Rainbow Row in Charleston

Things To Do On New Year’s Eve In Charleston 2017

There are many things to do on New Year’s Eve in Charleston for 2017. Many people think of Charleston, SC, as one of the most romantic cities within the United States. This city isn’t only beautiful, it is also very old since it dates back to the 1670s. One of the best things about visiting this area is that it is filled with exciting things to do that won’t end up costing visitors an arm and a leg. And if you happen to be in Charleston this New Year’s Eve 2017, you’re in for a treat because there are a lot of entertainment for you at very low costs.

Read more »

Charleston Tours

Visiting Historic Charleston City Market

Visiting Historic Charleston City Market is a staple on most Charleston visitors’ itineraries when in the city.  It’s a great place to spend an hour or so browsing the wares and certainly for people watching.  Open 364 days a year from 9:30 am until 6:00 pm.

Market Hall, built in 1841 and designed by Edward B. White, is a National Historic Landmark that replaced a previous market building destroyed by fire several decades earlier.   Built in the Greek Revival style, Market Hall is an architectural standout and one of Charleston’s finest examples of this style.  For more on the history of Market Hall and Sheds, check out the Historic Charleston City Market’s website.  Today, it is the home of the Confederate Museum and run by the Daughters of the Confederacy.   Market Hall fronts 4 full blocks on one story market sheds that are occupied by varied arrangement of over 100 vendors selling clothing, jewelry, crafts, artwork, spices, silver as well as prints and paintings of Charleston.  

Market Hall Charleston

Brian Stansberry

How to get to Charleston City Market

Market Hall is located at 188 Meeting Street at the intersection with Market Street, with the market sheds stretching out between north and south Market Streets east till East Bay.  Please use our Google map for directions to Charleston City Market.    It’s location in the center of the city makes it easy to reach on foot from most downtown hotels and guests houses as well as the cruise ship terminal.  Free public parking is scarce around the market, especially during operating hours.  Expect to pay around $10 for 3-4 hours of parking.

Things to Do 

  • Shop.  It’s a market.  For many, the market is a great experience to browse all the different items for sale.   For others, it is a tourist trap, little better than a flea market.  If you are in town on Saturdays, locals will tell you that you are better off visiting the market at Marion Square just to the north.  Nevertheless, Charleston City Market is a great place to check out the hustle and bustle and to people watch.
  • Historic Charleston Foundation.  The foundation’s mission is to preserve and protect the historical, architectural and cultural treasures of Charleston and to educate the public on such matters.  The foundation operates two museums and they have an office at the market.  https://www.historiccharleston.org/Home.aspx
  • Visit the Museum of the Confederacy.

Cheap Eats can be found at the Dixie Supply Bakery and Cafe at 62 State Street.  DSB once wowed Guy Fiere.   Tour Guide Danny suggests tasting the great Greek salad at the Market Street Deli.  Also, be sure to consider our Historic Charleston Walking Tour, which begins one block south of the market.  We cover the market and many other sights in downtown Charleston.

New Charleston Walking Tours!

To add to our current Four Corners of Law and Historic Charleston tours, we are working on a few options for new Charleston walking tours – let us know what YOU think we should add to the schedule!
Civil War Tours: Come to Charleston to see and where the fighting of the Civil War began at Fort Sumter. See the antebellum Charleston change through the “War of Northern Aggression” with the 18 months of fighting.
Black History: Yes, there was slavery (and thousands of slaves came through Sullivan’s Island, but being a slave in a city was a lot different than being a slave on a plantation.) There were a lot of free blacks, who started schools, were skilled craftsman with their own businesses, and were a part of society. Many people have no idea about Charleston having a black majority population in the 1700s and having 5 black delegates to the South Carolina assembly in the 1860s.
Architectural history is vibrant here.  Thanks to Charletsonians historically being rich and a bit flamboyant and boisterous about their wealth, Charleston has fine examples of almost every type of architecture one can think of: Adamesque and Federal styles, Regency, Victorian…and one of the finest examples of Palladian Architecture in the country.
Pirate history:  Charleston is first and foremost a seaport city.  Cities by the sea were always a target of pirates and Charleston was no exception. One of the first Charlestonians was a pirate, later his grandson would sign the Constitution of the U.S. Look out to the sea and imagine as Blackbeard and some of his cohorts visited Charleston.

Most Haunted Places in Charleston

A city with 350 years of history has to have some spirits wandering around, right? And what better time to explore these than the evening when the veil between this world and the next is lifted on our Ghosts of Charleston tour which brings you to one of the sights below… there are a few haunted sites in Charleston where apparitions appear while people are trying to eat, sleep or relax in the theater.

