Things to Do
About This Site
Things to Do
Charleston, South Carolina combines the
beauty of a scenic harbor and pristine beaches with fine restaurants
and shopping, world-class golf, and plenty for history buffs to
explore. Plantations, museums,
formal gardens, churches, and
military sites tell Charleston's story of bygone days.
Take a trolley to Waterfront Park or walk the
Historic District from the Visitor Center. Majestic colonial and
antebellum homes and churches are set along tree-lined, brick-paved
streets. Honeysuckle and jasmine scent the air, and at night,
wrought-iron lamps illuminate these landmarks. Topical walking tours
focus on the Civil War,
To acquaint yourself with this charming harbor city, take a tour.
On foot, by car, bus, ferry, or even in a horse-drawn carriage you
can learn about Charleston's African-American legacy, visit historic churches
(Fort Sumter was the scene of the first shots of the Civil
War), visit heritage homes, and stop and smell the magnolias at
lovingly preserved plantations and gardens that reflect the area's
antebellum past. Its also a great place for the
For the Outdoors Fan
Perfect climate, sweet ocean breezes,
marshes, and natural woodlands. Need we say more? Exploring
the Charleston area’s outer spaces is a great way to rest, relax,
and rejuvenate. But if you’re finding it difficult to decided just
where to start, here’s a few suggestions to get you on your way.
Make your first encounter with the area’s aquatic life an indoor
adventure. There’s no better way to get acquainted than through a
visit to the new
After visiting the Aquarium, meet the area’s wildlife face to
face. Charles Towne Landing is the site where colonists established
the first permanent English settlement in South Carolina over 300
years ago. Today a state operated Nature Preserve and Historic Site,
you can see the animals the settlers would have seen including
wolves, puma, bears, bison, and alligators, in the Animal Forest, a
20-acre natural habitat zoo. And while you’re there, take in the
history, and simply enjoy the hundreds of acres of natural areas and
landscaped gardens. Also of much topical interest, visit the new
Lowcountry Estuarium in nearby
historic Port Royal.
Check out the
Park & Recreation Website for more information on outdoor fun.
nature-lover, as most of us wetland scientists are, many
kayaking and hiking adventures through lowcountry woods, marshes,
rivers and the sea await. Also check out our
Conference Field Trips Page for more
information on these types of adventures that were pre-arranged fby
the our wonderful conference organizers.
For the Golfing Enthusiasts
For many years while its coastal neighbors to the north and south
developed into two of the best-known golf destinations in the
country, the old port city of Charleston was content to attract
scads of visitors to its historic sites, broad beaches, fine dining
and boutique shopping. As Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head Island
continued to add to their smorgasbord offerings, Charleston finally
decided to jump on the bandwagon and began building its own
reputation within the golf world. Check out the
Charleston Area Golf Guide for more information.
Charleston offers a wide array of
shopping opportunities, from
antiques to first class malls. Located
just off Interstate 26 at Exit 209 in
North Charleston, Northwoods Mall houses over 125 stores, including
Belk, Dillard's, JCPenney, Sears, Bath & Body Works, Casual Corner,
Victoria's Secret, The Disney Store, Express, Gloria Jeans Gourmet
Coffees and B. Dalton Booksellers. The beautiful food court offers
several choices that will satisfy a wide variety of tastes. It is
open Monday - Saturday 10am - 9pm and Sunday from noon - 6pm.
Citadel Mall features over 90
Specialty Shops, including Belk, Dillard's, Sears, Parisian
and Target, August Max Woman, American Eagle, Limited, Bombay
Company, Babbages, The Gap, and Foot Locker. It is located at the
intersection of Savannah Hwy. (SR 17) and Sam Rittenberg Blvd. in
For shopping with a local flair,
check out the Old City Market and the
variety of stores located in Historic Downtown Charleston. King
Street is a shopper's greatest fantasies come to life. Imagine it, a
shopping street nearly 20 blocks long, bedecked with palmetto trees,
charming architecture, inns, cafes, and extraordinary shops. For more information about shopping in Charleston check out the
Kids (and the
kid in all of us!)...
