20 Best Things to Do in Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Let me take you on a stroll down my city's cobblestone streets, past the historic Antebellum houses, under the majestic canopy of Spanish moss-covered trees — welcome to Charleston, South Carolina.

Our city is a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy, where southern hospitality is not just a sentiment but a way of life.

With a rich history, stunning architecture, and an ever-vibrant food and arts scene, there's something here for everyone.

Whether you're here for a day or a week, prepare to fall in love with the best things to do in Charleston, South Carolina.

Step into my shoes, and let's unwrap the magic of this city together.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable restaurants, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional dining establishments that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular eateries but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city's diverse culinary landscape for yourself

Walk across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge at night
MarkVanDykePhotography / Shutterstock.com

If you ever find yourself in Charleston, South Carolina, don't miss the opportunity to stroll across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

Its sleek, triangular arches, towering above the Cooper River, are a sight to behold and even more enchanting when illuminated at night.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is not just an architectural marvel but a popular spot for physical activities.

Whether you're into walking, running, biking, scootering, or skating, the bridge provides a unique landscape to get your blood pumping.

The panoramic views you get halfway or along the length of the bridge are simply breathtaking, making it a desirable spot for tourists and locals alike.

After a refreshing walk or bike ride, I love to unwind in the park nestled next to the bridge.

View from under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Dave Allen Photography / Shutterstock.com

Spacious grassy areas, riverfront seating scattered all over, and a playground for the kids make it a perfect spot for picnicking.

The visitor center, cafe, and a little gift shop are convenient touches to make your visit more enjoyable.

Despite being a highly trafficked highway, the bridge exudes a surprising sense of calm, as drivers seem to understand that it's more than just a path to get from point A to point B.

There's something magical about being on the bridge - maybe it's the view, the breeze, or just the collective appreciation from everyone around you.

Aerial view of Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock.com

Stroll through The Battery

Scenic views at The Battery
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Most weekends, my morning routine consists of a leisurely stroll along the breathtaking seawall known as The Battery.

The moment I step onto the promenade, I'm immediately greeted by the splendor of stately antebellum homes on one side and an awe-inspiring view of the wide expanse of water on the other, where Mt. Pleasant and Patriots Point are visible on clear days.

The Battery has a unique ability to transport its visitors back in time, and I’m no exception.

As I walk by, I can’t help but marvel at the historical monuments that dot the area, each telling its own unique tale of the city’s rich past.

Amidst the bustling city life, this landmark stands as a still portrait of history, serving as a constant reminder of our roots.

The scattered parks throughout downtown have become my favorite resting spots during these walks.

Here, amidst the hustle of the city, you can find pockets of tranquility designed perfectly for quick breaks.

It's also a great spot for families. On hot summer days, the shade provided by the trees in the park provides a welcome respite, making it an ideal spot for little ones to rest and play.

One of my most cherished memories at The Battery was my friend’s wedding held at the gazebo last spring.

The serenity of the environment, coupled with the gorgeous backdrop of flowers, trees, and water, was simply magical.

It's not just a place for local residents like me but also an ideal place for visitors looking to experience the charm and history of one of America's first cities.

Take Snaps of the Pineapple Fountain

Scenic view of the Pineapple Fountain
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

I can't remember a time when the Pineapple Fountain wasn't a part of my life.

Even though I've seen it countless times, it still manages to take my breath away.

The fountain, designed in the shape of a multi-layered pineapple, is nestled beautifully on the waterfront and never fails to draw attention.

A walk down to the Pineapple Fountain always promises a splendid experience.

It's impossible not to get caught up in the charm of the old Charleston history that surrounds it.

The bustling crowd, the myriad shops and the delightful dining options always add to the allure of the place.

Though, a word of caution, the parking can test your patience.

The waters of the Pineapple Fountain
eurobanks / Shutterstock.com

If you're around during the summer, the fountain serves as a fantastic spot to cool down.

Just kick off your shoes, wade in, and let the water wash away the heat.

