How to Spend a Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina

Location: United States, East Coast,
Charleston Travel Guide Scaled

A few weeks ago, hubby and I took a trip down to spend a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. Our primary reason as to why we went down south was because I was speaking at a social media conference – SMADCON – but, off course, we had to make it a trip where we could experience the city, get some southern food, and learn the history of Charleston. Though we only really had 72 hours in Charleston, we were able to experience quite a few things and learned that we need to head back sooner than we really planned.

If you want to spend a weekend in a southern city, it’s hard to beat Charleston. You can explore both the city as well as the nearby beaches, and can experience beautiful sights, great food, and fascinating history. There’s something for everyone to love, so whether you’re traveling with friends, family, or going solo, there will be ways to spend your days no matter how much time you have to spend in the area. I can guarantee that you’ll find yourself ready to return! Keep reading for some of my top travel tips when visiting this beautiful southern city.

Charleston Travel Guide

A WEEKEND IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

For those who don’t know, my paternal grandmother’s side of the family is actually from South Carolina. So since I was a little one, I have spent many summers in the south as well as every other Thanksgiving. My family is actually from Hartsville which is a little more country and way less city – if you know what I mean – and to be honest, as close as I had been, I had never actually been to Charleston. So this was my first time, and it did not disappoint.

Getting to CHARLESTON

BY PLANE

The various times that I have visited Charleston, I have typically arrived by plane. Coming from Pennsylvania the flight is actually quite short and it seems like you’re going up in the air to come right back down. For some, you may think it may be worth it to drive, but that is all up to your preference. Upon arrival at Charleston International Airport (CHS), the state’s largest and busiest airport, you’re greeted with direct flights from over 30 cities, predominantly along the East Coast, Upper Midwest, and Texas. You’ll also find that there are a lot of layovers that fly into Charleston which makes it even busier during high travel months. Though lacking nonstop flights from California, the journey to Charleston promises a worthwhile adventure, even if it entails a brief layover, such as my stop in Atlanta, Georgia en route to SFO. Upon touchdown at CHS, the 12-mile journey to downtown Charleston beckons, offering various transportation options, from rental cars to taxis, ride-shares, and even public transit via the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), ensuring a seamless transition into the city’s timeless charm.

BY CAR

Charleston is super easy to get to by car, especially with Interstate 26 running right through it, linking the city with Columbia and Asheville to the north, and Savannah and Jacksonville to the south. If you’re coming from further away, you can hop on I-26 via other major highways like I-95 or I-77. For the times that I have driven with family from Pennsylvania to Charleston, it took us close to about 5-6 hours with little traffic. Once navigating out of the suburban area, it’s a straight shot down 95 South to get to Charleston.

BY TRAIN

Charleston is well-connected to other major cities in the US by both bus and train. Greyhound Lines can get you to Charleston from a whole slew of different cities, including New York City, Atlanta, and Charlotte. If you’re more of a train person, Amtrak has got you covered with service to Charleston via the Palmetto and Silver Meteor routes. Just keep in mind that the Charleston Amtrak station is located in North Charleston, about 10 miles from downtown. From there, you can easily grab a taxi, ride-share, or public transit to get you right into the heart of the city.

WHEN TO Visit Charleston

Charleston is gorgeous year-round, but the best times to visit really depend on what you’re looking for. Personally, I think spring (March to May) is the absolute best. The weather is perfect—not too hot, not too cold—and the city comes alive with blooming flowers, especially the azaleas and magnolias. Plus, there are tons of events and festivals, like the Charleston Wine + Food Festival in March, which is a must if you’re a foodie like me.

Fall (September to November) is another fantastic time to visit. The summer crowds have thinned out, the temperatures are pleasantly mild, and the city hosts some great events like MOJA Arts Festival, celebrating African-American and Caribbean culture. I love strolling through the historic streets without breaking a sweat and enjoying the crisp, fresh air.

Summer (June to August) is peak tourist season, and while it can get pretty hot and humid, it’s also a vibrant time to be in the city. If you don’t mind the heat, there’s a lot to enjoy—from beach trips to nearby Sullivan’s Island or Folly Beach to evening ghost tours that take advantage of the long days.

