The beautiful port city of Charleston is South Carolina state’s second largest city and has been rated as America’s No. 1 city for five consecutive years by Southern Living magazine and once you visit here, you will understand at why is that. According to 2018 census data, this city has a population of about 140.000 people. This picturesque city is not only beautiful, gentle, peaceful but also full of fun and lots of things to do from shopping, music, dining to history, culture, … So, what to do and how to visit Charleston? Let’s check out our Charleston travel blog (Charleston SC blog, Charleston SC travel blog, Charleston blog) with the fullest Charleston travel guide (Charleston SC guide, Charleston SC travel guide) to clear the answer!
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You can immerse yourself in the history and majestic beauty of the port city of Charleston. It attracts visitors from all over the world with spectacular views of the unique architectural church, charming cobblestone streets at Charleston Historic District. Moreover, if you love nature, the forests will give you a great sense of relaxation.
Only when you set foot in Charleston and feel with all your heart about a green, clean, beautiful, charming and peaceful city, you can unsderstand the reason why this city is so loved. From the skillfully manicured gardens at Middleton Place to the unbelievably beautiful views of Battery Quarter or French Quarter, or of Waterfront Park or a spooky excursion at night that leaves a lasting impression in memories of the people who came here.
Charleston travel guide (Charleston sc guide): Overview of charleston
Americans have passed on a joke: “10 years old wants to live in Palm Springs, 20 years old moves to Las Vegas, 30 years old must go to Chicago, 40 years old resides in New York, 50 years old thinks about Seattle, and over 60 years old ? – Charleston is the perfect choice.”
Charleston is one of the major cities in the United States with an outstanding economy. Moreover, Charleston is loved by the extremely developed tourism industry. With a long history and rich culture, it has become a solid foundation to help the city rise to the top of America. Every year, many tourists from all over the world come here to visit and relax.
Referring to developed cities, we often think of high-rise building or busy traffic system. However, coming to Charleston, you will be able to see a rare sight in history. The beauty of Charleston is bold classic with colorful houses lined up close together. In addition, the city also looks peaceful with no traffic congestion or air pollution. Because of this specialness that has brought a romantic Charleston that makes everyone want to live here.
Peaceful but not boring. Charleston city has a lot of food shops, restaurants serving a variety of Asian and European dishes, cafes, breweries, fresh fruit and vegetable markets … all of which are satisfied for needs of the people and tourists coming here.
Charleston SC guide: When to visit?
Charleston is characterized by a humid subtropical climate with mild, windy winters and oppressive, hot summers. Winter is not too cold with snow but very little, the average temperature of the year typically varies from 43°F to 89°F (6 – 33 degrees Celsius). Summer is quite cool compared to other states, average temperature is only about 30 degrees Celsius. However, summer is a time of frequent thunderstorms, so there will be many inconveniences. Spring and autumn are considered the best time to visit Charleston.
July is the hottest month of the year with an average temperature of about 32 – 33 degrees Celsius. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 6 degrees Celsius. Each season in Charleston has its own characteristic featuring via natural scenery and cultural and culinary activities. So, you can visit Charleston all year round.
Charleston is not as dull as many people think. In winter, you can try delicious grilled scallops are served with fine wine. In spring, jasmine and magnolia blossom are in full bloom, when families often have a party in the garden, watching the flowers, enjoying wine and singing happily. The summer has the international art program Spoleto, while the autumn marks with the music festival.
The Charleston Flower Festival in March every year is one of the most exciting spring events in America. This is the time when hundreds of flowers bloom, creating impressive scenes. Participating in the festival, visitors will admire the beauty of flowers such as azaleas, camellia, rose, jasmine, … Together with the chilly atmosphere and romantic scenery of spring, visitors will be experienced a wonderful land of America.
Charleston SC travel guide: How to get to Charleston?
From Vietnam, you can fly to Charleston with airlines such as Air China (Beijing and New York), Japan Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, ANA (Seoul – Atlanta), EVA Air and China Airlines (Taipei and New York) … Among them, United Airlines is the largest airline in the United States and is the most chosen by many people to book tickets, depending on each airline and the time that the fare will be different. The airfare to Charleston ranges from $516 to $602 depending on different ticket class.
Charleston blog: Transportation in Charleston
The main means of transportation in Charleston are bicycle, bus and taxi. To traveling to more distant locations you can choose the subway. Calling a car as well as getting around the city is very easy so you don’t need to worry. Besides, the traffic system is strict, well-planned, so there is no traffic jam. The tourist streets of the city are always clear and airy. However, if you use public transportation such as buses or subway, or water taxi but you have to walk to the attractions.
