There are many reasons Charleston, South Carolina was ranked the number 1 city in the world by Travel + Leisure readers in 2016, and number 2 in 2014, 2015 and 2017. A visit to Charleston means experiencing world class dining, historic homes that are architectural marvels, lively nightlife downtown and breathtaking natural beauty.
- Tour Majestic Homes
- Joseph Manigault House
Downtown Charleston boasts one of the largest concentrations of historic homes in the United States. The Joseph Maniguault House, constructed in the early nineteenth century, is grand enough and lovely enough to stand out in a city replete with impressive historic homes. Of particular note are the porcelain, silverware and sideboards – among the finest in the world.
- Calhoun House
The largest single family residence in the city of Charleston this extremely ornate, gilded mansion is truly unique and features over 24,000 square feet, 35 rooms, 23 fireplaces and a 75 foot domed ceiling. In addition to the carved woodwork, ornate plaster and elaborate chandeliers is a painting and lighting designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It’s also an ideal location for small dinner groups.
- Feel Awestruck by Spectacular Gardens
- Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
There are several plantations from which to choose during your visit to Charleston. It is the gardens and swamp at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens that sets it apart from its neighboring plantations. America’s last large-scale romantic garden winds on and on, with visitors encountering a large variety of plants and landscapes including bamboo and the oldest collection of Indica Azaleas in America. The azaleas bloom in the spring and are the most popular attraction at the gardens.
- Bring History Class to Life
- Fort Sumter National Monument
If you are going to truly delve into the history of Charleston, its role in one of the most significant American wars cannot be ignored. It was the site of the first shots fired in the Civil War. You can see some of those cannons when you tour the stone caverns. If you would like to learn more about the fort, you can extend your visit to the onsite museum. Make sure you allow enough time in your itinerary for the ferry ride there and back. It will give you a chance to get a different view of Charleston’s gorgeous waterways.
- Go Under the Sea
- South Carolina Aquarium
Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, the South Carolina Aquarium contains a wide range of more than 5,000 animals including eels, crabs, sea horses, sea urchins, otters and sharks. The animals live in an impressive array of geographically themed exhibits: mountain forest, piedmont, coastal plain, saltmarsh, coast and ocean.
- Watch Dolphins While You Eat Dinner
- Shem Creek
In the neighboring city of Mount Pleasant, which is part of the Charleston metro area and is a quick drive over the sweeping Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, you can see dolphins in their natural habitat, their snouts, fins and tails flashing in the light as they come up for air while transversing the creek. The gentle sea mammals like to ride in the wake of the many boats that frequent the active waterway. Keep your eyes peeled for herons and egrets, as well, and stay for the spectacular sunset. Kayaking is also available if you want to take a journey on the water then eat at one of the restaurants.
- Unwind at a Bohemian Beach
- Folly Beach
Each beach in the Charleston area has its own distinct personality. One of the most popular is Folly Beach, which has a laid back, all-inclusive, bohemian vibe and a dramatic pier intersecting its many miles of sandy beaches. Several restaurants offer roof deck dining that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and there are plenty of bars for adult outings. If nature is more your thing, check out Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve.
- Take a World Famous Walk
- The Battery
One of the most recognizable sights in Charleston is The Battery, a stretch of magnificent mansions overlooking Charleston Harbor. Wander down the street and you will soon come across Rainbow Row, another well-known landmark. Keep heading in this direction, toward the buzzing restaurants and bars on Bay Street, and you will come across Waterfront Park, featuring the oft-photographed pineapple fountain. A bit further in the opposite direction, where The Battery begins, is White Point Gardens. Here you can walk among Civil War memorials and relics.
- Eat Seafood Like a Local
- The Crab Shacks
Rated one of the 10 best seafood spots in South Carolina, the Crab Shacks will satisfy your craving for fresh seafood in an authentic Charleston setting. You can choose from one of three locations scattered throughout the Charleston metro area. While the atmosphere is relaxed, the food is 5-star worthy. The menu is bursting with classics such as peel and eat shrimp, shrimp and grits, snow crab legs, stuffed flounder and oysters.
- Shop at a Historic Market
- Charleston City Market
Located in the heart of the city, the Charleston City Market on Market Street has been a fixture since 1804. It’s a favorite among locals and tourists alike and features sweet grass baskets, souvenirs, jewelry, glasswork and more. Additionally it is a great place to find local food such as Bene Wafers.
Regardless of whether you are a night owl, nature lover, history buff or big into the arts, Charleston has something to offer. The diversity of activities in Charleston makes it easy to cater to the varying interests of any large group.
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