Fun things to do in Charleston

  • Things to Do
    by VeronicaG
  • Along the waterfront; the Battery, Charleston
    Along the waterfront; the Battery,...
    by spgood301
  • Along the waterfront; the Battery, Charleston
    Along the waterfront; the Battery,...
    by spgood301

Most Viewed Things to Do in Charleston

  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    Festival of Lights

    by DSwede Written Jan 24, 2014

    Held annually since 1989 (early November through New Year's Eve), the Festival of Lights is put on by the Charleston Country Parks and Recreation with the help of many local organizations and companies setting up their own sponsored displays. The park has nearly 700 displays with a few million lights, some retelling historical tales, some playing out fairy tales, and others set to dance to music.

    Entry hours and prices vary, so check the website. But last year, price was $15 per vehicle and hours were 5:30 until 10pm weekdays, extended until 11pm on Friday/Saturday.

    Many displays are large, set up on the side of the 2.5 mile driving loop. Simply roll down the windows, drive slow and enjoy. The others are set up in the center of the park on the walking trails. For these, simply park the car and walk at your leisure. There are food vendors, fire pits for roasting S'mores (bring your own or buy at the park), etc.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Festivals

    Was this review helpful?

  • apbeaches's Profile Photo
    2 more images

    Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim

    by apbeaches Written Dec 8, 2013

    The first Jews began to settle in Charleston soon after 1670, attracted by the civil and religious freedom of South Carolina and its economic opportunities. A large and handsome synagogue built in 1794 was destroyed by fire in 1838. The present synagogue, built in 1840, is considered one of country's finest examples of Greek Revival architecture. It is the second oldest synagogue in the country, oldest in continuous use, oldest surviving Reform synagogue in the world and a National Historical Landmark of the US Birthplace of American Reform Judaism in 1824. Tours were offered, a fabulous gift shop & made everyone us feel at home.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • etfromnc's Profile Photo

    Visit Fort Sumter

    by etfromnc Updated May 11, 2013

    On 12 April 1861, Confederate shore batteries first opened fire on Fort Sumter, the Union-occupied fortress in South Carolina's Charleston Bay. The rebel barrage continued unabated for the next 34 hours, eventually pounding the lightly supplied and poorly supported fort into submission. Three days after the first shots were fired, newly inaugurated President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 soldiers to quell the Southern insurrection, setting the stage for the bloodiest four years in American history.
    I have never actually set foot on Fort Sumter but have seen it from The Battery and the air several times and seem to learn more about its history every time that I am in the area. For example, I spent the vast majority of my life thinking that Fort Sumter spent the majority of the years of the Civil War in relative quiet "guarding" (?) the entrance to one of the Confederacy's most important harbors with only the occasional salvo from passing Union ships to interrupt its tranquility. On our last trip down there, I discovered otherwise. Just a few months before Gettysburg, the Union tried to reverse that situation. In early April of 1863, Union Gen. David Hunter prepared his land forces on Folly, Cole's, and North Edisto Islands to cooperate with a naval bombardment of Fort Sumter. On April 7, the South Atlantic Squadron under Rear Admiral S.F. Du Pont bombarded Fort Sumter, having little impact on the Confederate defenses of Charleston Harbor. Although several of Hunter's units had embarked on transports, the infantry were not landed, and the joint operation was abandoned. The ironclad warships Keokuk, Weehawken, Passaic, Montauk, Patapsco, New Ironsides, Catskill, Nantucket, and Nahant participated in the bombardment. The Keokuk was struck more than 90 times by the accurate Confederate fire and sank the next day. So, the status quo was essentially maintained at the cost of one Union ship.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Tom_In_Madison's Profile Photo
    3 more images

    USS Yorktown

    by Tom_In_Madison Written Jun 30, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    You can tour this huge ship, just across from the historic district. There is also a submarine and a smaller ship to see too. Lots of narrow stairs to walk up and down.

    On the deck, there are about 15 helicopters and planes from thruout history, and the Apollo 8(?) is inside the ship you can see too.

    Was this review helpful?

  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo

    Charleston's cathedral

    by mikelisaanna Updated Mar 3, 2012

    The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is Charleston's Catholic cathedral. It was built in the early 1900s on the site of a previous smaller cathedral, however, the diocese ran out of money and the bell tower was left unfinished. The bell tower was finally finished during the past decade.

