30 Fun Things to Do in Charleston SC | 2024 (with Photos)

James A. Smith

James A. Smith - Chief Editor

Published: July 25, 2023

Hey there! I'm James, a passionate traveler who has explored every nook and cranny of Charleston SC. With my deep love for its history, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, stunning architecture, and picturesque landscapes, I've compiled a list of 30 unforgettable activities that will ensure you have an amazing time in this charming city. Enjoy exploring Charleston to the fullest and happy travels!

Charleston SC

Charleston, SC is a city that is steeped in history and charm. With its picturesque streets lined with cobblestones and colorful antebellum houses, it is no wonder that it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

However, Charleston is much more than just a pretty face. It offers visitors a wealth of exciting and fun things to do, ranging from exploring its historic landmarks to enjoying Charleston culinary tours.

So, we will take a closer look at 30 of the most exciting things to do in Charleston, SC. Then, you can plan the ultimate Charleston getaway.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Visit the Charleston City Market.

Top Choice Hotel

Belmond Charleston Place.

Our Top Choice Restaurant


Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

The Belmont

Best Time to Visit

Spring, summer: Pleasant weather, beautiful gardens and beaches.

Average Temperature

Warm summers, mild winters in Charleston, United States.

Transportation Options

Buses, trolleys, bikes, rideshares, taxis, walking, ferries, tours.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Charleston, United States of America is a charming city brimming with rich history and vibrant culture. One must not miss strolling through the historic streets lined with pastel-colored homes, as it feels like stepping into a storybook.

Indulge in culinary delights by diving into the city's flourishing food scene, where you can savor a delicious shrimp and grits dish at a local seafood joint or relish some authentic southern barbeque at a lively outdoor eatery. Charleston's warm and welcoming atmosphere will make you feel like a local, immersing yourself in the city's unique blend of old-world charm and modern sophistication.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Comfortable walking shoes
  2. Sunscreen and hat
  3. Light and breathable clothing
  4. Insect repellent
  5. Travel adapter for electrical outlets
  6. Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
  7. Cash and/or credit cards
  8. A city map or navigation app
  9. Travel guide book or information brochure
  10. Reusable water bottle

What Not to Miss

  1. Rainbow Row
  2. Charleston City Market
  3. The Battery
  4. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
  5. Fort Sumter National Monument
  6. Middleton Place
  7. Waterfront Park
  8. The Gibbes Museum of Art
  9. Charleston Museum
  10. King Street shopping district

What to Avoid

  1. Crowded tourist areas
  2. Rush hour traffic
  3. Overpriced restaurants and attractions
  4. Neglecting to explore the local cuisine and culture
  5. Ignoring the natural beauty of the area
  6. Skipping the historical sites and museums
  7. Neglecting to plan ahead for popular events or festivals
  8. Abandoning safety precautions, especially when swimming or participating in water activities
  9. Overpacking with unnecessary items
  10. Missing out on the opportunity to interact with locals and learn about their traditions and customs.

1. Explore the Wonders of Marine Life at the South Carolina Aquarium

South Carolina Aquarium

The South Carolina Aquarium, located in Charleston, SC is a popular attraction for visitors of all ages. The aquarium features a wide range of exhibits that showcase the unique and diverse marine life of the Southeast region.

Visitors to the South Carolina Aquarium can see everything from sharks and sea turtles to river otters and jellyfish. Moreover, the South Carolina Aquarium offers interactive experiences, such as touch tanks and behind-the-scenes tours, as well as educational programs and events.

With its stunning views of Charleston Harbor and its commitment to conservation and sustainability, the South Carolina Aquarium is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the area.

2. Discover the Timeless Charm of Downtown Charleston

Downtown Charleston

Downtown Charleston is a charming and historic district that is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. Known for its cobblestone streets, pastel-colored houses, and stunning architecture, Downtown Charleston is a striking place to behold.

Visitors can explore landmarks such as the Battery, Waterfront Park, and Rainbow Row, or simply stroll through the picturesque streets and soak up the city's unique charm.

With its wide range of shops, restaurants, and attractions, Downtown Charleston is the perfect place to experience the best of Southern hospitality and culture.

3. Explore the Vibrant Culture of Historic Charleston City Market

Charleston City Market

The Historic Charleston City Market is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the city.

Founded in 1804, the Historic Charleston City Market has a long and fascinating history and is now a bustling hub for local vendors selling everything from handmade crafts and souvenirs to fresh produce and seafood.

Visitors can stroll through the open-air stalls, admire the beautiful architecture, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this beloved historic landmark.

4. Discover the Beauty and History of Charleston Harbor

 Charleston Harbor

Charleston Harbor is a beautiful and historic body of water that has played a vital role in the city's development over the centuries.