Winter (December to February) is the off-season, so if you prefer a quieter, more laid-back experience, this might be the time for you. The temperatures are cooler but still mild compared to many places up north. Plus, you can enjoy the festive holiday decorations and events without the crowds.

No matter when you decide to visit, Charleston has its own unique charm each season. Just pack accordingly, plan your activities, and you’re bound to have an amazing time!

HOW TO Get Around CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA

Getting around Charleston is a breeze, and there are plenty of options to suit your style and needs. Let me share some tips from my own experience to help you navigate the city smoothly.

First off, if you’re staying downtown, walking is your best bet. Charleston is super walkable, with its historic streets, charming alleyways, and beautiful architecture. I absolutely loved strolling around, discovering hidden gems, and soaking in the city’s rich history. Plus, you can easily hop from one landmark to another without worrying about parking.

If you prefer not to walk everywhere, biking is another fantastic option. The city has plenty of bike rental shops, and you’ll often find bike lanes on major streets. One of my favorite things to do is to rent a bike and pedal along the Battery or through the picturesque neighborhoods. It’s such a fun and eco-friendly way to explore!

For those times when you need to cover more ground, Charleston has a convenient public transportation system. The CARTA (Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority) buses are reliable and can get you pretty much anywhere you need to go. They even have a free downtown shuttle called DASH that hits all the major spots, which is super handy if you want to give your feet a rest.

Ride-shares like Uber and Lyft are also widely available and perfect for when you need a quick and easy way to get around, especially at night or if you’re heading out to areas like Mount Pleasant or the beaches. I’ve used them a few times and found the service to be quick and friendly.

If you’re planning to explore beyond downtown, renting a car might be the way to go. All the major car rental companies operate out of Charleston International Airport and in the city itself. Having a car is great for day trips to places like Kiawah Island, Folly Beach, or Boone Hall Plantation. Just be mindful of parking—downtown can be tricky, but there are plenty of garages and metered spots.

And here’s a little tip: Charleston has a neat service called the Free Trolley. It’s a charming, old-fashioned trolley that loops through the historic district, and it’s totally free! It’s a great way to get around if you want to sit back and enjoy the ride.

KNOW THE DISTRICS

Charleston is a city of distinct and vibrant districts, each with its own unique charm and personality. Let me take you on a tour of some of my favorite neighborhoods and what makes each one special.

Downtown/Historic District: This is the heart and soul of Charleston, where history comes alive on every street corner. Walking through the Historic District feels like stepping back in time, with its cobblestone streets, antebellum mansions, and lush gardens. Don’t miss Rainbow Row with its pastel-colored Georgian houses or a stroll along the Battery with its stunning waterfront views. I love exploring the hidden alleys and discovering quaint boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes.

French Quarter: Nestled within the Historic District, the French Quarter is known for its art scene and historic charm. This area is packed with art galleries, theaters, and historic churches. My favorite time to visit is during the French Quarter Art Walk, held several times a year, where you can wander through galleries, meet local artists, and enjoy some complimentary wine and snacks.

King Street: King Street is the place to be if you’re in the mood for shopping, dining, and nightlife. This bustling thoroughfare is divided into three distinct sections: Upper King (for trendy restaurants and bars), Middle King (for fashion boutiques), and Lower King (for antiques and galleries). I always find something new and exciting, whether it’s a chic new restaurant or a unique vintage shop.

South of Broad: This residential area is one of the most picturesque and prestigious neighborhoods in Charleston. Wandering through South of Broad, you’ll see some of the city’s grandest homes, lush gardens, and historic landmarks like the Nathaniel Russell House and the Edmondston-Alston House. It’s a quieter, more serene part of town that’s perfect for a leisurely afternoon walk.

The Battery and White Point Garden: At the southern tip of the peninsula, The Battery and White Point Garden offer stunning views of Charleston Harbor and Fort Sumter. This is one of my favorite spots to relax, have a picnic, and take in the beauty of the grand antebellum homes lining the street. The cannons and statues in White Point Garden add a historical touch that’s uniquely Charleston.

