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Charleston SC Attractions


Historic Homes & Plantations


Our Charleston Visitor's Guide is packed full of fun Charleston SC Attractions. Charleston is one of the most historic cities in the United States and boasts over 1400 significantly historic buildings.  You can shop at the Old City Market, tour historic homes and antebellum mansions or visit 17th century plantations. 




Old City Market


Old City Market
188 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401


The Old City Market is one of the most visited places in Charleston. You may here people refer to it as the “slave market” but no slaves were ever bought or sold here. This was actually the market where slaves bought things like meat, vegetables and seafood for the plantation. Today visitors and residents flock to the market to buy souvenirs, crafts, woven baskets, jewelry, clothing, sweets, and artwork to name a few. Take a stroll through the market to experience Southern charm or to just people watch. If you get hungry while you are shopping, there are numerous restaurants around the market. In 2011 the market underwent a five million dollar renovation and now part of it is air conditioned. The market is opened 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day) and operates from 9:30am - 5:30pm daily. From March - December the market is open until 10:30pm on Friday and Saturday nights. Street parking is available around the market.

Highlights of The Old City Market

  • One of the most visited place in Charleston
  • Was once the place where slaves bought food for the plantation
  • Buy souvenirs, crafts, woven baskets, jewelry, clothing, sweets, and artwork to name a few - Many good restaurants around the market
  • Much of the market is air conditioned 
  • Open 364 days a year (Closed Christmas Day) from 9:30am - 5:30pm - Open until 10:30pm from March - December
  • Street parking is available around the market





 Historic Homes


Aiken-Rhett House


Aiken-Rhett House
48 Elizabeth St
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29403
(843) 723-1159


The house was originally built by John Robinson in 1820 and then sold to William Aiken Sr. in 1827. Aiken died a few years later and the house was left to his son William Aiken Jr. who was the former Governor of South Carolina from 1844 -1846. William Aiken Jr. renovated and expanded the house in the 1850’s. The house was passed down and remained in the family for 142 years until it was bought by the Charleston Museum and opened as a house museum in 1975. The Historic Charleston Foundation purchased the House in 1995. Much of the original style of the house has been preserved and it is one of the few houses that has not been restored. You will see the original wallpaper, original paint colors, and some original furnishings. In the back of the house, the slave quarters, kitchen and yard remain as they were when the original occupants lived here. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the door. You can also purchase combo tickets for the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House for $18. Allow 2-3 hours to tour the house, slave quarters and kitchen.

Highlights of The Aiken-Rhett House

  • Originally built by John Robinson in 1820
  • William Aiken Jr. , the former Governor, bought the house in 1827
  • The house remained in the Aiken family for 142 years
  • Much of the original style remains and the house has not been restored
  • Slave quarters and kitchen remain as they were when the original occupants lived here
  • Admission is $12 or you can buy a combo ticket for the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House for $18
  • Allow 2-3 hours to tour the house, slave quarters and kitchen



Nathaniel Russell House


Nathaniel Russell House
51 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401
Phone: 843-724-8481

The house was built in 1808 by Nathaniel Russell, one of Charleston’s wealthiest merchants. The antebellum townhouse is located in Downtown Charleston a few blocks from the Battery. The Historic Charleston Foundation purchased the National Historic Landmark in 1955. The Foundation began restoring the house in 1995, and the interior now reflects the way it looked in the early 1800’s furnished with fine and decorative arts from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The house is best known for its “free-flying” staircase that spirals up three stories with no visible supports. When you visit, you will learn about the Russell family and the enslaved African Americans who were responsible for maintaining this antebellum townhouse. An exhibition in the original kitchen displays artifacts found during an archaeological dig on the site. After touring the house and kitchen, you can take a stroll through the formal gardens. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the door. You can also purchase combo tickets for the Aiken-Rhett House and the Nathaniel Russell House for $18. Allow 2 hours to tour the house, kitchen, and gardens.