The sight of kids splashing in the water and having the time of their lives is a sight that never gets old.

The riverfront park nearby offers a lovely, easy stroll. If you're up for it, you can also take a walk down to the docks.

So, whether you're here to relive the old memories or make new ones, capture the moment with a snap or two of this iconic fountain.

Aerial view of the Pineapple Fountain
jdross75 / Shutterstock.com

Have a Moment of Reflection at Saint Michael's Church

Exterior of Saint Michael's Church
Andriy Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

Every Sunday, I find myself drawn to the familiar sight of the massive steeple of Saint Michael's Church, standing tall since the 1760s.

The polished cedar pew where George Washington himself sat in 1791 never fails to remind me of all the history that has unfolded in this sacred place.

As I walk through the church doors, I am always greeted by a warm, loving congregation that feels like an extended family.

Each clergy member brings their unique personality and life experiences which reflect in their sermons and interactions.

There's something incredibly comforting about being a part of a community that embraces everyone with open arms, regardless of where they come from.

But it's not just about the present.

Interior of Saint Michael's Church
Farragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Saint Michael's Church is a living testament to history, having welcomed notable figures like Robert E. Lee and numerous renowned Charleston families.

Attending a Sunday service here feels like stepping into a time capsule, surrounded by centuries of American and Charleston history.

This is something that no history book can ever capture; it's an experience you have to feel in person.

Also, if you ever get a chance to join one of the small tours after the Sunday service, don't miss it.

I've been on those a few times myself, and there's always something new to discover.

Aerial view of Saint Michael's Church
tokar / Shutterstock.com

Catch the Sunrise at Joe Riley Waterfront Park

Riverfront trail at Joe Riley Waterfront Park
Joseph Creamer / Shutterstock.com

I wake up early, just as the sun begins to peek over the Charleston Harbor.

The city is quiet, still asleep as I lace up my shoes and head out the door, keen to make the most of a free morning.

My destination? The gem of our city, Joe Riley Waterfront Park.

As I approach the park, the colors of sunrise begin to paint the sky, reflecting off the serene waters of the Cooper River.

The view is breathtaking, a panorama that never fails to inspire awe, no matter how many times I witness it.

The park, with its vast, open spaces and immaculate walkways, beckons me to explore.

Even at this early hour, I'm not alone.

Fellow early risers are scattered about - joggers getting in their daily run, dog walkers playing with their eager companions, and even some parents with their kids, enjoying the playgrounds and splash pads before the summer heat sets in.

The sounds of laughter and playful barks mingle with the gentle sounds of the harbor, creating a serene soundtrack for the morning.

Daytime view of Joe Riley Waterfront Park
Joanne Dale / Shutterstock.com

Occasionally, I stop at one of the many picnic areas, where families and friends gather later in the day for barbecues and friendly gatherings.

Today, it's just me, my thoughts, and the occasional seabird.

There are no food or drink vendors this early, but that's part of the appeal.

Joe Riley Waterfront Park is a blank canvas at this hour - quiet, peaceful, and unhurried.

The sun is higher in the sky when I finally decide to return home.

The park has started to fill, and the tranquillity of the morning is slowly replaced with the lively chatter and activity of the day.

A wooden bench at Joe Riley Waterfront Park
MILA PARH / Shutterstock.com

Learn the History of Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie

Aerial view of Fort Sumter
Positiveimages / Shutterstock.com

Ah, the beauty of living in a place steeped in history!

Every visit to the Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park feels like walking through the pages of a history book.

The ferry ride to the island is so relaxing, the waves lapping against the side of the boat, the wind whipping through your hair. It's an experience in itself.

You can't help but admire and appreciate the position of the defenders during the bombardment, thanks to this trip.

Once you reach the island, you're met with an air of solemnity and respect.

There isn't much left of the fort, but just being there, just standing on the ground where it all took place, it's... it's something else.

You can't help but feel a sense of awe, a sense of respect for all those who fought and died here.

The flag lowering at the end of the day at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park is a beautiful sight.