East Bay and The Market: This area is vibrant and lively, with a mix of historic sites, shops, and eateries. The Charleston City Market is a must-visit, especially for picking up local crafts and sweetgrass baskets. East Bay Street is home to some fantastic restaurants—perfect for a delicious Lowcountry meal. I love spending an afternoon here, shopping and then grabbing a bite to eat with friends.

Cannonborough/Elliotborough: This up-and-coming neighborhood is known for its eclectic vibe and indie spirit. It’s a great spot to explore if you’re into funky boutiques, cool cafes, and a more laid-back atmosphere. I’ve found some of my favorite hidden gems here, from quirky coffee shops to unique thrift stores.

West Ashley: Just across the Ashley River, West Ashley offers a mix of suburban comfort and historical sites. It’s home to attractions like Charles Towne Landing, where you can learn about Charleston’s colonial history, and the scenic West Ashley Greenway, perfect for biking or hiking. When I need a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown, this is where I go to unwind.

Mount Pleasant: Technically outside of Charleston, but just a short drive over the Ravenel Bridge, Mount Pleasant is worth a visit. This area offers beautiful waterfront parks like Shem Creek, where you can kayak, paddleboard, or enjoy fresh seafood with a view. Boone Hall Plantation, one of the oldest working plantations in the US, is also located here and is a fascinating place to explore.

Each district in Charleston has its own story to tell, and exploring these neighborhoods is like uncovering the many layers of this historic and vibrant city. Whether you’re here for the history, the food, the shopping, or just to soak in the Southern charm, there’s a district in Charleston that’s perfect for you.

Charleston Patio

PLACES TO Stay IN CHARLESTON, SC

Charleston, South Carolina, is a city steeped in history, charm, and Southern hospitality, attracting visitors from around the world with its cobblestone streets, antebellum architecture, and vibrant culinary scene. When it comes to accommodations, Charleston offers an array of options to suit every traveler’s preference, from luxurious boutique hotels nestled in the heart of the historic district to beachfront resorts providing a serene escape along the coast. Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a family-friendly retreat, or a cultural immersion in one of America’s most beloved cities, Charleston has something for everyone. In this blog post section, we’ll explore the best places to stay in Charleston, South Carolina, each offering its own unique blend of comfort, style, and Southern charm.

THE BELMOND CHARLESTON PLACE

Located at 205 Meeting St, is a luxurious hotel offering elegant accommodations and upscale amenities. Situated in the heart of downtown Charleston, this iconic hotel features spacious rooms and suites, a rooftop pool, a full-service spa, and award-winning dining options.

THE MILLS HOUSE WYNDHAM GRAND HOTEL

Found at 115 Meeting St, is a historic hotel dating back to 1853. With its classic Southern charm and modern comforts, the Mills House offers beautifully-appointed rooms, a stunning courtyard pool, and a central location within walking distance of Charleston’s top attractions.

THE DEWBERRY CHARLESTON

A boutique hotel housed in a renovated mid-century modern building. Featuring stylish and sophisticated design, the Dewberry offers luxurious accommodations, a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city, and a renowned restaurant serving Southern-inspired cuisine.

THE SPECTATOR HOTEL

A luxury boutique hotel offering personalized service and refined accommodations. With its elegant decor, upscale amenities, and prime location in the French Quarter, the Spectator provides a sophisticated retreat for discerning travelers.

THE WENTWORTH MANSION

This historic luxury hotel housed in a stunning mansion dating back to 1886. With its opulent decor, spacious suites, and impeccable service, the Wentworth Mansion exudes Southern hospitality and charm, making it a top choice for a romantic getaway or special occasion.

THE WHILE DUNES RESORT

Located at 1 Sundial Circle in Isle of Palms, offers a beachfront retreat with world-class amenities and recreational opportunities. With its upscale accommodations, championship golf courses, tennis courts, spa, and miles of pristine beaches, Wild Dunes Resort is the perfect destination for a relaxing getaway or family vacation.

Charleston Bar
492 Charleston

PLACES TO Eat & Drink IN CHARLESTON

In the historic district, if you just simply walk down King Street, you’ll run into a variety of different places to eat and relax. For me, I was especially happy with the amount of places that had patios because it allowed me to sit outside and enjoy that patio life while socializing with the people of Charleston.

