Charleston’s Most “Instagramable” Historic Sites
January 2, 2019
One of the main draws of the Holy City is its Instagramable sites. We feel sorry for the traveler who forgets a camera on a trip to South Carolina. Yet behind some of the most famous photo ops are even more intriguing stories of Charleston’s history. From pirates to plantations to the Civil War, Charleston’s history is alive in every corner of the city.
Yes, Rainbow Row is where everyone and their mamas are headed for photos. Not only are the buildings beautiful, but they’re colorful to boot. You can take photos of the gorgeous architecture or simply enjoy a few selfies in front of a colorful wall or two.
The history of Rainbow Rowis quite interesting — especially when you take into account that the houses didn’t get their candy-colored hues until the 1930s. We can thank former resident Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge for the colors and several of the houses’ makeovers. It’s where some of Charleston’s elite lived — and still live today.
It doesn’t get more picturesque than when you’re standing in the middle of the harbor. Fort Sumter is an island in Charleston’s harbor that you can only reach by ferry. You’ll get great views of the Ravenel Bridge, Downtown Charleston and Patriots Point.
The fort also holds plenty of Charleston history. Built to defend Charleston from attack in 1829, it’s where the Civil War officially began. Many battles were fought here, thanks to its important location in Charleston. Today Fort Sumter is run by the National Parks Department.
Ahh, Magnolia Plantation. It’s the epitome of southern class. There are so many photographic spots on the grounds that you probably won’t put your camera down. Not only is the house itself spectacular, but you can also explore acres of gardens on the property. You’ll encounter quaint bridges, ponds, majestic trees and glorious statues.
Originally a rice plantation, Magnolia Plantation was built by Thomas and Ann Drayton. The gardens were developed by Reverend John Grimke-Drayton.
Charleston’s plantation history dates back to the 1600s. Many plantations in South Carolina cultivated rice, sugar cane and tea. The plantations were run primarily through slave labor and indentured servants.
Magnolia offers insight into this period in U.S. history, the economy and life in the slave quarters. (While Magnolia is a great place for photos, the plantation asks that guests respect the gravity of the slave quarters and refrain from selfies.)
Charleston’s pineapple fountain is possibly one of the most photographed sites in the city. Though it wasn’t created until the 1990s, it represents Charleston’s long history of hospitality. It’s the perfect place to cool your feet on a hot summer’s day. Not only can you get some impressive selfies here, but you can also get some spectacular shots of the fountain itself.
Charleston’s history is directly tied to its waterfront. Plantations were major industries in the area, and it was important to the economy to inexpensively ship goods to other areas of the U.S. It’s also where many of the first Europeans landed when they arrived in Charleston, and it played a major role in the Slave Triangle.
The Wentworth Mansion is one of the poshest hotels in Charleston. It contains 21 rooms of gilded architecture, Tiffany stained glass and Italian crystal. If you’re staying here on your trip to Charleston, you’re in for a treat. If you’re not staying here, you can still enjoy the spectacular architecture from the outside and the lush furnishings in the lobby.
Built by Francis Silas Rodgers with the help of architect Daniel G. Waynes, this home is a testament to the old money of the late 1800s. The mansion was finished in 1886 and was home to the Rodgers (cotton heirs) until the 1920s.
If hidden architectural history is more your thing, you’ll find plenty of it on our Hidden Alleys and Passagewayswalk.
You won’t get better photos than at one of Charleston’s 20-plus rooftop bars and restaurants. Head here when the sun is setting for spectacular photos; stay late into the evening for even more great shots of the night sky.
Located in a historic building, Henry’s Restaurant, Bar & Nightclub has been around since 1932.
Pitt Street Bridge
If you head across the harbor to Sullivan’s Island, you’ll find one of the prettiest brides in Charleston, the Pitt Street Bridge. You’ll find plenty of people out here taking selfies.
The bridge was originally built in 1898 and operated as a trolley bridge. It was widened when car travel became more popular than trolley travel. It finally closed in 1927. Pickett Park is the modern incarnation of the Pitt Street Bridge and offers beautiful views of Sullivan’s Island and Mount Pleasant.
You can’t forget about Charleston’s many beaches! Folly Beach is one of the most famous here, and Sunset Cay is the place to be — you guessed it — at sunset.
Folly Beach’s history is as complicated as the rest of Charleston’s. Its shores were once wandered by pirates and soldiers alike. It was also home to the Native American Bohicket tribe and survivors of an 1832 shipwreck.
Don’t leave your camera back at the hotel while visiting any other Charleston sites, either. This city has so much hidden history and beauty, you don’t want to forgo capturing even a moment on camera. Should you need more photographic inspiration, you might consider joining us on a walk of Charleston’s Most Beautifulsites.