What to Do in Charleston in December

This post covers the best things to do in Charleston in December, including events, performances, free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime activities, all updated for 2019.

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON IN DECEMBER

This section covers our top ten things to do in Charleston in December.  Read more »

Charleston Carriage

Charleston Carriage Tours and Rides

This post compares and reviews all of the different Charleston carriage tour companies operating throughout this beautiful city.

 

 


OVERVIEW

There are several different tour companies offering daytime carriage tours of Charleston. 

In order to avoid overcrowding of certain areas, the City of Charleston randomly awards one of four routes to each carriage operating in the historic district of Charleston. 

This means that the route that each tour takes is predetermined and selected by City officials, rather than the individual companies. 

What distinguishes one company from another is the quality of their guides and the types of tours they offer. 

For example, in addition to their daytime tours, Palmetto Carriage Works and Old South Carriage Company also offer night tours of the historic district. 

Classic Carriage Works is the only company to also offer a Civil War Tour and Slavery to Freedom Tour.

For those planning on visiting other tourist attractions, consider buying your carriage tour ticket as part of a combo deal or discountCarolina Polo & Carriage and Old South Carriage Company both offer special discounts on combo packages. 

Finally, Old South Carriage Company also runs a Haunted Carriage Tour for those hoping to learn more about the darker side of Charleston’s history.

 


Back to top


 

DAYTIME CARRIAGE TOURS

This section provides details about each of the Charleston carriage tours you can take during the day.

We include information about prices, availability, and other factors you may want to consider.

 

 


Palmetto Carriage Works

Palmetto Carriage Works is the oldest carriage tour company in Charleston. During their 60 minute tour, you will visit 25-30 blocks in Charleston’s historic downtown district. 
 

Palmetto Carriage Works

 
Tours run continuously 9 am – 5:00 pm, typically departing every 15 minutes. 

This company offers several different tour routes which are assigned by lottery upon arrival, so guests have the option of doing multiple tours to see more than just one area in the city. 

All tours are family-friendly and feature guides who are reputed for artfully blending humor with history. In addition to their day tours, this company also offers private tours and night tours.

You are also allowed to visit their stables which makes for a fun outing.


Ticket Details

NOTE: This company also offers its ride for free for holders of the Charleston Tourist Pass, an attraction and tour discount card.  

TIP: Get $2 off with promo code FreeByFoot.

Reviews for this company are extremely positive, with an average of 4 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor (read some of the reviews).

As guests can choose from multiple routes, many are return customers happy to explore another part of Charleston – which in itself speaks volumes about the quality of these tours.

 


Carolina Polo & Carriage

All of Carolina Polo & Carriage’s public tours begin in the Historic City Market. Like Palmetto Carriage Works, this company also offers several different tour routes covering a wide range of sites. 

Each outing is approximately 1 hour and fully narrated by licensed guides who bring guests through the quaint and charming streets of Charleston.

Tours depart approximately every 30 minutes daily between 9:30 am – 5 pm (March – Nov) and 9:30 am-4 pm (Nov – Feb). Additionally, they also offer private tours and special combo deals.

Ticket Details

Carolina Polo & Carriage also receives extremely positive reviews from most guests, averaging 4 ½ of 5 stars on TripAdvisor.

Several guests reported that their experience was fun, interesting, and relaxing, thanks in large part to the wonderful guides who work for this company.

 


Classic Carriage Works

Like their competitors, Classic Carriage Works also offers 1-hour narrated history tours of Charleston’s historic district.

Their guides are especially highly reputed as each averages more than 10 years of experience. 

 

 

Though Classic Carriage Works is one of the smallest carriage tour companies, they are the only one to offer both a Charleston History Tour as well as a Civil War Tour and a Slavery to Freedom Tour. 

Tours depart approximately every 30 minutes from 9 am – 5 pm. Additionally, they offer Adults-only and No Young Children (NYC) tours for those seeking a more relaxed atmosphere.

Private tours are also available.


Ticket Details

  • $28/Adults | $18/Children
  • Early Bird: $23/Adults | $13/Children
  • Availability: Daily from 9 am – 5 pm
  • Hours: Every 30 minutes
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

As with most other companies, Classic Carriage Works has received an overall rating of about 4 ½ out of 5 stars (read reviews here).