Highlights of The Nathanial Russell House

  • The house was built in 1808 by Nathaniel Russell
  • Interior has been restored and reflects the way it looked in 1808
  • The house is best known for it “free-flying” staircase
  • Learn about the Russel’s and the slaves who maintained the house
  • An exhibition displays artifacts found in the original kitchen
  • Admission is $12 or you can buy a combo ticket for the Nathaniel Russell House and the Aiken-Rhett House for $18
  • Allow 2 hours to tour the house, kitchen and gardens








Calhoun Mansion


Calhoun Mansion
16 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 722-8205

The Calhoun Mansion was built in 1876 and has been called one of the greatest post-Civil War houses on the Eastern Seaboard. The Calhoun Mansion is the largest single family residence in Charleston. It has 35 rooms, a grand ballroom, Japanese water garden, 23 period fireplaces, 75 foot high domed stairhall ceiling, khoi ponds, private elevator, a music room with a 45 foot covered glass skylight, and three levels of piazzas. Before you tour this house, please be advised that this is a private residence and the entire house is not included in the regular tour. The admission is $16 and you should allow about 30 minutes to tour the house. Tickets may be purchased the day of the tour in the Museum shop which is located up the rear stairs to the Mansion. A grand tour is offered for $75 and it includes the entire mansion but you must make reservations in advance.

Highlights of The Calhoun Mansion

  • The Mansion was built in 1876
  • Has been called one of the greatest post-Civil War houses
  • Has 35 rooms, grand ballroom, Japanese water garden, 23 period fireplace, khoi pond, private elevator and three levels of piazzas
  • Home is currently a private residence but open for tours
  • Admission is $16 but does not include the entire house
  • You should allow about 30 minutes to tour the house
  • A grand tour is offered for $75 and includes the entire mansion



Edmonston-Alston House


Edmonston-Alston House
21 E Battery
Charleston SC 29401
(843) 556-6020

The Edmonston-Alston House was one of the first houses built on the Battery in 1825 by Charles Edmonston, a merchant and wharf owner. Edmonston later sold it to Charles Alston, a lowcountry rice planter. General Beauregard watched the bombing of Fort Sumter from this house on April 12, 1861 signalling the start of the Civil War. Later the same year, General Robert E Lee sought refuge in the house when his uptown hotel caught fire.The house is still owned by the Alston family and the first two floors are open for guided tours. The house is one of the few house museums to contain original family furnishings not reproductions or period pieces. You will also find books, silver and paintings. Admission is $12 and you should allow about an hour to view the house and take pictures. Tickets to the Edmonston-Alston House may be purchased online or at the door. 

Highlights of The Edmonston-Alston House

  • One of the first houses built on the Battery in 1825
  • Built by Charles Edmonston and later sold to Charles Alston
  • General Beauregard watched the bombing of Ft. Sumter from the piazza which signaled the start of the Civil War
  • General Robert E Lee sought refuge here when his hotel caught fire
  • One of the few house museums to contain original family furnishing not just reproductions or period pieces
  • The admission is $12 and you should allow about 30 minutes to tour the house



Heyward Washington House


The Heyward Washington House
87 Church St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-0354

The house was built in 1772 by Thomas Heyward Jr., one of the signers of the declaration of Independence. The city rented the house from Heyward for President George Washington’s week long stay in Charleston in May 1791. The home is furnished with period pieces and the original kitchen is still present and open to the public. You can also tour the formal gardens featuring plants commonly used in the South Carolina lowcountry in the 18th century. Admission is $12 for the Heyward Washington House and tickets can be purchased at the door or online. If you plan on visiting the Charleston Museum or the Joseph Manigault House you can buy combo tickets and save money. A combo ticket for 2 sites will be $18 (a savings of $6) and a combo ticket for 3 sites will $28 (a savings of $8). Allow about an hour to tour the house and gardens.

