Your Guide to Charleston: What to See, Eat, and Do in the Holy City
Don’t Miss These Chucktown Favorites
Cobblestone streets, palmetto trees, antebellum architecture—as the oldest and the largest city in the state of South Carolina, Charleston is as lively as it is beautiful. Enjoy Southern hospitality, centuries of history, and more when you take a trip to this coastal metropolis.
Whether you’re staying for a while or just driving through Charleston, there are more than a few things in the city that are worth a stop. Don’t know where to start? Keep reading to find out . . .
- What to see — Breathtaking landmarks and city classics
- What to eat — Restaurants and local food
What to do — Attractions and activities
Booking a trip to Charleston?
What to See in Charleston
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Snap a Photo in Front of This Iconic Bridge
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge | Downtown // Mt. Pleasant | www.visit-historic-charleston.com
This magnificent suspension bridge connects Downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. Not only does it host eight lanes of traffic, but it also has a pedestrian walkway and bike path, Wonders’ Way. The Cooper River Bridge Run, an annual 10K, is just one of the ways that locals enjoy the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
Walk, run, or ride your bike over this Charleston landmark for unrivaled views of the city, not to mention dozens of photo ops. You can also go beneath the bridge on the Charleston Water Taxi, which departs hourly from four locations (Waterfront Park, the Maritime Center, Patriots Point, and Charleston Harbor Resort).
Joe Riley Waterfront Park
Take a Stroll Around the Pineapple Fountain and Soak Up Some Charleston Sunshine
Vendue Range, Concord Street | French Quarter | www.charlestonparksconservancy.org
Charleston’s French Quarter is packed with sights and attractions like the Charleston City Market, City Hall, The Pink House, and, of course, Waterfront Park. This delightful public space is a favorite of tourists and locals alike, and its cherished Pineapple Fountain is one of the most photographed sites in the city.
Whether you’re there for a romantic date or a family picnic, Waterfront Park is the perfect place to sit down and take in all of the charisma of Charleston. Open sunrise to sunset, the park is a free attraction and a great way to enjoy the balmy Charleston climate. Make sure to come back at night to check out the fountain—it lights up!
Angel Oak Tree
See This Legendary Tree, No Admission Required
3688 Angel Oak Road | Johns Island | www.angeloaktree.com
Standing at a height of 65 feet with a circumference of 25.5 feet, Angel Oak Tree is a majestic sight that you only have to go a little outside of the city to see. The tree is estimated to be a minimum of 300 years old and shades over 17,000 square feet with its massive canopy.
See Mother Nature in all her magnificence when you take a slight detour to Johns Island to visit Angel Oak Tree. Considered to be the largest living tree east of the Mississippi, this enormous angel oak will renew your sense of wonder and awe. Admission is free to the public, but donations to maintain the park and preserve the tree are graciously accepted by the City of Charleston.
What to Eat in Charleston
Breizh ‘Pan Crêpes
Authentic French Crêpes? Bien Sûr, S’il Vous Plaît!
39 George Street | Downtown | www.breizhpancrepes.com
If you’re looking for a place for breakfast or brunch, is sure to help you start the day right. With sweet and savory crêpes, omelets, tartines, and croissants, this French cafe has a menu that won’t disappoint and a trendy atmosphere that might make you forget that you’re in Charleston, not France.
The French influence in Charleston can be seen throughout the city (but especially so in the French Quarter!). While the Huguenot refugees might not have been munching on crêpes, the cultural significance of Breizh ‘Pan Crêpes extends far beyond the thin pancakes.
Some of the City’s Best Seafood
289 E. Bay Street | The Boroughs | www.167raw.com
As a port city, Charleston is famous for its seafood, and 167 Raw is one of the best places to get it—especially if you like raw oysters, clams, and shellfish. Because it doesn’t take reservations, customers will literally line up down the block to get their hands on 167 Raw’s flavorful fish.
This small but famed seafood restaurant is one you won’t forget: Enjoy local drafts and red, white, and rose wines along with your meal, and wrap it all up with some homemade key lime pie for dessert.
Homestyle Southern Soul Food
2332 Meeting Street Road | North Charleston | www.facebook.com/Berthas-Kitchen
You can’t leave Charleston without digging into a hearty serving of soul food, and Bertha’s Kitchen is definitely the place to do it. Owned and run by women, Bertha’s Kitchen is a southern institution that revered far and wide—it was recently named an American classic by the James Beard Foundation.
Even though it opened in 1981, Bertha’s Kitchen hasn’t changed much, which is part of the reason that locals adore it so much. Well, that and its affordable prices—and, of course, the food. (Fried chicken and fried pork chops are staples at Bertha’s Kitchen, as are lima beans and bread pudding!)
What to Do in Charleston
The Old Slave Mart Museum
A Sobering Piece of History
6 Chalmers Street | French Quarter | www.oldslavemartmuseum.com
With a history that dates back to 1670, Charleston has far more than one story to tell—unfortunately, not all of those stories are good. Once the slave trade capital of the country, Charleston has deep roots in American slavery, and the Old Slave Mart Museum was one of the first places to address it.
The Old Slave Mart Museum is packed with information and commemorates the hardships of America’s past. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, this stop on your journey through Charleston will change the way you look at the city—and, for that matter, the country.
Take a Break from the City with a Day at the Beach
101 E. Arctic Avenue | Folly Beach | www.follybeach.com
Only around a half-hour drive from Charleston, Folly Beach gives Charleston visitors a chance to get out of the city and into the sand. The closest beach to Downtown Charleston, this fun-filled paradise is a hotspot that you don’t want to miss.
Pounce Cat Cafe + Wine Bar
Sip Coffee, Wine, or Beer with Some Furry (Adoptable) Friends
283 Meeting Street | Downtown | www.pouncecatcafe.com
For $15 a person, you can enjoy the company of dozens of kitties at Charleston’s only cat cafe. This downtown novelty hangout is a must-do activity for any animal lover, and the best part is that it’s for a great cause—Pounce has one of the highest adoption rates in the country.
So, how does it work? Well, first, you book a reservation online (this is so the cats don’t get overwhelmed by too many visitors at once). Then, you show up to Pounce five minutes before your reservation time and grab your complimentary drink from the bar (one glass of house wine or craft beer or bottomless coffee, tea, lemonade, or soda)—then you’re free to enjoy your hour with the cats!
Experience the Charm of Chucktown for Yourself
There’s no shortage of things to see, eat, and do in Charlestown, and you’re sure to fall in love with the city’s remarkable blend of past and present. With hot and humid summers, the best times of the year to visit Charleston is during the spring from March to May and during the fall from September to November. These are also, however, the times that the city is most crowded, so keep that in mind when planning your trip!
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