Many guests describe this carriage tour as amazing, entertaining and a must-do activity, suggesting that their guides are very friendly and informative.

 


Old South Carriage Company

Perhaps the most well known of all the carriage tour companies, Old South Carriage Company offers a Historic Residential Tour which reveals 300 years of Charleston’s history in just 1 hour. 

Guests travel through 2 ½ miles and 30 blocks of historic Charleston learning about the city’s most significant sites.  

This company also offers night tours and combo deals.

Ticket Details

Old South Carriage Company also boasts very positive reviews for their tours, averaging 4 ½ of 5 stars (read reviews here).

Guests describe their experience as fun and very informative. History lovers seem especially impressed with the quality of their guides.

 


Back to top


 

NIGHT CARRIAGE TOURS

The following section covers each of the carriage tours you can take after dark in Charleston.

We provide details about pricing, tour duration, and other information you might want to know.


Palmetto Carriage Works 

In addition to their daytime tours, Palmetto Carriage Works offers an Evening Tour of the Commercial District, which departs every day at 5:30 pm, 5:45 pm, and 6 pm. 

These tours typically sell out, so it’s best to book a spot well in advance. Visit many historic sites in the old Walled City, including the Old Exchange Building, Four Corners of Law, & the Waterfront Park on the Cooper River. 

Unlike their daytime tour, the evening tour is only 35 minutes long.

Ticket Details

  • $18/Adults | $14/Children
  • Availability: Every Evening
  • Hours: 5:30 pm, 5:45 pm, 6 pm
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.
  • TIP: Get $2 off with promo code FreeByFoot.

Old South Carriage Company

The Old South Carriage Company also runs 40-minute tours through the Walled City at the end of the day. Evening tours start from 5:30 pm and are subject to availability. 

 

 

Like Palmetto Carriage Works’s Evening Tour of the Commercial District, this company’s night tours tend to sell out in advance so be sure to book ahead.

They also offer a Haunted Charleston Tour which runs in the evenings and is featured in the ghost tours section.

Ticket Details

  • $26/Adults | $15/Children
  • Kids 3 and under are free.
  • Availability: Every evening
  • Hours: 3:30 pm, 4:30 pm, 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm
  • Purchase tickets or learn more.

They also offer a Haunted Charleston Tour which runs in the evenings and is featured in the ghost tours section. Alternatively, you can also take a private evening trip which we will cover in our private tours section.

 


Back to top


 

HAUNTED CARRIAGE TOURS

There are many ghost tours running in Charleston. However, only one carriage company offers a Haunted Carriage Tour of the city, which is Old South Carriage Company. 

Be sure to read our post comparing the various ghost tours in Charleston for alternatives.


Old South Carriage Company

Old South Carriage Company’s ghost tour shares the darker history of Charleston. Tours last approximately 40 minutes and are available seasonally. 

All guides are licensed and eager to regale guests with eerie tales as they take you by haunted alleys, graveyards, churches, hotels, and even a dungeon!

Ticket Details

Like their regular tours, the Haunted Carriage Tour offered by Old South Carriage Company also comes highly rated, averaging 4 ½ of 5 stars on TripAdvisor (read reviews here).

Guests describe their experience as fun and spooky – and yes, this is a great option for families!

 


Back to top


 

PRIVATE CARRIAGE TOURS

All of the companies listed above also offer private carriage tours around Charleston.

Prices vary depending on tour length and whether you need a custom pickup location, but they typically start at about $150-$200. 

 

 

Private tours are subject to guide availability and must adhere to the regulations imposed by the City of Charleston. We cover some of the better private outings available in this section.

Contact each individual company to learn more or we could create a package for you that would include our pay-what-you-wish tours.


Old South Carriage Company

In addition to their public outings, this company also offers private carriage tours during both day and night. They charge a flat fee per group of up to 4 people.

Since the tour is private, you can ask any questions you want without worrying about being interrupted by another guest. 

Daytime Private Carriage Tour

Evening Private Carriage Tour

As we have mentioned in other sections, this company currently enjoys an overall rating of about 4 ½ out of 5 stars on TripAdvisor.

Most of the customers who have taken their private tours indicate that they are very informative and entertaining.


