Fun things to do in Charleston

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Charleston

  • 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!!

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    charles pinckney plantation

    by doug48 Updated May 26, 2011

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    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.

    1828 plantation house
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    custom house

    by doug48 Updated May 26, 2011

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    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.

    custom house
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    site of fort wagner

    by doug48 Updated May 14, 2011

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    pictured is a nondescript mud bank just south of fort sumter on morris island. this is the site of one of the more interesting battles of the civil war. during the civil war this was the site of fort wagner. fort wagner was attacked on july 18 1863 by the 54 th massachuetts colored infantry. the 54 th massachuetts was commanded by colonel robert gould shaw and was one of three black regiments in the union army. fort wagner was commanded by general william taliaferro CSA and was defended by the charleston battallion and the 1 st south carolina artillery. after a fierce battle the 54 th massachutts was routed. shaw was killed in the battle. this event inspired the 1989 movie "glory". after the civil war numerous hurricanes destroyed the remains of fort wagner. today, people still find relics of that battle on this mud bank.

    site of fort wagner general william b. taliaferro CSA colnel robert gould shaw
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    Tea Party tour

    by ZanieOR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    We went on a very enjoyable and informative called the Tea Party Walking Tour, lead by a native Londoner named Marianne who has lived in Charleston for about 40 years. She lead us on a historic tour of the old part of Charleston, through gardens and courtyards, into historic buildings and churches, giving us new perspective on the different eras of Charleston life, through pre-Revolutionary to the War between the States and to modern day preservation efforts.
    It was kind of funny, I think there is more than a little competition between tour guides, as far as who is allowed accessibility to which courtyard or garden, for example. In an old theatre a Ghost tour guide and her group came by, and our guide made some mildly disparaging remark.
    We learned a lot about Charleston, with a lot of personal touches, and the tour ended up with sandwiches and tea served in Marianne's nice garden courtyard.
    There are so many tours available in Charleston - walking tours; carriage tours; museum and historic house tours; ecotours by kayak or boat exploring the shoreline or salty marsh .... Anyway, I would strongly recommend taking some kind of tour, and can personally recommend the Tea Party Walking Tour.

    Tour guide Marianne at her tea party.
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    Enjoy the cruise!

    by tatyanap Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    During the harbor cruise portion of your tour, you?ll enjoy the panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and entrance to Charleston Harbor, where Charlestonians are fond of saying, ?The Ashley and the Cooper Rivers meet to give birth to the Atlantic Ocean.?

    The Cooper River

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    Isle of Palm Marina

    by Suzanne123 Updated Mar 5, 2011

    Go over the bridge from Charlston to Mount Pleasant. Turn off on the "IOC" Isle of Palm Connector.

    Book in Advance: BARRIER ISLAND ECO TOUR

    http://www.nature-tours.com

    We had a wonderful 3 hour tour.

    I highly suggest this is a MUST DO

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    Aircraft CArrier-USS Yorktown

    by BruceDunning Written Jan 7, 2011

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    This first carrier was sunk in 1944. Another with the same name was built, and road the seas until about 1980's, when retired to Charleston. Taking a tour of a carrier is long and fantastic. Tickets are $18 for adults, and $15 for military people.

    View of carrier on skyline
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    Beaches to Enjoy the Sun & Water

    by BruceDunning Updated Jan 7, 2011

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    NOt that Charleston is famed for its beaches, they do have some on the no9rth and south ends of the city. Some are not that popular for out ofstate tourists, and some look like they need to be "spiffed up". I think a fair number look dreary and drab looking, and the sand is grey color.

    Typical beach sand North beaches with view of bridge
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    Calhoun Mansion

    by Dabs Updated Dec 5, 2010

    We were wandering back into town from the battery when we came across the Calhoun Mansion, it's sparkly leaded glass windows beckoning us from the street. We saw a couple of people leaving from a tour and asked if it was worth the admission price and they gushed "oh, yes!" We caught the last tour of the day at 4:30pm, the tour takes you through the 1st and 2nd floors of the mansion with it's jaw dropping collection of antiques. My favorite room was the music room with it's stunning skylight ceiling, according to our guide the skylight was covered over for many years.

    The 35 room mansion was built in 1876 and remains the largest single family home in Charleston. It has had several uses since the original owner died in 1903, George Williams was a blockade runner during the Civil War and obviously had quite a bit of money. Williams' daughter Sarah married Patrick Calhoun which is why it's called the Calhoun Mansion. They lived there until they lost their fortune in the stock market crash in 1929. In between 1930 and 1976 when Gedney Howe III bought the mansion for a mere $220,000 and restored it, the mansion was used as a B&B, a luxury hotel and used by the Navy for boarding. At one time the upstairs was converted into showers for them and painted in that hideous navy blue-gray. They had proposed to eliminate the impressive wood staircase, after seeing it you will wonder at the absurdity of that.

    The current owner was not named, only that he was living there by himself with his dogs and cat who freely roam the rooms after the tours end for the day. The antique collection is his, the guide said that he was an international attorney. As a cat owner, this was an incredible notion as I know my cats would be knocking over antique vases and priceless antiques on a daily basis.

    The regular 1/2 hour tour is $15 per person, there's another 90 minute tour for $50 per person that tours the entire mansion. No pictures are allowed in the interior but you can take them in the garden.