In addition, Uber, Lyft services are also very popular. This is a good way to traveling around the city and to get nearby places.
Charleston SC travel guide: Best places to visit and top things to do
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
The most special garden is The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Only about 20 miles from downtown Charleston, this place becomes a picnic spot for locals. The Magnolia was founded in 1676, opened to visitors in 1870 and is the oldest public garden in America.
You can admiring the gardens – bloom all year round at The Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – and see everything from camellias to azaleas. There is also an old plantation house, giving visitors a clearer picture of life in the 19th century. A tram ride tour will take you through wetlands, forests and marshes, where you can spot out crocodiles, gibbons, herons and turtles. This is the hottest garden in America.
Address: 3550 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414, United States
Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter National Monument is a civil war fort that has been preserved until now and has become a hot tourist destination. The fortress with its majestic beauty, strong standing in the middle of the sea, creates an impressive scene. Coming here, visitors will hear American historical stories and admire the ancient beauty. At the fortress, there is an American flag and statues of heroes who have sacrificed for the country. To get here you have to buy a boat ticket to reach the fort. Seeing the great wonder lying on the sea will definitely be a great experience in your trip.
Address: South Carolina 29412, United States
Hours: Open 24 hours
Joe Riley Waterfront Park
One of Charleston’s tourist hot spots is Waterfront Park. The 5-hectare park is located next to the Cooper River, bearing a romantic beauty. Waterfront Park is divided into many different areas, convenient for sightseeing. In the center of the park built a fountain overlooking the river, adding to the romance.
Address: Vendue Range, Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium is also a favorite spot in Charleston. It’s home to more than 10.000 different species that are cared for and preserved. Coming to the aquarium, you will be overwhelmed by the immense space with many species of sea creatures swimming behind the glass. If you travel with your kids, this is a must-visit place.
The South Carolina Aquarium regularly hosts exhibitions, so you can come and see. Not only that, this place also built a large-scale sea turtle care center. After being raised, turtles will be released to a local beach and they will be returned to the ocean.
Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
Opened: May 19, 2000
The best way to get a deeper understanding of a new destination is to take a walk around, and the city of Charleston has a tour for the hikers.
The Charleston Strolls – History Tours (Bulldog Tours) are the pieces of the puzzle that make up a fascinating city of Charleston. While walking in the sun, you will have the opportunity to take a closer look at the impressive architecture of this place. And more surprisingly, you will see beautiful alleys hidden behind rows of tall buildings, garden houses, churches and many ancient American places. If you don’t like walking, you can register for a bus tour or a horse cart tour…
Take a stroll through the Charleston City Market
On your first day in Charleston, you should wake up early and head to the city center to drop by Charleston City Market which was established in 1807 – a Charleston traditional market and one of the oldest public markets in the country.
It opens at 9:30 a.m. every day and spans three outdoor stalls, as well as a great hall. You will find all kinds of unique treasures here, from paintings and photographs, to textiles and clothing, to food and wine…
There are also plenty of breakfast options in and around the market, including Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, located inside the Great Hall, where you can enjoy homemade cookies, and more.
Address: 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
Hours: 9:30AM–6PM/Friday; Saturday: 9:30AM–10:30PM
After you’ve explored the City Market, it’s time to explore the city. And there’s no better way to do that than join a tour called the Bulldog Tour.
Named after the mascot of the city’s famous military university – The Citadel, Bulldog Tours has over 70 years of experience in providing tours for all tastes, whether you’re curious about the history of the city or any other things of the city.
Angel Oak Tree
The short drive to Angel Oak Tree, located on nearby John Island is definitely an experience not to be missed. This is one of the most popular attractions in Charleston. The unique and giant Angel Oak Tree is 1.500 years old oak tree and is believed to be one of the oldest living plants in the country.
Address: 3688 Angel Oak Rd, Johns Island, SC 29455, United States
Hours: 9AM–5PM/Sunday: 1–5PM
Explore Charleston on the water and enjoy a meal on the boat
Don’t like the roads? Rest assured, there are many ways to explore the city of Charleston on the water. Get on a boat to watch the sunset and dolphins or a romantic wine tasting cruise in the sunset. And if you like challenge and action, let kayaking off the shores of Shem Creek and you’ll see dolphins and sometimes whales.
Although the city is filled with great places to enjoy a meal, but many travelers enjoy the meal on the boat. SpiritLine Cruises offers a luxurious dining experience on a cruise, including a 2 and a half hour cruise, the meal includes three or four courses that prepared right on board using fresh local ingredients, a full bar, live music and wonderful sunset.