Carolina Polo & Carriage

Like their competitors, this company offers private carriage tours around Charleston and their rates are very similar. Carolina Polo & Carriage charges a flat price for groups of up to 4 people.

 

Carolina Polo & Carriage

 

With a private tour guide, you’ll receive a more personalized experience and the opportunity to ask more questions about the city as you head from one historic site to the next.

Daytime Private Carriage Tour

Reviews for this private tour are excellent, as this company has received a rating of 5 out of 5 stars (read reviews here).

Customers say the trip was well worth the price and their tour guides were both knowledgeable and entertaining.

 


Back to top


 

DEALS AND DISCOUNTS

In this section, we’ll cover all of the discounts you can currently enjoy on Charleston carriage tours.

Details include tourist passes, combo tickets and other opportunities to save money.


Tourist Attraction Discount Passes

If you’re planning to enjoy more than a few attractions or tours while visiting Charleston, you may want to think about getting a tourist pass to save some money off general admission prices.

The main service offered in this city is an all-inclusive pass, which means it provides admission to dozens of popular activities for a specific amount of time (1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days).

 

 

Customers who use this pass for as many attractions as possible will save the most money, but even the average traveler should be able to save between 20% – 50% off general admission prices.

The only Charleston carriage tour currently offered with a tourist pass is provided by Palmetto Carriage Works, a company that routinely receives excellent ratings.

If you’re wondering what else you can use this pass for, here are a few of the activities included:

  • Charleston Speedboat Adventures | $79
  • Palmetto Carriage Works Tours | $28
  • Haunted Charleston Walking Tours | $30
  • Nathaniel Russell House Museum | $12
  • Aiken Rhett House Museum | $12
  • Charleston Tea Plantation | $12
  • Gray Line City Bus Tour | $24
  • Charleston Harbor Tour | $29
  • Boone Hall Plantation | $24
  • McLeod Plantation | $15
  • Fort Sumter Tour | $24

Anyone planning to enjoy at least 3-4 of these attractions should definitely consider using this service.

You can learn more about this service by reading our post about Charleston tourist passes or go directly to their website.


Combo Packages

Several different cruise companies offer combo packages featuring other popular tourist attractions. 

If you’re interested in both a carriage tour of historic Charleston as well as a cruise around Charleston Harbor, consider buying the two as a package to save money and avoid the extra hassle.

Palmetto Carriage Works

This company offers 2 different combo packages. 

In addition to their standard carriage tour of Charleston, you can also take a boat tour of Charleston Harbor. 

They also have a triple combo package that includes a carriage tour, a cruise on the harbor and a trip to Boone Hall Plantation. 

Carolina Polo & Carriage

This company has partnered with Walks of Charleston and Charleston Culinary Tours to offer a combo deal that saves guests $5 on any tour with either company when you book any tour with Carolina Polo & Carriage.

Charleston Culinary Tours offers 8 unique food tours around the city as well as a private tour you can choose from, while Walks of Charleston‘s popular History Walking Tour is approximately 2 hours and begins from just outside City Hall. 

Sites featured during the walking tour include St Michael’s Church, the French Quarter, St Philip’s Church, Heyward Washington House, and the famous Battery. 

Guests can choose to take both tours on the same day or split them into 2 different days.

Old South Carriage Company

Old South Carriage Company offers 3 different combo packages. The first combines their carriage trip with a tour of Charleston Harbor from SpiritLine Cruise, entertaining guests on both land and sea. 

The second package deal also takes guests on the water as it combines a ticket to visit Fort Sumter with their standard carriage tour. You are advised to first schedule your carriage tour, then arrange your trip to Fort Sumter.

The final combo deal offered by this company includes both their carriage tour and a walking tour of Charleston. This is the most affordable package. 

  • Carriage Tour + SpiritLine Harbor Cruise: $49/Adults | $32/Children
  • Carriage Tour + Fort Sumter: $49/Adults | $30/Children
  • Carriage Tour + Walking Tour: $45/Adults | $28/Children
  • Learn more about this combo package.

Discount Sites

Some Charleston carriage tour companies offer deals on their services through websites such as Groupon and LivingSocial.

In addition to the discounts they provide, these sites also frequently offer coupon codes that you can use to save an extra 10% – 20% off local activities such as a carriage tour.

