Things to Do in Charleston

Charleston Visitor’s Center:

Things to See & Do in Charleston

Savor the Flavors of Charleston (Tour) – 2.5 hrs. / $60 per person / Daily @ 10 & 2

Come join us as we walk, talk and taste our way through Charleston. This 2½ hour Charleston Culinary Tour will immerse you in the history and culture of the Lowcountry. You will discover how our unique cuisine has evolved over the past 300+ years while sampling delicious specialties from local eateries, markets, bakeries, restaurants, and culinary landmarks.

Savor the Flavors of Upper King (Tour) – 2.5 hrs. / $60 per person / Wed 3-5:30

Experience our unique tasting tour in the famous Upper King Street area. Sample mouth-watering dishes of Lowcountry cuisine from the popular culinary innovators in this ever-evolving restaurant district. Come join Charleston’s original culinary tour company as we enjoy what Charleston’s best restaurants are bringing to the table.

Fort Sumter (Tours) – 30 min cruise / $21 per person / Daily

Fort Sumter Tours is an authorized National Park Service concessioner. We provide the only commercial boat transportation to Fort Sumter. We offer many departure times daily from two convenient locations, Liberty Square, downtown Charleston, or Patriots Point, in Mt. Pleasant.

Once aboard, you will experience a relaxing 30 minute narrated cruise to historic Fort Sumter. You will learn about the events which led to the outbreak of America’s most bloody war. When you arrive you will be greeted by National Park Service Rangers, who will provide further details about Fort Sumter and its pivotal role in the American Civil War. On the fort you will find a very informative museum (360 Video of Museum) with many historic artifacts and a souvenir shop. After your one hour visit, you will enjoy a scenic cruise back to your departure point.

Charleston Water TaxiDolphin Watch – 1 hr. / $12 all-day pass

Did you know that the shape of a dolphin’s dorsal fin is his finger print? No two are alike. The water taxi is a great way to see and photograph Charleston’s beautiful harbor, watch the dolphins or just take a relaxing ride on the water.

Charleston Water TaxiSightseeing Boat Cruise – 1 hr. / $12 all-day pass

“Don’t miss the boat!” Board our Water Taxis and see Charleston Harbor in a setting like no other.  Your journey will include views of Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina, the U.S.S. Yorktown, the Cooper River Bridge, Waterfront Park, and one of the busiest container ports on the East Coast.  Enjoy stunning views of downtown Charleston’s skyline and take pictures of Castle Pinckney, a Civil war fort and old pirate hanging ground. The Water Taxi is a great way to see and photograph Charleston’s beautiful harbor, watch the dolphins, or just take a relaxing ride on the water.

Hunley Tour (1st combat submarine and artifacts) Tours for 20+ can be arranged during the week. 20+ mins / $16 adults

Visit the Hunley and see the world’s first combat submarine along with amazing artifacts found onboard during excavation of the crew compartment.  A unique tourist experience that covers three centuries of history and technology.

Pirate Tours – Private and group – 90 min walk

Eric and Sabrina Lavender, accompanied by their trusty companion parrots, lead you through the French Quarter and along the waterfront, exploring the oldest sections of the city and the Golden Age of Piracy.

A master storyteller, Eric doesn’t just quote the facts and dates.   Sabrina carries on the fine tradition of female pirates with a sense of humor almost as sharp as her sword.  You’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of the action, as he shares the stories of Blackbeard, Stede Bonnet, Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read, along with the fascinating, true facts of pirate life.

Patriots Point Tours – Approx. $30 with various options

Patriots Point Development Authority was established in the 1970s to develop a naval & maritime museum on Charleston Harbor with the World War II aircraft carrier, USS YORKTOWN as its centerpiece. It’s also home to the Patriots Point Museum and a fleet of National Historic Landmark ships, the Cold War Memorial and the only Vietnam Experience Exhibit in the U.S., the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and the agency’s official Medal of Honor Museum.

Patriots Point strives to preserve the living history of our nation’s bravest men and women while telling their stories in honorable, educational and engaging ways.

The PPDA also oversees the stewardship of over 350 acres of property on Charleston Harbor, much of which is currently under lease by a golf course, a collegiate athletic complex, hotels, and more.

Since opening, Patriots Point has become one of the state’s most popular tourist attractions with more than 270,000 visitors each year. The YORKTOWN boasts one of the largest education and overnight camping programs in the nation, with more than 40,000 school age children attending these programs each year.