    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Marilu33's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Battery Park of Sunset

    by Marilu33 Written Feb 18, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Our group's first destination after an orientation circuit up and down King and meeting streets was a sunset walk along the point of the Charleston Peninsula at the south end of Old Town, close to White Point Gardens, the park at the tip of the peninsula. We got in to Charleston in the afternoon and after checking in to our hotel had only a little time to do anything that day. Our reasoning was that the Battery placed us in the neighborhood of lots of historic homes, had a view over the harbor and river to the forts, and a historic oak tree filled park to ramble in with cannons, monuments and statues. We got there just at the peak of sunset and discovered that is also the peak of the no-see-ems as well. Clouds of the biting mites kept us from stopping very long at any one spot to take photos as we walked toward the park. However, they soon disappeared, and we enjoyed seeing a pod of dolphins and myriad returning seabirds pass from the west to the harbor. Especially fun were all the big pelicans flying by. The park was too dark to appreciate fully by the time we got there, but we admired the nearby houses in the twilight and marveled at the hosts of bats giving chase to the remaining insects. We lingered after dark enjoying the historic homes nearby.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Marilu33's Profile Photo
    4 more images

    Nathaniel Russell House

    by Marilu33 Updated Feb 18, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We chose this house as complimentary to our tour of the Aiken-Rhett house, which is a stabilized but not restored building. The Charleston Heritage Federation operates both houses, so we were able to get combined tickets to the two houses at a discount. Admission is $10 for one house and $16 to tour both. This house is fully restored and allowed us to see the impressive elegance of these fabulous Charleston mansions. this National Historic Landmark Federalist style home was not a typical example of Charleston architecture, but did give a lot of insight into Charleston society in the early 1800s, and had so many fascinating features, we're glad we chose to tour it. Not the least of which is the rare free flying staircase. Efforts are going forward to close the stairs to visitors to save stress on it, but at this point we were able to climb it to the second floor. The impeccably restored rooms were full of beautiful and details, and the docent led tour was full of interesting information about the history of the house and the life of its original occupants. The grounds are also beautiful, although not entirely an accurate recreation of how the grounds were when the house was built. All in all, we were really pleased with our choice of the two houses we had time to tour during our day in Charleston for giving us a look at the old as it has weathered the years and how those homes would have looked in their heyday.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Favorite Parks

    by dannyph Updated Dec 11, 2011

    The Charleston area has many public parks but my two favorites are Waterfront Park and Battery Park. I love to walk down to Waterfront Park on a nice evening and sit on the swings and take in the views. The bridge is all lit up and just looks so beautiful. The park is also nice to visit during the day but I prefer to go in the evening. Its a nice place to walk to after having dinner. Battery Park is also a beautiful place to visit. As you stroll through the Park you will get a panoramic view of beautiful antebellum mansions, the Charleston Harbor, the Sullivan Island Lighthouse and Fort Sumter. The park stretches along the waterfront of the Charleston peninsula and the park has beautiful oak trees, cannons, cannon balls, statues and a gazebo. It is normally very busy unless you visit early in the morning and parking is sometimes a little hard to find, but not impossible.

    Was this review helpful?

  • 2 more images

    Charleston Pirate Tours - Great for all ages!

    by dsleal Written Jun 12, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you want a master storyteller as a guide instead of someone who says, "to the left, you see," take this tour. Eric Lavender knows the history and knows how to make it entertaining. I had no idea of the scope of pirate history in Charleston... from Blackbeard to Anne Bonny and many more. Blackbeard actually blockaded Charleston for more than a week.

    Even better (especially for the kids), Eric not only wears very authentic period apparel, his parrot, Captain Bob, goes on the tour, too.

    The tour includes admisstion to the Powder Magazine Museum, on of Charleston's oldest buildings. You also get to go into the Pink House, which was a tavern in the late 1600s and is now an art gallery.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Family Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • 2 more images

    Charleston Pirate Tours - Great for all ages!

    by dsleal Written Jun 12, 2011

    If you want a master storyteller as a guide instead of someone who says, "to the left, you see," take this tour. Eric Lavender knows the history and knows how to make it entertaining. I had no idea of the scope of pirate history in Charleston... from Blackbeard to Anne Bonny and many more. Blackbeard actually blockaded Charleston for more than a week.

    Even better (especially for the kids), Eric not only wears very authentic period apparel, his parrot, Captain Bob, goes on the tour, too.