If you’re planning to use one of these discount sites, make sure to check both the top and bottom of the page for coupons before purchasing any tickets.

 


Back to top


RELATED POSTS:

 
Things to Do in Charleston

What to Do in Charleston Today

This post covers things to do in Charleston, with tips on free, nighttime as well as family-friendly activities. We also include links to our posts on things to do by month or season. 

 

 


TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO

Here is our top 10 list of things to do in the city of Charleston, including tours, family-friendly activities, attractions, and free things to do.

Take a look at our other popular Charleston posts here:


1) Visit Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter only has one tour company that is allowed to offer guided tours on this exciting island.

It takes a 30-minute journey on the water to get there. And once you arrive, you’ll get an intro by a National Park Ranger before being able to look around.

 

 

We have a post that covers how to get to Fort Sumter.

And check out our post comparing all Charleston Harbor tours for more information. 


2) See a Concert

Charleston regularly brings in nationally and internationally-touring musical acts and has a great local music scene.

No matter what time of year you visit, if you’re a fan of live music there will be plenty of events to choose from.

 

 

If you’re interested in going to a concert, make sure to check and see what’s on at the following venues:

Find all the concerts in the city here. 


3) Attend the Theater

From the historic Dock Street Theatre to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, there are several venues in the city that consistently produce great plays, musicals, and comedy shows

 

 

Find all the theatrical events in Charleston here. 


4) Go on a Sightseeing Tour

A great way to see more of Charleston is to take a sightseeing tour.

Of course, we recommend taking a pay-what-you-wish walking tour of the city with us or let one of our guides direct you on a GPS-led audio tour. 

 

 

Other tours that you should consider:

There are also plenty of plantation tours to take that will bring you to the popular Magnolia, Boone, and Middleton Plantations. 


5) Visit the Battery 

The Battery is a coastal peninsula in Charleston that gets its name from a civil-war-era defense artillery battery that was placed there.

Now, the area is full of impressive homes and the public White Point Garden Park.

 

 

The beautiful homes in this area are a must-see. Not only are the houses gorgeous, but the harbor view is breathtaking. 

Read our post on Rainbow Row to learn more about beautiful historic houses.

Take a look at the free things to do section for more budget-friendly outing ideas.


6) Take a Ghost Tour

Considered one of the most haunted cities in the United States, Charleston is a great place to take a ghost tour!

Choose from a range of haunted tours, including ghost carriage tours, the dark side of history tours, pirate ghost tours, and more traditional ghost walking tours. 

 

 

If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to check with each company beforehand to see if the tour is family-friendly. 

Read our post comparing the best ghost tours in Charleston to learn more.

And if you’re looking for more fun things to do after dark, check out our nighttime activities section.


7) Take a Boat Cruise on the Charleston Harbor

Charleston is right on the coast and home to some great waterside attractions, including boat tours, dinner cruises, and sightseeing outings from Charleston Harbor

 

 

You can get an interesting perspective of the city from the water with daily Charleston Harbor tours that include live commentary from your captain.

If you like to relax on the water with a nice meal, why not take a dinner cruise


8) Enjoy a Carriage Ride

The historic carriage tours of Charleston are a favorite amongst visitors! If you’re in the city during the summer, you can beat the heat and opt to take a tour at sunset or just after dark.

Evening tours prove to be popular with those hoping to explore the city as the sun is setting or with those who want to see the city lights lit up.

 

 

There are currently two different companies offering nighttime carriage rides. Both are 30 to 35-minute tours and cost $15-$16 per adult.  

Read our post comparing the best carriage tours in Charleston to learn more. 


9) Restaurants and Food Tours

No visit to the Southern United States is complete without enjoying some delicious southern cuisine, which is why we recommend taking any one of Charleston’s popular food tours.

These food tours will introduce you to classic dishes including grits, collard greens, various fried treats, and sweet tea.

 

 

If you’d like to make your own food tasting experience in the city, make sure to read our post about the best Lowcountry Foods to try in Charleston

You also don’t want to miss these popular restaurants:  


10) Save Money with a Charleston Tour Pass

One of the best ways to save money while sightseeing is to purchase a tourist attraction discount pass. These passes work by bundling admission tickets and discounts so that you pay less when you pay upfront. 

