When looking for the best places in Charleston to visit during your stay, it would be easy to lose yourself in the wide array of options before you. The charm and history of this enchanted city beckon you to be in awe of it at every corner. Within the first step into this South Carolina port city, you are immersed in rich history, greeted by warm locals, and surrounded by scrumptious food that is sure to satiate any appetite. Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, Victorian and southern style architecture, a rich and complicated past, the smell of fried green tomatoes wafting into your nose, Charleston is a feast for the mind, heart, and stomach. Therefore, there is no shortage of things to do in Charleston, South Carolina and trying to choose how to spend your time in this remarkable place is a daunting task.
As a means of helping you along in your search, here are five recommendations for the “do not miss” things to do during your visit to Charleston, SC.
5 Places to See in Charleston
1. Nathaniel Russell Museum
As you may know, our workshop is based in the historic Mooresville Cotton Mills and for this reason, we always take a particular interest in the local history. In this sense, we believe the museums and history of Charleston are often the most interesting aspect for anyone who visits this iconic city.
In case you might be asking yourself, Nathaniel Russell was a rich merchant and the original owner of this magnificent building. While the house has undergone some transformation and restoration over the years, the architecture is still elegant and symbolic of the time in which it was built. Featuring antiquated furnishings and a grand spiral staircase, there is also quite a striking interior that displays a somewhat fancy side of life down south.
However, it must be known that this was also a workplace for slaves who were employed by the Russel family many years ago. As already mentioned, the family was well known in the shipping business and owned this building until it was eventually sold to the owner of a rice plantation. In many ways, this is a fascinating insight to a very different time and the exterior of the building is also the resemblance of this grand interior. In this sense, the façade is made up of Carolina gray brick and the federal styled architecture is best characterized by the grand front door entrance to the building.
Located at the very heart of Charleston, the Nathaniel Russell Museum is considered one of the best things to do in Charleston SC and can be visited on a guided tour six days a week.
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2. Self-Guided Walking Tour
In a city filled to the brim with guided tours, both paid and free, you might be asking yourself why a self-guided walking tour is a way to go. Sure, you could hop into a horse drawn carriage or join one of the official walking tours, and we won’t stop you because those are both excellent ways to get your feet wet in Charleston, but sometimes exploring a place at will, without someone else’s timeline dictating your moves creates a uniquely beautiful experience. In a place with as much charm and wonder as Charleston, the only way to properly explore it is with southern leisure. Start at the 12-acre Waterfront Park (home to the giant pineapple fountain featured on many Charleston postcards), then follow the walking paths on East Battery Street for a stroll to White Point Gardens, clocking in at just under one mile in distance.
During this stretch along the city’s southern tip, you will be immersed in a picturesque neighborhood touting rows of Southern-style mansions. Don’t forget to stroll through Rainbow Road, an iconic strip of pastel-hued Georgian row houses. Once at White Point Gardens, take some time to stand in awe of the towering oak trees before heading over to the Pineapple Gates House at 14 Legare for pictures. Is there a better way to end an afternoon tour than with a picnic?
Read Also: Best Photography Locations in Charleston, SC
3. Charleston Farmers Market
Marion Square is well known to everyone who decides to visit Charleston SC and this is certainly the case between the months of April and December. After all, this square is home to the Farmers Market each weekend when small tents line the north and western paths to the square. Needless to say, this is a very authentic farmers market where locals display their own produce on the stalls including asparagus, tomatoes, and the roots of turmeric. That being said, the variety is astounding for everything from local honey to strawberry jam and pimento cheese is available in the market. Moreover, there are many themed tents where particular specialties can be found including smoked olive oil and honey.
On the other hand, you will also find local crafts in certain corners of the market, for weaved baskets and canvas paintings are often found in between. Either way, this is one of the more cultural things to do in Charleston SC and a must visit attraction for those who arrive on the weekend.
4. High Wire Distilling
Sure, Charleston has its fair share of distilleries, but only one can claim the title of the first distillery in downtown Charleston since Prohibition, and that is High Wire Distilling. In addition, there are plenty of other distinctions that make this the distillery to visit in Charleston.
To start, everything is made in small batches and starts experimental which yields many different types and variations of liquor. The owners are a husband and wife duo who both have a background in the baking industry so they approach their liquor with a culinary mindset. And finally, they place an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients from southern-grown grains, fresh herbs, and heirloom corns that come together to create the distinctive and signature spirits. If you’re looking for a unique, and slightly boozy, experience during your visit to Charleston, South Carolina look no further than High Wire Distilling.
Read Also: 5 Best Breweries in North Carolina
5. Magnolia Gardens
The Magnolia Gardens and Plantations are overflowing with nature and this is often considered a wilder alternative to the gardens at Middleton Place. That is to say, you will find flowers and hedges here but landscaping is entirely absent which can make this a much more primitive encounter. Furthermore, the house at Magnolia Gardens is also a lot less extravagant although the inside is just as impressive as any other you are likely to see.
Interestingly, as part of these gardens, the Audubon Swamp Garden is home to otters and alligators while the trees are inhabited by some very colorful birdlife. Traveling throughout the greenery, the walking trails are luscious but these are mostly navigated on bikes which are provided at the property. Furthermore, the attraction is particularly popular with families, for children are always impressed and entertained by the petting zoo inside.
As you might expect, visitors are free to explore these gardens on foot. However, for a more insightful experience, the guided tours are educational and a great way to learn more about the local nature. Moreover, the guides are knowledgeable about the slave trade and can illuminate the experience by recounting stories which had taken place on the property. Either way, the Magnolia Gardens are stunning and among the best places in Charleston to uncover the primitive side of this port city.
Have you visited any of these gems in Charleston SC? What have we missed out on? Please let us know in the comments!