This post covers the best things to do in Charleston in January and has been updated for 2020. It includes our top ten list, as well as evening, free, and family-friendly activities.
- Top 10
- Nighttime Activities
- Free Things to Do
- Tourist Attraction Discounts
- Things to Do in Charleston (any time of year)
TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN CHARLESTON IN JANUARY
This section covers our top 10 things to do in Charleston in January.
For more information on popular tourist attractions in Charleston, make sure to check out our posts:
Some of the items within this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
(1) Attend a Sporting Event
In January in Charleston, you can see a number of different sports events. From ice hockey to basketball, a monster truck jam to a marathon, you can find them all.
See what sports events are happening this month. Below the video, we have listed the highlights.
- Harlem Globetrotters - Jan 2, 2020, at the North Charleston Coliseum
- Charleston Marathon - January 11, 2020
- Monster Jam - Jan 25, 2020, at the North Charleston Coliseum
Find all the games you can attend in Charleston here.
(2) See a Concert
Looking for a concert in Charleston? There are several artists stopping in the city this month.
- Grace Potter - Jan. 8 at Charleston Music Hall
- Badfish: A Tribute To Sublime - Jan. 17 at Music Farm
- Carbon Leaf - Jan. 18 at the Music Farm
- St Paul and the Broken Bones - Jan. 19 + 20 at Charleston Music Hall
- The Dead South - Jan. 20 at the Music Farm
- Three Dog Night - Jan. 22 at Charleston Music Hall
- America - Jan. 24 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center
- North Charleston Pops: Songs of Neil Diamond - Jan. 25 at North Charleston Theater
- Devil Makes Three - Jan. 26 at Music Farm
- Matoma & Two Friends - Jan. 29 at Music Farm
Find all the concerts available in Charleston here.
(3) Enjoy the Theatre
In January 2020, there are two major theatrical productions in Charleston.
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is playing on January 25 and 26, at The Historic Dock Street Theatre.
You can see Wicked from January 22 - 31 at the Ira & Nancy Koger Center for the Arts.
(4) Save Money with an Attraction Discount Pass
If you’re looking at going to multiple paid attractions, like the plantations and tours mentioned above, you might consider purchasing a tourist attraction discount pass.
Discount passes work by bundling multiple tickets into one price, which means that depending on how you use it you could save up to 50% off retail prices.
The two main discount passes are the Charleston Tour Pass and the Charleston Heritage Passport.
The Tour Pass is a great option for visitors looking to pack in as many activities as possible on a short trip. It also includes meals and discounts at restaurants and distilleries or vineyards.
The Heritage Passport is the perfect option for museum lovers and includes entry to plantations, history museums, and art museums.
Read our post comparing the different Charleston tourist discount passes. Several bus tour companies, including hop-on-hop-off buses, also offer discounts and deals.
(5) Take a Sightseeing Tour
In January, there will be fewer visitors in Charleston which means tours won't be booked up! We offer a variety of pay-what-you-want walking tours of Charleston.
We also have several GPS enabled self-guided audio tours of Charleston that you can take any time, day or night.
Some of our tours you can take are:
- Historic Charleston Walking Tour
- Civil War in Charleston Walking Tour
- Charleston Architecture Tour
- Charleston Ghost Tour
(6) Charleston Restaurant Week
From January 9-19, 2020 you can dine at some of Charleston’s best restaurants for a discounted price.
Pre-fixe menus will be offered for lunch, and some restaurants may also offer this deal for dinner.
More than 80 restaurants participate in Charleston Restaurant Week twice a year (both in January and September).
Reservations are recommended. Find out which restaurants are participating here.
(7) Lowcountry Oyster Festival
Hailed as one of the top events in the southeast and the world’s largest oyster festival, the annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival takes place on January 26, 2020, from 10 am to 5 pm.
There will be oyster shucking, live entertainment, wine & beer, a children’s area, and plenty of oysters and other types of food.
This event is a charitable fundraiser, so you can feel good knowing that your admission is $20 going to a good cause.
(8) Take a Food Tour of Charleston
If you cant make the Oyster Festival or arent here for Restaurant Week, don't worry. You can still try some delicious southern cuisine, on 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.
(9) Take a Unique Bus Tour
You may not know this, but you can take a tour of Charleston that will introduce you to the city but also, Gullah which was the language spoken by the Lowcountry’s first black inhabitants.
One excellent Gullah tour is offered by a company called Gullah Tours. The video below gives you an idea of what you can expect on this tour.
You will visit locations like Catfish Row, the Old Slave Mart, and the Aiken-Rhett House slave quarters and more.
The tours, at $20 per person, are very affordable and reviewers declare that they are worth the money.
Find out more about Gullah Tours here.
For other options, read our post about the many bus tours of Charleston.
