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The Top 7 Things To Do and See in Downtown Charleston, SC

The Top 7 Things To Do and See in Downtown Charleston, SC

Picture of Richard Tulis
Updated: 9 February 2017
Charleston is much more than an ordinary beach town. This cultural oasis possesses a rich coastal class and varies in landscape from its marshes on Shem Creek to the illustrious shores of Folly Beach. Travel inward towards King or George streets to find some of the best homemade cuisine the Southeastern United States have to offer. What’s more is that Charleston is awash in antebellum antiquity and significant historical monuments.

Fort Sumter

What better way to enjoy the historical roots of this Southern city than by paying a visit to the foremost notable site of the Civil War: Fort Sumter. The historic site is located in Charleston Harbor and was opened as a tourist attraction in 1948. Famous for sustaining the first shots of the war (by cannon fire), the fortification is a must-see for visitors. A two-hour and 15-minute tour, complete with narrated boat rides and walking portions, is offered by this dual national and state park.

Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston, SC, USA + 1 843 883 8123

Historic Charleston City Market

The Charleston City Market is located indoors, but don’t let that fool you – the attraction has stall after stall, and it stretches for what would be nearly two blocks on the streets of the city. Its aggrandized selection is imposing. With local art, weaved baskets, antebellum apparel, candles, jewelry, pottery, local artwork, and more, the market is alive with handicraft sales. This area is the perfect location to grab a souvenir and take in the cultural fibers of such a charming town.

Charleston City Market, 188 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 937 0920

Waterfront Park

Stretching 12 acres alongside the Cooper River, Waterfront Park features a 1,250-foot pier that stretches out over Charleston Harbor. You cannot afford to miss this picturesque attraction! Take a walk amid its dozens of pathways and witness the sights of nature – if you’re lucky, you may spot a crane taking flight by the ocean’s side. Its two large fountains are without a doubt the most iconic and decorative features of the park. Waterfront is also filled with spectacular views and a sea breeze that never fails to captivate its guests.

Waterfront Park, 1 Vendue, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 724 7321

Boat Tours

Being a town on the coast, Charleston has no shortage of maritime tours. Charleston Harbor, Shem Creek, Cooper River, and coastal locales are all on these agendas, and it is hard to go wrong with any one in particular. If you prefer a more historic route, Charleston Harbor (featuring Fort Sumter and Battery Row) may be the best move. Of course, if you are searching for a deep sea fishing adventure, there are several boating lines that offer that as well (the same goes for water-sports like jet skiing and fly boarding).

South Carolina Aquarium

This spacious attraction is located on Charleston Harbor and serves as an ideal family attraction. Featuring hundreds of different sea animals – jellyfish, horseshoe crabs, loggerhead sea turtles, alligators, sharks – the versatile facility also houses birds and even snakes. The aquarium is never short of excitement, and its ‘Touch Tank’ allows patrons to stroke the spines of rays, crabs, and other marine animals. Its renowned salt marsh exhibit showcases stalwart features of the Charleston, South Carolina environment, giving guests an opportunity to appreciate the true sense of the city’s natural surroundings.

South Carolina Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 720 1990

The Battery

The Battery – a paved, public walk covered with mainly antebellum homes – often steals the hearts of its visitors by way of charming pastel edifices and picket fences and gates. The scenic promenade features Southern mansions, old cannons, and archaic plaques denoting the historical significance of several different physical structures. Rich in history and fit with a spectacular view of Fort Sumter, the Battery is unquestionably one of downtown Charleston’s most iconic settings.

The Battery, White Point Garden, 2 Murray Boulevard, Charleston, SC, USA, + 1 843 724 7327

Folly Beach

Sure, Charleston has far more to offer than just the beach, but let’s face it: the beach is the beach, wherever you go. Folly Beach is one of Charleston’s best surf spots, and the waves are usually teeming with daring water sport adventurers. The area is awash with Southern hospitality, and its charm has made Folly Beach a resilient survivor of hurricanes: it continues to attract throngs and crowds as long as the sun is out. Check out the Folly Beach ‘Sea and Sand’ festival (think carnival games, a parade, and live music by several artists) which panned from April 10-11 this past year.