hangs in the air along with Spanish moss found in the live oaks that stand sentry over this charming city. Rich in history with beautiful beaches, amazing food, stylish boutiques, and friendly locals, visiting Charleston should be on your bucket list. Located on the coast of South Carolina, Charleston has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, and it’s easy to see why.
Charleston is a city steeped in a tremendous amount of history. Visitors wanting to embrace as much of the past as possible need to plan on an extended stay.
One of the most iconic sites in Charleston is the Battery, a seawall and promenade that stretches along the waterfront. It's a great place to take a stroll and take in the beautiful views of the harbor. Fort Sumter National Monument is also a must-see attraction for history buffs. This fort is famous for being the site of the first shots of the Civil War.
The city provides several tours that take visitors through Charleston’s storied past. One of the most popular is the Charleston Ghost & Dungeon Walking Tour. On this tour, visitors explore some of the city's most haunted places, including the Old City Jail and the Provost Dungeon. And don’t miss the Charleston Harbor History Tour, which takes visitors on a boat tour of Charleston Harbor, past historic landmarks like the Battery, Fort Sumter, and Castle Pinckney. For those interested in learning about the city's architecture, sign up for the Historic Charleston Walking Tour. This tour takes visitors through the city's historic district, which is filled with stunning examples of Georgian, Federal, and Victorian architecture.
Charleston is also home to the USS Yorktown, a historic WW2 aircraft carrier, and the USS Laffey battleship. Both ships and a Balao-class submarine, the USS Clamagore, are open to the public for tours at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum and are a must-visit for anyone interested in military history or aviation.
If you're interested in museums, the city has a variety of options, such as the Charleston Museum, which is the oldest museum in the United States. The museum showcases the history and culture of the Lowcountry region, and you can see everything from fossils to antique silver. For art lovers, the Gibbes Museum of Art is a great place to explore. The museum features American art from the colonial period to the present day.
Charleston is known for its stunning antebellum architecture, including the plantation homes that are open for tours. These plantations offer a glimpse into the history of the region:
- Boone Hall Plantation: This plantation is one of the oldest working plantations in the country, dating back to 1681. Visitors can tour the main house, slave cabins, and beautiful gardens
- Magnolia Plantation and Gardens: Founded in 1676, this plantation is one of the oldest in the South. It features stunning gardens, a petting zoo, a nature center, and a swamp tour.
- Middleton Place: The plantation dates back to 1741 and is famous for its beautiful gardens, which include an impressive collection of camellias. Visitors can tour the house, see the stableyards, and watch craftsmen at work.
- Drayton Hall: Built in 1738, Drayton Hall is one of the few surviving pre-Revolutionary War homes in the country. It is an excellent example of Georgian-Palladian architecture and features a beautiful landscape.
- McLeod Plantation Historic Site: This plantation was founded in 1851 and is a testament to the contributions of the enslaved people who lived and worked there. Visitors can tour the grounds and see exhibits about the Gullah culture.
A visit to any of these historical sites provides a valuable learning experience.
Charleston is known for its beautiful beaches, each with its unique features and attractions. Here are some of the most popular beaches near Charleston:
- Isle of Palms: Located just 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, Isle of Palms is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. With its wide beach, gentle surf, and clear water, it's the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and playing in the sand. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops nearby, as well as a marina and a golf course.
- Folly Beach: Known as the "Edge of America," Folly Beach is a laid-back beach town with a bohemian vibe. It's a great spot for surfing, fishing, and beachcombing, and there are also plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops in the area. Folly Beach is also home to the Morris Island Lighthouse, which dates back to 1876.
- Sullivan's Island: Sullivan's Island is a quiet, residential community with a remarkable beach and plenty of history. It was the site of a major battle during the Revolutionary War, and there are several historic landmarks in the area, including Fort Moultrie and the Sullivan's Island Lighthouse. The beach is also known for its strong currents and is a popular spot for kiteboarding. For a great meal make sure to visit the iconic Poe's Tavern, named after Edgar Allan Poe for his time spent at Fort Moultrie.