Highlights of The Heyward Washington House

  • House was built in 1772 by Thomas Heyward Jr.
  • Thomas Heyward Jr. was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence
  • Original kitchen is still present and open to the public
  • Tour the formal gardens featuring plants used in the 18th century
  • Admission is $12 and combo tickets are available
  • Allow about an hour to tour the house and gardens



Joseph Manigault House


Joseph Manigualt House
350 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 723-2926

The Joseph Manigualt house was built in 1803 and was designed by Joseph’s brother Gabriel who also designed Charleston’s current City Hall. Joseph was a wealthy rice planter who inherited several rice plantations and over two hundred slaves from his grandfather. Joseph also married into a family with lots of money. His wife's father was Arthur Middleton who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  As you enter the house, you will encounter a magnificent “flying” staircase in the hall and the interior of the house boasts an exceptional collection of American, English and French period furnishings. Admission is $12 for the Joseph Manigualt House and tickets can be purchased at the door or online If you plan on visiting the Charleston Museum or the Heyward-Washington House, you can buy combo tickets and save money. A combo ticket for 2 sites will be $18 (a savings of $6) and a combo ticket for 3 sites will $28 (a savings of $8). Allow about 30 minutes to tour the house.

Highlights of The Joseph Manigault House

  • The house was built in 1803
  • The house was designed by Joseph’s brother who also designed the current Charleston City Hall
  • Has a magnificent “flying” staircase in the hall
  • House is decorated with American, English and French period furnishings
  • Admission is $12 and combo tickets are available
  • House tours last about 30 minutes






 Charleston Plantations


Boone Hall Plantation


Boone Hall Plantation
1235 Long Point Rd
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

Boone Hall Plantation was founded in 1681 by Major John Boone and purchased by the McRae family in 1955. The Plantation is one of America’s oldest working, living plantations. They have been continuously growing and producing crops for three centuries. As you enter Boone Hall Plantation, you will travel down the avenue of oaks. The oaks are over two centuries old and they are draped in Spanish moss. This is one of the most picturesque spots on the plantation. The Georgian designed house on the plantation was built in 1936 and guided tours of the first floor showcase what a house would have looked like back in the 18th century. One of the most unique features of the plantation are the eight original slave cabins on the property. The cabins have artifacts and audio exhibits that help depict the aspects of daily life for the slaves on the plantation. In addition to the house tour and the slave cabins, you can also take a 40 minute ride around the plantation in an open air coach, and then take a self guided garden tour that showcases the beautiful roses that are over 100 years old. Admission is $24 and you should allow about 3 hours to view everything on the plantation. There are a number of special events that take place at Boone Hall each year that effect the normal plantation tour operations so you should always visit the plantations website and check the calendar of events before planning a visit.

Highlights of Boone Hall Plantation

  • Boone Hall Plantation was founded in 1681 by Major John Boone
  • It is one of America’s oldest working, living plantations
  • The avenue of oaks at the entrance has oak trees that are over two centuries old and draped in Spanish moss
  • The Georgian designed house on the plantation was built in 1936 and you can tour the first floor
  • One of the most unique features of the plantation are the eight original slave cabins with artifacts and audio exhibits
  • Take a 40 minute ride around the plantation in an open air coach, and then take a self guided garden tour
  • Admission is $24 and you should allow about 3 hours to view everything



Magnolia Plantation and Garden


Magnolia Plantation
3550 Ashley River Rd
Charleston, SC 29414

The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded in 1676 by the Drayton Family. This is the oldest tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public gardens in America. The Drayton family home dates back to 1873 and is the third home on the site. The two former homes were destroyed by fire during a raid on Union troops. The plantation has remained in the same family for three centuries. Ten rooms of the house are open to the public and the house is furnished with early American antiques, porcelain, quilts and other Drayton family heirlooms. Basic garden admission is $15 and gives you access to the historic gardens, petting zoo, conservatory, theater, Peacock Cafe, Old African American Cabin and gift shop. Additional paid guided tours include plantation house tour, nature train, nature boat, slavery to freedom tour, and the self guided Audubon Swamp Garden tour. Each tour is an additional $8 or you can purchase an all inclusive pass for $47 a person. You should allow about 4-5 hours if you plan on doing everything.