The South Carolina Aquarium features exotic aquatic creatures
from around the world. Exhibit paths lead visitors through the five
major regions of the Southeast Appalachian Watershed. And if you
time things right, you can see the entire aquarium in a morning,
then hop on a harbor ferry tour and enjoy the afternoon breeze on
the water. The South Carolina Aquarium is open Monday-Thursday from
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. with extended hours in
The Lowcountry Estuarium is a learning center designed to
provide hands-on learning about the coastal environments of our
beautiful area, such as salt marshes, beaches, coastal waters, and
Animal Forest at Charles Towne Landing
Children love to wander through Charleston's only natural habitat
zoo and discover all the animals native to South Carolina in 1670.
The Animal Forest at Charles Towne Landing features puma, bison,
alligators, black bears, wolves and more, all to the delight of
young explorers. Charles Towne Landing is open daily from 8:30 a.m.
to 5 p.m. It is located at 1500 Old Towne Road in Charleston. (843)
Children's Museum of the Lowcountry
Imagine walking into an old metal building in downtown Charleston
only to discover stone walls protecting a castle, or a shrimp boat
preparing to explore the sea. That's exactly what you can expect at
the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry. Located in the newly renovated Camden Tower Shed in downtown
Charleston directly behind the Visitor Information Center on Meeting
Street, CML is the area's first and only interactive museum designed
especially for children. It features continuous hands-on exhibits
and activities for children, ages three months to 12 years, and
Visitors will find
Splash Island tucked deep within the tropical vegetation of Mt.
Pleasant's Palmetto Islands County Park
temperatures start rising visitors of all ages will enjoy this
favorite summer playground located within the James Island
County Park in Charleston.
Over 15 acres of island-style fun packed into one convenient
location in North Charleston!
Fort Sumter National Monument
Built on a man-made island, Fort Sumter is where the Civil War
began. Initially occupied by Union forces, this fortress was
bombarded by Confederate troops until the Yankee general
surrendered-and it became a powerful symbol of Southern resistance.
To get to Fort Sumter National Monument, take a scenic boat ride
from Patriots Point or the Municipal Marina. Concession operated
tour boats transport visitors to the Fort. Please call (843)
883-3123 for tour boat information.
American Military Museum
The American Military Museum contains uniforms and artifacts
dating from the Revolutionary War. Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant
is the world's largest naval and maritime museum. There four
historic vessels-including the aircraft carrier Yorktown-are
berthed, and visitors can board them. The American Military Museum
is located at 40 Pinckney Street in Charleston.843-723-9620
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site
Over 330 years ago, colonists established the first permanent
European settlement in the Carolinas on this site. This protected
historic site and nature preserve highlights archeological
investigation, living history, a replica of a 17th-century sailing
vessel, natural habitat zoo, and beautiful Lowcountry vistas.
Bicycle rentals and tram rides are available. Discover history as
old as the state - Charleston starts here. Charles Towne Landing
is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at
1500 Old Towne Road in Charleston.
The Charleston Museum
America's first museum, the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773.
The Museum preserves and interprets the cultural and natural
history of Charleston and the South Carolina coastal region.
Objects of historic, archeological, scientific and ethnological
interest illustrate the importance of this area. Exhibits focus on
early Native Americans, trade and commerce, the plantation system,
African-American contributions, and Civil War memorabilia. A
wonderful introduction to the Lowcountry and its people, the
Charleston Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
The Citadel Museum
The Citadel Museum
represents the history of The Military College of South Carolina
from its founding in 1842 to the present. Arranged
chronologically, the permanent exhibits feature the military,
academic, athletic and social aspects of cadet life. There are
over three hundred collections in the Archives which pertain to
the history of The Citadel or have military significance. The time
span of the collections is from 1842 to the present. Holdings
include personal papers, letters, diaries, reports, minutes,
speeches, Citadel publications. Visual images include photographs,
postcards, engravings, films and videotapes.
The Charleston United Daughters of the Confederacy Museum
Museum is located in the Market Hall, which was built in 1841.
Since 1898, the Daughters of the Confederacy have operated the
Museum, which contains flags, uniforms, swords and other
Confederate memorabilia. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from
11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It is located at 188 Meeting Street in
Charleston. (843) 723-1541
Fort Moultrie National Monument
Fort Moultrie, located on Sullivan's Island across the harbor from
downtown Charleston, is the site of the famous 1776 Revolutionary
War battle in which a British fleet attacked the partially
completed palmetto log fort in an attempt to seize Charleston.
