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Things to do in Charleston

The epitome of good ole Southern charm and charisma, it's no surprise that the Charleston dance originated here.

Our most recommended things to do in Charleston

Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

1. Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

Enjoy a ferry ride to the grounds of Fort Sumter and explore the grounds at your own pace. Pass by the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and take in the sights of Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes. As you approach Fort Sumter, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene. If you depart from Mt. Pleasant you will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Arrive at The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, which sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense.  While here, explore the grounds of Fort Sumter. Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The first shots were fired here, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a National Park Ranger. Your approximate 1-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse Museum Store souvenirs. A visit to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Learn about the events leading to the war from knowledgeable National Park Rangers who will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a National Park Ranger. Then enjoy the beautiful views of the city as you ride the ferry back to Charleston.

Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

2. Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

Cruise through the Charleston Harbor on an old-fashioned 1920s-Bay-Steamer-replica yacht. Enjoy live narration from the captain and purchase treats from a fully-stocked drink and snack bar. See the Civil and Revolutionary war sights and keep an eye out for dolphins. Relax in the enclosed observatory or on the partially-covered upper deck. Listen carefully as your captain guides you on a journey through more than 300 years of American history. You’ll pass by 75 landmarks and points-of-interest on this 20-mile trip. Get close-up views of the “Holy City,” including Fort Sumter - where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Glide past Confederate and Union army forts and see the famous “Fighting Lady” of World War II. Pass by remnants of the Civil and Revolutionary wars and look for local wildlife like dolphins and pelicans splashing nearby. Choose between indoor or outdoor seating.

Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

3. Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

Ride in a traditional horse-drawn carriage through historic downtown Charleston on a guided tour. Listen to live commentary about the city as you pass by the Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, King Street, White Point Gardens, and Charleston Battery. Begin the tour at the activity provider's stables. Board a beautiful custom-built carriage and depart from the barn. Ride toward the city gate, located in the Old City Market. Learn about the city's rich history from a professional guide while traveling aboard a unique vehicle. Gaze at vibrant neighborhoods and elegant buildings from your seat. Experience the highlights of the historic downtown area, such as Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, 4 Corners of Law, King Street, White Point Gardens, and the Charleston Battery. Take in informative and entertaining commentary from your guide, before arriving back at the stables.

Charleston: Speakeasy Sagas Prohibition Pub Crawl

4. Charleston: Speakeasy Sagas Prohibition Pub Crawl

Learn more about Charleston during Prohibition on a lively guided tour. Hop from bar to bar and sip on delicious cocktails as you hear funny and outlandish stories from the 1920s. Meet your guide in downtown Charleston for a combination history tour and bar crawl. Hear more about the lesser-known characters who made names for themselves in the era of Prohibition. Discover the wild and wacky legends that you may not have heard of before, but you’ll never be able to forget. As you explore the bars and cocktail lounges of the present day, enjoy delicious cocktails to get your night off to a great start. Get an accurate picture of the nightlife of the city in the present day as you explore its most vibrant streets.

Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

5. Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

Test your nerve and explore the dark edges of Charleston's haunted historic district, deeply steeped in South Carolina's low country superstition on a guided walking tour. Venture through Charleston's haunted historic district, one of the oldest places in America, and learn about its terrifying history. Continue along the eerie back alleys and churches to find out why Charleston is known as "The Holy City." Visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon to learn about its harrowing past, confining enslaved people, American revolutionaries, and British soldiers.

Boone Hall Plantation: Admission & Day Trip from Charleston

6. Boone Hall Plantation: Admission & Day Trip from Charleston

Tour the historic Boone Hall Plantation, a beautiful gem nestled in the town of Mount Pleasant, just across the harbor from Charleston. Enter through the Avenue of Oaks and take a guided tour of the historic mansion. Enjoy a self-guided tour through the original slave cabins and learn about the experience of enslaved people with a presentation by a knowledgeable guide. Learn the history of the area, tour the grounds and homes with expert storytellers and guides.

Charleston: Historical Walking Tour

7. Charleston: Historical Walking Tour

An exciting walking tour of the only English walled city in North America - Charleston! Once the leading seaport of the thirteen colonies and later the United States, historical Charleston is waiting to be discovered. On this 2-hour walking tour, you will learn about the intriguing history of Charleston from veteran guide Al Ray. See pre-and-post colonial homes, storefronts, churches and public buildings while Ray recounts the rich tales and legends of Charleston's proud and turbulent past. Learn the meanings of the ancient symbols on the tombstones, the city's history of rapid growth and rampant piracy, and the rise of the rice planters. Listen to your charismatic guide describe the numerous disasters, such as seven major fires, numerous hurricanes, epidemics, sieges and bombardments, plus a major earthquake, that have struck the city over its long and colourful history.

Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

8. Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

Witness a slice of living history at Magnolia Plantation and its world-famous gardens, owned by the Drayton family for 12 generations. Visit the Historic Gardens, Petting Zoo, and The Conservatory. Begin your half-day tour by boarding a climate-controlled coach in Charleston. Meet your professional guide and ride to Magnolia Plantation, dating from 1676 and the time of the British colony. Step into one of America's first tourist attractions and first public gardens, which have been open to the public since 1870. Take a guided walk through America's last large-scale romantic garden. Experience history on a 45-minute narrated tram ride through the Audobon Swamp Gardens and visit important locations like Drayton Home (not Drayton Hall), Orientation Theater, and the Old African American Cabin.

Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

9. Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

Explore Charleston's historic district on a horse or mule-drawn carriage tour. Listen to your guide tell you local stories and anecdotes as you go past iconic landmarks, buildings, churches, and more. Begin your tour at the Big Red Barn in downtown Charleston and meet your local driver/guide. Then, settle into a carriage drawn by either horses or mules for your guided tour. Follow a route that takes in some of the historic downtown district’s most elegant mansions and gardens, learning about the architecture of each place as you drive along. Catch the scent of jasmine flowers from deep, shady porches, and pass by rows of bristling palmetto trees. Get an overview of Charleston’s dramatic history, from long-ago pirate raids to plantations, Revolutionary battles, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The city was founded in 1670, and Charleston's historic buildings have been meticulously preserved and restored. Conclude your tour with drop-off at the Big Red Barn.

Charleston: 3-Hour Secret Food Tour

10. Charleston: 3-Hour Secret Food Tour

On this secret food tour, you'll get to sample grits, fried oysters, fried green tomatoes and so much more. Charlestonians are extremely passionate about their local food, city, and its history. You'll get to learn all about the best southern foods and the unique culture behind them. By booking this tour, you'll get to try delicious food all around the beautiful historic district of Charleston. Plus, you'll also be able to discover the best shops and restaurants, and learn many other great local tips to make your experience truly memorable.

Available activities

  • Charleston history tours
  • Port City water adventures
  • Horse & carriage rides
  • Ghost tours in Charleston
  • Southern plantation trips
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What people are saying about Charleston

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 6,180 reviews

Everything was perfect. Nice bus to an from mansion. Instructions to see all classes and yours in a timely manner were thorough. There were no mess ups. We enjoyed the tour very much

What a fun tour! We had a blast. Our guide Captain Bryan was wonderful! Super knowledgeable.

Beau was our tour guide. He was very nice and helpful. The tour was fun and interesting.

Perfect in every way. Great host and super interesting learning about Charleston.

Very entertaining. Cool stories and very chill ride.