  • 492
    This cozy little restaurant makes you feel as if you are dining in your family friend’s dining room. The warmth and comfort of the location made us feel right at home when we walked in. We got two of the specialty drinks and I highly recommend getting the punch when you go. It had the right balance of sweet and bitter and it was refreshing on that humid day that we had experienced while we were there.
  • THE WATCH
    This restaurant gave us the luxurious experience that we are always looking for. At the top of the Restoration Hotel down King Street you will find this Southern bay locale where you will feel as if you are watching the historic district from above and taking in the sights of the city. I highly recommend to head here for lunch as the food is comforting but doesn’t give you that loaded down full where you feel like you can’t function for the rest of the day. And, oh yeah, get the chocolate cake for dessert. You’re welcome.
  • HUSK
    Located at 76 Queen St, Husk offers Southern-inspired farm-to-table cuisine with a menu that changes daily to showcase the best of Low Country flavors. Renowned Chef Sean Brock’s emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients ensures freshness and quality, while the historic building adds to the charm of the dining experience.
  • FIG (FOOD IS GOOD)
    Situated at 232 Meeting St, FIG is known for its seasonal American cuisine crafted from fresh, sustainable ingredients. Led by Chef Mike Lata, FIG offers a menu that celebrates the flavors of the region with innovative twists, ensuring a memorable dining experience for guests.
  • THE ORDINARY
    Housed in a restored bank building and offers a seafood-focused menu with both raw bar selections and cooked dishes. Guests can enjoy fresh oysters, crudos, and seafood towers alongside inventive cocktails in a stylish and vibrant setting.
  • XIAO BAO BISCUIT
    This restaurant offers eclectic Asian-inspired cuisine with a Southern twist. Diners can enjoy creative dishes like Okonomiyaki, Mapo Tofu, and Korean Fried Chicken in a hip and vibrant atmosphere that reflects Charleston’s diverse culinary influences.
  • THE OBSTINATE DAUGHTER
    Italian-inspired coastal cuisine with stunning ocean views. Guests can indulge in wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, and inventive seafood dishes while enjoying the relaxed beachside atmosphere.
Charleston Mansion

Things to Do IN CHARLESTON, SC

When it comes to Charleston, there’s no shortage of amazing places to see and things to do. Let me share some of my favorite spots and activities that truly capture the essence of this charming Southern city.

FLOAT THROUGH CYPRESS GARDENS

One of the most magical experiences you can have in Charleston is visiting the lake where the famous scene from “The Notebook” was filmed. If you’re a fan of the movie like I am, this spot is a must-visit. The lake is located in Cypress Gardens, and let me tell you, it’s just as romantic and picturesque in real life as it is on screen.

The minute you arrive at Cypress Gardens, you’ll understand why it was chosen as the backdrop for such an iconic scene. The gardens are about a 45-minute drive from downtown Charleston, and the journey there feels like an adventure in itself, taking you through some of the most scenic parts of the Lowcountry. The gardens are a peaceful sanctuary filled with beautiful walking trails, vibrant flowers, and, of course, that famous lake.

When you get to the lake, you can rent a rowboat and paddle through the cypress trees draped with Spanish moss, just like Noah and Allie did. As you glide across the serene waters, you can almost hear the movie’s iconic soundtrack playing in the background. It’s incredibly romantic and a perfect spot for couples, but also a fantastic experience for anyone who loves nature and a bit of movie magic.

One of my favorite parts of visiting Cypress Gardens was simply taking in the natural beauty. The reflections of the trees on the water, the sound of birds, and the gentle rustling of the leaves create a tranquil atmosphere that’s hard to find anywhere else. It’s easy to lose track of time as you explore the winding paths and discover hidden nooks around the garden.

Don’t forget to bring your camera because the scenery is absolutely stunning. Whether you’re snapping photos of the lake, the blooming flowers, or the curious wildlife, you’ll want to capture the beauty of this special place. There’s also a small but interesting Butterfly House and Swamparium to explore, adding to the charm of your visit.