DOCK STREET THEATER

The original theater from the 1700s was destroyed in a fire. It is now located in an early 1800s building that was once a luxury hotel, Planter’s Hotel. While it was a high class place at first it later became the go to for gamblers and drinkers, and with them, working girls. As with most historic theaters, there are a few people from the building that seem to have never left.

One of them is reported to be a famous actor, or rather the father of an actor who is not famous for acting, Junius Booth. Booth name ring a bell? John Wilkes Booth’s father is said to watch shows from the balcony. We have no idea if it’s Booth. In reality, it’s probably not since he died elsewhere but it makes the story better.

But more frequently seen is the image of a zombie-like women with ragged hair, wide eyes and a burned red dress. Nettie used the Planter’s Hotel as her “office” until the clients stopped coming. She would stand outside on the balcony wildly yelling at passersby often in the middle of storms. Until one day as she hung from the balcony, ready to fall, a lightening strike took care of that for her.

The Dock Street Theater is open and free to wander around … if you dare. Even better, catch a show while you’re at it!

BATTERY CARRIAGE HOUSE INN

Built in 1843, this stunning hotel has three resident spirits that are so often seen, there is a even a page for Ghost Sightings on the inn’s website! Rooms 8 and 10 – a headless torso, and a very friendly gentleman.

The headless torso also has no legs or arms and doesn’t seem to be very friendly. Despite not having a head, an angry gasping moan can be heard if you get too close. It is thought he is a Civil War solider who was brutally maimed in a munitions accident nearby at the Battery.

The gentleman likes to climb in to bed with female guests and as soon as they make a sound, he’ll exit through what used to be the door and is now a piece of furniture. One of the previous owners had a sensitive son, college aged, who threw himself from the roof and no one knew why.

POOGAN’S PORCH

A Victorian home build in 1888, since the 1970s it has been a restaurant named after a dog who refused to leave the porch when his owner moved away. But Poogan wasn’t the only one who refused to leave. Zoe St. Armand and her sister lived in the house at the turn of the 20th century. She dressed in long black dresses, with her hair in a bun and wire rimmed glasses. Her and her sister were spinsters and much more inclined to socialise with each other than anyone else. So when her sister died, so did a piece of Zoe. She would be heard yelling out her sisters name and suffered such a break that she was institutionalized until she died in the 1950s.

Zoe is seen regularly. Sometimes in the mirror in the ladies bathroom, or wandering through the restaurant. Often her presence is felt with dishes flying and chairs being knocked over. Sometimes the kitchen gets order tickets from a waiter who isn’t working that night.

Tour Fort Sumter in Charleston

It took less than two days for Fort Sumter to surrender when recently seceded forces began to fire and for nearly four years the Union fought to get it back. Fort Sumter is known in elementary school basic history as the beginning of the American Civil War. While we talk about it on our Historic Charleston tour, it takes a bit more than a walking tour to get there.

Sumter_aerial

So how do you visit and tour Fort Sumter? By Boat, of course?

Fort Sumter is a sea fort. It is basically a walled island but there are two ferry points to get there from downtown Charleston.

The most convenient and oft used location is the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at 340 Concord Street in downtown Charleston. There is a parking garage next to the center or metered parking nearby (note: most meters are two hour limit parking).

The Visitor Education Center is a good starting point. Inside a museum that lays the foundation on what led to the firing at the fort and discussing the disagreements between the North and the South.

If you are arriving by RV or bus, there is large vehicle parking at Patriots Point located at 40 Patriots Point Road in Mount Pleasant.
While the Fort itself is free, they have an official concessioner to operate the ferries to and from. The ferry tour is 2.5 hours with 1 hour at the fort (though you can purchase extended stay tickets at the office.) The tours depart twice to three times a day depending on the season. Adults $18, Adult Seniors (62 years & up) $16, Children ages 4-11 yrs $11.
If you have your own boat or access to a boat, you can visit Fort Sumter free of charge!

 

Weekend Trip to Charleston

How to spend the perfect weekend in Charleston

Charleston, one of America’s oldest cities, center of arts and culture and birthplace of the Civil War has a lot to offer for its visitors.  If you are short in time and want to make the best of your visit to the Holy City, here are some suggestions for a great weekend.

SATURDAY

9:30am:  Take a walking tour with Free Tours by Foot

Start out and get a first introduction to Charleston by taking a 2-hour guided walking tour with Free Tours by Foot. They offer pay-what-you-want walking tours through the historic center, and you will see the French Quarter, the Four Corners of Law, Rainbow Row, St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church, French Huguenot Church, Dock Street Theater, the Old Exchange Building, the Waterfront Park and the Pineapple Fountain. Reserve your spot today.