Highlights of Magnolia Plantation & Garden

  • The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded in 1676
  • Ten rooms of the house are open to the public
  • Basic garden admission is $15 and gives you access to the historic gardens, petting zoo, conservatory, theater, and Old African American Cabin
  • Additional paid guided tours include plantation house tour, nature train, nature boat, slavery to freedom tour, and the self guided Audubon Swamp Garden tour (Each tour an additional $8)
  • You can purchase an all inclusive pass for $47 a person
  • You should allow about 4-5 hours if you plan on doing everything



Middleton Place


Middleton Place
4300 Ashley River Rd
Charleston, SC 29414
(843) 556-6020

Middleton Place is an 18th century rice plantation comprised of 65 acres and birthplace to Arthur Middleton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The plantation is now a National Historic Landmark and home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens. The Middleton Place House Museum was built in 1755 as the gentlemen’s guest quarters and is the only structure still standing of the original three building residential complex. The buildings were all  burned by Union troops two months before the end of the Civil War. The building that is still present today was the least burned and was restored to provide living quarters for the family. The house tour gives you insight into the Middleton family and the slaves that helped maintain the plantation. General admission is $28 to the plantation stable yards and gardens and admission to the museum house tour is an additional $15. The plantation has a very good restaurant and an Inn with 55 rooms on the property. Allow about two hours to tour the house and gardens.

Highlights of Middleton Place

  • Middleton Place is an 18th century rice plantation comprised of 65 acres
  • The plantation is the birthplace of Arthur Middleton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence
  • The plantation is now a National Historic Landmark and home to America’s oldest landscaped gardens
  • The house museum was built in 1755 and gives you insight into the Middleton family and the slaves that helped maintain the plantation
  • General admission is $28 to the plantation stable yards and gardens and admission to the museum house tour is an additional $15
  • Allow about two hours to tour the house and gardens



Drayton Hall


Drayton Hall
3380 Ashley River Rd
Charleston, SC 29414

Drayton Hall is one of the only pre-Revolutionary houses that remain in close original condition and one of the oldest surviving plantations. The plantation was built in 1738 and owned by the Drayton family until it was sold to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1974. When you visit Drayton Hall you will learn about the Drayton family along with the seven generations of the Bowen family that were brought to Drayton Hall as slaves. When you visit, be advised that the house looks much the way it did in the early years and it is displayed unfurnished. While at the plantation, you can visit one of the oldest African American Cemeteries still in use. Admission is $22 and you should allow about 2 hours to tour the house, the yard and the cemetery.

Highlights of Drayton Hall

  • Drayton Hall is one of the oldest surviving plantations
  • The plantation was built in 1738 and owned by the Drayton family
  • You will learn about the Drayton Family and the seven generations of the Bowen family who were brought to the plantation as slaves
  • The house looks the way it did in the early years and is displayed unfurnished
  • Visit one of the oldest African American cemeteries still in use
  • Admission is $22 and you should allow about 2 hours to tour the house, the yard and the cemetery



Charleston Tea Plantation


Charleston Tea Plantation
6617 Maybank Hwy
Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487
(843) 559-0383

The Charleston Tea plantation, originally a 127 acre potato farm, is a living piece of American History. In the 1700’s the Camellia Sinensis plant first arrived in the United States from China. Over the next 150 years, many unsuccessful attempts were made to propagate this plant and produce tea. In 1888, Dr. Charles Shephard founded the Pinehurst Tea Plantation in Summerville, SC and for the first time, tea was being grown in the United States.  Dr. Shephard died in 1915 but the tea continued to grow wild for the next 48 years on the Pinehurst Tea Plantation. In 1963, the tea plants were transplanted to the Charleston Tea Plantation. Today when you visit the Charleston Tea Plantation you can take a factory tour and learn about the history of tea, take a scenic trolley ride around the 127 acre farm, stroll around the grounds, and visit the gift shop. The Plantation also has a picnic area with picnic tables. Admission is free but the trolley ride is $10 and you should allow about an hour and a half to tour the plantation.

