A Beginner’s Guide to Charleston, South Carolina: 15 Must-See Attractions

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

Charleston, South Carolina is a city like no other. Located in the heart of the South, Charleston is home to picturesque cobblestone streets, stately pastel mansions, and horse drawn carriages. Entering the city, I felt like I had emerged from a time machine, peering into a world of centuries past. If you’re looking for a destination that’s a “pinch me, is this even real” kind of amazing, then look no further, Charleston is it! Explore the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina; whether you only have a few days or a whole week, the heart of Lowcountry has something to offer everyone.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(1/15) South of Broad

Many visitors say you can’t leave Charleston without seeing the houses South of Broad. East Bay Street, home to “Rainbow Row” may have been my favorite to photograph, but all of the houses have such beautiful detail. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore the old cobblestone streets and daydream about your future #housegoals.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(2/15) Pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park

Head over to Charleston’s popular Waterfront Park and visit the iconic Pineapple Fountain. Make a wish, and enjoy the views! Don’t be surprised if you see some kids jump in during the summer! Honestly, it was so steamy when I was there, I had to exercise all of my adult restraint not to hop in and join them! (If I weren’t wearing a nice dress, I would have been there in a second.)

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(3/15) Shop King Street

Looking for fine dining, antiques, or high end shopping? Look no further than King Street in downtown Charleston. King Street is home to some serious fashion, and is definitely one of the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(4/15) Shem Creek

Take a break from downtown, and head over to Shem Creek Bar & Grill. Enjoy views of the creek, home to shrimping boats and trawlers, while chowing down on some of the freshest seafood around.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(5/15) Angel Oak Tree

Angel Oak Tree is magnificent, there’s no other way to say it. It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 years old and 65 feet tall. Honestly, the pictures don’t do it justice—this is something you just need to see in person. Bring a book, and chill for the afternoon.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(6/15) The Battery

This stretch of Southern style mansions cannot be missed.  Overlooking Charleston Harbor, the views can’t be beat! I couldn’t help but love the little touches of Southern everywhere. By the end of my trip, I’m pretty sure the words “y’all” and “bless your heart” popped up a lot more in my vocabulary. This is definitely one of the must-see attractions in Charleston, SC.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(7/15) Dock Street Theatre

You can find the historic Dock Street Theatre in the French Quarter section of downtown Charleston. The original theatre likely burned down in a fire in the mid-18th century, so the building you see there now was built in the early 1800s. It’s an iconic Charleston site, and the architecture is truly unique.

(8/15) Isle of Palms

I don’t know about you, but I can only handle so much history before I go crazy. Spend a day on the Isle of Palms, and take advantage of the laid back beach life.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(9/15) Bike the Beach

If you have the time, rent a bike and bike the beach. Early morning is ideal; it’s amazing to cruise down the beach and take in the sights with just the sound of the waves for company (or your mother, as I did here).

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(10/15) Firefly Distillery

Firefly is located on Wadmalaw Island, and is home to some seriously strong drinks. I’m not kidding – do a tasting tour at your own risk. They’ll give you shots on shots of sweet tea vodka, Sweet Tea Lemonade (with vodka), and plenty of other things I was too tipsy to notice…

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(11/15) Charleston City Market

This 200 year old market gives a glimpse into the life of the Old South. Some might call it a tourist trap (it is), but it’s worth a visit. They still sell the traditional South Carolina sweetgrass baskets and feature the same sense of chaos present through decades past. Fortunately, the market now has AC, and is a great spot to spend some time on a toasty summer afternoon.

(12/15) Cross the Ravenel Bridge

The Ravenel Bridge is one of the most recognizable attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Walk or bike over it (or drive for the lazy folks like myself). That’s about it—cool site, but you can only do so much on a bridge.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(13/15) Trolley Ride to Tea Plantation

Another really unique thing to do in the area is take a trolley to Charleston Tea Plantation. The name is kind of a lie since the plantation is really on Wadmalaw Island, but don’t let it deter you. Take a trolley through the heart of Lowcountry, and learn how tea is harvested and made in the present day. I’m a huge tea lover, and enjoyed learning about the process!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(14/15) Nap on the Beach at Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island is only a few miles long, but boasts laid back beaches, cute little boutiques, and of course, a colorful South Carolina history. Rent a car and drive out to explore for a day. If you’re looking to stay out of the city, Sullivan’s Island is also a great alternative to the downtown B&Bs. I’ve never been mad to wake up to a fresh sea breeze.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

(15/15) Sunset

Last but not least, I don’t think any trip is complete without a sunset. It’s important to slow down, reflect on your day, and just appreciate the natural beauty of South Carolina.

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

My Charleston Essentials

So, I hope you found this Charleston guide helpful; it was seriously one of the sweetest and most southern cities I’ve ever visited. If you haven’t been, it should definitely be on your bucket list!

Tell me—have you visited Charleston, South Carolina and loved it as much as me? If not, what’s your favorite southern city? Let me know in the comments!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

P.S. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

Discover the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. Explore what to do in Charleston if you have a whole week or just a few days!

28 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Charleston, South Carolina: 15 Must-See Attractions

  1. Mmmmmmm, I could smell the pralines as I read this post. Isn’t the pineapple fountain the cutest? We’ve been to Charleston twice and we can’t seem to get enough of the cities charm. 🙂

  2. Looks like such a beautiful city and I have wanted to visit South Carolina for a while now. Loads of places to explore – tea plantation looks fantastic as does Sullivan’s Island! Super charming place – thanks for sharing

  3. Helena says:

    I have always wanted to go here! I have always been tempted by the plantations, the coloured houses and the ones with the beautiful architecture!

  4. mymeenalife says:

    Great list! I grew up not far from Charleston and have done most of these. It’s one of the loveliest southern cities!

  5. Garth says:

    There’s so many places I want to visit in the USA, Charleston looks wonderful! thanks for the tips and giving me a glimpse of South Carolina.

  6. These are great suggestions with great photos! I’ve lived in SC my whole life and have visited Charleston so many times I can’t count, but I’ve never gone to the Angel Oak. Hope to finally see it this spring when we’re in Charleston for a friend’s wedding. Thanks for sharing!!

  7. As a native Charlestonian, I cosign everything on this list! 🙂 You did a great job of picking the top things here. I’m still a little surprised when I see an article about Charleston since it’s basically exploded on the tourism/travel scene just since I got out of grad school a few years ago! 😀

    • Thanks Natalie! And i know what you mean, I lived there for a few years when I was younger, and I definitely don’t remember it being the hot spot it is today. It’s crazy how much of a destination it’s become

Leave a Reply