Visitors can take a scenic boat tour to explore the harbor and its many sights, including Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

The Charleston Harbor is also a popular spot for fishing, kayaking, and other water sports, and offers stunning views of the city's skyline and iconic landmarks such as the Ravenel Bridge.

5. Discover the Legacy of the Civil War at Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter played a significant role in the American Civil War and is one of the more popular tourist attractions in Charleston, SC. Built in the early 19th century to protect Charleston Harbor, it was here that the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861.

Visitors can explore the fort and learn about its history through exhibits and ranger-led tours. The museum features artifacts from the war, including uniforms, weapons, and personal belongings of soldiers who fought at Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter also offers educational programs and events that explore the Civil War and its impact on the country.

In addition to its historical significance, Fort Sumter is also a beautiful natural area with scenic views of the harbor and the city skyline.

Fort Sumter National Monument is an indispensable destination for both history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike, offering a unique blend of historical significance and natural beauty.

6. Relax and Unwind at Charleston's Waterfront Park

Charleston's Waterfront Park

Charleston Waterfront Park is a picturesque park located in Downtown Charleston, overlooking the Charleston Harbor.

Waterfront Park features stunning views of the water and the iconic Pineapple Fountain, as well as a large green space for picnics and relaxation.

Visitors to Waterfront Park can also take a stroll on the pier and watch the boats go by or catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming in the harbor.

Waterfront Park in Charleston is an essential place to experience due to its breathtaking views and peaceful ambiance.

7. Visit The Pineapple Fountain

Pineapple Fountain

The Pineapple Fountain is a popular landmark and fountain located in Waterfront Park in Charleston, SC. The fountain was designed to symbolize hospitality, which is a traditional Southern value.

You can walk around the fountain, take pictures, and enjoy the beautiful views of Charleston Harbor. The Pineapple Fountain is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting the city.

8. Discover the History of Middleton Place Plantation

Middleton Place Plantation

The striking and eerie Middleton Place National Historic Landmark is a historic plantation located in North Charleston, South Carolina. You can explore Middleton Place and its grounds, including its formal gardens, rice fields, and nature trails.

Middleton Place also offers guided tours of the historic house and exhibits that showcase the life and culture of the Lowcountry. While there is a dark history behind plantations in the South, it is important to learn this history and learn from it.

Middleton Place is a popular destination for visitors of all ages and an essential landmark for those seeking to understand the region's cultural heritage.

9. Experience Live Music in Charleston at the Charleston Music Hall

Charleston Music Hall

Charleston Music Hall is a live music venue located in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The venue features a variety of musical genres, including jazz, blues, folk, and rock.

With its intimate setting and top-notch sound system, the Charleston Music Hall offers a unique and memorable concert experience for music lovers of all ages.

10. Step Back in Time at the Nathaniel Russell House

Nathaniel Russell House

The Nathaniel Russell House is a historic home located in downtown Charleston, SC. Built in 1808, the house features stunning neoclassical architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can explore the house's beautifully restored interior, which includes period furnishings, artwork, and decorative arts.

For those intrigued by Charleston's cultural legacy, a visit to the Nathaniel Russell House is a must, as its striking architecture is sure to captivate all who enter.

11. Discover the Best of Coastal Living at Folly Beach

Folly Beach

Folly Beach is a popular barrier island located just a short drive from downtown Charleston, South Carolina.

Known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches, Folly Beach offers a range of activities for visitors to enjoy, including swimming, surfing, fishing, and boating.

You can explore the local shops and restaurants, take a sunset stroll along the pier, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun.

Folly Beach Island is also home to a vibrant community of artists, musicians, and writers, making it a hub of creativity and culture.

With its unique charm and natural beauty, Folly Beach is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Charleston.

12. Step into the Past at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Another historic plantation located near Charleston, South Carolina, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens was founded in 1676. The plantation features beautiful gardens and historic buildings.

You can explore the plantation's gardens, which include a variety of plant species, including azaleas, camellias, and magnolias.

The plantation also offers guided tours so you can see inside the house, learn about how the plantation used to run, and remember the enslaved men, women, and children who worked on the property.

Magnolia Plantation is a popular destination for visitors of all ages and a must-see attraction in Charleston.

13. Discover the Art of Tea at Charleston Tea Plantation

Charleston Tea Plantation

Charleston Tea Plantation is located on Wadmalaw Island near Charleston, South Carolina, and is the only tea plantation in North America.

Visitors can take a trolley tour of the Charleston Tea Plantation, learn about tea production, and sample a variety of teas. The plantation's gift shop offers a wide selection of teas and tea-related products.