Bulldog ToursGhost Tours – Approx. 2 hrs. / $25 per person

The Haunted Jail Tour – As seen on Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and The Travel Channel

Join us for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Old City Jail, which housed some of Charleston’s most infamous criminals, 19th-century pirates, and Civil War prisoners. Located on Magazine Street downtown, the Old City Jail was in operation from 1802 until 1939, and most of the building’s original structures — like the cells and warden’s quarters — remain intact.  The Haunted Jail Tour takes you through the cells, hallways, and into the places where Charleston’s worst criminals lived and died. Brace yourself as you hear stories like the legend of Lavinia and John Fisher, hotel owners from the 1800s who supposedly poisoned their guests. Featured on such shows as Ghost Adventures, the story goes that Lavinia’s ghost still, very audibly, haunts the premises.

Charleston Ghost and Graveyard TourBOO!  Come and walk with us when the sun goes down, and you’ll get an exclusive opportunity to walk inside the gates of one of Charleston’s oldest graveyards after dark. When all the other walking tours are looking in through the wrought iron fence, you’ll be on the inside. Explore the graveyard’s dark corners, closely inspect the headstones to see what you might learn, and take a moment to step across the graves — if you dare. Learn about the history of Charleston’s graveyards, and hear the stories of the famous individuals who found their final resting place in the Holy City. You’ve heard the spooky Charleston ghost stories, right? Well, now you can experience them on this up-close-and-personal tour that takes you where others won’t. Graveyards are endearing pockets of Charleston — so much so that they are often referred to here as simply “gardens.” We love them — they’re full of history, intrigue, and tales of love and loss.

Bulldog ToursWalking Tours – 1-1.5 hours / $25 per person

Take our historic walking tour of Charleston, where carriages and motor coaches are not allowed as you take a fascinating tour with stories and traditions revealing Charleston’s rich history and colorful past. This two-hour tour through America’s most charming historic district is sure to be the highlight of your visit to Historic Charleston.

Boone Hall Plantation – Varies – $24 adults

Boone Hall Plantation has been open to the public since 1956.  The McRae Family purchased the plantation in 1955 and it was Mrs. McRae who furnished the house with antiques and began giving tours. Today, the McRae Family still owns the property, and they continue to make improvements to the plantation so that ours visitors can experience what plantation life was like.  As you tour each site on the plantation our knowledgeable staff will help you understand the day to day activities of those who lived on plantations as well the history of the people who lived here at Boone Hall.  Boone Hall Plantation was founded in 1681 when Englishman Major John Boone came to Charleston and established a lucrative plantation and gracious home on the banks of Wampacheone Creek. The family and descendants of Major Boone were influential in the history of South Carolina, the colonies and the nation. The McRae family is proud to present that history, covering over 330 years, on a daily basis.

Where to eat & drink in Charleston

Charleston Crab House

Hyman’s Seafood

Husk Restaurant

Drawing Room

Virginia’s on King

Peninsula Grill

Halls Chophouse

Charleston Grill

Old Village Post House Inn

Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub & Seafood Restaurant

McCrady’s Tavern

39 Rue De Jean

Coast Bar and Grill

The Islander

Palmetto Cafe

The Vendue Hotel Rooftop Bar

Hank’s Seafood Restaurant

Michael’s on the Alley

Oyster House

High Cotton

Blu Oceanfront Restaurant

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Cannon Green

Drawing Room

Charleston Fun Facts

  • Charleston was founded in 1670.
  • The state dance of South Carolina is the Shag!
  • Charleston is the oldest and largest city in the state of South Carolina.
  • The first organized game of golf in the United States is thought to have been played in Charleston, South Carolina in 1788.
  • Each spring, the Historic Charleston Foundation hosts the Festival of Houses and Gardens, allowing guests to tour the private properties of some of America’s most beautiful historic homes.
  • The Civil War officially began in Charleston at Fort Sumter in 1861.
  • On some buildings in downtown Charleston, you may see metal circles on the exterior walls, which are the ends of earthquake rods. These rods were included in newly constructed buildings after the earthquake in 1886 in hopes of strengthening the structures.
  • America’s first museum, the Charleston Museum was founded in Charleston in 1773.
  • Charleston was the first city in America to have a theater. The Dock Street Theater was built in 1736 and is known as one of the most haunted places in the city.
  • The South Carolina state flag dates back to the Revolutionary War. The crescent is from the colonial soldiers’ uniforms and the palmetto tree represents the stand against the British.
  • In South Carolina, it is illegal to keep a horse in a bathtub.