Top 10 Charleston Must-Sees

So far in my month of Charleston, we have covered great restaurants and the best places to shop on King Street. Now it's time to cover the best tourist attractions… Inevitably, that's what this list is. Granted they are tourist attractions that I think you will enjoy, but they are also the things that draw people to Charleston. For this list, I tried to stay within the city limits despite how many sights can be found within a short drive of this fantastic location; this should tire you out without being too much of a strain on drivers (by forcing them to find parking, navigate traffic, etc…)

Photo credit: ElCapitan via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Let's begin with the Battery.

Snaking along the coast of Charleston at the meeting place of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, this seawall begins at the site of the former Omar Shrine Temple (40-44 East Bay Street) and continues to the intersection of what is now Murray Boulevard and King Street (Wikipedia). The highest part of the battery is home to some of the wealthiest in Charleston and features beautiful antebellum houses for you to admire as you walk alongside the Charleston Harbor.

Photo credit: david_shankbone via / CC BY
Next up: Rainbow Row which is equally, if not more well-known than the Battery. The Georgian row houses are located north of Tradd St. and south of Elliot St. on East Bay Street (79 to 107 East Bay Street) and are named due to their bright colors. Originally the houses faced the Cooper Riverfront, but in time, the land was filled in. The series of house went through a restoration process in the 1930s that wasn't complete until the mid 1940s. Owner Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge purchased six of these homes and, during the restoration process, chose to paint the houses she owned pink in a Caribbean colonial color scheme. Other owners in the houses nearby followed suit leading to the rainbow of colors the homes in this area of Charleston are painted in today. (Wikipedia)

Photo credit: Rennett Stowe via VisualHunt / CC BY
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, a cable bridge connecting Mount Pleasant (and the Isle of Palms beach) to downtown Charleston would be a hard sight to miss during a visit to Charleston. Built in 2005 to replace two older obsolete cantilever truss bridges, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge was designed by Parsons Brinckerhoff with a main span of 1,546 feet (471 m) and 8 lanes of traffic! It offers a place for walkers and bikers and has some of the highest standards with regards to bridge failure, being able to withstand an earthquake of up to 7.4 on the richter magnitude scale, wind gusts up to 300mph, and, provides one acre of underground rock islands, for ships that run off course. (Wikipedia)

Photo credit: denisbin via Visualhunt / CC BY-ND
When choosing colleges, the College of Charleston was one of my top choices after I graduated high school, due to the immaculate and beautiful campus grounds. Founded in 1770, the campus contains 11 residence halls, 19 historic homes, five fraternity houses and nine sorority houses using a mix of both historic and modern buildings. The key thing to note, though, is that in 2014, it was ranked as one of the top 10 best landscaped colleges on the east coast (Wikipedia). The campus has been used in numerous movies (The Patriot, The Notebook) and even a few tv shows (General Hospital, The View). Without a doubt, the College of Charleston campus is one of the prettiest in the southeast and definitely worthy of meandering. :)

Photo credit: Atelier Teee</a> via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND
If you have the time to do so, check out the Dock Street Theatre and see a show. And if you don't have time to see a show, at least drive or walk by it's current location and see the beautiful 1809 hotel turned theatre at 135 Church Street. Even though the hotel itself was set for demolition shortly after the civil war, "Milton Pearlstine made the property available to the City of Charleston and at the urging of Mayor Burnet Maybank and other notable citizens, the original building became a Depression Era WPA (Works Progress Administration) project" (Wikipedia). Thus, the hotel was molded into a theatre with the courtyard becoming the auditorium and the hotel's dining room becoming the box office lobby. With over 120 performances each season and the various school performances offered by Charleston Stage every year, the theatre is entered by more than 40,000 patrons each year!

Photo credit: AnubisAbyss via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Ok, so here is where I deviated a bit from the city, but … you have to see the Angel Oak in Angel Oak Park on John's Island! Estimated to be over 500 years old, the tree is 66.5 ft (20 m) tall, measures 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square ft (Wikipedia). You should try getting that in the frame of your camera! It's hard even with the widest of lenses! … But beautiful. Even on a hot day. :)

Photo credit: martin.jessica via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND
Immediately following the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, you will find the USS Yorktown & Patriots Point on Mount Pleasant. The former, an Essex-class aircraft carrier built during World War II for the United States Navy provides the opportunity to go inside and discover what a US Navy aircraft carrier looks like. Be warned, however! It gets extremely hot and stuffy inside without air conditioning during the summer! Patriots Point offers a naval and maritime museum, access to a submarine, a great vantage point for 4th of July fireworks, and easy-access to one of the Charleston marinas.