Although there's no salute, the act itself is so symbolic, so meaningful.

Canons on Fort Sumter grounds
Gabrielle Hovey / Shutterstock.com

The rangers on site are knowledgeable and engaging.

They go out of their way to make history come alive, to make you understand what it was like all those years ago.

The museum is small, and yet, it's packed with information. It even houses the original flag, a sight that's pretty cool to see.

The grounds of Fort Sumter
Gabrielle Hovey / Shutterstock.com

Join a Guided Tour of Washington Square

The grounds of Washington Square
Jason Yoder / Shutterstock.com

When life in Charleston gets hectic, I find my solace in the serene greens of Washington Square.

Tucked away off Broad Street, it's a peaceful retreat in the midst of bustling downtown.

The park may be small, but it's a haven of tranquility, a place where I often escape to recharge and rejuvenate.

Walking through the park, the first thing you'll notice is the towering 42-foot model of the Washington Monument standing proudly at the center.

However, it's the mature oak trees that have always fascinated me.

Their thick branches provide the perfect shade from the South Carolina sun, and the benches beneath them have been my quiet writing spots on more than a few occasions.

Washington Square always feels clean and well-maintained, thanks to the hardworking staff.

A bench at Washington Square
Jason Yoder / Shutterstock.com

I often watch as tourists join guided tours, absorbing the history of Charleston and the park itself.

As someone who loves learning, I’ve picked up some interesting historical tidbits myself, just by overhearing these tours!

But Washington Square isn't just about peace and quiet.

It’s a hub of activity, with plenty of shops and eateries nearby.

After relaxing in the park, I often end my day by grabbing a bite from one of my favorite local restaurants.

The nearby bus station and lime electric bicycles make it convenient to reach Washington Square.

But trust me, once you’re there, you won’t be in a hurry to leave.

Whether you're looking for a relaxing spot to sit and think, a place to gather with friends, or just a little respite from the urban rush, Washington Square is the place to be.

Explore Local History at Charleston's Past at The Charleston Museum

Exterior of the Charleston Museum
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

Oh, how I love spending my Saturdays diving into the rich tapestry of South Carolina's history at The Charleston Museum.

There's just something about being surrounded by relics from Confederate history that makes the hair on my arms stand at attention.

Founded in 1773, it's no understatement to say this place is a treasure trove of knowledge.

You can't help but lose track of time perusing the exhibits.

I remember one visit where what felt like a leisurely hour turned into a four-hour deep dive into Charleston's past.

This place is a storyteller like no other, unveiling the city's triumphs while not shying away from the brutal reality of the human cost.

The Charleston Museum also offers more than just the exhibits.

I recall purchasing a 3 site ticket which included access to the Heyward-Washington home and the Manigault House.

Welcome sign of the Charleston Museum
ehrlif / Shutterstock.com

These historic homes are a testament to Charleston's architectural grandeur and perfectly complement a visit to the museum.

To be honest, the Manigault House is a bit of a distance from the museum, but it's nothing a quick drive can't solve.

The museum's natural history wing is another favorite of mine.

Filled with interactive exhibits, it's a favorite among the kids in our neighborhood.

You'll see them, eyes wide with curiosity, engrossed in the hands-on exhibits.

It's a heartwarming sight to behold.

Bust of an Egyptian pharaoh in Charleston Museum
Joseph Creamer / Shutterstock.com

Discover the Life in 1800s at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum

Exterior of Aiken-Rhett House Museum
aceshot1 / Shutterstock.com

Just when you think you've seen everything in this charmingly historical city, a gem like the Aiken-Rhett House Museum pops up.

Built in the 1800s and lovingly preserved, this house is a testament to Charleston's rich and sometimes complicated history.

Upon arrival, finding a parking spot can be a bit of a sport due to its location in a residential area.

But once the parking battle is won, you're in for an experience that's absolutely worth it.

The Aiken-Rhett House Museum offers an insightful self-guided tour perfectly suited for tech-savvy visitors.