(10) Charleston Jazz Festival
Tap your feet to the beat as you listen to a variety of jazz musicians during this four-day festival running from January 23 – 26, 2020.
The event brings together over 100 local, regional, and national jazz artists to share their love of music through a number of performances and events.
There are plenty of fun evening activities to experience in Charleston.
Below are a few more nighttime activities. See our master post on things to do at night in Charleston for even more ideas.
Charleston Comedy Festival
The Charleston Comedy Festival returns with four days of laughs! In 202, it takes place from January 15th to 18th.
The festival will feature stand-up, sketch, improv performances at a variety of venues throughout the city.
Tickets and more information are available on their website.
See Neil deGrasse Tyson
Get your inner geek out by seeing astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on January 22, 2020.
His popular tv series Cosmos brought the mysteries of the universe into our homes.
Learn and laugh when you see Neil DeGrasse Tyson live at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.
Walk Across the Ravenel Bridge (Cooper River Bridge)
This beautiful bridge has views that will leave you breathless. Visiting at night is especially pretty as the bridge and cables are beautiful while lit up.
Take a Dinner Cruise
At night, Charleston's beautiful harbor sparkles. You will see the 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.
Go Bowling at The Alley
For a fun night out, put on your bowling shoes and hit The Alley.
More than just a bowling alley, this venue offers food and features a full bar as well. You can make a whole night out of it!
Tip: For more night times activities, check out our things to do at night in Charleston post.
Charleston offers a variety of free events if you plan accordingly! Some of the activities in other sections of this post cost nothing.
Hear Street Music
Here's a little secret...You can enjoy some free music during the annual Charleston Marathon on January 11, 2020.
There will be several live bands stationed along the course. Why not go hear some live music for free while cheering on the runners who need your support!
Visit Charleston City Market
The historic Charleston City Market features dozens of local makers and designers selling their goods for you to take home.
This is one of the most popular attractions in Charleston. Besides being free, it is also family-friendly.
Go to Second Sunday on King Street
On January 11, the second Sunday in January, numerous shops on King Street feature special sales, new products, food and beverage offerings, pop-ups, and more!
This event is free of charge and is fun for people of all ages.
Join the First Friday Artwalk
Gallery-hop for free on this monthly art walk on January 3, 2020, from 5 pm - 8 pm.
In addition to seeing original works of art, you can meet the artists and enjoy refreshments.
Get more information from the Charleston Gallery Association website.
See the Free Museum at the Fort Sumter Visitor Center
Though visiting Fort Sumter is not free, its Visitor Center has a free museum with exhibits about Fort Sumter and the Civil War.
The back of the building faces the harbor and you can stand on the balcony and take in views of Fort Sumter and Patriot's Point in the distance.
If you are interested in seeing the historic fort, find out about how to do so from our post on Visiting Fort Sumter.
Stroll the Battery
The famous Charleston Battery is a promenade that runs along the harbor. It's a relaxing place to take a stroll with views of the harbor on one side, and on the other are historic mansions.
It is called the Battery as there was once a battery of canons along the seawall to protect the city.
It is such a charming place to visit, it is one of our top 10 things to do in Charleston.
If you're looking for more free things to do, read our full post.
Charleston has many family-friendly attractions that people of all ages enjoy!
Find even more ideas from the family section of our main post on things to do in Charleston.
Visit the South Carolina Aquarium
This popular attraction in Charleston features marine animals whose habitat is the coastal waters of South Carolina and beyond.
Two of their most popular residents are a rare albino alligator and a bald eagle named Liberty.
Find out about exhibits, hours, prices and more from our post on the aquarium.
See the Old Powder Magazine
The oldest government building in South Carolina, the Old Powder Magazine was completed in 1713 and has served a number of purposes throughout the millennia.
Explore the Caw Caw Interpretive Center
Once part of several rice plantations, the Caw Caw Interpretive Center today offers over 6 miles of trails, elevated boardwalks through wetlands, multiple interactive exhibits, and more.
It’s a great spot for families who are looking to spend some time enjoying the wildlife.
Go to the Confederate Museum
Operated by the Daughters of the Confederacy, this museum was once a public market hall that was largely used to raise funds for the Confederacy.
The museum is open year-round, Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 4 pm. Admission is just $5 for adults, $3 for children ages 6 - 12, and free for children under 5 years of age.
See more information from the museum's website.
TIP: This museum is featured on our self-guided Civil War walking tour.
Visit Fort Moultrie
Located on Sullivan’s Island, Fort Moultrie might be the lesser-known of the defensive forts in the Charleston area but offers a very colorful history.
The fort is open daily year-round (except January 1) from 9 am-5 pm. Visit the Fort Moultrie website for information.
Our post on things to do in Charleston has many more suggestions for family-friendly activities, so check it out.