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The 20 Best Things to do in Downtown Charleston, SC

Charleston Walking Tour

Downtown Charleston, SC, is a beautiful and historic area full of things to see and do. It is a great place to visit for a weekend or a more extended vacation. Downtown Charleston, SC, is famous for shopping, dining, and nightlife. There are many hotels, restaurants, shops, and parks to explore in downtown Charleston. There's something for everyone in Downtown Charleston from exploring the Charleston City Market to taking a carriage ride through the streets. In this article, we will share with you the 20 best things to do in Downtown Charleston, SC.

Visit South Carolina Aquarium

20. Visit South Carolina Aquarium

The South Carolina Aquarium is one of the top attractions in Downtown Charleston. It is home to thousands of marine animals, including sharks, stingrays, and sea turtles. And according to their website, visitors can learn about the ocean and its inhabitants through hands-on exhibits, educational shows, and behind-the-scenes tours. The aquarium also has a 4-D movie theatre and a gift shop. The over 5000 animals at the South Carolina Aquarium will amaze and inspire you.

Old South Haunted Walking Tour

19. Old South Haunted Walking Tour

Old South is one of the most famous haunted places in Charleston, SC. Many say that this is where the spirits of the Civil War still roam. You can take a walking tour and hear all about the hauntings that have been reported here. There are also some great shops and restaurants in the area. Be careful with your belongings, as some of the ghosts are known to be mischievous. You should also avoid walking alone at night, as the area can be pretty dangerous.

Palmetto Carriage Works

18. Palmetto Carriage Works

A horse-drawn carriage tour is one of the most popular things in Charleston, and Palmetto Carriage Works is the oldest and most prominent company in the city. According to their website, carriage tours depart from several locations throughout downtown, and you'll get to see some of the most historic and beautiful parts of the city. If you're looking for something a little different, Palmetto Carriage Works also offers walking and Segway tours. Whether you're a local or a visitor, a carriage tour is a great way to see Charleston.

RedFin Charters

17. RedFin Charters

Are you looking to get out on the water and fish while in Charleston? RedFin Charters is your best bet. They offer half-day, full-day, and even overnight fishing trips to get your fill of fresh seafood. They'll take you out to some of the best fishing spots and teach you everything you need to know about fishing. And, if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of some dolphins. If you are worried about a license, don't be. RedFin Charters will provide you with everything you need for a successful day of fishing. You will be able to relax and enjoy your time on the water while they take care of everything else.

Bulldog Tours

16. Bulldog Tours

If you're looking for a tour company that will show you all the best Charleston offers, look no further than Bulldog Tours. This company offers various tours, all of which are led by knowledgeable and experienced guides. Some of the most popular terms offered by Bulldog Tours include the Charleston Highlights Tour, the Ghosts and Gravestones Tour, and the Plantation Tour. No matter what your interests are, Bulldog Tours is sure to have a perfect tour for you. Be careful of other companies that try to imitate Bulldog Tours. They might look similar, but they don't offer the same quality or quantity of tours.


15. Henry's on the Market Bar and Restaurant

Open in 1932, Henry's on the Market Bar and Restaurant is a popular Charleston establishment. The restaurant is located in an old brick building on Market Street and serves American cuisine with a Southern twist. The menu features shrimp and grits, fried chicken, and burgers. Henry's also has a full bar with a wide selection of beer, wine, and cocktails. Additionally, the restaurant frequently has live music, so be sure to check their website or give them a call to see who's playing before you go.

Waterfront Park

14. Waterfront Park

The Waterfront Park is a ten-acre green space that is on Concord Street. It is one of the most beautiful parks in Charleston, with a stunning view of the Charleston harbor and skyline. According to, the park has a playground and walking paths and is a great place to relax or picnic. You will get to see some of the city's best views from here. The park also has a dog park to bring your furry friend along. That enables you to socialize while also getting some exercise in. It's an excellent activity for the whole family. One thing you should be careful about is the tides. The park is next to the water, and the wave can come in quickly. Be sure to check the tide schedule before you go.

Charleston Crab House

13. Charleston Crab House

If you're in the mood for some seafood, Charleston Crab House is the place to go. This local favorite serves up fresh crab, shrimp, and fish year-round. And no matter what you order, don't forget to enjoy a cold beer or sweet tea with your meal. The crab house also offers a great view of the Ashley River, making it the perfect place to enjoy a meal and watch the boats. You will taste the low country life when you dine here.

Haunted Jail Tour

12. Haunted Jail Tour

The Haunted Jail was opened in 1802 and was in operation until 1939. It was home to some of Charleston's most notorious criminals and was the site of many executions. Today, it is said to be one of the most haunted places in the city. Look no further than the Haunted Jail Tour if you're looking for a spooky activity. Learn about Charleston's dark past as you tour the old city jail and hear stories of ghosts that are said to haunt the premises still.

