Top 10 Charleston Attractions

One of the United States' oldest cities, Charleston, looks much as it did 150 years ago. A walk or carriage ride through the historic district feels like traveling back in time. The city offers visitors plenty to experience and explore including beautiful parks, antebellum mansions, colonial plantations, museums, and historic sites. We have compiled a list of the 10 best Charleston attractions and activities. 

Top 10 Charleston Attractions

Carriage Tours

A visit to Charleston is not complete without taking a horse drawn carriage tour. Riders will climb aboard old-fashioned open-air carriages and travel back in time while tour guides point out historic landmarks and share fascinating stories of the people and events that shaped the city’s history.

McLeod Plantation Historic Site

McLeod Plantation, a 37-acre Gullah/Geechee heritage site, is a living tribute to the men and women whose stories are essential to understanding Charleston’s complex past. The grounds include the 600 year old McLeod Oak, the McLeod family home, and the former slave cabins.

Riley Riverfront Park 

Riley Waterfront Park, located near the Market, is one of Charleston's most visited parks. The park has old-fashioned park benches and large swings that create a relaxed atmosphere. The park also features tree-lined walkways, spectacular views of the harbor, and the famous Pineapple Fountain.

Patriots Point

Patriots Points is one of the most unique museums you will ever visit. This Naval and Maritime museum is home to the USS Yorktown, a WWII aircraft carrier. Visitors can also tour a navy destroyer and submarine, get an up close look at the Apollo 8 capsule, and view over 40 interactive exhibits.

Nathaniel Russel and Aiken-Rhett House

The Nathaniel Russell and Aiken-Rhett house museums give visitors a glimpse into what life was like in the early 1800’s. One house has been preserved so it looks just the way it did over 200 years ago while the other house has been restored and features an unforgettable free standing, spiral staircase. 

The Battery and White Point Gardens

The Battery is considered to be one of Charleston’s most iconic historic sites. The Battery was once a defensive seawall, but is now a promenade bordered by antebellum mansions and White Point Gardens Park with views of Fort Sumter in the distance.

Fort Sumter National Monument

Located at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, a crumbling pentagon-shaped structure still stands as a reminder of the barbaric war that began in South Carolina. It was here, on the night of April 12, 1861 that the first shots of the Civil War were fired. 

Charleston Museum

Founded in 1773 and commonly regarded as “America’s First Museum,” The Charleston Museum tells the story of this area from its prehistory to the 20th century. The museum features several permanent exhibits, including Early Days, the Natural History Gallery, Lowcountry History Hall, and The Armory. 

Historic City Market

One of the nation's oldest markets, The Charleston City Market, is over 200 years old. The market consists of the enclosed Great Hall and three open air sheds. Dozens of vendors showcase goods including crafts, artwork, jewelry, local foods, and sweetgrass baskets. 

Sullivan's Island

Sullivan’s Island is a 3 mile long barrier island north of the Charleston harbor. The beach on the island is the least commercialized of the area beaches and home to the unique looking Sullivan's Island Lighthouse. Free parking is available along the streets leading up to the bridge. 

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