Relax at the beaches
The most interesting and impressive of all is paddling through creeks and swamps while breathing the sea-smelling air. There are great beaches in Charleston like the Isle of Palms, which are for family vacations. Located about 12 miles from the city center of Charleston, this island is nested between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal waterway, offering great views of the ocean as well as engaging experiences such as swimming, walking along the beach, kayaking, boating, … While Folly Beach is more laid-back for young single travelers.
As one of a destination of the city of Charleston that visitors cannot miss is Edisto Beach, an ideal place to hold a picnic and watch the sunset.
Charleston Tea Garden
The Charleston Tea plantation is located about 20 miles to the south of Charleston, South Carolina on the island of Wadmalaw. Owned by the Bigelow Tea Company, the company grows tea and sold under the brand names of American Classic Tea and the Charleston Tea Plantation from the Camellia Sinensis factory.
Address: 6617 Maybank Hwy, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487, United States
Hours: 10AM–4PM/Sunday: 12–4PM
Aiken-Rhett House Museum
Aiken – Rhett House was built in 1820 and almost unchanged since 1858 and turned into a museum later. This is the place where visitors can admire and explore ancient architecture, which have been preserved for hundreds of years, one of Charleston’s most stately mansion.
Address: 48 Elizabeth St, Charleston, SC 29403, United States
Charleston travel blog: Where to stay?
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- French Quarter Inn, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $255/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Belmond Charleston Place, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $329/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Harbourview Inn, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $219/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Andrew Pinckney Inn, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $102/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Town & Country Inn and Suites, a top rated 3-star hotel with room rates from $102/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Charleston SC guide: What and where to eat?
Going to the sea but not eat seafood is a pity. Moreover, the culinary culture in the city of Charleston today is overheating and Magnolias restaurant played a huge role in the city’s culinary renaissance, which has been going on over the past decade. The restaurant Magnolias showed Charleston’s culinary style was influenced by South Carolina’s coast natives, Georgians and British, French, and African immigrants. Try fried chicken and sausage sauce, Charleston crab cake and green tomatoes sautéed with caramelized onion powder.
Address: 185 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
Street food at Marion Square
Well don’t forget, every Saturday morning, lots of farmers, and food vendors will head to the beautiful Marion Square in Charleston Farmers Market (Address: 329 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403, United States). I love going there early when the stalls are just set up, with the aroma of coffee and culinary flavors spreading in the air.
All farm produce at the market must be grown in South Carolina; except banana! It’s great to wander, sip, and sample local’s favorite dishes like ice blended and jelly on toast. If you are traveling with your family, this market is also very interesting. And there are many stalls all over the place, and local craftsmen sell everything from jewelry to hats.
Charleston has also become a gourmet culinary paradise. FIG, one of the city’s most notable restaurants, was named one of America’s best restaurants in 2016 by Eater. The chef of this famous restaurant, Mike Lata, was also nominated the James Beard Award for Chef Excellence this year.
Address: 232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States
Hours: 5–10:30PM/Sunday: Closed
The north of the city also becomes a culinary venue. According to Travel + Leisure, the King Street is also famous for a variety of eateries, venues with fine cocktails and excellent hotels.
Going a little further to the north you will find a popular breakfast spot called Hominy Grill. Here you will find dishes with the traditional and signature flavors of Charleston such as tiger prawns, fried chicken and catfish.
Address: 207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403, United States
Texax BBQ is the famous barbecue dish in Charleston. For a delicious barbecue, the chef has marinated the necessary spices and grilled at high heat. When you eat, you will feel the aroma and richness of the meat. Along with the barbecue is grilled ribs that are also extremely attractive. You will be served with vegetables and sauces to make the meal more perfect and full.
You can try Texas BBQ at Lewis Barbecue (Address: 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403, United States/Hours: 11AM-9PM).
Apple pie is a familiar dish on the American dining table. Traveling here you should also enjoy this special cake for a new flavor. Round shape apple pie with eye-catching motifs will attract you at first sight. Plus, the cake has a mild aroma and a sweet taste that melting in your mouth.
Charleston SC travel guide: Shopping
If you come to Charleston and want to shopping, let go to King Street paradise, where there are many prominent fashion stores with all brands in the world. You can find everything you need without having to fly to New York to find.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Charleston you can refer to
- Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride
- Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour
- Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise
- Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport
- Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District
- Charleston: Historical Walking Tour
- Charleston: Speakeasy Sagas Prohibition Pub Crawl
- Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage
- Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise
- Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise
- Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise
Above is the fullest Charleston SC travel guide. We hope this guide will help you planning and have a wonderful trip to the coastal city and one of most beloved destinations in the US. Happy traveling!