12pm:  Stroll through the Charleston Farmer’s Market and have lunch

The Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays, 8am-2pm, and offers great local produce, arts and crafts from local artisans and live entertainments.  It is located on Marion Square at King Street/Calhoun Street in the middle of the historic center.  Its food vendors offer a wide variety, from Greek food, empanadas, sausages, crepes, sandwiches, smoothies, baked goods and much more.

2:30pm: Take the ferry and visit Fort Sumter

Take the ferry from the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square (340 Concord Street, Charleston, SC) and visit the site where the first shots of the American Civil War were supposedly fired. The admission to the Fort is free, though unless you have a private boat you will have to pay for the ferry ride to get to the island.  Make sure to check out the ferry departure times online.  The whole trip there and back with time on the island will take about 2.5 hours. You can also buy your ticket online.

8pm: Let your hair down at Charleston’s improv theatre

Charleston is home to a couple of famous comedians, and why shouldn’t you experience some of the humor live at play.  The Theatre 99 offers shows every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.  They are centrally located on 280 Meeting Street, above the bicycle shop. For tickets and schedule check out their website.

SUNDAY:

Morning: Start your day with a walk along The Battery and White Points Gardens

No Charleston trip is complete without walking the Battery and admiring the sumptuous mansions, and enjoying the views of Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney.  The Battery and the White Point Gardens are a place to relax and to enjoy the constant sea breeze. Sunday mornings are probably best to avoid crowds.

Midday: Visit the Charleston City Market at Meeting Street

Here you can pick up your Charleston souvenirs, see the famous sweet grass baskets being weaved, or you can try the food vendors. The city market is open daily from 8:30-5pm.

Afternoon: Tour the Aiken-Rhett House

The Aiken-Rhett House is a favorite of many visitors.  Take the self-guided audio tour, and learn about many details of African American servant life.  The house is about a 20 minute walk away from the City Market on 48 Elizabeth Street and open on Sundays from 2-5pm.  If you have not seen the Charleston Campus yet, we also recommend to taking a small detour to walk through the university campus on the way to the Aiken-Rhett House.

Enjoy your time in Charleston!

Budget friendly travel options throughout the US

Free Tours by Foot offers pay-what-you-like walking, bike, bus, food and theme tours for every budget, because we believe that everybody should be able to explore the stories, history, and hidden gems of the city they are visiting.  We offer tours of U.S. cities such as BostonChicago, New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Charleston and New Orleans and we often have visitors exploring our tours in different cities. We frequently get the question, what we suggest are the best ways to get around the U.S. and while most travelers have a car or rent a car, that option does not always suit everybody. Here are some budget-friendly ways to travel from city to city without car.

Connecting New York – Boston – Philadelphia – Washington D.C.

A great, easy, and budget-friendly option to travel between the big cities of the northeast is by bus.  There are several different bus companies that are connecting the Northeast cities; and depending which route you take, tickets can be as cheap as $12 one-way. Thanks to the increased number of bus companies, there usually is enough time to book your ticket online 24 hours in advance, unless you are set on a specific time schedule or travel with a larger group.  Also, bear in mind, rush hour departures/arrivals around 9am and 5pm can add another hour to your trip if your bus gets stuck in traffic.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Boltbus – a crowd pleaser with guaranteed seating, and easy boarding process, they usually book out last minute, so book early.
  • Megabus – offers a lot of departure time options, as their fleet departs more often than the others
  • Peter Pan – another great budget option and especially popular for Boston trips
  • Greyhound – the classy and a little more pricy option with more flexibility for refunds; make sure you arrive 30 minutes early for boarding to grab a good seat
  • DC2NY – as the name suggests they operate between NYC and DC; if you like a little more upscale bus ride experience; only rides twice a day; during the summer months, they also offer travel to Rehoboth Beach in Maryland
  • Washington Deluxe – operates between NYC and DC; great if you want to be dropped off in Brooklyn

Connecting Washington DC – Chicago – New Orleans – Charleston

First, check with your airline or flight search engines, such as Kayak, you might be surprised to find a sweet deal for a flight.  If flying is not an option, your best bet to connect these longer distances might be by train.  Going by train will certainly feel like an adventure itself and it is a more relaxing way to see the country compared to sitting in a bus, because you can walk around, read a book, etc. and let’s face it, sometimes the journey itself is the reward of travel.  Make sure you book your ticket at least 3 weeks in advance, because last minute travel by train can get really pricy. Check with Amtrak for times and prices. Here are the current estimates:

  • Washington to New Orleans – 26 hours; $147 one-way
  • New Orleans to Chicago – 19 hours; $127 one-way
  • Chicago to Washington – 17.5 hours; $94 one-way
  • Washington to Charleston, SC – 9 hours; $97 one-way

Greyhound also connects these cities, though you might have to add on some extra travel hours and transfers.

Free Tours by Foot is looking forward to seeing you soon at one or more of our many tours. Save travels!