 

 

There are two types of passes, and which one you choose should depend on the attractions you want to see. One focuses on house museums, another on popular tours, plantations, and restaurants. 

Included Attractions on Various Passes Include: 

  • Charleston Tea Plantation
  • Charleston Harbor Boat Tour
  • Nathaniel Russel House Museum
  • Deep Water Vineyard Free Tasting
  • Lewis Barbeque Voucher
  • Free Glazed Gourmet Doughnut
  • Aiken-Rhett House Museum

Check out our full comparison post to see which pass will save you the most money

 


Back to top


 

NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES

Though it might not be known for its nightlife, Charleston is a city that really comes to life after dark! From ghost tours and pub crawls to theatre shows and comedy performances, there is a wide range of things to do at night.

 


Below are a few of our favorite nighttime activities.


Comedy Night

Looking for a laugh during your visit? There are several different comedy club venues in Charleston that feature comedians from all over the country.

Some of the most popular include The Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre and Theatre 99 — the second of which exclusively features improv and costs just $5 on Wednesday nights, $12 on Friday nights and $12 – $14 on Saturday nights.


The Dock Street Theater

Catch a show at this beautiful theater. This building was beautifully restored in the 1930s as a result of the new W.P.A. efforts introduced to get the nation back on its feet after the market crash of the Great Depression.

The original theater opened in 1736 and the building was subsequently turned into a hotel, so in the 1930s a colonial-style theater was recreated in the space. This is the home theater of the Charleston Stage Company.

If you don’t have tickets to see a show, don’t worry! The Dock Street is included on a few walking tours, so even if you don’t catch a show you’ll still steal a sneak peek!


The Ravenel Bridge (Cooper River Bridge)

Completed in 2005, the Cooper River Bridge was the longest cable-stay bridge in North America at the time. The bridge boasts a walking and biking path whose views (and height) will leave you breathless. 

 


This photo of Ravenel Bridge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

While the bridge and its surrounding trails are great for a run or bike ride during the day, we suggest visiting at night as the bridge and cables are beautiful while lit up. 

Visit Ravenel Bridge on a city bus tour or boat tour of Charleston Harbor.


Take a Pub Crawl

If you’re looking for a bit of adult fun, why not opt for a pub crawl of Charleston! For a more traditional pub crawl experience, join Bulldog Tours on their Upper King Street Pub Tour which shares the history of prohibition, pirates, and pubs in Charleston.

Alternatively, you can go on a Mixology Tour with Charleston Culinary Tours and visit 3 different bars that are highly regarded for their exquisite cocktails. 

Click here to read a comparison of the pubs crawls offered by Bulldog Tours and Charleston Culinary Tours. 


King Street Shopping District 

King Street is a bustling retail corridor with many boutiques for those looking to do a bit of shopping during their visit. However, it also holds great historical significance: “At more than 300 years old, King Street is the second most historically and architecturally significant street in downtown Charleston.”

 


This photo of 235 King Street at Sunset is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Once the shops close, you can check out one of the many art galleries, bars, or restaurants — all of which promise to keep you occupied late into the night!


Charleston City Night Market

Every Friday and Saturday evening between April – December there the Night Market runs at the Charleston City Market. Open from 6:30 – 10:30 pm, it is completely free and open to the public. The Night Market showcases more than 100 talented artists and craftspeople, and features live music and entertainment.


Take a Dinner Cruise

Though Charleston Harbor is beautiful at all hours, nighttime is one of the best times to relax on the water and enjoy the city lights. From the harbor, you can see Fort Sumter and Ravenel Bridge lit up, in addition to several other sights from afar. 

SpiritLine Cruises offer a nightly, 2.5-hour dinner cruise with 3 – 4 courses and special amenities. These are extremely popular experiences, so be sure to book in advance. 

 


Back to top


 

FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

Charleston is a city that truly has something for everyone! Below we list some of our favorite things to do with kids, though most (if not all) of these suggestions are equally enjoyed by adults. 

 

 

Find more inspiration for things to do with your family in Charleston here.


Charleston Riverdogs Baseball

Take the whole family out to the ballgame for a Charleston Riverdogs minor league baseball game. Sports fans can enjoy the fun atmosphere, hotdogs, and 7th inning stretch games with volunteers from the crowd.