This isn't your typical guided tour; it's a journey back in time with the help of an easy-to-use mobile app.

The house itself is a beautifully preserved relic.

Rather than being restored to a certain period, it stands as it was, giving visitors an authentic glimpse into the past.

Walking through its grand parlors and gazing at the exterior structures, you're immediately transported back to the 1800s.

However, the house also bears marks of changes made in the 70s, which adds a layer of intrigue to the overall visit.

The back lot of the property is home to the quarters where enslaved people lived, a sobering reminder of our history.

It's a poignant and thought-provoking experience, making you reflect on the past while appreciating the efforts to preserve it.

Admire the Architecture of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Exterior of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon has always been a part of my life.

Nestled in the heart of Charleston, it's more than just a building - it's a treasure trove of stories from a bygone era, frozen in time and waiting to be discovered.

When I was younger, I was fascinated by the idea of a dungeon right in our city.

My imagination ran wild with tales of revolutionaries and their daring escapes, fueled by the tours I took with my school.

The building, which used to be a revolutionary prison and City Hall, left an indelible impression on me.

Now, as an adult, I appreciate the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon in a different light.

Its beautifully preserved structure stands as a testament to our city's rich history.

I love spending a quiet afternoon walking through the halls, each room filled with stories waiting to be told.

There's something about standing in a place that has witnessed so much of our past that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Side view of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
Lori Skelton / Shutterstock.com

One of my favorite parts of the visit is taking the self-guided tours.

There's no rush, no pressure, just me and the echoes of the past.

Being able to go at my own pace gives me the chance to fully immerse myself in the stories of the men and women who once walked these very halls.

But it's not just about the past. The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon is very much alive.

The staff are passionate about sharing our city's history and thoroughly knowledgeable.

I've had many engaging conversations on everything from the significance of the building during the revolution to the lives of women during that time.

Treat Your Senses to Charleston's Pastel Paradise: Rainbow Row

Colorful houses at Rainbow Row
Gordon Bell / Shutterstock.com

Every morning, I wake up and go for a jog around my beautiful neighborhood, and the historic cluster of pastel houses, known locally as Rainbow Row, never fail to lift my spirits.

These thirteen Georgian-style row houses stand out like a vibrant ribbon amidst the city's historic district.

Painted in the sweetest hues of pastel, they preserve their history dating from 1748 to 1845.

The beauty isn't just skin deep; there's so much more to Rainbow Row.

Each facade tells a story with its unique architectural nuances and carefully maintained window boxes brimming with flowers.

The gated courtyards are the secret gems, though; a glimpse through the wrought iron gates often rewards me with the sight of a quaint fountain or a secluded rose-trellised garden.

As a photography enthusiast, Rainbow Row offers me endless inspiration.

I find myself snapping pictures of these houses at different times of the day, capturing the way the soft morning sunlight or the golden evening glow bounces off their colorful facades.

Daytime view of Rainbow Row
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

And the best part? It doesn't cost a dime. It's as simple as parking on the street, and voila!

You're ready to click some insta-worthy photos.

In between all this, there is something fundamentally human about Rainbow Row – the sight of people leisurely walking their dogs, children playing on the sidewalk, or neighbors exchanging pleasantries.

Despite the throngs of tourists who come and go, the essence of the community that has been preserved here is extraordinary.

But for those who appreciate the beauty of architecture, history, and a neighborhood walk that feels like stepping back in time, it's a charming corner of Charleston that's worth exploring.

Closeup view of the Rainbow Row houses
Heidi Besen / Shutterstock.com

Take a Trip through Time at Powder Magazine

Exterior of the Powder Magazine
David AvRutick / Shutterstock.com

Living in Charleston, you find yourself surrounded by various historical landmarks.

One of my all-time favorites is the Powder Magazine, a colonial military history museum housed in a 1713 gunpowder storage building.

Every time I visit, I find myself transported back in time.

The museum uniquely offers a glimpse 300 years into the past, and every corner brims with stories waiting to unfold. It's a 'blast' from the past, quite literally!

