Charleston is one of my favorite cities in the Southeast United States! The antebellum architecture, coastal waterways, fantastic food, and beaches make this city a perfect vacation destination.
Charleston is also one of the Best Budget Destinations In The U.S.
When you visit Charleston, I urge you to educate yourself about the history of slavery in the U.S. Many of Charleston’s plantations, statues, and historic landmarks are dedicated to raising awareness about racism. So don’t ignore this history; learn from it.
Here’s the Ultimate Charleston, South Carolina travel guide!
Walking tour of the city that includes the French Quarter and Rainbow Row, Broad Street, Waterfront Park, and King Street
Walk along The Battery and marvel at the mansions facing Charleston Harbor
Visit the Aiken-Rhett House Museum
See Angel Oak Tree, the largest living oak tree east of the Mississippi River
Craft Brewery Tour
Browse the Charleston City Market
Tour Fort Sumter National Monument
The Nathaniel Russell House Museum
Visit Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens
Lounge on a beach in Isle of Palms County Park
When To Go
I list Charleston as one of the Best Destinations To Visit In April because I think Spring is the perfect season to visit. Temperatures will be pleasant in the 60s in March and 80s in May, but the humidity won’t be sweltering yet. Tourist numbers and prices will be on the rise, but still less than in the summer months. Best of all, the magnolia trees will be blooming, and the Charleston Food + Wine Festival is held in March.
Like most places in the Southeast U.S., Charleston is hot and humid from June – August. So bring your hat and sunscreen, and always have water with you. The city has its highest prices and crowds of the year during these months, so you’ll want to book accommodation and tours in advance. August is the rainiest month of the year, so make sure you have rain gear and remember that rain in the Southeast in August doesn’t make it cooler; it makes it more humid.
Fall, like Spring in Charleston, brings pleasant weather in the 70s and significantly less humidity than in the summer months. If you’re a foodie, then Autumn is the time to visit. Charleston Restaurant Week is in September, and Taste of Charleston is in October. This is the shoulder season, so crowds and prices will be lower than in the summer, though the city can still be crowded on the weekends.
December – February is also a great time to visit. Temperatures usually don’t go below 50 in the day and 40 at night. The Holiday Festival of Lights happens in December, and the Lowcountry Oyster Festival is in January. As long as you avoid the holidays, Charleston is a very affordable destination during these months.
Where To Eat
For Burgers: Poe’s Tavern, Husk, The Watch Rooftop Kitchen and Spirits
Brunch Places: The Macintosh, Chez Nous, The Obstinate Daughter
Seafood: Delaney Oyster House, The Darling Oyster Bar, Charleston Crab House
Rooftop Dining: The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue, Aqua Terrace Roof-Top Bar, Pavilion Bar
Where To Stay
My favorite Charleston hotels are the Hotel Bennett, French Quarter Inn, and 20 South Battery bed and breakfast. If you want to stay on the beach, I recommend Wild Dunes Resort on Isle of Palms.
If you want to camp or bring your RV, I suggest the Campground at James Island County Park. Charleston also has some fantastic Airbnbs to choose from.
Best Day Trips
Kiawah Island. This is a golf and spa paradise. You can golf and then go to the spa, your group can split up and golf and be pampered, or you can just do one or the other all day. Plus, Kiawah Island has some great beaches.
Savannah. I highly recommend visiting Savannah, Georgia as its own trip. But it can easily be visited as a day trip from Charleston. Highlights of Savannah are Forsyth Park, Old Savannah Trolley Tours, City Market, and Wormsloe Historic Site.
Paddling Trip with Coastal Expeditions. Coastal Expeditions is a tour company that leads guided kayak and canoe tours of The Kiawah River, St. Phillips Island, Shem Creek, Isle of Palms, Bulls Island, and Blackwater. This is a great way to explore the Lowcountry, and you’ll have some great wildlife viewing.
Best Viewpoints Of The City
A boat tour in Charleston Harbor
The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue
Folly Beach Pier
The Ravenel Bridge
Harbor Walk/Aquarium Wharf
Visit Middleton Place
Stroll through the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
The Charleston Museum
Lounge on Folly Beach
South Carolina Aquarium
Explore Sullivan’s Island
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Recommended Tours for Charleston
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This post is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this Charleston, South Carolina travel guide are entirely my own. Some of these links are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.