How to get to Downtown Charleston from the airport?

This post explains the various methods for you to get to downtown Charleston from the Airport, including bus, taxi and shuttle service.  You can reach downtown for as little as $2/person.  Once you get to downtown, please consider one of our free walking tours to get you acquainted with the city.

 


Public Transportation:

An easy and affordable way to get to Downtown Charleston is to take the bus. The CARTA Route 11 Dorchester/Airport serves the airport and also travels directly into the downtown area. This bus route also serves many of the new hotels in the North Charleston area and the Tanger Outlets.  There is also an express bus (X4) that also services the airport, but runs every hour.

When you arrive at the airport, follow the signs for public transportation/CARTA.  The bus stop at the airport is located near the passenger pick-up area and the rental car pick=up lot.  The downtown stop is located at Meeting St./Mary St. right next to the Charleston Visitor Center in the center of Downtown Charleston.

Fares and schedule

The bus fare is $2 per person.  Make sure you have the exact fare, as bus drivers cannot make change most of the times. The bus departs approximately every 30 minutes and takes ca. 65 minutes to get downtown.  The X4 departs every hour.

We recommend using this Google map to get exact departure times.  We have preset it to the Visitor Center’s location, but you could change it to the address of your final destination.

 


Taxi:

For those who like to get into the city in less than 30 minutes, we recommend taking a taxi.  The 12-mile ride costs about $25-$30 for 2 passengers (+ $14 extra charges per additional passenger). For non-metered rides make sure you agree on a fixed rate beforehand.  Taxis are plentiful and easy to find.

 


Shuttle:

There is also a CHS aiport shuttle service to Downtown Charleston. It departs roughly every 15 minutes, and is $14.00 + tip per person. Advanced reservations are not necessary. The shuttle is a shared ride, so be prepared to make several stops depending on how many passengers there are.  The shuttles and taxis leave in front of the terminal building, outside of baggage claim area. For more information, destinations and prices, click here.

Free Tours by Foot wishes you safe and enjoyable travels and we hope to see you soon on one of our Charleston walking tours!

Free things to do in charleston

Top 5 FREE things to do in and around Charleston

Top 5 FREE things to do in and around Charleston

1. Take a walking tour with Free Tours by Foot

Charleston Walking Tours - Free Tours by FootCharleston, one of the oldest cities of America, will enchant visitors with its subtle and compelling southern appeal. It is the birthplace of the Civil War. Charleston is filled with history, fine architecture, and lots of southern charm. There is no better way to truly experience Charleston than by walking the streets and getting a real feel for The Holy City.  Walking tours of Historic Charleston with Free Tours by Foot go out daily at 9:30 am. (except for Mondays). We meet at the Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park off Prioleau Street. There is no upfront cost; tours run on a name-your-own-price model; reservations are required.

 

Free Things to Do in Charleston2. Enjoy the Charleston City Market

This popular market is a chance to get a glimpse of the old South, and satisfy your desire for local arts and crafts, as well as local foods, and probably some tourist kitsch, too.  Here visitors can witness the braiding of the famous sweet grass baskets. The market is located on Market Street and Meeting Street; it is open daily, 8:30am-5:30pm.  Read our blog post on the Charleston City Market for more information.

 

Charleston Battery3. Stroll along the Historic Charleston Battery and White Point Gardens

The city’s most southern tip is an absolute must, as you will see the iconic Charleston views, the sumptuous mansions of the Battery, the Cooper River, Fort Sumter, and Castle Pinckney.  Have a picnic in White Point Gardens, or just enjoy the sea breeze. If you drive here, there is free parking around Battery Street.

 

4. See the Angel Oak Tree

Angel Oak Tree free things to do in charlestonThis over 1000 year-old tree is the oldest tree in the East coast and is owned by the city of Charleston. It is located 25 minutes away by car outside of Charleston on Johns Island. For some it is just a tree, others say that the angel oak tree is truly beautiful and that one has to see it in person to grasp its magnificence. Admission and parking are free. The Angel Oak Tree Park is open Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm, Sun: 1-5pm and located near the intersection of Maybank Highway and Bohicket Road / Main Road on Johns Island. http://angeloaktree.com/

5. Visit the Charleston Tea Plantation

Charleston Tea PlantationIf you are in the Johns Island area anyway, take a ride to the Charleston Tea Garden, a tea plantation where you can learn how the tea makes it from leaf to teabag. The plantation offers complimentary factory tours on a daily basis. Tours begin every 15 minutes on the quarter hour and can be accessed at the top of the stairs in the Gift Shop. The plantation is open Mon-Sat: 10am-4pm, Sun: 12-4pm. The plantation is located about 20 miles southwest of Charleston at 6617 Maybank Highway, Wadmalaw Island. http://www.charlestonteaplantation.com.