Col. William Moultrie and his men held off the assault in the
Battle of Sullivan's Island, one of the first decisive victories
for the patriot cause. Fort Moultrie is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
during the summer, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter.
H. L. Hunley Submarine
Described as a remarkable experience, a trip to the submarine H.
L. Hunley is a must for visitors to the area. Currently housed at
the Warren Lasch Conservation Center, the Hunley made history when
it became the first submarine to sink a ship in battle. Her effect
still ripples through Charleston waters with mystery and unfounded
conclusions today. While excavation of this national treasure
continues, The Hunley Commission and the Friends of the Hunley
maintain a weekend tour schedule staffed by a team of
knowledgeable volunteers. All admission charges help fund the
continued restoration and care of this important artifact. For
ticket information, please call the Hunley Information Hotline at
Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
No other Charleston attraction presents so much of our American
history as the Old Exchange. Built by the British as the Exchange
and Customs House in 1771, the Old Exchange stands as one of the
three most historically significant buildings of colonial America.
During the Revolution the building was converted to a British
prison where many prominent patriots were held. From the steps of
the Old Exchange, the independent colony of South Carolina was
declared in March 1776. In 1788, the convention to ratify the
Constitution met in the Old Exchange. Owned by the Daughters of
the American Revolution and managed by the City of Charleston, the
Old Exchange is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Patriot's Point Naval and Maritime Museum
Patriot's Point is the home of the famous World War II aircraft
carrier Yorktown, the submarine Clagamore, the destroyer Laffey,
and the Coast Guard cutter Ingham. It also features the Medal of
Honor Museum, 25 vintage aircraft and displays of military
weapons. Living and working areas are open for exploration.
Patriot's Point, which is located in Mt. Pleasant at the foot of
the Cooper River Bridge, is open daily in the winter from 9 a.m.
to 5 p.m. and in the summer from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
A community-based effort, led by the Friends of Historic Snee
Farm, resulted in the congressional action to preserve the site in
1988. This historic site was established to interpret Charles
Pinckney's role in the development of the United States
Constitution; his plantation, Snee Farm; and the transition of the
United States from a group of colonies to a young nation.
Interpretive exhibits - located in a house built circa 1828, but
which is not Pinckney-related - highlight these areas as well as
the influences of African-Americans in the development of Snee
Farm. Archeological remains of brick foundations and an
unfurnished 1820s tidewater cottage are the last protected
remnants of Snee Farm. The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. It is
1240 Long Point Road in Mt. Pleasant.
The Powder Magazine
The Old Powder Magazine is the oldest public building remaining in
North or South Carolina. In the late 1600s, the construction of
walls around the city and the building of the harbor forts added
to the defensive character of Charleston. The Powder Magazine was
crucial to storage of powder for defense of the city. Although
replaced by a newer magazine in 1748, it continued to serve
effectively for its purpose into the period of the American
Revolution. It served various uses until the Colonial Dames
acquired it in 1899 and restored as an important reminder of
historic colonial Charleston. Today, the Powder Magazine has been
restored to its mid-19th century appearance and is open as a
national historic site with an exciting exhibit on early colonial
Charleston. Owned and operated by Historic Charleston Foundation,
the Powder Magazine is open March 15 through Labor Day,
Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.
Slave Mart Museum
This hub of the African-American National Heritage Museum is one
of several locations where slaves were sold in Charleston. The
last auctions at this market were in 1863. Presentations here
narrate the African-American experience in Charleston and the
South Carolina Lowcountry from their arrival in 1670 to the modern
Civil Rights movement. Permanent exhibits explore the African
sources from which African-American culture emerged, the middle
passage, Caribbean influences on America, slavery, emancipation,
reconstruction, arts, cuisine, and the movement towards civil
rights. The Slave Mart Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m., and Sunday 2 to 5 p.m. It is located at 6 Chalmers
Street in Charleston. (843) 724-7395
One of the first
dwellings built on Charleston’s High Battery in 1824, the
Edmonston-Alston House is a gracious example of of early
nineteenth-century commitment to elegance, style, and comfort.