14. Step into Antebellum Charleston at Aiken-Rhett House Museum

Aiken-Rhett House Museum

The Aiken-Rhett House Museum is a historic house museum in Charleston, South Carolina. Built in 1820, the house has been preserved in its original state and provides visitors with a glimpse into the daily life of a wealthy Charleston family in the 19th century.

The Aiken-Rhett House Museum offers guided tours and features a collection of decorative arts and furnishings from the period.

15. Get a Guided Tour of Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall Plantation is a historic plantation located near Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1681.

Visitors can explore the plantation's gardens, which include a variety of plant species, including oak trees that are over 300 years old.

The plantation also offers guided tours of the historic house. With its natural beauty, Boone Hall Plantation is a popular destination for visitors of all ages and a must-see attraction in Charleston.

Once again, this plantation provides an opportunity to reflect on the history of the US and racial inequalities.

16. Experience Coastal Beauty and Fun at Folly Beach County Park and Pier in Charleston, South Carolina

Folly Beach County Park

Folly Beach County Park is a popular destination located on Folly Beach near Charleston, South Carolina. The park offers beach access, picnic areas, and nature trails, and is home to the Folly Beach Pier, which extends 1,045 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.

You can fish, walk along the pier, or simply enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean and surrounding scenery. Folly Beach is a great spot for a day trip or a weekend getaway for visitors looking to relax and soak up the sun.

17. Unwind in Courses at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

The Ocean Course, Kiawah Island

After a few days of exploring, you will want to rest, and Kiawah Island Golf Resort is the place to be. This luxury resort is located on Kiawah Island, just outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

The resort features world-renowned golf courses, luxurious accommodations, and a variety of dining and recreational options.

With its beautiful scenery and top-notch amenities, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is a popular destination for golf enthusiasts and vacationers looking for a relaxing getaway.

There is also a spa and a Nature Center in the area, so you have plenty of great options for your downtime in Charleston.

18. Explore Charleston Farmers Market

Charleston Farmers Market

The Charleston Farmers Market is a popular outdoor market that takes place on Marion Square in the heart of downtown Charleston.

The market features over 100 vendors selling fresh produce, local crafts, and prepared foods. Visitors can enjoy live music and a variety of events throughout the market season.

19. Explore the History and Beauty of Ashley River

Ashley River

Visiting Ashley River offers a unique blend of history and nature. With its picturesque scenery, the Ashley River provides the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching.

You can also explore the Ashley River and its historical significance by taking a guided tour of the numerous plantations that line its banks, including Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, and Drayton Hall in North Charleston. There is an audio tour available at Drayton Hall for self-guided tours.

These sites offer a glimpse into the region's complex past, including its pivotal role in the production of rice and indigo. A trip to Ashley River is a must-see for anyone interested in experiencing the city's history and natural beauty.

20. Discover the Beauty and History of Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island

Sullivan's Island is a barrier island located in Charleston County, South Carolina. Sullivan's Island is known for its beautiful beaches and historic significance.

Sullivan's Island is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors for its recreational activities, restaurants, and quaint small-town charm.

The island was the site of a pivotal battle in the American Revolution and also played a role in the Civil War.

21. Marveling at the Magnificence of Angel Oak

Angel Oak Tree

Angel Oak is a Southern live oak tree located on Johns Island, South Carolina. Angel Oak is estimated to be between 400 and 500 years old, with a height of 65 feet and a canopy spread of 17,000 square feet.

Its branches are so long and heavy that they rest on the ground, giving the tree a unique and awe-inspiring appearance. Angel Oak is a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world who come to marvel at its ancient beauty.

Angel Oak is considered a symbol of resilience, having survived hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters throughout its long life.

22. Step Back in Time at Dock Street Theatre

Dock Street Theatre

Dock Street Theatre is a historic theater located in Charleston, South Carolina. It was built in 1736 and is considered one of the oldest theaters in the country.

Today, the theater is a popular venue for performances and events and is known for its stunning architecture and rich history.

23. Explore Charleston's Rich Heritage at the Charleston Museum

Charleston Museum

The Charleston Museum is one of the oldest museums in the United States and is located in downtown Charleston, SC.

Founded in 1773, Charleston Museum features exhibits that showcase Charleston's history and culture, including artifacts from Native American tribes, the colonial era, and the Civil War.

You can also explore the museum's decorative art collection, which features furniture, ceramics, and textiles from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Charleston Museum is an essential stop for those seeking to delve deeper into the history of Charleston, as its extensive and varied collection offers something for everyone.

24. Explore the Charming Ambiance of East Bay Street

East Bay Street

East Bay Street is a historic street in Charleston that runs along the Cooper River. It is a popular destination for Charleston visitors and is located just a short walk from King Street.