After a peaceful afternoon on the water, I love finding a cozy spot for a picnic. There are plenty of benches and open areas where you can sit, relax, and enjoy a meal surrounded by nature. It’s the perfect way to end your visit to this enchanting garden.

Visiting Cypress Gardens and the lake from “The Notebook” is like stepping into a fairytale. It’s a place where you can experience a bit of movie history while immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Charleston’s Lowcountry. Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or just someone who appreciates a beautiful setting, this is one Charleston experience you won’t want to miss.

VISIT THE BEACHES

Charleston is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, each with its own unique vibe and charm. If you’re a beach lover like me, you’ll definitely want to check out these amazing spots during your visit. Here are my top picks for the best beaches in and around Charleston:

Folly Beach: Folly Beach is hands down my favorite beach near Charleston. Just a 20-minute drive from downtown, it’s the perfect spot for a laid-back day by the ocean. The pier is great for fishing, and there are plenty of surf shops if you want to rent a board and catch some waves. After a day in the sun, I love heading to one of the local seafood shacks for some fresh shrimp tacos and a cold drink. If you’re up for a little adventure, make sure to check out the Morris Island Lighthouse at the north end of the island—it’s a bit of a hike, but the views are totally worth it.

Isle of Palms: If you’re looking for a more upscale beach experience, Isle of Palms is the place to go. This beach is about 30 minutes from downtown Charleston and offers pristine sands and clear waters. It’s perfect for families, with plenty of amenities like picnic areas, restrooms, and even a playground for the kids. I often spend my mornings here lounging on the beach and then head over to one of the beachfront restaurants for a delicious lunch. If you’re into water sports, Isle of Palms has great options for paddleboarding, kayaking, and jet skiing.

Sullivan’s Island: Sullivan’s Island is a quieter, more residential beach, which makes it ideal if you’re looking to escape the crowds. It’s about a 20-minute drive from Charleston and has a charming, small-town feel. The beach itself is beautiful, with wide sandy stretches and calm waters perfect for swimming. There are also some fantastic local restaurants nearby—Poe’s Tavern is a must-visit for their legendary burgers and Edgar Allan Poe-themed decor. Plus, history buffs will enjoy exploring Fort Moultrie, which played a significant role in both the Revolutionary War and Civil War.

Kiawah Island: Kiawah Island is a bit of a drive from downtown Charleston (about 40 minutes), but it’s absolutely worth the trip. The beaches here are stunning, and the island is known for its natural beauty and luxury resorts. Kiawah’s beaches are more secluded, making them perfect for a peaceful getaway. If you’re staying at one of the resorts, you’ll have access to pristine private beaches, but even the public Beachwalker Park is fantastic. The park has a boardwalk that takes you through the dunes to the beach, and it’s a great spot for shell collecting and bird watching. One of my favorite activities here is biking along the miles of scenic trails that wind through the island’s lush landscapes. After a day at the beach, treating yourself to a fine dining experience at one of the island’s upscale restaurants is the perfect way to end the day.

Seabrook Island: Seabrook Island, adjacent to Kiawah, is another hidden gem that’s worth the visit. It’s a private, gated community, but if you’re renting a vacation home or visiting with a local, you can enjoy the uncrowded, serene beaches. The island offers two beautiful beaches—Pelican Beach, which is great for sunsets, and North Beach, known for its expansive sands and dolphin sightings. I love the sense of tranquility on Seabrook Island, and it’s an excellent spot for activities like horseback riding on the beach, golfing, and kayaking through the marshes.

Edisto Beach: If you’re up for a bit of a road trip, Edisto Beach is about an hour and a half from Charleston and offers a more rustic, off-the-beaten-path experience. This beach is perfect if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in nature. The beachfront is lined with charming beach houses, and the vibe is very relaxed and uncommercialized. Edisto Beach State Park is a highlight, with its extensive trails and excellent fishing spots. I love spending the day exploring the park and then relaxing on the quiet beach with a good book.

Bold Florals
HAVE A NIGHT OUT ON KING STREET

Ah, King Street—where the charm of historic Charleston meets the buzz of modern-day excitement. Visiting King Street is like stepping into a world where Southern hospitality mingles seamlessly with upscale boutiques, trendy restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.