Even though I've been there countless times, I never miss out on the "sink the pirate ship" video game - such a fun way to engage with history.

What I absolutely love about Powder Magazine is that it's not just for history buffs.

My nephew recently came to visit, and we decided to explore Powder Magazine together.

Entrance to the Powder Magazine
Brian Stansberry, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They had a scavenger hunt which my nephew had a blast participating in.

The best part? He won a prize at the end!

But the fun doesn't stop indoors. The little yard outside the museum is packed with games and activities.

From a local's perspective, it's a great place to spend your afternoon soaking in the history while enjoying some good old-fashioned fun.

Embark in an Aquatic Adventure at South Carolina Aquarium

Signage of the South Carolina Aquarium
Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

I've always had a fondness for the underwater world, and the South Carolina Aquarium has kept that fascination alive for many years.

The cleanliness and maintenance of this place are impeccable, making each visit as exciting as the first time.

The first thing that amazed me was how close you can get to a bald eagle; it's quite the sight!

One of the main attractions here, and my personal favorite, is the saltwater tank.

It's the deepest in the country, housing over 500 fish, including sharks and a massive, graceful sea turtle.

The sheer variety of creatures is enough to leave you awestruck, and the information available is enough to turn any curious visitor into a marine biology enthusiast.

But the fun doesn't stop with just looking, oh no!

The South Carolina Aquarium allows you to get up close and personal with some of the creatures.

I've had the pleasure of feeding stingrays and petting horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, and starfish.

But the highlight was when the staff brought out a baby alligator and various turtles for us to learn about.

While it may not be as large as some other aquariums, the South Carolina Aquarium offers a laid-back experience that doesn't leave you feeling rushed.

Whether you're a family with kids or just a kid at heart like me, you're guaranteed to have an immersive and educational experience.

And let's not forget about Liberty, the resident bald eagle, or the sea turtle rehabilitation center, which has a captivating view of the turtles and a one-way glass operating room.

Feel Like a Royalty at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

A mansion at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Joseph Creamer / Shutterstock.com

Every weekend, I find myself irresistibly drawn towards the breathtaking scenery and tranquil atmosphere of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, a lush garden dating back to pre-Revolutionary War times.

Nestled in the heart of Charleston, the place is so much more than just a garden. It's like a portal to another era, brimming with history, beauty, and lessons to learn.

The moment you step foot into Magnolia Plantation, you'll be welcomed by the serene landscape, the melodious chirping of birds, and the scent of blooming flowers.

Although not all flowers bloom throughout the year, their absence is compensated by the lush green foliage that provides a soothing and vibrant backdrop.

My typical day at the plantation includes a visit to the "lookout platform," which offers a panoramic view of the entire area.

It's a sight to behold! I also never miss a chance to visit the petting zoo.

It’s a fun, educational experience where you can see a variety of animals up close.

One of my favorite parts of Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, however, is the "From Slavery to Freedom" tour.

Bridge at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Cvandyke / Shutterstock.com

The tour guides, particularly Vanessa, are incredibly knowledgeable and provide a raw, unfiltered account of the history of slavery on the plantation.

The train and boat tours are also very enjoyable, especially the boat tour where you can get a glimpse of the numerous alligators in the ponds.

It's both fascinating and a bit thrilling!

A word of advice to any future visitors: do bring a bug spray to keep those hungry mosquitoes at bay.

And don’t forget to download the very helpful Magnolia Plantation app for navigating the grounds and locating the tours and restrooms.

Trail lined with flowers at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Cvandyke / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy the "Sip and Stroll" at Drayton Hall

Exterior of Drayton Hall
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

There's nothing quite like spending a day at Drayton Hall. It's a place that holds a special place in my heart.

This storied, well-preserved antebellum plantation is a must-visit for anyone interested in history.

With its tranquil grounds and the African-American cemetery, you can almost hear the whispers of the past.

Every time I'm there, I'm amazed at the beauty of the original works, which are still perfectly maintained. It feels like stepping back in time.

