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What should I not miss in Charleston SC in one day?

In this guide we give you a list with all the things you must see in Charleston in one day. Charleston, South Carolina will definitely surprise you and take your breath away. Charleston is a unique, beautiful, charming, historic and pet friendly city. It is the perfect destination for a romantic weekend getaway or as a family week long vacation. 

It’s cobblestone street, colorful houses, stunning plantations will make your trip an unforgettable one. Charleston is the best place to get a taste of southern charm and hospitality. 

What is the best month to visit Charleston SC?

The best time to visit Charleston is during the Spring and Fall. We recommend visiting from March to May or from September to November when temperatures are mild, although hotels can be more pricey.

We visited this fantastic city in March, and let me tell you it was the best time to visit! Spring is pretty beautiful as the flowers are blooming, it is breezy and there is not to many people. As a beach town, Charleston is very busy during summer while the weather can become hot and muggy.

How to get to Charleston?

Depending where you are coming from, you might one to take the bus, the Amtrak train, drive or fly to Charleston International Airport. From the airport you can take shuttles that drop you off at different hotels, rent a car, take an Uber or taxi or ride the CARTA bus, which offers an express route between the airport and downtown Charleston for $3.50 each way.

Walking Map of downtown Charleston, South Carolina

It is very easy to get around Charleston as it is an incredibly walkable destination. This map has all the stops in this guide. Make sure to send this map to your phone and save it offline.

The majority of the must to do things on this guide are located downtown Charleston, including historic houses, hidden lanes and secluded gardens. Charleston, South Carolina has to be one of the worlds most walkable cities! This historical city which boasts some of the prettiest streets, which has glorious old houses, historic charm and beauty in bucket loads.

How do I spend a day in Charleston, SC?

Charleston is a city where you can easily spend several days and still run out of time. That is why we have chosen the best things to do in one day in Charleston to help you plan your next vacation. In this guide will show you what you need to do and see on your next visit to Charleston.

Rainbow Road

The best way for us to describe Rainbow Row is a photography lovers dream, especially for a romantic photoshoot. This collection of 13 pastel colored Georgian-style houses is a beautiful block to walk down endless times during your visit to Charleston.

Rainbow Row without a doubt, is one of the most popular things to do and see in Charleston. To get to Rainbow Row you must walk along the seawall on Bay Street between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers until you see a row of traditional Charleston houses painted in bright pastel colors.

White Point Garden

Close to Rainbow Row is The Battery and White Point Gardens. Walk along the waterfront towards the battery park, also known as White Point Garden.

This is a beautiful park surrounded by water on three sides. Once a strategic protection point for the city it now serves a relaxing green space to enjoy on a sunny day. The park offers so much history to its visitors as it has Civil War-era cannons, some historic bric-a-brac, pieces of the USS Maine and a statue commemorating the 18th-century pirate Stede Bonnet. From here you can spot Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter is the best place in Charleston to learn more about the Civil War. To visit this historic landmark, where the first shots of the civil war were fired, catch the ferry next to the aquarium.

The Historic Charleston City Market

The current Charleston City Market has been serving as an open air market since the beginning of the 1800s. What began as a meat and vegetable market has transformed into stalls filled with everything ranging from the famous sweetgrass baskets to local paintings and souvenirs.

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Since its construction, before the independence of the United States, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon has been home to multiple institutions throughout its history. It now runs as a museum about its many uses including a commercial exchange, custom house, post office, city hall and military headquarters.

Old Slave Mart Museum

One of the most significant segments of Charleston history to learn about and learn from is its role as the entry point into the United States for nearly 40% of African slaves until 1808. The Old Slave Mart Museum stands in what was used as an auction point for slaves until the end of the slave trade.

Waterfront Park

The Waterfront Park is the main landmark in Charleston as it is home of the Pineapple Fountain. Charleston has many pineapples all around the city as it represents hospitality.

Historic Homes of Charleston:

Charleston is full of historic homes dating back over 200 years. Many of the homes have been restored to their former glory, highlighting the lives and impact of the owners. While there are half a dozen different historic home tours in Charleston, it is best to pick the ones that interest you most.

Visiting at least one of the Historic Homes of Charleston is top on the things you definitely don’t want to miss on a visit to Charleston.

The Nathaniel Russell House Museum is housed in a 1808 Neoclassical mansion built by Nathaniel Russell, a prominent merchant who participated in the slave trade. Today, it is open for visitors to learn more about those men and women who helped run and maintain the townhouse, as well as the Russell family.

Calhoun Mansion

Explore the ornate Charleston’s Gilded Age Mansion. The Calhoun Mansion is filled with extensive collection of antiques and historic objects in every room.

Horse drawn Carriage tour:

After a full day of exploring Charleston by foot, there is no better way to get some context and history than with a relaxing carriage ride through the cobblestone roads. We suggest riding with Old South Carriage Company or Palmetto Carriage Works.

While we had passed several of the stops on foot, most of what the live narrator had to say was new and informative for us. We also had the chance to explore some of the other neighborhoods of the city.

Plantations of Charleston:

The plantations are outside of Charleston, but they are well worth the visit. We tried to visit as many plantations as we could, including Middleton Place, Drayton Hall, Charleston Tea Plantation, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens and Boone Hall Plantation.  You could easily spend hours in each of these plantations and have a total different experience in each of them.

Our favorite to visit is the Magnolia Plantation. This plantation will surprise you with their rich history, beautiful gardens and elegant architecture. 

The Magnolia Plantation & Gardens it is still a family runned business and it is the best plantation to see wildlife. The plantation has a zoo, a nature tram that drive you through the grounds. They also offer a tour to the Drayton family home and the gardens. This plantation is great to learn more about the history of slavery and freedom.

Without a doubt, Magnolia Plantation & Gardens is a must-visit in Charleston, South Carolina.

Is Charleston worth visiting?

YES, YES AND YES. Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and it is definitely a place that will take your breath away with its unique southern charm, colorful architecture and hospitality. Its cobblestone walkways, incredible historic sites, world-class restaurants and miles of stunning beaches make Charleston a must destination to visit in the United States.

How much time do you need in Charleston?

We recommend to at least spend two days, but ideally you should spend between 3 to 4 days, especially if you are not staying downtown. Charleston is a place where you could spend weeks and still have things to do. If you plan to visit the beach or any of the plantations we will recommend to at least spend 4 days.

Is Charleston or Savannah better to visit?

Both cities are STUNNING and if you have the time, I will strongly suggest to visit both cities. Charleston has a bigger downtown, more variety of restaurants and shops, while Savannah has the beautiful Tybee Island. They both are beautiful and will make you fall in love with its architecture, gastronomy and southern charm.

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What to do and see in Charleston

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