Highlights of The Charleston Tea Plantation

  • The plantation was originally a 127 acre potato farm
  • The Camellia Sinensis plant originally arrived from China in the 1700's but tea was not successfully grown in the United States until 1888
  • Tea began growing on the Charleston Tea Plantation in 1963
  • Tour the factory and take a scenic trolley ride around the plantation
  • Has a picnic area for guests to use
  • Admission is free but the trolley ride is $10
  • You should allow about an hour and a half to tour the plantation



Cypress Gardens


CYPRESS GARDENS IS CLOSED INDEFINITELY DUE TO FLOOD DAMAGE

Cypress Gardens
3030 Cypress Gardens Rd
Moncks Corner, SC 29461

Cypress Gardens is a 163 acre swamp garden located about 30 minutes from downtown Charleston in Moncks Corner. The gardens were originally used as a freshwater reserve for the nearby rice plantation, Dean Hall. When you visit the gardens, you can visit the Butterfly House where you can observe the different stages of a butterflies life cycle or you can visit the Swamparium where large tanks feature fish, amphibians and reptiles native to the South Carolina Lowcountry. You can also use a swamp boat to paddle along a marked trail looking for alligators, birds and turtles or take a stroll along the 3.5 miles of walking trails that loop through the swamp and gardens. These amazing gardens were used in filming scenes from the The Notebook, Cold Mountain and The Patriot. Admission is $10 and you should allow an hour and a half to two hours to tour the gardens.

Highlights of Cypress Gardens

  • 163 acre swamp garden located about 30 minutes from downtown
  • Originally used as a freshwater reserve for the nearby rice plantation, Dean Hall
  • Visit the Butterfly House and Swamparium where you can see butterflies, fish, amphibians and reptiles native to the Lowcountry
  • Use a swamp boat to paddle along a marked trail looking for alligators, birds and turtles
  • Take a stroll along the 3.5 miles of walking trails that loop through the swamp and gardens
  • Admission is $10 and you should allow an hour and a half to two hours to tour the gardens



Charles Pinckney National Historic Site 


Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
1254 Long Point Rd
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
(843) 881-5516

The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site is located on about 28 acres of land that was formerly Snee Farms. Snee Farms was a 715 acre rice plantation that Charles Pinckney inherited from his father in 1782. Charles Pinckney was one of four representatives from South Carolina that attended the Constitutional Convention and also served four terms as South Carolina’s Governor. None of the original structures remain from when Pinckney lived on Snee Farms. The current structure is an 1820’s cottage built of local cypress and pine. Exhibits give insight into Charles Pinckney, his role into the development of the Constitution, his plantation, and the changing role slavery had on the country. Admission is free and you should allow about an hour to view the exhibits and walk on the trail.

Highlights of The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

  • Located on 28 acres that was formerly Snee Farms, a rice plantation
  • Charles Pinckney is one of four representatives from South Carolina that attended the Constitutional Convention
  • None of the original structures remain from when Pinckney lived on Snee Farms
  • The current structure is an 1820's cottage built of local cypress and pine
  • Exhibits give insight into Charles Pinckney, his role in the development of the Constitution, his plantation and the changing role slavery had on the country
  • Admission is free and you should allow about an hour 




Historic Churches


Charleston is a beautiful, charming city which dates back to the late 1600’s and contains many Historic Churches. The majestic steeples and spires are visible throughout the city. Regardless of religious affiliation or denomination, these beautiful buildings inspire millions of visitors every year. You can see many of these churches by taking  narrated walking and carriage tours but if you wish to see them on your own, here is the list of Charleston SC Historic Churches.



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