The trees are absolutely gorgeous, and the small garden gives me such peace.

There's so much to see and explore, from the main house to the vast grounds. Just make sure to keep an eye out for gators if you're near the water!

I've toured the house a few times now.

The view from Drayton Hall's porch
Regine Poirier / Shutterstock.com

It's fascinating to see the bare bones of the Drayton Hall and imagine what it may have looked like in its prime.

Do note that if you want to see the whole house, you'll need to pay an extra fee and pick a specific tour time.

One event I particularly enjoyed was the Sip & Stroll.

The small glasses of wine added a fun twist to the tour, and the signature wine glass souvenir was a nice touch.

Walk through History at Nathaniel Russell House

Exterior of the Nathaniel Russell House
Heather Raulerson / Shutterstock.com

Every time I pass by the Nathaniel Russell House, the opulence of the early 1800s architecture never ceases to amaze me.

The three-story "free-flying" spiral staircase, in particular, is a testament to the intricate craftsmanship of the era.

Taking the guided tour is like stepping back in time.

The informative and passionate guides bring about a sense of authenticity to the entire journey.

Their dedication to preserving the sanctity of this historical landmark is palpable.

On the other hand, the self-guided tour option, equipped with an iPod-like device, is a treat for history buffs just like me.

Every room in this grandiose house captivates you with a 3 to 5-minute presentation, revealing tidbits about the people who once resided here. While the colorful rooms are a sight to behold, the real story unfolds behind the opulence.

Nathaniel Russell House stands as a stark reminder of a time when the luxuries of a few were built on the suffering of many.

The guided tour does a commendable job of highlighting the stark contrast between the lives of the property owners and the conditions endured by the enslaved.

This brutal reality is most evident at the back of the house where the enslaved people used to live.

Take in the Historic Charm of Charleston City Market

Exterior of Charleston City Market
Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.com

A typical weekend in my life begins at the heart of Charleston - our beloved Charleston City Market.

Picture a labyrinth of stalls stretching over four city blocks, a bustling hive of activity that has pulsated in this city for over 200 years.

The scent of fresh produce mingles with the sweet aroma of sweetgrass baskets, handcrafted by skilled artisans who've inherited centuries-old traditions.

It's not just a market; it's a living, breathing history lesson.

With each weekend, the vendors change, and so do the treasures you can find.

One day you might come across a painter capturing the soul of the city in vibrant hues; the next day, you might stumble upon an artisan carefully crafting jewelry, their passion shining as bright as the gemstones they use.

The handmade straw baskets are not just functional items but works of art, each one a testament to the skill and dedication of the craftsman.

People shopping in Charleston City Market
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The beauty of this place isn't just confined to the market.

We locals love to take a break from the hustle and bustle and venture down the beautiful back alleys, which are steeped in history.

The narrow streets, and the beautifully preserved architectural structures, have stories to tell if only you have the time to listen.

The charm of Charleston is all around you, and the market is the perfect starting point for your journey into the past.

Set aside a few days if you plan to soak in all the history and culture.

There's no rush; after all, the City Market has been around for two centuries, it isn't going anywhere.

Handmade baskets for sale in Charleston City Market
JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock.com

Embark on a Historical Journey through McLeod Plantation Historic Site

Exterior of the McLeod Plantation Historic Site
Dr. Blazer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every so often, I find myself drawn back to the McLeod Plantation Historic Site, a preserved historical plantation nestled right here in Charleston.

It's an indescribable feeling, stepping onto the grounds like a time traveler whisked back to the 1800s.

Each visit is a stark and powerful reminder of our nation's past.

The Georgian-style mansion stands tall and proud, an architectural marvel that has withstood the test of time.

I remember the first time I walked through its grand doors.

The detail and craftsmanship are truly a sight to behold.

I often find myself wandering through the house after the guided tours, immersing myself in the exhibits and imagining the lives that unfolded within these walls.

But it's not just the mansion that captivates.

McLeod Plantation Historic Site also houses the original slave cabins, a poignant testament to a dark chapter in our history.