Hydrofly Watersports Charleston

11. Hydrofly Watersports Charleston

If you're looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity in Charleston, look no further than Hydrofly Watersports Charleston. Here, you can participate in flyboarding, which is essentially wakeboarding in the air. You'll be attached to a board connected to a hose, which propels you up into the air and allows you to perform some incredible tricks. It's an unforgettable experience and sure to get your heart racing. If you are worried about safety, don't be – you'll be fully kitted out with all the necessary safety gear and under the watchful eye of experienced instructors.

Calhoun Mansion

10. The Calhoun Mansion

The mansion is one of the most beautiful and historic homes in Charleston. Built-in 1876, the mansion is now a museum that you can tour. The home has many original features and is decorated with period furniture. According to their website, the place features a grand staircase, a music room, and a relaxing veranda. You will enjoy a piece of Charleston history when you visit the Calhoun Mansion. There is also a beautiful garden on the property that you can stroll through.

Pub and Brewery Tour

9. Pub and Brewery Tour

Charleston is a city that knows how to party, and there are few better ways to get a taste of the local nightlife than on a pub and brewery tour. Charleston has no shortage of great bars and breweries, and a pub crawl is a perfect way to hit up a few of them in one night. The Charleston Pub Crawl offers tours that take you to some of the best bars in the city, and they even give you a free pint at each stop. If you're looking to drink your way through Charleston, this tour is for you.

Charleston Harbor Cruise

8. Charleston Harbor Cruise

Tour the Charleston harbor and get a glimpse of the city from the water. These cruises are a great way to see the skyline and learn about the history of Charleston. Various companies offer harbor cruises, so shop around for the best deal. The cruise is a great activity for couples, families, and groups of friends. However, one thing to remember is that the harbor can be pretty crowded during the summer months, so it's best to book your tour in advance.

Historic Charleston City Market

7. Historic Charleston City Market

When it comes to Charleston attractions, the City Market is a must-see. This historic market dates back to the 18th century and today is one of the best places in the city to find local art, crafts, and souvenirs. The market is open daily and is located in the heart of downtown Charleston. You will be able to find a wide variety of items for sale at the City Market, including jewelry, paintings, wood carvings, and pottery. Several food vendors also sell Charleston specialties like sweetgrass baskets and shrimp and grits.

Poogan's Porch

6. Poogan's Porch

Looking for a classic Charleston dining experience, look no further than Poogan's Porch. According to their website, this restaurant is located in a historic Victorian home and serves up Southern comfort food. The menu features dishes like shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and buttermilk fried chicken. And don't forget to save room for dessert – the banana pudding is a must-try. You will experience Southern hospitality at its best when you dine at Poogan's Porch.

5. Gibbes Museum Of Art

The first art museum in Charleston, the Gibbes Museum of Art, is also one of the most impressive. The permanent collection contains over 10,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, and prints. The museum also has a strong focus on education, with various programs and events for both children and adults. The museum is housed in a circa 1905 Beaux Arts-style building in Charleston’s historic district. It is the oldest museum facility in the South The building itself is worth visiting, and the museum's collections are top-notch. If you're interested in art, the Gibbes Museum of Art is a must-see.


4. Saltwater Cycle Brewing

Brewery tours are always a good time, and Saltwater Cycle Brewing is no exception. This local favorite offers tours every Saturday, complete with tastings of their most popular brews. After the tour, please stick around and enjoy a pint or two in their taproom. Saltwater Cycle Brewing is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in downtown Charleston. You will experience some of the best beer in the Lowcountry and learn how it's made. Another thing, the tours are free – how can you beat that?

McLeod Plantation Historic Site

3. McLeod Plantation Historic Site

If you're interested in learning about African American history in the Lowcountry, a visit to McLeod Plantation is a must. This historic site was once a working plantation, and today, it's a museum that tells the story of the enslaved people who lived and worked here. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the grounds, including the plantation house, outbuildings, and a restored slave cabin. The plantation also offers guided tours led by historians and provides more in-depth information about the site's history.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

2. Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

There's no better way to get a lay of the land than crossing the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. According to Wikipedia, stretching over 3.7 miles and spanning 471 miles, this cable-stayed bridge spans the Cooper River and provides pedestrians, bikers, and drivers with sweeping views of Charleston's skyline and harbor. The bridge is also a hot spot for fishing, so don't be surprised if you see a few anglers casting their lines while you're crossing. When it comes to Charleston attractions, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is not missed.

Charleston Walking Tour

1. Charleston Walking Tour

There is no better way to see Charleston than by foot. This Charleston walking tour takes you through the historic district and lets you see some of the most critical landmarks up close. You'll learn about the city's history and feel its unique atmosphere. The tour lasts about two hours and is suitable for all ages. The walking tour is the perfect way to start your visit to Charleston. The tour is also a great way to see Charleston's most popular attractions, such as the Charleston Museum, the Confederate Museum, and Rainbow Row.


Those are just a few of the best things to do in downtown Charleston, SC. This vibrant city has something for everyone, whether you're interested in history, art, food, or just exploring. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Charleston today and experience all that this city offers.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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