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Charleston, SC: Eat, See, Do! {Extensive List}


There's something for everyone in Charleston whether you like history, shopping, beaches, nature, plantations, museums, architecture, or just relaxing. There are so many wonderful things to see in Charleston, I couldn’t possibly list them all, so I've compiled an extensive list with a few of the highlights, with most of the information coming from our Charleston visits, Trip Advisor, and a host of other websites.

I’ve included information on the 5 beaches near Charleston first, followed by things to do in and around Charleston. See the links below for more information as well!

Charleston Websites:


Kiawah Island

A 10,000-acre barrier island with 10 miles of uninterrupted beaches, 30 miles of marsh and riverhead, Kiawah Island is home to world-class golf, an acclaimed resort and some 4,100 residential properties where preservation and natural beauty are a way of life.

Isle of Palms

Proud to be a family beach with a balanced blend of full-time residents and visitors, the Isle of Palms is a tight knit island community with a 1,500-acre resort, two championship golf courses, a marina, and miles of sweet sand and surf.

Folly Beach

Affectionately known as "the Edge of America," Folly Beach is an eclectic, laidback beach community just 15 minutes from downtown Charleston where surfers, locals, and vacationers can revel and relax in the natural beauty and casual vibe that's distinctly - and only - Folly.

Seabrook Island

A 2,200-acre homage to natural beauty and a slower pace of life, Seabrook Island is a tranquil, private residential island community where championship golf, a deep-water marina, horseback riding, and wide beaches await your arrival.

Sullivan's Island

The only island in the world that's been the setting for both an Edgar Allan Poe novel and a Revolutionary War battle, Sullivan's Island is a warm and welcoming seaside village that sits proudly at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor.


Magnolia Plantation

Magnolia Plantation: The gorgeous venue for our wedding last fall! While Middleton Place's gardens attract those who like trimmed hedges and flower-lined paths, the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is the place to go if you're more of an avid nature lover. Yes, the house is worth an hour of your time -- it's a less ornate version of other Charleston plantation homes, but the interior is just as beautiful -- but most visitors come here to enjoy the wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for gators, otters and turtles in the Audubon Swamp Garden, grab your binoculars and look for local birds at the waterfowl refuge, don your helmet and bike one of the several trails or get lost in the horticultural maze. Recent travelers also agree that the petting zoo makes this a great place to bring the kids.

See pictures below for a glimpse into the beautiful plantation.

Take a Walking Tour

Whether you are interested in history, food, pubs, boats, plantations, ghost stories,

etc., there’s something for everyone! Here’s a link for some of the various walking tours:

Photo Walking Tours

Combine a tour of Charleston with a professional photographer with a photo walking tour (where the guide takes all your pictures and sends you a link a few days later with your pictures). Apparently Liz is great (according to Trip Advisor reviews)! J

Shopping! 235 King Street

Walk along this beautiful street with tons of shopping and unique restaurants. From high-end retailers like Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade to mall retailers like Williams-Sonoma and Forever 21 to local shops, boutiques, and antique stores, there’s something for everyone!

Charleston City Market

Browse through the City Market which is about 5 blocks of local merchants selling a variety of things to from souvenirs, crafts, Sweetgrass baskets, foods, and much more.

Enjoy a Bus Tour of the City

Enjoy the best of both worlds with a combined Bus Tour of Charleston and then select from a variety of other tours (mansions, museums, plantations, harbor, etc.) to add to your tour package.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

Walk, bike, or drive over the bridge or just take a snapshot of the gorgeous bridge (equally pretty during the day or night). This bridge is about 2.5 miles long and connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant.

Fort Sumter Tour & National Monument

Travel back in time to the site where the Civil War began with Fort Sumter Tours. Comfortable, spacious boats boarding daily at Liberty Square downtown & Patriots Point.

Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row is a cute area of town with colorful homes lining the street. Stop by on your way to/from Waterfront Park. Early morning is best for pictures and less foot traffic. The name Rainbow Row was coined after the pastel colors they were painted as they were restored in the 1930s and 1940s. It is a popular tourist attraction and is one of the most photographed parts of Charleston.

Charleston Waterfront Park

Great place to take a break from walking the streets of Charleston, take in the scenery, or plan out the day’s activities. Complete with flowers and tree-lined paths. The iconic pineapple fountain is nestled in the park and Rainbow Row is just around the corner. There are bench swings on the landing area, many times with local musicians playing nearby, so grab a book, relax with the ocean breeze, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Charleston!

Battery & White Point Gardens

This small but charming park right is on the waterfront and a perfect place to begin or end a stroll amongst the lovely historic homes along King, Meeting and East Bay streets. Walk all the way down Battery to see the beautiful homes facing the rivers and walk back up Rainbow Row. Note: There are no public restrooms in this park.

Middleton Place

Enjoy the picturesque grounds and beautiful gardens, historic home tour, animal area, and much more at this beautiful plantation.

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall has been recognized as the #1 Plantation in the Charleston area by USA Today's 10BEST.

Take a Boat or Sailing Tour

Enjoy a different view of Charleston by sailing around the city, complete with wine, you can’t find a better way to enjoy your day!

Tour one of Charleston’s many Historic Mansions:

There are many gorgeous mansions that are not only beautiful but offer such interesting history as well. These are just a couple of the many mansion tours in Charleston.