Walking through, emotions often run high as I think about the people who lived, worked, and bore the brunt of unimaginable hardships here.

The interpretive tours do a great job of communicating the experiences of those who lived during this era, though I must admit, the reality of it can be overwhelming.

Despite its somber history, the McLeod Plantation Historic Site has a certain allure.

A beautiful, well-maintained plot of land that's closer to downtown than many other plantation sites.

Look Back to a Turbulent History at the Old Slave Mart Museum

Exterior of the Old Slave Mart Museum
Anne Richard / Shutterstock.com

There's no experience quite like a trip to the Old Slave Mart Museum.

The first time I stepped foot into the somber, hallowed halls, it was as if I'd stepped back in time into a crucial yet painful chapter of our city's history.

The museum, once a bustling slave auction building, now stands as a stark reminder of the ugliness of slavery, a topic that we Charlestonians are all too familiar with.

What captivated me the most were the vivid displays, each narrating a compelling story of the slave trade that once thrived in Charleston.

Every artifact is meticulously placed, creating a fascinating yet heart-wrenching tableau of human exploitation.

There's a certain heaviness that lingers in the air, a testament to the countless lives that were bought and sold within these very walls.

Perhaps the only downside to my visit was the acoustics of the building.

The imposing structure, while aesthetically pleasing, isn't exactly designed for soundproofing.

The sound of daily operations and conversations often pervades the quiet atmosphere, sometimes detracting from the overall experience.

Building sign of the Old Slave Mart Museum
Al Munroe / Shutterstock.com

Still, I wouldn't let that deter you from paying a visit.

The service is another highlight of the museum.

They're not only gracious and welcoming but also incredibly knowledgeable about the exhibits.

On numerous occasions, I've seen them engaging with young visitors, patiently answering their questions and feeding their curiosity.

It's heartening to see our younger generation taking an interest in understanding the past, and the staff plays a big role in facilitating this understanding.

But what really solidifies the impact of the Old Slave Mart Museum is standing in the very room where slaves were auctioned off.

It's a chilling reminder of the atrocities of the past, one that makes the history of slavery in Charleston all the more tangible.

The museum offers discounted admission for military personnel, teachers, and veterans, making it a must-visit for everyone, regardless of their background.

Revel in the Beauty of The Williams Mansion

Exterior of The Williams Mansion
I, Maveric149, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Living in this town, I often forget how many hidden gems we have scattered around.

One of them is the Williams Mansion, a place that I've had the pleasure of visiting on multiple occasions.

Having a gem like the Williams Mansion right in my backyard is something I cherish.

This 35-room Italianate mansion, built in 1876, is a marvel of architectural brilliance.

The magnificently sculpted details, grand halls, and remarkable design never cease to amaze me.

Each visit feels like stepping back in time, and it's impossible not to be swept up in the beauty and history of the place.

Willimas Mansion isn't just a piece of history; it's also a living, breathing homage to the world of art.

The current owner has transformed this place into his personal art gallery, displaying a stunning collection of pieces that, although not original to the home, are simply breathtaking.

The art complements the historic charm of the mansion, creating a unique blend of old and new that is fascinating to witness.

I especially love exploring the first and second floors of the mansion.

Each room offers a new surprise, a new piece of art to admire, a new intricate detail to marvel at - it’s an art lover's paradise.

The tour, which usually takes about 40 minutes, is an adventure through the pages of history and a master class in art appreciation.

Every time I pass by the mansion, I can't resist the urge to snap a few pictures.

Its stunning architecture is a testament to the talent of the craftsmen who built it, and a reminder of the beauty that embodies our town.

The Williams Mansion is more than just a landmark; it's a piece of our shared heritage, a shining beacon of our town's rich past, and a living gallery that celebrates art in its many forms.

Final Thoughts

There's never a shortage of things to do in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charleston isn't just a city; it's an experience.

The sights, the sounds, the scents - everything comes together to create a tapestry that's as rich and vibrant as the city's history.

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.