For me, a day on King Street always starts with a leisurely stroll down its cobblestone sidewalks. The architecture alone is enough to captivate me—historic buildings adorned with intricate ironwork and colorful facades that hint at the city’s rich past. I love wandering through the Lower King Street area, where you’ll find a mix of high-end fashion boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops. It’s a shopper’s paradise, and even if you’re just window shopping like I often am, there’s something special about soaking in the atmosphere.

As you make your way further up King Street, the vibe changes slightly. Here, you’ll find a more eclectic mix of shops and eateries, with a laid-back charm that’s quintessentially Charleston. I always make a point to stop by the local favorites—whether it’s a cozy cafe serving up artisanal coffee or a charming bookstore tucked away in a historic building.

And let’s not forget about the food! King Street is a culinary delight, with options to satisfy every craving. From upscale fine dining restaurants to casual eateries serving up Lowcountry classics, there’s no shortage of delicious dishes to try. One of my favorite things to do is to grab a seat at one of the sidewalk cafes and indulge in some people-watching while enjoying a mouthwatering meal.

As the day turns into evening, King Street comes alive with energy. The bars and live music venues beckon, promising a night of fun and entertainment. Whether you’re in the mood for craft cocktails, local brews, or live jazz, there’s something for everyone here. And the best part? You never know who you might meet or what adventures the night might hold.

But perhaps my favorite thing about King Street is the sense of community you feel as you wander its bustling sidewalks. There’s a warmth and friendliness here that’s infectious, whether you’re chatting with shop owners, striking up a conversation with fellow visitors, or simply taking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant thoroughfare.

Visiting King Street is more than just a shopping trip or a night out—it’s an experience that captures the heart and soul of Charleston. So, next time you find yourself in the Holy City, be sure to carve out some time to explore this iconic street. Who knows? You might just discover a new favorite spot or make memories that last a lifetime.

STOP BY RILEY WATERFRONT PARK

Riley Waterfront Park in Charleston is like a breath of fresh air—a serene oasis nestled along the bustling waterfront that offers a perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Whenever I need a moment of tranquility or just want to soak in the beauty of Charleston’s natural surroundings, this park is my go-to spot.

The first thing that strikes you as you enter the park is the stunning view of the Charleston Harbor. The sight of the water stretching out before you, dotted with sailboats and framed by swaying palm trees, is absolutely breathtaking. It’s the kind of view that makes you pause and appreciate the simple beauty of life.

One of the park’s most iconic features is the Pineapple Fountain, a symbol of hospitality that welcomes visitors with its cascading streams of water. I love sitting by the fountain, listening to the soothing sound of the water and feeling the cool mist on my skin. It’s a great spot to relax and people-watch, whether you’re enjoying a picnic with friends or simply taking a moment for yourself.

As you wander further into the park, you’ll discover charming walking paths lined with lush greenery and colorful flowers. There are plenty of benches and shady spots where you can sit and unwind, read a book, or simply watch the boats go by. It’s a peaceful retreat from the noise of the city, and I always feel a sense of calm wash over me as I explore the park’s winding trails.

Riley Waterfront Park is also a popular spot for recreation and leisure. You’ll often see families picnicking on the grassy lawns, children playing in the interactive splash fountain, and couples taking romantic strolls along the waterfront promenade. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re looking to get active or simply enjoy some quality time outdoors.

One of my favorite times to visit the park is in the evening, as the sun sets over the harbor and bathes everything in a warm, golden light. It’s a magical sight, and watching the sky change colors as day turns to night is truly mesmerizing. Whether you’re catching a sunset with loved ones or simply taking a quiet moment to reflect, it’s a memory you’ll cherish forever.

Riley Waterfront Park is more than just a park—it’s a sanctuary, a retreat, and a reminder of the simple joys of life. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, I highly recommend spending some time here. It’s a place where you can escape the noise of the world and reconnect with nature, and there’s no feeling quite like it.