The regular season runs from late March to early October, which gives you plenty of time to find tickets to a game! If they make it to the playoffs, games could be happening into early November. 


Charleston Battery Soccer

Soccer fans will be happy to learn Charleston has a professional soccer team named Charleston Battery. It was founded in 1993, which makes it one of the oldest professional soccer clubs in the country. This means their fanbase is loyal and the atmosphere at the games is fun and exciting! 

The regular season runs from early March through mid-October. 


South Carolina Aquarium

The South Carolina Aquarium is a very popular aquatic center located in the heart of downtown Charleston. Open 9:00 am – 4:00 pm daily, the aquarium features marine animals traditionally found in the coastal waters of South Carolina and beyond. Two of their most popular creatures are a rare albino alligator and a bald eagle named Liberty.

 

 

Admission is $29.95 for adults and $22.95 for children. 

Read our post on the aquarium for more information.


Charleston Museum 

Described in many reviews as a ‘must-see’, the Charleston Museum is a small but powerful natural history museum featuring exhibits that highlight the city’s long and complex history. Children are encouraged to participate in the museum’s scavenger hunt, which includes questions about each of the permanent exhibits. Visit the Charleston Museum website to learn more. 

Charleston Museum is included in the Heritage Passport.


Frankie’s Fun Park 

Located a short drive from downtown Charleston, Frankie’s Fun Park is an extremely popular destination with families with kids of all ages. They have mini golf, a road course, batting cage, bumper boats, and a number of other fun games and attractions. You pay per activity, so families don’t have to worry about paying a big up-front entrance fee. 

Learn more about Frankie’s Fun Park on their website


Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “spark imagination and stimulate curiosity through the power of play.” The museum features several different interactive spaces, such as the art room, idea factory, medieval creativity castle, and kids garden. It welcomes kids of all ages, though the museum especially caters to those under the age of 10. 

 


This photo of Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Ticket Prices: 

  • Children Under 12 Months: FREE
  • SC Residents – Children & Adults: $10.00
  • Non-SC Residents – Children & Adults: $12.00

Cypress Gardens 

This is another historic property to visit. The popular attractions here for families are the butterfly house, hiking trails and boat rides through the swamp during which you can search for wildlife like alligators, birds, and turtles. Check out their website to learn more about Cypress Gardens

Ticket Prices: 

  • Adult: $10.00
  • Senior: (age 65+) $9.00
  • Children: (ages 6-12) $5.00
  • Children: (ages 5 and under) Free*

Sample Free Pralines 

During your visit to downtown Charleston, be sure to pop into one of the many praline shops to try out a few of their free samples! Both children and adults love to indulge in this special Southern treat. You’re not expected or required to purchase any pralines after taking a sample, but we must warn you that it’s difficult to resist! 


USS Yorktown and Patriots Point

This is a must-see for any war history buffs, wannabe shipmates, airplane fanatics, and, of course, kids!  The Yorktown is deceivingly big and is truly a small city, filled with maze-like pathways, a dentist’s office, jail, and more! Not only is the “town” interesting, but there are all different kinds of airplanes and even a flight simulator for you to try.

 


This photo of Charleston is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

In addition, the view from the deck of downtown Charleston will allow you to see why we’re known as the Holy City; check out all of the church steeples!

 


Back to top


 

FREE THINGS TO DO

You don’t need to break the bank to have fun and explore Charleston.

 

 

We have a list of parks and markets to explore as well as churches, homes, and other architecture to admire here.


Waterfront Park and the Pineapple Fountain

This is a beautiful park, voted one of the Top 25 public parks in the U.S. by Trip Advisor, and the fountain is a pretty place to cool down (the fountains are wading fountains).

The park is conveniently located just a few blocks from the market and some of our tours end here. The park sits at the mouth of the Cooper River and offers a terrific setting for a picnic with a view!

The entire inner harbor is laid out before you. There is a sunny side, but if it’s too bright for you just go to the benches under the trees on the other side of the park – the view won’t be obstructed and the foliage will block the rays.