East Bay Street is home to many restaurants, bars, and shops, making it an excellent place to explore and get a taste of South Carolina's vibrant culture.

25. Relax and Reflect on the Beauty of White Point Gardens

White Point Gardens

White Point Garden is a public park located in Charleston, SC. White Point Garden is situated on the southern tip of the Charleston peninsula and offers stunning views of the Charleston Harbor.

White Point Garden is known for its historic statues and monuments, including a Civil War-era artillery battery. Visitors can stroll through the park, enjoy a picnic, or simply relax and take in the beautiful scenery.

White Point Gardens is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

26. Explore the Painful Legacy of Slavery at the Old Slave Mart Museum

Old Slave Mart Museum

The Old Slave Mart Museum is a historic site located in Charleston's city center. It was once a slave auction gallery where enslaved Africans were bought and sold.

Today, the museum serves as a testament to the city's role in the slave trade and the African American experience.

Visitors can explore exhibits on slavery and the Underground Railroad, and gain a deeper understanding of the complex Charleston's history.

27. Explore Charleston's Charming Broad Street

Broad Street

Broad Street is a historic street located in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. It is lined with a variety of shops, restaurants, and historic buildings, including St. Michael's Episcopal Church and the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Visitors can take a leisurely stroll down Broad Street and soak in the charming atmosphere of the city or stop in at one of the many businesses along the way. Broad Street is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

28. Explore Charleston's Vibrant City Center

Charleston's Vibrant City Center

Charleston's city center is a hub of activity and a popular destination when visiting Charleston. Charleston Tours offers an excellent way to get to know the city center.

Exploring Charleston's historic city is best done by taking a Charleston food tour or walking tour, and visiting the Charleston Farmers Market is a must-do activity for sampling fresh produce and locally made crafts.

For those looking for a shopping and dining experience, King Street has plenty to offer with trendy boutiques and restaurants, while the colorful Rainbow Row houses make for a perfect backdrop for a memorable photo.

29. Discover the Vibrant Charm of Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row is a row of 13 brightly colored historic houses located in Charleston's city center. The Rainbow Row houses date back to the 18th century and are one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.

Visitors can take a stroll along East Bay St and admire the vibrant hues of the houses or stop in at one of the many shops and restaurants in the area. Rainbow Row is a popular destination for tourists and locals.

30. Explore the Rich Naval Heritage of USS Yorktown

Rich Naval Heritage of USS Yorktown

USS Yorktown is a historic aircraft carrier that is now a museum ship located in Charleston, South Carolina. The ship served in World War II and was involved in several major battles, including the Battle of Midway.

Today, you can tour the ship and learn about its storied history, from its early years in the Navy to its retirement as a museum.

The USS Yorktown is a popular attraction for history buffs and anyone interested in the military history of the United States.

FAQs About Things to Do in Charleston, SC

Let's look at some frequently asked questions about fun things to do in Charleston, SC.

How do you spend 4 days in Charleston SC?

Charleston, SC offers a wealth of activities, it is easy to spend 4 days here. Visitors can explore the historic downtown, taking in the sights and colorful houses in the area. Some of the best tourist attractions in Charleston include White Point Gardens, Drayton Hall, and King Street. Moreover, spending a few hours in Hampton Park is a great way to unwind.

What are some good outdoor attractions in Charleston, South Carolina?

One of the best outdoor attractions in Charleston is the Battery, built as a defense wall of the city. It runs along the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, providing great views. Other ways to enjoy the outdoors in the Charleston area include walking tours of the city center, which is a vibrant cultural hub, and trips from the ferry terminal, which is within walking distance from the center.

What is the most stylish part of Charleston?

The most stylish part of Charleston is often considered to be Upper King Street. Upper King Street is home to trendy restaurants, bars, and high-end shops. A visit to Upper King Street is essential as it offers lively nightlife, numerous art galleries, and one-of-a-kind boutiques, all in one location.

What is Charleston popular for?

Charleston is a popular destination known for architecture and southern charm. It features many popular attractions such as the Cooper River, a National Historic Landmark District, Boone Hall, Middleton Place, and several walking tours. The city is also referred to as the "Holy City" and is South Carolina's oldest city.

Summing up: Fun Things to Do in Charleston, SC

Charleston is an irresistible travel destination that beckons visitors with its warm southern welcome, fascinating heritage, and stunning coastal surroundings.

This historic city is dotted with many popular tourist attractions, including the Cooper River, the Johns Island Farmers Market, and the historic Drayton Hall.

The city's culinary scene is also renowned, with Charleston Culinary Tours being a popular way to explore it.

A stroll along King Street, a few hours at Middleton Place, and some time in the city's many museums will be memorable experiences when you visit Charleston.