STROLL THROUGH THE HISTORIC DISTRICT

The Charleston Historic District is filled with a variety of different locations to see historical sites. I mean, it’s the historic district. There are a number of mansions that you can visit to learn the history of Charleston from the historic society that has been learning, studying, and bringing out the history of each of these locations first hand. Even more you can head over to some plantations and see the grounds and how certain plantations were run. And if you want to head to one single place to learn about the overall history, the Charleston Museum is located right at the center and you can go to learn about the Charleston, the Civil War, and even some world and natural history.

AIKEN-RHETTE HOUSE

The Aiken-Rhett House, located in Charleston, South Carolina, is a remarkable example of antebellum architecture and provides a unique glimpse into the city’s pre-Civil War history. The house was built in 1820 by merchant John Robinson. It was later purchased in 1827 by William Aiken, Jr., a wealthy planter, and politician who significantly expanded the property. Under Aiken’s ownership, the house was transformed into a grand urban estate, incorporating Greek Revival style elements. The expansions included a rear service wing, a large stable, and additional slave quarters.

The Aiken-Rhett House is notable for its intact slave quarters, providing a sobering look at the lives of the enslaved people who worked and lived on the property. The outbuildings include the original kitchen, laundry, and stables, all crucial to the daily operation of the estate. Interpretive exhibits help visitors understand the complex and often painful history of slavery in Charleston.

The house offers self-guided audio tours, which are highly informative and allow visitors to explore at their own pace. The audio guide provides detailed historical context and personal stories associated with the house and its inhabitants. Key highlights include the grand double parlors, the large art collection, the family’s private living quarters, and the extensive service areas.

NATHANIEL RUSSELL HOUSE

The Nathaniel Russell House, located in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture in the United States. It offers an intriguing glimpse into the affluent lifestyle of Charleston’s elite during the early 19th century. The Nathaniel Russell House was built in 1808 by Nathaniel Russell, a wealthy merchant involved in the shipping trade. The house is located at 51 Meeting Street in Charleston’s Historic District. The house is renowned for its Adamesque style, characterized by elegant and symmetrical design, intricate plasterwork, and grand proportions. It is considered one of the premier examples of Federal architecture in the United States.

The house is surrounded by formal gardens that have been restored to reflect the landscape design of the early 19th century. The gardens feature geometric boxwood hedging, gravel pathways, and a variety of native and period-appropriate plantings. The property includes original outbuildings such as the kitchen, slave quarters, and carriage house, providing insight into the operations of a large urban household and the lives of the enslaved people who worked there.

The Nathaniel Russell House offers guided tours led by knowledgeable docents. These tours provide detailed information about the architecture, history, and the daily lives of the Russell family and their enslaved workers. Visitors can also opt for self-guided tours with the aid of informational brochures and interpretive signage throughout the house and gardens.

THE CHARLESTON MUSEUM

The Charleston Museum, founded in 1773, holds the distinction of being the first museum in the United States. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, this museum provides a comprehensive look at the region’s natural and cultural history through a variety of exhibits and collections.

The Charleston Museum was established by the Charleston Library Society, predating even the American Revolution. Its creation was inspired by the Enlightenment ideals of the time, focusing on the collection and dissemination of knowledge. The museum’s mission is to preserve and interpret the cultural and natural history of Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry, providing educational resources and engaging exhibits for the public.

The museum boasts an extensive natural history collection, including fossils, minerals, and taxidermy. Highlights include dinosaur fossils, Ice Age mammal remains, and a comprehensive display of local wildlife. Cultural exhibits cover the history of Charleston from pre-Colonial times to the present. Artifacts include Native American tools, Colonial-era objects, Civil War relics, and items reflecting the city’s Gullah culture. The museum also houses an impressive collection of historic textiles and clothing, featuring pieces from the 18th century to modern times. This includes garments, quilts, and other textiles that illustrate the changing fashions and craftsmanship over centuries. Additionally, there is a Kidstory section that is very popular to families. This interactive, family-friendly exhibit is designed to engage children with hands-on activities that explore Charleston’s history, from pirates to the Civil War, making history accessible and fun for young visitors.

TAKE A LEISURELY STROLL THROUGH THE CITY

One of the absolute joys of visiting Charleston is simply walking through its historic streets and taking in the stunning array of colorful houses. Each vibrant façade tells a story, and wandering around to see them all is like stepping into a beautifully painted canvas.