Admire the Houses of Worship

The houses of worship, from KKBE Synagogue to St. Michael’s Episcopal and the Unitarian Church, will stop you in your tracks; their history and beauty are unmatched in our country. In one of the oldest cities in the country, you’ll find churches constructed with care that is comparable to European churches.

Many of the churches and synagogues here will leave you in awe – organs, carved mahogany, Tiffany windows… Come and see it for yourself!


Angel Oak in John’s Island

The oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River is a sight to see! You won’t believe your eyes. Photos do not do it justice.

 


This photo of Angel Oak is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

It’s just a short drive from downtown Charleston and is definitely worth the trip. The attraction just asks for a donation to help secure the health of the tree. No one is quite sure how old it is – anywhere between 400 – 1000 years old!

The tree is a sight right out of a storybook and everyone from any age will be amazed.


Charleston City Market

The City Market is a must-do for any visitor to Charleston. Established in the 1790s, the City Market was initially a beef and produce market for the local people of Charleston. As it gained in popularity, the market became a place for people to socialize and trade other goods. Today it features a wide range of merchandise, including traditional Gullah sweetgrass baskets and jewelry.


Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row is one of the most iconic attractions in Charleston. The series of Georgian row houses were restored in the 1930s, during which time they were painted with the iconic pastel colors. This tradition began when one of the homeowners of the time decided to restore her property to back to the colonial Caribbean color scheme and soon others follow suit.

 


This photo of Historic Charleston is courtesy of TripAdvisor

 

Today the homes are still privately owned, and though they are not regularly open to the public, some do open their doors during annual Festival of Houses and Gardens during the month of March.


Discover Picturesque Alleys

Go on an adventure and you’ll find yourself meandering down quiet, hidden alleys. The city is safe and always camera ready! What are you waiting for?

There are several small streets and alleys that are public and ready for you to discover. They are also a great place for you to see the beautiful foliage and blooming plants in Charleston. The sub-tropic climate, combined with areas that are less traveled, means that these are the areas where Mother Nature really shows off. Have fun!

 


Back to top


 

DAY TRIPS FROM CHARLESTON

There are some interesting places to see and enjoy outside of the city that make great day trips. Whether you’re willing to travel for 15 minutes or two hours, there are fun day trip options for you!


Beaches

Folly Beach is a fantastic family-friendly beach located just a 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston on Folly Island. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the beach, or choose from one of the many seaside restaurants or bars for a meal. Though summer is the best time of year to relax on Folly Beach, smaller crowds, and slightly cooler weather make the spring and fall equally enjoyable. Alternatively, if you’re in Charleston during the month of January, check out the annual Bill Murray Look-Alike Polar Plunge where participants are encouraged to ‘freeze their Bill’s off!” 

 

 

Located just a 15-minute drive from the heart of the Historic District of Charleston, Isle of Palms is also a great place for families to visit! The beach at the Isle of Palms is probably the most kid-friendly beach around Charleston thanks to the ample space, safe waters, and clean environment. 

There are several other beaches that are within 20 to 45 minutes’ drive from the center of Charleston. This includes the private beach of Seabrook Island, that is known for its quiet, idyllic atmosphere and Kiawah Island, known for its recreational sports, live music, and entertainment. 


Plantations

There are several big plantations near Charleston — each location is very family-friendly, despite the dark history surrounding them. Drayton Hall, Magnolia Plantation, and Middleton Plantation are just west of the city, and Boone Hall is over in Mount Pleasant.  

 

 

The plantations west of the Ashley River were mainly rice plantations, whereas Boone Hall and many of the plantations east of the Cooper were known for producing bricks. 

You can learn about each plantation’s black history and culture, as well as the effects of the Civil War on the plantation owners and their homes. 

Kids will love exploring the labyrinth of gardens at each plantation. Magnolia even has a petting zoo! And, if you’re here at the right time, you can pick your own fruit at veggies at Boone Hall.  

Sure you need a car, but you cannot go to the South and miss going to a plantation! The trip is worth it and we hope you have fun!


Savannah, Georgia

Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia, and close enough to Charleston to allow for fun day trips. It takes just two hours to drive between the cities. Savannah’s Historic District is full of antebellum, colonial, and Victorian architecture and beautiful estates. 

 

 

You’ll also learn about the history of the city from colonial times, including the slave trade and cotton industry details.

