Charleston, South Carolina, USA skyline over the Ashley River.
Are you planning a trip to our beautiful city? This historic port city has so many delightful things for residents and visitors to do that there’s no way they can all be enjoyed in one weekend, but you can certainly try! I have a few suggestions to help you plan your weekend in the Holy City! The Charleston area is known for historical sites such as Fort Sumter, the Battery, Fort Moultrie, Historic Charleston City Market, Magnolia Plantation, Boone Hall Plantation, and Charles Towne Landing. It also has a robust and diverse downtown, a haven for foodies and shoppers, and has many well-known landmarks such as Rainbow Row and the Waterfront Park, home of the Pineapple Fountain. Where to begin? Are you a history buff, do you love architecture, shopping, and/or dining? There is so much to see and do for all ages.
Historic Home & Garden Tours
Visitors love to take tours of the many historic homes and gardens in the city. These homes date to the 1700s and 1800s and help shed light on the city’s rich history. They were once owned by important politicians, merchants, and industrialists. One of the most exciting homes is the Heyward-Washington House, which was the home of Thomas Heyward, Jr., one of the four men from South Carolina who signed the Declaration of Independence. George Washington was a guest during a visit in 1791. Other important historic homes include the Nathaniel Russell House, Aiken-Rhett House, Edmondston-Alston House, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Joseph Manigault House, and Calhoun Mansion.
A great place to get oriented is one of the most-photographed spots in Charleston. This row of 13 historic Georgian homes along East Bay Street are painted in bright pastel colors. Although the homes date to the 18th century, they didn’t receive their unique colors until the 1930s. Rainbow Row has become an enduring symbol of Charleston.
South Carolina Aquarium
Tourists love spending weekend afternoons at the South Carolina Aquarium
, located right on the harbor. Kids and adults alike will be wowed by the Great Ocean Tank, which is so massive that it extends to the third floor. Numerous kinds of fish and other marine creatures live in the 385,000-gallon tank.
Other Downtown Activities
Downtown Charleston is full of excellent restaurants, boutiques, shops, and other attractions, such as brewery tours
! Great ways to see and experience Charleston include strolling aimlessly, a professionally guided walking tour
, taking a pedicab, or a horse-drawn carriage
tour through various neighborhoods. A weekend must-do is to head to historic King Street
, which provides a plethora of shopping, dining, and nightspots. Not to be missed are the abundance of art galleries
in Charleston, so stop in the French Quarter and be sure to tour as many as you can!
Must-see historic sites
Charleston is one of the most historic cities in the South
, if not the entire nation. It dates to the founding of the original 13 colonies and where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Much of that history remains intact today and is well worth exploring as part of any weekend itinerary.
Charles Towne Landing
Known as the birthplace of South Carolina, Charles Towne Landing is a historic site that showcases the Charleston’s earliest colonial history to visitors and locals alike. Established in 1670 by English settlers, today you can explore hands-on exhibits in the Visitor Center, climb aboard and tour The Adventure, Charleston’s only 17th-century replica sailing ship, visit otters, bears, bison, and other critters at the Animal Forest Natural Habitat Zoo, and take an audio tour on the self-guided history trail or through the 80s acres of beautiful gardens.
Charleston City Market
The cultural heart of Charleston since 1807 (and its most visited attraction), the Charleston City Market is one of the nation’s oldest markets. Here, you can peruse the fares of over 300 vendors selling everything from fine jewellery to home decor, local artwork, boutique clothing, and gourmet foodstuffs, including homemade Southern biscuits! Visit during the Day Market, or come by after dusk for the Night Market every weekend from March to December, where more than 100 artists and craftspeople showcase exclusively locally-made items for sale.
The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
Built in 1771 as a commercial exchange and custom house, the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon is a Charleston landmark and historic site. Today, visitors can take a self-guided tour of the top two floors of the Old Exchange, which features exhibitions of the building’s significance in South Carolina’s history, before joining a guided tour of the bottom floor cellar, which is also known as the Provost Dungeon. Focusing on the American Revolution and colonial Charleston, educational programs and tours are also available for students and groups of all ages.
Fort Sumter National Monument
One of the must-see sites in Charleston is Fort Sumter, which came under fire from coastal batteries on April 12, 1861, when the first shots of the Civil War were fired. It’s located on an island at the mouth of Charleston Harbor and is accessible by boat. While visitors must buy a ticket for the boat ride, admission to the fort is free. Fort Sumter was built to defend Charleston from naval invasion.
The Battery is another Civil War-era landmark, which combines a defensive seawall with a promenade lined with classic antebellum homes and Charleston luxury homes. The Battery is at the tip of the Charleston peninsula and was named for an artillery battery located there during the Civil War. It is a great place to go for a stroll and take in the harbor’s sights and old cannons and a monument to the Confederate defenders of Charleston. Fort Sumter is visible from the Cooper River side of the Battery.
Residents of Charleston houses have easy access to miles of sensational beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Some great weekend activities are watching the sunset, enjoying the pier at Folly Beach, and taking in the fantastic sights at remote Driftwood Beach at Botany Bay, where the rising water has begun to overtake hundreds of trees that give off a mystical vibe. There is also a former plantation-turned park with buildings that date to the 1840s.
Make sure to also visit Isles of the Palms, where you can go beachcombing, catch the waves on a bodyboard, watch for ospreys and pelicans diving into the Atlantic, or even catch giant loggerhead sea turtles nest on the beach. Sullivan’s Island is also popular; this 2.5-mile long barrier island near the entrance of Charleston Harbor has a strong military background (it was the site of The Battle of Sullivan’s Island and the first shots of the American Civil War) but is today known for its pristine beaches, excellent dining, and small-town charm.
There are many ways you can spend a weekend in Charleston, and there are many more, depending on your interests and tastes. If you’re ready to begin shopping for Charleston luxury homes, or just simply need some hotel or dining suggestions, let me wow you with my passionate approach to serving my clients. Contact me today to get started, I would be honored to help you every step of