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Charleston, SC
Travel Guide

Charleston

Steeped in history, this Southern town is an ideal spot for walking tours of antebellum mansions, beautiful gardens and fine restaurants. 

Charleston is best explored on a walking tour or in a horse-drawn carriage with your driver telling stories about city landmarks. Learn about military history and the Southern way of life. Sample local foods of shrimp and grits, Lowcountry barbecue, collard greens and sweet pralines.

The American Civil War began here, when the seceding Confederacy fired upon and overtook federal Fort Sumter in the Charleston River. A later Union attack reduced the fort to rubble. Take a ferry to see the historic site, which also contains a complete timeline of U.S. naval activities along the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

Across the harbor, walk along The Battery and White Point Garden to gaze at the fort, now a national monument. Reflect on this pivotal moment in U.S. history. Turn around to view pretty antebellum houses surrounded by flowers in this neighborhood known as South of Broad. The writer Pat Conroy lived here. Many of his popular novels reveal not only Charleston’s geography, but also its cultural nuances.

To the west, the brilliant white Romanesque architecture of The Citadel gleams against a bright blue Charleston sky. Watch military cadets in dress uniforms during weekly parades or competing in weekend football games against other Southern colleges in the fall.

Nearby visit Middleton Place, a 1755 plantation with one of the nation’s earliest landscaped gardens. Something blooms here at any time of year. You might see an alligator sunning itself next to the Ashley River.

To the east, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is an impressive modern structure, especially with its triangular arches illuminated at night. Walk, bike or drive across for excellent views of the river and harbor or run across during the Cooper River Bridge 10K Run in early April.

Spring’s Spoleto Festival offers opera, theater, dance, music and artist talks. Throughout the year, visit the Charleston Historic Market to purchase locally made handicrafts. Famous hand-woven sweetgrass baskets, once used during rice harvesting, are still made by locals and treasured as artworks.

Where to stay in Charleston

The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel
The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel
4 out of 5
115 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC
The price is $260 per night from May 5 to May 6
Located in Charleston Historic District, this romantic hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Gibbes Museum of Art and Charleston City Market. Waterfront Park and ...
4.3/5Excellent! (1,200 reviews)
"The public areas of the property were very nice. Valet parking did take a bit of time, as they only had two valets and there are only like 3 spots to sit and wait and it takes them some time to run back and forth. The front desk staff was nice. The room was a typical room, nothing spectacular, but ..."

Reviewed on Apr 19, 2021

The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel
The Francis Marion Hotel
The Francis Marion Hotel
4 out of 5
387 King St, Charleston, SC
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $199 per night from May 16 to May 17
Located in Charleston Historic District, this spa hotel is steps from Marion Square and College of Charleston. Charleston Music Hall and Charleston Museum are ...
The Francis Marion Hotel
Days Inn by Wyndham Charleston Historic District
Days Inn by Wyndham Charleston Historic District
2 out of 5
155 Meeting St, Charleston, SC
The price is $122 per night from Apr 28 to Apr 29
Located in Charleston Historic District, this motel is steps from Gibbes Museum of Art and Charleston City Market. Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal and Waterfront ...
3.4/5Good! (1,195 reviews)
"The facility was clean and safe. The staff was helpful. The hotel is centrally located to (ie. walkable to) all of the major historic sites and shopping areas. This was a great place to stay ESPECIALLY for the price. I will stay here when I'm in town again."

Reviewed on Apr 20, 2021

Days Inn by Wyndham Charleston Historic District
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Charleston-North Charleston
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Charleston-North Charleston
2.5 out of 5
7535 Northside Drive, North Charleston, SC
The price is $79 per night from May 2 to May 3
Situated near the airport, this aparthotel is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Northwoods Mall and within 6 mi (10 km) of Charleston Southern University and Charleston Tanger ...
4.4/5Wonderful! (833 reviews)
"Enjoyed the kitchinette. Staff was very helpful & friendly. Would tecommend."

Reviewed on Apr 15, 2021

TownePlace Suites by Marriott Charleston-North Charleston
TownePlace Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center
TownePlace Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center
2.5 out of 5
5001 Fashion Avenue, North Charleston, SC
The price is $134 per night from May 2 to May 3
Situated in the entertainment district, this aparthotel is within a 15-minute walk of Charleston Tanger Outlets and North Charleston Coliseum and Performing ...
4.4/5Excellent! (188 reviews)
"The hotel was clean, comfortable, and staff were friendly."

Reviewed on Apr 10, 2021

TownePlace Suites Charleston Airport/Convention Center
The Cottages on Charleston Harbor
The Cottages on Charleston Harbor
4 out of 5
16 Patriots Point Road, Mount Pleasant, SC
Situated in Mount Pleasant, this golf cottage is within a 15-minute walk of Patriots Point and USS Yorktown. Waterfront Park and Port of Charleston Cruise Terminal ...
4.5/5Wonderful! (4 reviews)
"The cottage we stayed in needed a lot of updating. The grout on all the tile in the bathrooms and kitchen needed to be scrubbed. The leather chairs and ottoman were worn and look like they have never been conditioned. There was mildew on the caulk in the shower. Needs a good thorough cleaning and ..."

Reviewed on Mar 1, 2020

The Cottages on Charleston Harbor
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Getting around Charleston

Much of Charleston is walkable, and this is by far the most enjoyable way to explore this historic city. When you do need to get somewhere fast, you have a few options. Make use of the trolley to get to popular attractions, or ride the bus to reach more residential areas. Taxis are another possibility. Note, though, that taxis aren’t easy to hail in the street, so should be booked in advance. Visit the Charleston Regional Transportation Authority website.Browse Charleston rental cars.

Best time to visit

The summer months in Charleston can get very hot, so most people will find a spring or fall visit more pleasant. Come between March and May or between September and November for sunny weather and temperatures that rarely climb above the low 80s F (20s C). One benefit of coming in spring is that you'll see the city’s pretty flowers in bloom. In fall, meanwhile, colorful foliage transforms the streets.

Popular places to visit in Charleston

Top things to do in Charleston

Reviews of Charleston

4.7

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
2479
5 - Excellent 70.52631578947368%
4 - Good
926
4 - Good 26.344238975817923%
3 - Okay
96
3 - Okay 2.731152204836415%
2 - Disappointing
12
2 - Disappointing 0.3413940256045519%
1 - Terrible
2
1 - Terrible 0.05689900426742532%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jun 2, 2020

One of the best and most beautiful cities in the nation!

5/5 - Excellent

RnB

May 30, 2020

Beautiful city, beach is quite, locals are friendly

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 28, 2020

Great shopping. I am coming back to explore more

5/5 - Excellent

Diana

May 27, 2020

Our best place to vacation

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

May 26, 2020

The beach was amazing

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

May 26, 2020

Carriage ride was great. Beautiful place to see

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