Learn more about Savannah walking tours here

 


Back to top


 

THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON BY MONTH AND SEASON

We have also created guides based on the time of year.  Click on the links below for the corresponding time that you plan on being in Charleston.  These also include monthly weather expectations to help you plan how to dress.

 


Back to top


 

 

Christmas in Charleston

Christmas in Charleston

This post covers the top things to do on Christmas in Charleston (updated for 2019), including nighttime activities, free things to do, and family-friendly options. Don’t forget to look into our packing tips for winter trips!

Be sure to read our master post on things to do in Charleston for even more ideas.

 

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO 

This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in Charleston during Christmas. Whenever possible, we will make note of attractions and events that are free, family-friendly or great after dark.

For tips on the most popular activities in Charleston, check out our schedule of pay-what-you-like walking tours, our bus tours, and boat cruise pages.

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

 

 

Read more »

Charleston Main Image

Historic Charleston | A Self-Guided Tour

This self-guided tour takes you through a section of the city with a large density of 18th-century sites, including those open to the public for free and some that that charge admission.  

With houses and buildings that have remained intact since before the American Revolution, Charleston allows your imagination to travel back in time to the when stately horse-drawn carriages rode down quaint cobblestone streets. It also is a reminder of America’s darker past when slavery was legal and Charleston was one of the biggest hubs of the slave trade. 

Experience this as a GPS-enabled audio tour.

Self-Guided Tour
History
Nearby Attractions
Related Posts

This short video details the history of slavery in Charleston and includes a visit inside the Old Slave Market Museum, included on this tour.

 

SELF-GUIDED TOUR

Read more »

Things to do in Charleston in November

This post covers the best things to do in Charleston in November and has been updated for 2019. It includes a top 10 list, nighttime activities, free and family-friendly things to do.

Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in Charleston for even more ideas.

 

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON IN NOVEMBER

This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in Charleston throughout November. Whenever possible, we will make note of attractions and events that are free, family-friendly or great after dark.

For tips on the most popular activities in Charleston, check out our schedule of pay-what-you-like walking tours, our bus tours, and boat cruise pages.

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

 

 

Read more »

Things To Do in Charleston in October

This post covers the best things to do in Charleston in October and has been updated for 2019. It includes a top 10 list, nighttime activities, free and family-friendly things to do.

Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in Charleston for even more ideas.

 

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON IN OCTOBER

This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in Charleston throughout October. Whenever possible, we will make note of attractions and events that are free, family-friendly or great after dark.

For tips on the most popular activities in Charleston, check out our schedule of pay-what-you-like walking tours, our bus tours, and boat cruise pages.

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

 

 

Read more »

Things to do in Charleston in September

This post covers the best things to do in Charleston in September and has been updated for 2019. It includes a top 10 list, nighttime activities, free and family-friendly things to do.

Be sure to check out our master post, Things to Do in Charleston for even more ideas.

 

Charleston in September

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON IN SEPTEMBER

This section features our top 10 activities to enjoy in Charleston throughout September. Whenever possible, we will make note of attractions and events that are free, family-friendly or great after dark.

For tips on the most popular activities in Charleston, check out our schedule of pay-what-you-like walking tours, our bus tours, and boat cruise pages.

Several of the items below are already included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

 

 

Read more »

Charleston Audio Tours

We are proud to offer our newest, affordable sightseeing option – AUDIO TOURS.  Can’t make one of our guided tours? No problem, we have recorded some of our best tour guides giving their tours and put them on a GPS enabled app. 

We have partnered with Atlantis Audio Tours to provide you with a convenient way to experience our tours.  Each tour offers an off-line option to view the map and hear the audio of each walk so that you don’t need to have GPS maps running with the app.

 

 


Here is how it works:

  1. Download our Charleston walking tour app on (iTunes) or (Android).
  2. Download any audio tour(s).
  3. Enjoy the tour(s).

Even if you don’t download any tours, you will still have access to valuable information on sightseeing.

Listen to a sample of our Historic Charleston Tour.

 


Available Tours:

  • Historic Charleston

Check out our audio tours in all our cities:

New York | Boston | Washington DC | Charleston | New Orleans | San Francisco | Chicago | Nashville | London  | Paris