It is located on Highway 61, just 14 miles north of Charleston
and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The City Hall Gallery
Located in the Council Chamber of Charleston City Hall (80 Broad
Street), the City
Hall Gallery contains portraits of many important leaders
including one of George Washington by John Trumbull. Guided tours
are conducted Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is
Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens
Built in the early 1700s, Boone Hall Plantation is known as
America's most photographed plantation. Huge moss-draped
Spanish oaks line the half-mile entrance to the plantation. The
original estate house, cotton gin, slave cabins, smoke house and
formal gardens were built with brick and tile made on the
plantation. Today, many of these buildings are listed on the
National Register of Historic Places. Many varieties of old roses,
some dating from the 16th century, complement camellias and
azaleas in the formal gardens. To this day, Boone Hall continues
as a working plantation, producing various agricultural products. The 738-acre
estate is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday
from 1 to 5 p.m. Boone Hall Plantation is located just six miles
north of Charleston on Highway 17 in Mt. Pleasant.
Drayton Hall National Historic Landmark
plantation stands majestically along the Ashley River. The
plantation house is one of the oldest and finest examples of
Georgian-Palladian architecture in America. Through seven
generations of Drayton ownership, this National Historic Landmark
has remained in nearly original condition and is the only Ashley
River plantation house to survive the Civil War. Its unique state
of preservation and rich, handcrafted details offer visitors a
rare glimpse of a bygone era, and stands as an amazing time
capsule telling the story of a plantation and community spanning
over 250 years. With its extraordinary architecture, scenic
landscaped walks, and serene river views, Drayton Hall evokes a
sense of timelessness and continuity, adding to the excitement of
discovering a true gem in historic architecture. Drayton Hall is
located on Highway 61, just nine miles north of downtown
Charleston. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., March-October. Tours are offered on the
Magnolia Plantation and Its Gardens
Magnolia Plantation, described as the "South's Most Complete
Plantation Experience," stands as the centerpiece of Ashley River history,
having played important roles in the early days of settlement, the
Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. Listed in the National
Register of Historic Places, stately Magnolia Plantation has what
is considered by many experts, "the most beautiful gardens in the
world," offering the maximum color possible during every season.
The plantation was described by travel expert Charles Kuralt in
his best-selling book Charles Kuralt's America, as "… my greatest
Charleston pleasure." Almost every aspect of plantation life can
be seen at Magnolia Plantation. Visitors can also enjoy America's
newest and most unique major garden and wildlife preserve, the
Audubon Swamp Garden at Magnolia Plantation. A separate
attraction, the garden is hailed as the "must see" vacation
experience in the Charleston area. Magnolia Plantation is located
on Highway 61, just 10 miles north of downtown Charleston. The
plantation is open daily (365 days a year) from 8 a.m. until dusk.
Middleton Place, a National Historic
Landmark, features America's oldest landscaped gardens. Originally
created in 1741 by Henry Middleton, the gardens reflect the grand
classic style that was in vogue in Europe and England in the early
18th century. The house, built in 1755 as a gentlemen's guest
wing, became the family residence after the plantation was burned
during the Civil War. Craftspeople in the Plantation Stableyards
demonstrate the skills performed by slaves, and domestic animals
roam nearby. New exhibits include a slave church and a rice field
where Carolina Gold Rice grows for the first time in 130 years.
Middleton Place is located on Highway 61, just 14 miles north of
Charleston and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For a true Lowcountry adventure, visit Cypress Gardens. Here
visitors can stroll along four miles of walking trails that wind
through the area's most beautiful gardens, paddle a flat bottom boat
through a real cypress swamp, relax in an unique and exciting
Butterfly House which features a vast array of native butterflies
and the plants they thrive on, or explore an aquarium/reptile center
that offers an up-close look at the amphibians, reptiles and fish,
as well as exotic crocodiles, snakes and frogs indigenous to the
cypress swamp. Cypress Gardens is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It is located at 3030 Cypress Gardens Road in Moncks Corner. (843)
The Audubon Swamp Garden
Located at Magnolia Plantation, this 60-acre blackwater cypress
and tupelo swamp with wildflowers, bog plants, and native and
exotic shrubs, is accessible via boardwalks, bridges and dikes
with views of waterfowl, alligators and other wildlife. The
Magnolia Plantation Cemetery is adjacent to the main trail. The
Audubon Swamp Garden is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.