One of my favorite tours (and bonus if you’re a fan of The Notebook as you’ll see a few places filmed from the movie here) is the Calhoun Mansion. Warning, if you have a fear of hoarding, this may not be the place for you. Folks call it the OMG house for good reason. The tour is a lot of fun and very interesting though. The house is PACKED with unique and interesting treasures from all over the world.

  • The Calhoun Mansion

  • Aiken-Rhett House

  • Nathaniel Russell House

  • Edmondston-Alston House

  • Joseph Manigault House

Boone Hall Plantation

Boone Hall has been recognized as the #1 Plantation in the Charleston area by USA Today's 10BEST.

Cypress Gardens

This is currently closed due to the flooding, so keep checking back to see if it reopens as it is a beauty!

Angel Oak Tree

This over 500 year old tree is a sight to see if you're in the area as its branches are so large they grow back into the ground and crutches are used to help support its weight.

College of Charleston

Take a stroll and marvel at the beauties of this campus as it is one of the oldest colleges in the U.S. (founded in 1770). Enjoy the gorgeous surroundings with its unique architecture and gorgeous oak trees and Spanish moss. For Notebook movies lovers, The College of Charleston was used as the backdrop for the Allie's (Rachel McAdams) college.

Visit Sites from The Notebook

For those of you that are fans of The Notebook movie, visit some of the gorgeous spots where the movie was filmed. It’s no surprise that many of the scenes from The Notebook were filmed in the Charleston area as it’s one of the most romantic and picturesque places in the U.S. Although the novel is set in North Carolina, the film was made largely in South Carolina, in and around Charleston.

The College of Charleston was used as the backdrop for the Allie's (Rachel McAdams) college. Boone Hall Plantation was used for scenes of the Hamilton's summer house. The house that Noah would rebuild in the movie is located at Martins Point Plantation, historically knows as Bears Bluff Plantation, on Wadmalaw Island.

Visit some of the Seabrook village scenes in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

The Notebook location: young Noah and Allie go to the movies: American Theater, 446 King Street, Charleston, South Carolina

A couple of blocks north, Noah and Allie lie down to watch the traffic lights at the junction of King Street and Mary Street. In the period the scene takes place, it’s fair to assume there was less traffic, so – romantic as it looks – it’s probably best not to repeat the moment. Anyway, there are no overhead lights here.

The summer house of Allie’s monied family is the Boone Hall Plantation, 1235 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, about eight miles north of Charleston. Although the original wooden house was built in 1790, the house you see now was built in 1936. Nevertheless, this is one of America's oldest living and working plantations, Boone Hall has been producing crops for over 320 years – once cotton and pecans, now strawberries, tomatoes and pumpkins.

If you visit Charleston itself, you can see the spectacularly lavish interior used for the home, which is the Calhoun Mansion, 14-16 Meeting Street. Built in 1876, the Mansion is the largest residence in the city, boasting 35 rooms, a grand ballroom, Japanese water gardens, ornate chandeliers and a 90-foot cupola. Beautifully restored to its original glory, the mansion is a private home but there are daily tours.

After time passes and the couple is separated, Noah finally gets a glimpse of Allie again on a visit to Charleston. The restaurant, where he sees her with fiancé Lon (James Marsden) is High Cotton, 199 East Bay Street, Charleston.

Noah takes Allie boating through a flock of geese at Cypress Gardens, 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner, seen also in Swamp Thing, The Patriot and Cold Mountain. Unfortunately Cypress Gardens is closed at this time, due to the past flooding.

Drayton Hall Tour

This tour is different from the others in the area because it's preserved and not restored. This is a great example of high style colonial architecture. This is a great tour of history, not of a plantation, but a landed gentleman's English-style home and culture. You will see the actual rooms, paint and decorative moldings of this home, as well as hear a thorough history and interesting details of the family's life.

The Citadel

A place to see our young men and women cadets while preparing to protect us in the future. Great history and don't miss Friday parades.

St. Michael's Church

If you plan to visit only one church while you're in Charleston, then St. Michael's Episcopal Church should probably be the one to visit. The reasons are many: While St. Philip's Episcopal is the oldest church congregation in the city, St. Michael's boasts the oldest actual church building (a masterpiece of Wren and Gibbs inspired neo-classical architecture); it is also situated at the four corners of law where you can also visit City Hall (an historic building in its own right and well worth a visit) and the historic city Post Office. The Tiffany stained glass windows are another interesting aspect of the church.

-From a Review on Trip Advisor J

Charleston Museum

We were pleasantly surprised with how extensive the displays are in this museum. There are numbers of artifacts covering the history of Charleston, the armory, a collection of silver and a large natural history section. There are also collections displayed from the early days of the museum. Definitely worth a visit!

H.L. Hunley Submarine

Originally built in 1864 for the Confederate Army, the H.L. Hunley became the world's first successful submarine. You can visit the base and tour the submarine; an experience that many recent visitors say is well worth your time, especially if you're interested in nautical history.

Charleston Neighborhood

Enjoy a stroll through some of the picturesque and unique neighborhoods that Charleston has to offer.

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This lifestyle blog is a sampling of my many passions and interests that are a reflection of my soul essence.
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