Ten years ago when Chris and I got married, we were in the process of buying our first home and we wanted to save money. We decided to take a modest honeymoon somewhere semi-closeby, so we headed to Charleston, which at that point in time I had never visited before. I fell in love with the city, and we’ve enjoyed going back as a family several times over the years. This year, for our ten year anniversary, we decided to go back without the kids and enjoy the city “kid-free” once again. If you’ve never been to Charleston, it’s definitely a must-visit city. There is so much history, and beautiful architecture, plenty of sights to see and things to do. (Oh, and the food! That will be covered in another post, so stay tuned.) I thought I would share a list of fun things to do in Charleston, along with highlights from our trip. (You can scroll to the bottom for a bulleted list of things to do.)
Every corner of this city oozes Southern Charm. (They even have a show about it.) It’s known as the holy city for all of it’s beautiful churches. (There are over 400!) The many steeples in the skyline make Charleston truly unique. There are several cemeteries around town and it’s fascinating to walk through them. There are some unmarked graves dating back to the late 1600s, and headstones dating back to the 1700s. It’s hard to describe, but there’s just a special kind of energy you feel when you’re in Charleston. Maybe it’s all of the history and all that the city has seen over the years. And with their efforts at historical preservation, you truly feel like you are stepping back in time. Everything is so beautiful.
A walk down to the Battery is a must. South Battery is where the “old money” is, and the huge mansions are breathtaking.
We loved eating dinner at Husk, and I’ll be posting more details about our favorite restaurants soon.
The French Huguenot Church is particularly unique. It’s my husband’s favorite. Directly across the street from it is the historic Dock Street Theater, which is also worth checking out.
I love that some of the original cobblestone streets are still visible.
Charleston single houses are famous for their “privacy doors,” which look like a front door but leads to the porch. Back in the day, if the door was closed it likely meant the ladies were hanging out in their bloomers and not entertaining guests (they did wear 30 pounds of clothing even in the sweltering heat back then). If the privacy door was open, it meant they were accepting visitors.
Even the smallest architectural details around town are beautiful. Chris and I enjoy just wandering around the city and strolling down side streets and taking in all of the sights. We like looking at the old homes, reading the plaques outside the ones that are stamped as historical sites, and just admiring everything.
The City Market is another must-visit spot. There’s a museum at the top, and down below vendors set up booths everyday to sell their wares. In the evenings there’s live music, and it’s always a bustling area of town.
There are plenty of plantation homes to tour outside of the city, and several historic homes downtown to tour. We checked out the Nathaniel Russell House, which you can see here.
THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON:
We couldn’t squeeze everything we wanted to do in since we were just there for a weekend, but if you happen to be visiting the city, here are some recommendations for places to visit (including and in addition to the other places mentioned above).
- Ghost Tour: We went on a nighttime ghost tour which was a lot of fun. There are multiple companies that do them. We’ve done one through Bulldog Tours in the past, and this time we did it through Tours of Charleston which we really enjoyed. There are plenty of walking tours of the city, and we always enjoy taking carriage tours too. (It’s a very “touristy” thing to do, but a great way to see the city and hear about some of the history.)
- Carriage Tour: This is a very “touristy” thing to do, but we love doing it every time we’re there. It’s a great way to see the city and hear about the history without having to walk the entire thing. There are several companies that give these tours as well, and we’ve done Old South Carriage Company and Palmetto Carriage Works and we’ve been happy with both.
- Shopping on King Street: You can’t beat the shopping in this city! Take a stroll down King Street for a mix of local boutiques, antique shops, and chain stores. There’s a little bit of everything.
- City Market: This is a main attraction in Charleston and is located on Meeting Street. Vendors set up booths each day and there is usually live entertainment in the evenings.
- Waterfront Park: Located at 1 Vendue Range (off East Bay Street), the pineapple fountain is a landmark and fun for kids to splash in on a hot day.
- Battery Park: Another beautiful waterfront park, this one boasts mansions, cannons, live Oaks with Spanish moss, and gorgeous views.
- Nathaniel Russell House: We loved touring this historic home. (See our tour here.) There are plenty of other historic home tours you can take too.
- Plantation Tours: If you venture out of the historic downtown, there are several gorgeous plantations you can tour. (We love Magnolia Plantation and Boone Hall.)
You might also enjoy this post from our trip to Charleston a few years ago as a family.
Be sure to check out the Official Guide to Charleston for plenty of info on attractions to visit and things to do.
Thank you to the Charleston Visitor’s Bureau for providing a VIP Pass so that we could enjoy several attractions during our trip.
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