    The tour includes admisstion to the Powder Magazine Museum, on of Charleston's oldest buildings. You also get to go into the Pink House, which was a tavern in the late 1600s and is now an art gallery.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • doug48's Profile Photo
    1 more image

    hampton plantation

    by doug48 Updated Jun 2, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    in 1744 daniel horry purchased 600 acres near present day mc clellanville for a rice plantation. in the mid 1740's horry built the georgian style mansion you see today. hampton plantation was named after hampton house in england. during the revolutionary war hampton plantation was looted by british troops. after the revolution george washington visited hampton plantation in 1791. prior to the civil war hampton plantation had as many as 300 slaves. this well preserved plantation escaped destruction during the civil war. for those interested in early american history and southern culture hampton plantation is worth the side trip when in the charleston area.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • riorich55's Profile Photo
    1 more image

    Charleston Visitor Center - Your First Stop

    by riorich55 Written May 31, 2011

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Upon arriving in Charleston, one of your first stops should be a one of the five Visitor's Centers in the area. The one in the heart of Charleston at 375 Meeting Street is the one that we stopped at first thing on Monday morning.

    As you can see from the second picture, they have a little multi picture video presentation entitled, "Charleston Greets You" when you enter so you can sit down and get a quick acclimation to some of the different sites you may want to visit. You can pick up any number of pamphlets and various coupons to restaurants in the Charleston area.

    You can also pick up a Heritage Passport which will allow you to visit a number of historic Charleston area houses, 2 plantations and a couple of museums for a set price. I can't remember the price we paid back in September, 2009 when we visited, but I think that if we saw at least 4 places the ticket paid for itself. I think we ended up going to 7 different places over the 2 days the ticket allowed us, so we got our money's worth.

    They also have a 20 minute video inside a small theatre which will give you a brief history of the Charleston area including a devastating hurricane that hit the area in the 1980's.

    Hours are daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with the exception of a few major holidays.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • The Original Pub Tour of Charleston

    by caitmurphy Written May 30, 2011

    My boyfriend and I were visiting Charleston and came across this tour online. We have a pub at home that we LOVE, and thought it would be great to view a few in Charleston, the ones that aren't so "touristy". Overall, the tour was great! Our tour guide, was fun and knew a generous amount about the history of Charleston and the pubs he took us to. He tried to make sure that everyone in the group was always having a great time. The feeling we got was more like hanging out with a friend rather than a stranger showing us bars, so that was great! The tickets included appetizers at a couple of the stops. We thought it might be some chips, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that they were delicious and just enough food to keep us full the whole time! The order of the pubs he took us to couldn't have been better, ending at a great spot to take in the night from a 'roof-top' view. The pubs that we went to could have become our new favorites if we lived here! We would definitely recommend taking this tour--- and we will most definitely do it again the next time we're in Charleston!!

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Beer Tasting

    Was this review helpful?

  • doug48's Profile Photo

    charles pinckney plantation

    by doug48 Updated May 26, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    the charles picnkney plantation also known as snee farm is located about ten miles northwest of downtown charleston. charles picnkney (1757-1824) was a signer of the united states constitution, a south carolina governor, a U.S. congressman, and a U.S. senator. today the site of snee farm is a national historic park. the original pinckney plantation house was demolished in 1828 four years after pinckney's death. the current plantation house was built in 1828. picnkney owned fourty slaves and the foundations of three slave cabins can be seen at the park today. for those interested in early american history and southern culture the charles pinckney historic site is worth a visit in the charleston area.

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • doug48's Profile Photo

    custom house

    by doug48 Updated May 26, 2011

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    the charleston custom house is an impressive example of renaissance revival architecture. the custom house was designed by ammi burnham young, and e.b. white supervised it's construction. the construction of this building took over 25 years to complete due to the interruption of the civil war. the custom house was finally completed in 1879.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

Charleston Hotels

See all 109 Hotels in Charleston

Latest Charleston Hotel Reviews

The Lodge Alley Inn
246 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 11, 2014
Town And Country Inn
494 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 14, 2014
Holiday Inn Charleston Mills House
1024 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 16, 2014
Embassy Suites Charleston
649 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 13, 2014
Best Western King Charles Inn
1330 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 15, 2014
Renaissance Charleston Hotel Historic District
496 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 15, 2014
Charleston Place Superb Luxury
1350 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 16, 2014
Francis Marion Hotel
1149 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 15, 2014
Best Western Charleston Downtown
277 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 15, 2014
Market Pavilion Hotel
586 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 13, 2014
Motel 6 Charleston South
56 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 14, 2014
Holiday Inn Charleston Riverview
447 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 13, 2014
Radisson Hotel Charleston Airport
185 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 15, 2014
Church Street Inn
186 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Apr 14, 2014

Instant Answers: Charleston

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

77 travelers online now

Comments

Charleston Things to Do

Travel tips and advice posted by real travelers and Charleston locals.
Map of Charleston