Old Santee Canal
Old Santee Canal Park is the site of America’s first summit canal,
the Santee Canal, which began operating in 1800. It was considered
one of the crowning engineering achievements and economic
development projects of its day.Old Santee Canal Park commemorates
South Carolina's beautiful natural resources and emphasizes the
tremendous historical significance of the Santee Canal.
National Wildlife Refuge
Cape Romain is part of the Carolinian-South Atlantic Biosphere
Reserve, consisting of 64,229 acres. Refuge habitat is a
barrier island/salt marsh, extending for 20 miles along the Atlantic
Coast. It consists of 34,229 acres of beach and sand dunes, salt
marsh, maritime forests, tidal creeks, fresh and brackish water
impoundments, and 30,000 acres of open water.
Francis Beidler Forest
Francis Beidler Forest is the largest virgin blackwater
cypress-tupelo swamp forest left in the world! This 11,000-acre
riverine sanctuary in the heart of Four Holes Swamp embraces 1,800
acres of ancient trees that tower over blackwater streams, clear
pools and 300 species of wildlife.
Other things to
NASCAR Racing Every Saturday from March through
November, featuring NASCAR Super Trucks, Late Models, Kid's Bicycle
Races for all ages and Mini-Cup Races for ages 4 to 7 and Yard-Cart
Racing ages 8 to 3. VIP Company or family picnics, birthday parties,
the chance to ride and drive a real NASCAR race and group discounts
are just a few of the special services available. For ticket
information and more on other special events please call (843)
Charleston's IMAX Theatre
A spectacular film experience that enlightens, entertains and
inspires audiences of all ages on a screen five stories high with
12,000 watts of digital wrap-around sound. The only 3D theater in
South Carolina is located next door to the South Carolina Aquarium
on Charleston's harbor.
In a city steeped with history, old buildings and lots of museums,
many parents may feel their options are limited when it comes to
family-fun activities when visiting downtown Charleston. Fortunately
for visitors and residents alike, Cobblestone Tours takes pride in
offering daytime and evening tours that entertain, educate and
thrill guests of all ages. Parents can feel safe taking their
children on tours offered by Cobblestone Tours, Charleston's premier
walking tour company.
The Ghost & Dungeon Tour takes you through back alleyways
and side streets while you listen to the haunted tales and spooky
stories of Charleston's past. The highlight of this tour is the Old
Exchange Building's pre-revolutionary dungeon, which promises to
delight children as they are enticed by the dungeon's dark corners,
scary ambiance and intriguing past.
Old City Market
Old City Market is located on Market Street between Meeting and East Bay.
Built in 1841, the Old City Market features small shops,
restaurants, and a flea market with everything from produce to
antiques. Visitors can hear the unique dialect of the Gullah women
as they weave and sell their handmade sweetgrass baskets. The Old
City Market is open daily.
The Gibbes Museum of Art
The Carolina Art Association opened the Gibbes Museum of Art,
which is rich in American painting, prints and drawings from the
18th century to the present, in 1905. Charleston's best example of
the Beaux Arts-style of architecture, the Gibbes represents a long
and impressive tradition of cultural leadership in Charleston and
provides access to a distinguished art collection as well as an
active schedule of exhibits, programs and events. The renowned
turn-of-the-century architect, Frank P. Milburn designed the
Gibbes Museum of Art as a memorial to James Schoolbred Gibbes, a
patron of the arts and one of Charleston's many 19th-century
cultural benefactors. From portraits and landscapes of the
Colonial South to the era of Porgy and Bess, the Gibbes Museum of
Art provides a venue for visitors to come face to face with
Charleston's past and present. The Gibbes Museum is open Tuesday -
Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.
Within the city of Charleston, a very special island town has
emerged. This is a place where traditional neighborhoods and a
vibrant downtown enjoy a spectacular setting, surrounded by rivers
and creeks and beautiful marsh views. It is a place where people
live and work and play and learn. A place with a unique mix of
shops and businesses, schools and churches, and a never-ending
list of recreational options. Welcome to Charleston¹s island town.