On the hunt for fun things to do in Charleston? You’ve come to the right place! After spending New Year’s weekend there last year, I’m head over heels in love with this charming city.
With its cobblestone streets, pretty pastel houses, and horse-drawn carriages, South Carolina’s largest city is straight out of a fairytale. With that one-of-a-kind southern hospitality and countless unique Charleston experiences, this is one city you’ll never want to leave.
Inspired? Here is everything you need to know to find the most fun things to do in Charleston!
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Map of Charleston, South Carolina Itinerary
Look at History and Culture
From the colonial period up to the Civil War, Charleston has played a role in this country’s turbulent history. You can get a glimpse into the past as you explore the impressively well-preserved architecture of the city.
Home to America’s first theater, the city has always been one of the southern United States’ cultural centers. These days, this diverse city offers everything from sun-soaked beach escapes to world-class dining.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Charleston is the period travel experts call the “shoulder season.” From March to May and again from September to November, the city is at its best.
The weather is warm but not too hot. You’ll miss the summer crowd and the peak season pricing they bring with them.
Getting To and Around Charleston
Getting to Charleston is easy as can be. Just fly into Charleston International Airport (CHS). Prefer to stay grounded? It’s easily accessible via Amtrak train, Greyhound bus, or you can rent a car.
Charleston is a city best explored by car or on foot. Some of the most fun things to do in Charleston are a bit outside of the central city, we found having a rental car quite handy.
If you have a few days, though, you can easily get around on foot. If you’re trekking a bit further or want to get off your feet, taxis and rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are also widely available.
Charleston Neighborhoods – Where to Stay
Looking to stay in the heart of it all? Downtown Charleston is the cultural core of the city. You’ll have countless top-notch restaurants, cool cafes, endless shopping, and many of the most fun things to do in Charleston right outside of your door.
Francis Marion Hotel and Hotel Bennett Charleston are a top pick with a dream location. For a gorgeous view of the ocean, Harbourview Inn is another lovely choice.
Mount Pleasant Charleston
Nestled between downtown and Sullivan’s Island, you’ll find some of the most fun things to do in Mount Pleasant, an upbeat neighborhood with attractions including the Mount Pleasant Pier.
I had a fantastic experience at the Hilton Garden Inn Charleston/ Mt. Pleasant and highly recommending staying here. My encounters with the staff, particularly, Denise from the front desk, was the cornerstone of customer service and southern charm at its best—exceeded my expectations!
North Charleston is the third-largest city in the state, and it’s a good place to find affordable accommodation without being too far from the best things to do in Charleston.
If you like having all the conveniences of home, go for an apartment-style option at Staybridge Suites Charleston-Ashley Phosphate.
Plan Your Stay: Search more top-rated Charleston hotels and accomodations – Read reviews, check rates, and availability here!
Fun Things to Do in Charleston
The best way to truly get to know a city is with a local guide! I loved Free Tours by Foot and find that these kinds of free tours are the best way to go, particularly if you are on a budget. While a tip is generally expected at the end, you’re only paying what you think the experience is worth.
There is an impressive array of custom tours as well. Romantic picks like a carriage tour or a Charleston ghost tour will show you a different side of the city. Discover the best places to eat with a Charleston food tour or hit the water on a harbor cruise tour for an Instagram-worthy view of the city.
Other fun tours and activities to add to your Charleston itinerary:
Things to Do – Best Places to Explore
Once you’ve got the lay of the land, hit the streets solo. Walk down some of Charleston’s iconic streets like Broad Street, Church Street, East Bay Street, King Street, and Queen Street. You could easily spend all day just walking and soaking into that unique South Carolina charm.
Bring your camera through the picture-perfect French Quarter, then get to Mt. Pleasant Pier Park to snapshots of the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge. Of course, one of the most photogenic places in the city is the colorful Georgian houses at Rainbow Row.
In the mood to shop until you drop? The Charleston City Market, along with the diverse range of stores on King Street, are essential stops!
When you are ready to get off your feet, you can take your pick of urban oases. Places like Joe Riley Waterfront Park, Folly Beach, and Sullivan’s Island were made for lazy days under the sun.
If you have time, it’s about a 20-minute drive to Johns Island, where you’ll find the landmark 400+-year-old Angel Oak Tree.
When night falls, go for a show at Dock Street Theatre. There’s always something on, so check the calendar before you arrive to reserve your tickets.
Things to Do: Best Place to Eat and Drink in Charleston
Hey, foodies! You can find your unique Charleston experiences by sampling the local delicacies. It’s all about the meat and seafood here, especially fresh crab cakes, oysters, and shrimp. To add that classic Southern flair, order it with grits! Ready to start eating your way around town? Here’s where to go:
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Rumor has it this is the best biscuits in town, and I couldn’t agree more. Callie’s got an impressive variety of made-to-order biscuits. It’s a small shop so be ready to stand in line, grab one for the road and keep exploring!
If you’re strolling down Kings Street and have a hankering for a cheery atmosphere, amazing tacos, and outstanding service with great happy hour prices, El Jefe is a must.
Blind Tiger Pub
A local fave since 1803, you’ve got to stop at The Blind Tiger for at least one drink. Mingling with the locals here is one of those unique Charleston experiences you’ll never forget.
Henry’s Seafood & Jazz
If I had to list the top two ways to spend an evening in Charleston, I’d probably say eating the local food and listening to live music. Henry’s Seafood & Jazz has the best of both!
Another one of those unique Charleston experiences is the striking 5Church housed inside a Gothic church building (stained glass windows and all!). Bring your camera and come ready for a five-star meal.
Fish House Charleston Harbor
For local sustainable seafood, get over here for dinner and try the ultra-fresh whole fish.
Tavern & Table
When you’re ready for lunch, go here for a skillet of cornbread, shrimp, and grits. Be sure to get a crab salad roll on the side too. You can thank me later!
Why not join a locally run food tour and uncover Charleston’s hidden food gems? Book your foodie tour here!
With so many fun things to do in Charleston, you can choose your own adventure here. From beautiful beaches to a thriving culture scene, there is something for everyone in South Carolina’s greatest city.
Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.
It is a charming city indeed.
This Charleston guide is incredibly helpful. You’ve really thought through everything you need to know before planning a trip. Thank you for this helpful resource. Saving this guide for later!
There is something for everyone in Charleston — glad you found it helpful!