With so many tour companies to choose from, museums and houses to pick; planning a trip to Charleston South Carolina can be very overwhelming. After years of trips to my favorite city and sharing the town with friends and family from out of town, I have collected my favorite tours, museums and historical places that will give you a great taste of the city's history and what it has to offer.
Palmetto Carriage Works - Now there are other providers but, this has been our go-to tour provider for years. If this is your first trip to Charleston, I highly recommend a carriage ride, especially during the hot summer as a break from walking. The tours are on a city lottery system, so each trip has a unique route, meaning you will always learn something new. A carriage ride is also a great way to cover a significant distance and history in only an hour.
GhostWalk - So I did one of these tours as a child and still terrified. If your group wants to do a ghost tour but you are like me and get scared easily, I suggest sitting this one out or going on a day tour.
Charleston Footprints Walking Tour - Seeing the city on foot gives you a chance to notice little gardens and details that you would have missed otherwise. I have never done a walking tour, but the tour guide of the Charleston Footprints tours is known to be the best, and for that reason, you will be to reserve your visit in advance!
Charleston Distilling Co. Tour - I spoke about the distillery in a blog post a couple summers ago but if you are interested in how some liquors are made and want to learn more about a truly local Charleston business this tour is for you.
Museums & Historic Buildings
Exchange and Provost Dungeons - With a history dating back to the Revolutionary War, pirates and remnants of the old walled city make this a must! Many people do not realize how vital Charleston was to not just Civil War history but Revolutionary War history as well. The Exchange building shares this piece of history plus the dungeons are creepy fun.
Nathaniel Russel House - There are at least a handful of historic houses to tour in the downtown area, but Nathaniel Russel house is my top pick if you only have time to visit one home. The house itself is beautiful, yet the connection of the old inhabitants had to Charleston, and Charleston's elite makes it a great place to start.
The Charleston Museum & Joseph Manigault House - America's First Museum, the Charleston museum doesn't just cover the history of Charleston but a variety of topics, with interactive exhibits for kids to (or adults) to try on hoop skirts and fashions of the past. When selecting a ticket, you can purchase a 1, 2 or 3 site ticket, which is a great deal, compared to buying tickets to the separate houses. If you are a time crunch, I would suggest at least doing the 2-site ticket option and going to the Joseph Manigault House across the street. Where you can learn about the different, the house has lived throughout the years.
Heyward-Washington House - This house is also connected to The Charleston Museum but because it is not near the other two and you can get a separate ticket I am giving it, its spot on the list. The house is filled with gorgeous Charleston antiques, and many outer buildings still intact. Also if you like visiting places George Washington has stayed, then you need to add it to your list!
Fort Sumter - Visit the place where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. There is about a 30-minute ferry ride to arrive at the fort, but as a kid that was my favorite part! Sometimes you can spot a couple of dolphins following behind. Then the fort itself is a mix of the original fort and a modern museum about the Battle of Fort Sumter and the Civil War.
Middleton Place Plantation - Middleton Place maybe one of my favorites due to the extensive gardens and farm, but the story of the home and the wing of the house that remains standing that you can tour is very intriguing. Also, they have an excellent little spot to eat lunch, which is great because it is a bit of a drive to get out there.
Have a favorite place or tour that did not make the list? Let me know and I would love to try it out! This list will be updated on occasion as well so make sure to Pin It!
Blessings from Hartsville,