Planning a road trip to the Southeast, but not sure where to go? Consider Charleston, S.C., which was recently voted the No. 1 Top City in the U.S. and the No. 2 Top City in the World by Condé Nast readers. Charleston remains at the top of these lists because it offers something for everyone: history buffs, music lovers, foodies, nature lovers, sun-seekers and more. Read on for our list of 7 Must See Places in Charleston SC. There are, of course, many more things to see and do, but this list will get you started!
King Street is the place to be for shopping, dining and nightlife. It’s also a great place to go for a stroll to admire the carefully preserved buildings. If you happen to be in Charleston on the second Sunday of the month, be sure to check out the aptly named Second Sunday event, during which King Street is closed to traffic 1-5 p.m. for locals and visitors alike to stroll, shop and dine at their leisure.
Located in downtown Charleston, the S.C. Aquarium sits right on Charleston Harbor. In fact, it juts out 200 feet into the Charleston Harbor, offering a state-of-the-art environmental learning center focusing on the different sections of South Carolina: the mountains, the piedmont, the coastal plain, the coast and the ocean. When you visit the Aquarium, be sure to visit all nine galleries and 50 exhibits to see more than 5,000 aquatic animals, including river otters (one of our favorites) and a rare albino American Alligator. There are several scenic places to take a photo at the Aquarium. Be sure to take a selfie with the beautiful Charleston Harbor as your backdrop.
John Rutledge House
Charleston is home to many beautiful, historic homes, many of which have been turned into top-rated bed and breakfasts and inns. The John Rutledge House Inn is one such home. This circa 1763 structure was built by Charleston’s first governor and signer of the U.S. Constitution, John Rutledge. Located on Broad Street, the John Rutledge House is just steps away from shops, restaurants and the beautiful Battery. The Ballroom and the Courtyard areas are open to the public between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., however, plan to stay at the John Rutledge House for the full experience.
Two Meeting Street Inn
Two Meeting Street Inn is another grand historic home that has been transformed into a charming inn. Located in the South of Broad neighborhood directly across from White Point Gardens and a stone’s throw from the Battery, Two Meeting Street Inn has one of the most photographed porches in the South. Surrounded by live oaks and lush gardens, this property offers a peaceful, luxurious experience in the heart of historic Charleston.
Charleston is home to several beaches, including Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach. All three feature pristine beaches surrounded by picturesque tidal marshland, so they’re definitely among the our must see places in Charleston. Grab a chair or beach towel, the all-important sun screen, and head to the beach for a day of true relaxation. Splash in the Atlantic Ocean, look for shells, and then walk to one of the local restaurants for some sustenance after a day in the sun.
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
Whether you drove or flew into Charleston, you surely caught a glimpse of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. This cable-stayed bridge connects downtown Charleston to Mt. Pleasant. Sure, you can drive over the bridge for a great view of the area, but why not walk or bike the bridge? When the “Arthur Rav” was constructed, pedestrian and bike lanes were included so that locals and visitors can get a little exercise and an incredible view of the city at the same time.
Charleston is home to a number of beautiful historic plantations including Boone Hall, Magnolia and Middleton Place. So at least one of these houses should be on your list of must see places in Charleston SC. Boone Hall is located just over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Mt. Pleasant and is considered America’s most photographed plantation. As you enter Boone Hall, you’ll pass under a canopy of moss-draped live oak trees that were planted centuries ago. It’s this avenue of oaks that has been featured in many a photograph and motion picture. Take a tour or attend a seasonal concert/event at Boone Hall and enjoy this beautiful Southern plantation. Magnolia Plantation and Middleton Place are both located on Ashley River Road in Charleston. Magnolia was built in 1676 by the Drayton family. When you visit, be sure to tour the beautiful home and its incredible gardens. Top it off with a tram ride around the property to view the picturesque marshland and the Ashley River. Middleton Place is just a few miles down the road from Magnolia Plantation. Middleton is home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens featuring centuries-old camellias that bloom in the winter and brightly colored azaleas that blanket the property each spring. Don’t miss the Butterfly Lakes, tour the House Museum and grab a bite for lunch or dinner at the restaurant. As you plan your trip to Charleston, S.C., search for the perfect accommodations on the Select Registry website.