    Calhoun Mansion entrance Calhoun Mansion Calhoun Mansion garden Calhoun Mansion

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    Old Slave Mart Museum

    by VeronicaG Updated Sep 11, 2010

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    This is a part of Charleston's history that is unsavory, but important to mention. In the mid-1800's traders came to this mart to buy and sell enslaved blacks.

    This interstate trade brought wealth to Charleston, South Carolina and the entire region.

    However, at a later point in history slaves could only be traded or sold locally and it was not permitted to import them. Considering that South Carolina offered Rice*, Cotton and Indigo to trade or sell, cheap man power was a necessity.

    Although our walking tour brought us to the Old Slave Mart Museum, we did not get to go inside. If you are interested in black history it could be a very informative visit!

    *Middleton, was a good example of a successful rice plantation (see earlier tip).

    **Hours are Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm; Closed Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and NY Day. Admission is $7 for adults; $5 for seniors 60 up and Youth 5-17; Children under 5 free.

    Old Slave Mart Museum
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    Tour the City by Horse and Carriage

    by VeronicaG Updated Sep 11, 2010

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    As in many historic areas, an option for seeing the grand homes and interesting architecture is by horse and carriage. In Charleston, you might try Palmetto Carriage Company, located right across the street from THE MARKET (Market and Meeting Street).

    One evening we were hoping to take a ride about town after dinner in one of these conveyances, but it was near closing time and we were out of luck. Don't wait until the last minute as we did!

    We were able to obtain information about the costs while we were there, though. A carriage ride which could include up to 16 people was $20 each; a private carriage for up to 4 people cost $120. Needless to say, most people we saw were taking the larger carriage.

    Your tour will take you through 25-30 blocks of Charleston's most historic district--can anything be finer than seeing a picturesque city by horse and carriage?

    Hours are daily from 9am-7pm

    See the sights by carriage ride
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    Be sure to stop by the Visitor's Center

    by VeronicaG Updated Sep 11, 2010

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    When first arriving in Charleston, it might be very helpful to stop at the Visitor's Center. A number of sightseeing tours can be booked from this point*. Inside you'll find a gift shop, restrooms and brochures on sites around the area.

    We already had our tours scheduled elsewhere, so we paid $2 each to see a 30 minute film on the city's history called Forever Charleston.

    Here's a sampling of the tours, but not all:

    Tour B--a 90 minute ticket included a complete tour of the historic city, ride through Citadel Military College. See historic mansions, Rainbow Row, Catfish Row, Old City Market, Old Citadel, lovely gardens and churches. Includes a stop at the Battery to view Fort Sumter. Leaves every 30 minutes from the visitor's center. Daily--$22 for adults; $12 for children under 12

    Tour C--A two hour tour includes: a complete historic city tour (same as Tour B), but in addition you'll see the inside of a beautiful Southern mansion, lovely antiques and architecture. Leaves every 30 minutes from the visitor's center. Mon.-Sat. $29 adults; $17 for children under 12.

    Tour D--There is also a combination bus and boat tour which takes ticket holders to Fort Sumter, which leaves every 30 minutes from the visitor's center. Daily--$35 for adult; $22 for children under 12.

    For other tours please go to the website: www.charlestoncbv.com. Hours are 8:30am-5pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's.

    *Tours depart from the visitors center, but a bus can also pick ticket holders up at their hotel or B&B for $2 extra pp

    Charleston Visitor's Center
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    See Charleston by Gullah Tours

    by VeronicaG Updated Sep 10, 2010

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    The city's black history can be appreciated and better understood by taking the popular GULLAH TOURS. These tours were devised by Alphonso Brown, who takes great pride in the contributions of his fellow Charlestonians.

    You'll see some African-American churches, slave quarters, old paddy wagon, sweetgrass market and other sites. You'll hear about hexes, customs, the underground railroad and blacksmith Phillips Simmons, who is declared to have been a National Treasure by the Smithsonian.

    The only stop the tour made was to Simmons' old blacksmith shop, where you'll see the tools of his trade and meet one of his relatives still working the business. Simmons' unique gates decorate many a garden pathway in Charleston. They are deemed so valuable, that some people take their garden gates with them when re-locating.

    *Black History Tours $18 per adult. Times are Mon.-Fri. 11am-1pm; Saturday 11am, 1pm & 3pm. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED--for a two hour tour on a 21 passenger air-conditioned bus.

    Peter Simmons Gate
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    Tommy Dew's Walking History Tour

    by VeronicaG Updated Sep 10, 2010

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    As we were planning which tour of Charleston to take, our B&B hosts strongly recommended TOMMY DEW'S Walking History Tour. It was Tommy Dew who personally guided our group of about 14 or so throughout the historic neighborhood.

    It was a very enticing history lesson with many early sites and buildings pointed out to us. We were led along sidewalks and onto narrow alleyways, passing manicured gardens, gated courtyards, beautiful residences and steepled churches--Charleston's cultural heritage was laid before us--it was so informative!

    The tour covers the Colonial period, tidbits from the War Between the States and Charleston's later Reconstruction and the current Renaissance for this city.

    *Tours begin at 11am and last for approximately one hour and 45 minutes. Cost is $22.00 per adults and $15.00 for children 12 and under (Spring and Fall tours available at 2pm). RESERVATIONS REQUIRED and size is limited.

    Tommy Dew's Walking History Tours
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