My favorite starting point for this colorful adventure is Rainbow Row, an iconic stretch of thirteen pastel-painted Georgian houses on East Bay Street. This is one of Charleston’s most photographed spots, and for good reason. The houses, painted in soft hues of pink, yellow, blue, and green, are absolutely enchanting. I love walking along Rainbow Row early in the morning, when the light is just right, and the streets are still quiet. It’s the perfect time to snap some photos without the crowds and really appreciate the charm of these historic homes.

As you continue your walk, don’t miss Tradd Street. This charming street is lined with beautifully restored homes in a variety of colors, each one more picturesque than the last. The architecture is quintessential Charleston, with wrought-iron gates, lush window boxes, and inviting porches. I always find myself slowing down here, taking in all the little details that make each house unique. It’s like a mini history lesson with every step.

King Street is another must-visit, especially if you love a mix of vibrant shops, cafes, and historic buildings. As you stroll along, you’ll see colorful storefronts that add a modern twist to the historic vibe of the area. Plus, it’s a great spot to take a break, grab a coffee, and do some people-watching.

For a more residential feel, head to the South of Broad neighborhood. This area is filled with grand homes painted in rich, inviting colors. I love the serene atmosphere here, with its quiet streets and towering oak trees. It’s a great place to imagine what life was like in Charleston’s heyday. Be sure to keep an eye out for the hidden gardens and courtyards that peek out from behind the colorful facades—they’re like little secret gardens waiting to be discovered.

Walking through Charleston to see the colorful houses isn’t just about the architecture; it’s about experiencing the city’s vibrant personality. Each house, with its unique color and character, reflects the rich history and cultural tapestry of Charleston. It’s a city that wears its heart on its sleeve, and every walk through its streets offers a new glimpse into its soul.

So, put on your comfortable shoes, grab your camera, and set out on foot to explore the colorful charm of Charleston. It’s a delightful way to experience the city’s beauty and history up close and personal. And who knows? You might even find a new favorite spot along the way.

VISIT THE PINEAPPLE FOUNTAIN

One of my absolute favorite spots in Charleston is the iconic Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park. If you’re visiting the city, this is a must-see landmark that perfectly captures Charleston’s charm and hospitality.

The Pineapple Fountain is more than just a beautiful piece of architecture; it’s a symbol of Southern hospitality. In colonial times, pineapples were a sign of welcome and warmth, and this fountain embodies that spirit perfectly. Whenever I’m near it, I can’t help but feel the welcoming vibe that Charleston is so famous for.

Located in the heart of Waterfront Park, the Pineapple Fountain is surrounded by lush greenery and stunning views of Charleston Harbor. The park itself is a great place to unwind, with its wide walkways, shaded benches, and gently swaying palm trees. I love grabbing a coffee from a nearby café and heading over to the fountain to sit and people-watch or simply enjoy the serene atmosphere.

What makes the Pineapple Fountain even more special is its interactive nature. On a hot day, you’ll often see kids (and sometimes even adults) splashing around in the water. It’s a joy to watch, and if you’re up for it, you can even dip your toes in the cool water. It’s a refreshing way to beat the Charleston heat!

One of my favorite times to visit the Pineapple Fountain is at sunset. The way the golden light reflects off the water and the fountain’s cascading streams creates a magical scene that’s perfect for photos. It’s a great spot for a romantic moment or just to take a break from exploring the city.

If you’re into photography, this fountain is a dream. The juxtaposition of the classic Southern architecture with the natural beauty of the park provides endless opportunities for stunning shots. I always make sure to snap a few pictures every time I visit, and somehow, each photo captures a different aspect of its charm.

Visiting the Pineapple Fountain is a quintessential Charleston experience. It’s a place where you can soak in the city’s beauty, enjoy a moment of relaxation, and feel the warm embrace of Southern hospitality. Whether you’re there for a quick photo op or to spend a lazy afternoon by the water, the Pineapple Fountain is sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart.

WATCH THE CHARLESTON, SC VLOG:

Thank you to SMADCON and Explore Charleston for hosting me on this trip. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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