- Kiawah Island: Located about 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, Kiawah Island is a luxurious resort community with 10 miles of pristine beachfront. The beach is known for its soft, white sand and gentle surf, and there are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy, including golf, tennis, and biking. Kiawah Island is also home to several high-end restaurants and shops and has hosted several PGA golf tournaments over the years.
- Seabrook Island: Seabrook Island is another relaxing, residential community with two miles of gorgeous beachfront. Enjoy the gentle surf, sand, and all of the activities available to keep visitors busy, including golf, tennis, and horseback riding. Seabrook Island is also a great spot for birdwatching with over 200 species of birds in the area.
Each of these beaches are all worth a visit. Whether you're looking for a bustling beach town or a quiet, secluded spot to relax, you're sure to find it near Charleston.
The restaurant scene in Charleston, SC is nothing short of spectacular. In fact, it's been named the "Best Food City in the United States" by multiple publications, including Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. With its rich history and coastal location, Charleston offers a unique culinary experience that combines traditional Southern fare with innovative, modern cuisine.
Seafood is a staple on most menus, with shrimp and grits being a particular favorite. Local oysters, clams, and fish are also popular choices. Other classic Southern dishes include fried chicken, barbecue, and collard greens. But what really sets Charleston's restaurant scene apart is its emphasis on farm-to-table dining. Many restaurants source their ingredients from local farms and fisheries, making for incredibly fresh and flavorful dishes.
There are countless restaurants to choose from in Charleston, ranging from fine dining establishments to casual cafes. Some popular options include:
- Husk - Chef Sean Brock's acclaimed restaurant focuses on Southern ingredients and traditions, with dishes like cornbread made with Anson Mills heirloom cornmeal and pork belly served with Sea Island red peas.
- FIG - This cozy eatery offers Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients. The menu changes daily, but expect dishes like grilled swordfish with heirloom tomatoes and capers or ricotta gnocchi with roasted mushrooms.
- The Ordinary - Located in a former bank building, The Ordinary serves up some of the best seafood in town. Oysters are the star of the show, but the menu also includes dishes like ceviche, lobster rolls, and clam chowder.
- Xiao Bao Biscuit - This funky spot serves up creative Asian-inspired dishes like mapo tofu, okonomiyaki, and Korean fried chicken. The restaurant is housed in a former gas station and features colorful murals and communal tables.
- Leon's Oyster Shop - This casual eatery is known for its fried chicken sandwiches and oysters, which are served raw or fried. The outdoor patio is a popular spot for happy hour.
These are just a few of the many restaurants that Charleston has to offer. No matter what your taste buds are craving, you're sure to find something delicious in this foodie paradise!
Welcome to a shopper's paradise where you’ll find a wide range of options from luxury boutiques to antique shops. Make sure to check out some of the most popular places to make your purchases!
- King Street: King Street is a must-visit destination for shopping enthusiasts. It's a mile-long strip that is home to some of the best shops, boutiques, and restaurants in Charleston. You'll find a mix of local and high-end brands, from designer stores to local boutiques that sell handmade jewelry, clothing, and accessories.
- City Market: The City Market is a historic landmark in Charleston and a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. It features an open-air market that has been operating since the 1800s. You can find a wide range of goods here, from crafts and souvenirs to local foods and spices.
- Charleston Place: Charleston Place is a luxury hotel and shopping destination located in the heart of the city. It features a range of high-end shops that will not disappoint even the most discriminating of shoppers.
- Antique shops: Charleston is home to many antique shops that offer a unique and charming shopping experience. You'll find a variety of items from vintage furniture and jewelry to rare books and artwork.
- Charleston Farmers Market: The Charleston Farmers Market is a weekly event that takes place every Saturday from April to December. It features local farmers, artisans, and food vendors who sell everything from fresh produce and flowers to handmade crafts and baked goods.
Shopping in Charleston offers a diverse range of options, and no matter what your taste or budget, you're sure to find something you'll love!
Fall in Love for Yourself
Charleston has a rich history with antebellum mansions, historic forts, sprawling plantations, and museums. Its beaches and natural beauty have helped make it one of the most popular destinations in the United States. Pair that with a booming food scene and world-class shopping and it’s no wonder America loves this southern destination. Come for a visit and see if you fall under this city's magical spell!