For those who don’t know, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina four months ago. I am thrilled to be here, and I never run out of things to do or explore. Charleston is rich in culture, close to some magical beaches, and has so much nature and wildlife that every day is a new adventure. If you’re planning to visit, here’s some fun things to do in Charleston that you will want to make sure not to miss when you’re here.
10 Fun Things To Do In Charleston, South Carolina
1. Buy A Sweetgrass Basket
You can’t go to Charleston and not buy a sweetgrass basket. For more than 300 years, people throughout the Lowcountry have woven these baskets from natural grasses. This tradition can be traced back to the slave trade in West Africa, and the proud descendants have used it for centuries to preserve their culture and history. I recommend going to buy one from Miss Trudy, who will tell your about her family’s rich history while you are there. She is at the end of Vendue Range Rd in downtown Charleston as it meets up with Waterfront Park.
2. Walk Through The French Quarter of Downtown Charleston
The French Quarter is my favorite area of Charleston, and just oozes charm. Cobblestone streets beckon you down alleys where secret gardens, iron gates, trailing ivy, and palm trees lie in wait for your enjoyment. This is a photographer’s paradise. Don’t miss Rainbow Row in the area which is a row of pastel-colored historic homes located on East Bay Street, just along the Battery. These historic homes were first constructed around 1740 and were used by merchants who would run their business on the ground floor and live on the top floor.
There is so much history in this area, and I recommend doing some research before your walk. Also, White Point Gardens, a park of beautiful live oak trees just across from the Battery is a great spot to relax after your walk through the French Quarter.
3. Put Your Toes In The Sand At Folly Beach
As everyone knows, visiting beaches is my favorite activity. Folly Beach has so much magic. Folly Beach is known as the “edge of America”, and it’s my favorite place to catch the sunset. It also has a lot of history. George Gershwin wrote Porgy and Bess while staying at Folly Beach.
The first pier was built in 1931, along with a pavilion, boardwalk, and the Oceanfront Hotel. In those days, you could catch a concert featuring bands such as Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, and Tommy Dorsey. The current pier is being rebuilt and won’t be finished until late 2021.
Folly Beach is a wonderful spot to collect shells, shark’s teeth, sunbathe, surf, and swim. The busiest area is near the pier, but if you go to the end of Folly Beach near the lighthouse, you are likely to have the beach to yourself. It’s easy to spend the entire day here.
4. Go On A Kayaking Adventure
Charleston is a beautiful place to kayak, and there are many options for places to rent one. My favorite is the trip I took with Coastal Expeditions to Crab Bank Island. You can take a guided tour or rent a kayak yourself. If you paddle Shem Creek, you are pretty much guaranteed to see dolphins. This is a great way to see plenty of wildlife and get some exercise at the same time.
5. Eat Incredible Food
Charleston has some of the best food I’ve eaten in any city, and I’ve lived and traveled to some pretty amazing food cities. Charleston is known the most for its seafood and BBQ. If it’s BBQ you’re craving, I highly recommend Lewis BBQ. It has some of the best brisket I’ve ever eaten (don’t skip the green hatch chile BBQ sauce), and the green chile corn pudding is out of this world. I also love the queso with brisket here.
For incredible views, don’t skip Bowen’s Island Restaurant. It’s famous for its locally harvested oysters, fried shrimp, hushpuppies, Frogmore stew, and cold beer. During oyster season, you can get all you can eat oysters, which you shouldn’t miss.
6. Walk Among The Boneyard Beach At Botany Bay
On Edisto Island, about an hour away from Charleston, lies the very surreal spot of Botany Bay Plantation. You will feel the magic as soon as you drive under the towering oaks that welcome you to this historical spot. My favorite part of the area is the Boneyard Beach where sun bleached trees line the beach. People have added to the magic by tucking sea shells into the limbs of the trees. The best time to go is a few hours before sunset.
7. Visit The Angel Oak Tree
The Angel Oak Tree is 400 years, and is the most mystical tree I’ve ever seen. Located on John’s Island, just outside of Charleston, this live oak will take your breath away. The canopy of this tree extends an astonishing 17,200 square feet, so you have to visit it in person to truly experience it. Pictures just don’t do it justice, and this is one of the things to do in Charleston that you really shouldn’t miss.
Because of its history as slaveholding plantation land, there are more than a few local tales of ghosts of former slaves appearing around the Angel Oak, and of those spirits now protecting the tree. During the days of segregation, black families often picnicked under the oak’s protective branches. The Angel Oak site was purchased by the city of Charleston in 1991.
8. Watch The Day End At Brittlebank Park
Located along the Ashley River just outside of downtown Charleston, this is a perfect spot to enjoy sunset views. I love to walk along the fishing pier, and watch the fishermen fishing there. There’s also a playground if you have kids.
9. Visit The Park Circle Neighborhood
I live in the Park Circle neighborhood in North Charleston, and this neighborhood has often been voted on as the best neighborhood in the South. The neighborhood has great restaurants (Lola’s), wine bars (Stems and Skins), and cute bookshops and shops.
While in the neighborhood, make sure to stop at Riverfront Park, too. Set on the banks of the Cooper River, it’s surrounded by graceful grand oak trees and peaceful river vistas. It’s famous for its 4th of July festival, but is a great spot to go sit for a spell in one of the swinging porch swings and watch the world go by.
10. Visit Magnolia Cemetery
If you’re looking for the ancient Southern cemetery with Spanish moss draping live oaks, then Magnolia Cemetery is the one you want to visit. It’s the oldest public cemetery in Charleston and is home to many prominent Southern politicians and families. This is an aesthetic pleasure if you enjoy old cemeteries.