The Best History Tours in Charleston, SC

A historical insight at The Middleton Place National Historic Landmark
A historical insight at The Middleton Place National Historic Landmark | © Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 2 / Alamy Stock Photo
Charleston is a place where history is on every corner. Whether it’s related to slavery, the Civil War or the American Revolution, the city is packed with important historical landmarks. Culture Trip have chosen the best tours that will take you through places such as the Old Slave Mart and Charleston Harbor.

Charleston Footprints

Historical Landmark

The former local TV host on Carolina Camera, Michael Trouche, has written two books on Charleston. His lineage in Charleston goes back for more than 200 years. Now leading the Charleston Footprints history tour, his knowledge and passion for the architecture, gardens, graveyards, Civil War and Revolutionary War sites is palpable as he leads you from street to street.

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Charleston Harbor Tour

Historical Landmark
View from tour ferry of Fort Sumter (site of the opening shots of the American Civil War), Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Image shot 11/2008. Exact date unknown.
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
For those who prefer not to walk, the harbor cruise offers a completely different perspective of the city. From the deck of the Carolina Belle you get a live narrated historical tour as you pass the famous sites. The captain brings the tour to life with his hilarious humour and sometimes, if you are extremely lucky, you may even spot some dolphins in the water.
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McCleod Plantation Historic

Historical Landmark

Touring this 1851 building is a stark awakening on the conditions that slaves had to endure living on the McLeod Plantation. As a Gullah Geechee heritage site it has a mission to tell the history and share its cultural identity. You will hear of slavery, sea island cotton and the wealth accumulated by plantation owners. You will hear of daily life, the relationships before and after the emancipation of slaves and how these relationships evolved and changed. It’s a significant, eye opening experience.

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The Edmondston-Alston House tour

Historical Landmark
The East Drawing Room a Greek Revival interior of the Edmonston Alston House museum on East Bay Street The Battery in the historic district of Charleston South Carolina
© Blaine Harrington III / Alamy Stock Photo
Charleston has many distinguished house museums filled with great riches. The Edmonston-Alston House, constructed in 1825, has fine art, resplendent furniture, silver and fascinating objects which make up the collection on display here. On this one-hour tour you get to see it all as you delve deep into the house’s history and architecture. It is the only fine house museum in Charleston in which you get tremendous views of the harbor – a true insight into colonial city life.
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Lost Stories of Black Charleston Walking Tour

Museum

Damon Foredom has uncovered the lost stories of African Americans from paper clippings and learned the folktales from local Charleston residents that go back generations. This entertaining two-hour walking tour takes you to the famous sites such as the Old Slave Mart but tells the stories that have been left out of the history books. Mr. Foredom uses all his skills as a published writer, historian, educator and musician to illuminate and entertain you. It’s a real expert’s take on Charleston from an African-American perspective.

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Aiken-Rhett House Tour

Historical Landmark, Museum
Slave quarters at Aiken Rhett House museum Charleston, SC
© Richard Ellis / Alamy Stock Photo
This house is a time capsule to peak into the lives of a wealthy Southern family and the enslaved Africans who were trapped there. The building was constructed by politician, slaveholder and industrialist John Robinson in the mid 19th century. His former status is reflected in the grandeur of his once-home. No longer in his families possesion, it was purchased by the Charleston Museum and opened as an exhibition in 1975.
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These recommendations were updated on July 15, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.