Photo credit: samwithans via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC
"Bounded by the Cooper River on the east, Broad Street on the south, Meeting Street on the west, and Market Street on the north," Philadelphia Alley finds it's home in the French Quarter neighborhood of Charleston in a one-block stretch nestled between Church Street and State Street (Scares & Haunts of Charleston). The French Quarter area received it's title in 1973 "when preservation efforts began for warehouse buildings on the Lodge Alley block" recognizing the high number of French merchants the neighborhood used to hold (Wikipedia). Philadelphia Avenue, however, was named in memory of "the aid received by the city of Philadelphia in the wake of a fire in 1810" (S&H of Charleston). As you will learn if you ever dare to take a ghost tour or a hidden alleys tour, the alley is also known as "dueler's alley" wherein an infamous duel that cost a young man his life occurred. People say you can still hear his whistles on the street when you pass by. ;)

Photo credit: Carey 1964 via / CC BY-NC-SA
Used during the American Civil War, Fort Sumter can be accessed by private boat or a 30-minute ferry ride for a nominal cost. It was built in 1829 and was the location of the first shots fired during the Civil War. Southern troops fired on the fort when Lincoln refused to remove soldiers from the fort. Over the next two years, the fort faced almost constant "bombardment from July 1863 to February 1865" largely reducing the fort to rubble (Britannica). Now, the monument provides history about the war, and "is home to a premier collection of 19th century seacoast artillery, one of the best found anywhere in the United States" (Dream Charleston). The grounds provide ample opportunity to learn more about US history and see what a fort from the 1800s looked like.

Photo credit: Go Green Charleston via / CC BY-NC
A green space in downtown Charleston spanning six and one-half acres, Marion Square "is bounded by Calhoun (south), Meeting (east), Tobacco (a pedestrian only right-of-way that lies between the square and properties to the north) and King (west) Streets" (Wikipedia). The area is jointly owned by the Washington Light Infantry and the Sumter Guards whose objections kept the property from being paved over as a parking lot or turned into a shopping center. The square is home to many of the cities festivals (like Spoleto and the Food and Wine Festival) as well as a location for the yearly Christmas tree.

So, there you have it! Ten must-sees in Charleston! Especially if you are a first time visitor! :)

If you've been to Charleston before, do you think there is anything major that I've left out? If you haven't been, is there anything there that's now on your bucket list?


  1. I have travelled through many States, but never made it to Charleston, seems to be a nice city !

    1. It's a beautiful city! There's so much to do there! I definitely recommend it if you ever make it to the South Carolina coast! :)

  2. This is quite the list. If I ever get out that way, I'll have to consult this list again.

  3. There are a lot of nice places to visit in Charleston. I like all the color and the twisty trees.

    1. Charleston is so colorful! And the old trees definitely make for beautiful scenery! (I didn't even talk about the beaches in this post!)

  4. Charleston, how quickly you won me over with these pictures! <3

  5. Charleston looks like a gorgeous place indeed and I wouldn't mind attending college there either - such a pretty campus!

  6. I would love to go to Charleston - it looks beautiful! I really like the bridge in particular - going cycling on there would be amazing. Thanks for linking to #citytripping

    1. Yes, I do think you would like biking over it! It is truly a long bridge with beautiful views of the water and city! Go during sunrise for a particularly awesome view! :)

  7. Beautiful shots! So much beauty to be found :) I've really loved learning about this city through your posts so thank you so much for sharing them. So glad you are linking up with us! :D

    1. Glad you've enjoyed learning about Charleston! I feel like there is so much to do and see there! You can almost never get bored! :)

  8. Charleston is definitely on my travel bucket list!
    LOVE the rainbow row! Looks like the vibrant cousin of San Francisco's Steiner Street (look it up if the name doesn't ring a bell, you'll recognize it from a TV show)
    How have you been?

    1. I'll have to look it up. Is Full House the tv show you are talking about?

      I've been doing well. Vacation at the end of May, working during the week, and trying to get ahead on the blog for the ~3 weeks I will be busy during July. You?

    2. Yeah, Full House! I was surprised when I found out that this street really existed. We went there a couple of years ago.

      I've been busy, too. Not in favor of the blog, though. Only thing I've been working on are the writing and one photo challenge.

    3. My husband has a friend that lives in SF, so I'm hoping to make it there one day. If I go, I'll definitely check out that street. :)

      What have you been doing not-blog? If the post I read yesterday is any indication, it sounds like Colin's been filling your free time! Woot emergency dentist visits and hard conversations! :-/


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