Things to Do in North Charleston
Most visitors head to the Holy City to visit — well, the Holy City! But how many travelers make their way up to North Charleston? Technically, a lot. Since many of Charleston’s iconic plantations are located here. (Though visitors usually head straight for the plantations without stopping to enjoy the local eateries and scenery).
Do as the locals do and spend a little time checking out the things to do in North Charleston. It’s all the fun of Downtown, without the crowds!
How far is North Charleston from Charleston?
North Charleston isn’t a neighborhood in the city of Charleston; it’s a separate city from the Holy City. This area is where the Charleston International Airport is located, so it’s a great spot to visit on your way in or out of the city.
Getting to North Charleston from Downtown doesn’t take very long. By car, it’s about a 15-minute drive from Charleston City Hall to Charles Towne Square, a popular shopping mall in North Charleston.
You can also reach this area by hopping on the no. 10 bus (though this takes significantly longer, as the journey is about 90 minutes).
Is North Charleston Safe?
Yes! North Charleston attracts both locals and tourists. It’s home to some of the area’s most beloved attractions, including some of Charleston’s most popular plantations, the Fire Museum, and Riverfront Park.
That being said, you should always take caution when traveling to lesser-known areas. Be aware of your surroundings and take extra precautions after dark.
If you’re concerned about safety, we recommend sticking to the beaten path (popular, busy attractions). The attractions on this list all get plenty of traffic, so you should feel completely safe during the day.
9 Best Things to Do in North Charleston
There are dozens of attractions, activities, and events in North Charleston. But we know there’s not enough time to see it all. That’s why we’ve narrowed this list down to the eight best things to do in North Charleston.
These attractions offer insight into the city’s history while offering plenty of opportunities to get to know North Charleston as it is today.
Arguably a destination in itself is the Park Circle area of North Charleston.
One of our favorite things to do in North Charleston is exploring East Montague Ave, one of the main streets. This street extends from the circle and boasts trendy restaurants, nightlife, eclectic shops, and breweries. It’s definitely a neighborhood hangout with plenty of options for family-friendly outdoor activities and dining. We like to consult this interactive map of the area from EATER.COM when trying to choose where to eat: Best Restaurants in Park Circle
The Citadel isn’t in North Charleston proper — though it is on the way to the area’s second city.
This college campus is possibly one of the greatest unsung heroes of the Holy City. Officially called The Military College of South Carolina, it was established in 1842 (though its original location was in Marion Square in Downtown Charleston).
Today, 3,400 men and women are enrolled here each year.
The campus is one of the most scenic in the South. Every Friday, visitors can come and watch the weekly parade pass by.
If you’ve never been to Charleston (or even if you have), you’ll probably want to visit one of our historic plantations during your visit. If you’re dying to visit North Charleston, you’re in luck! Three of the most iconic Charleston plantations are located here: Magnolia Gardens, Middleton Place, and Drayton Hall.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Magnolia Plantation is one of the most visited plantations in Charleston. It’s not only known for its historic tours of the buildings and grounds, but it’s also one of the most popular botanical gardens in the state. It’s the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry and one of the oldest plantations still standing in the South.
Another one of Charleston’s historic plantations is Middleton Place. It’s also home to America’s largest landscaped garden.
Tour the buildings and gardens, and grab a bite to eat at the Middleton Place Restaurant. If you’re tired from your journey, you can even stay at the Inn at Middleton Place for the night!
Founded in 1738, Drayton Hall is the oldest preserved plantation house in America. It also happens to be the oldest example of Palladian architecture in the country.
Tour the buildings and take the self-guided tours of the land. The plantation also has exhibitions educating visitors on the history of the enslaved African Americans that worked the land here for more than 100 years.
North Charleston’s Riverfront Park was once the site of many high-end homes inhabited by local naval officers.
Another one of our favorite things to do in North Charleston is pay homage to the military personnel that lost their lives fighting for American freedoms at the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial. Enjoy a sunny afternoon under the shade of an oak tree or just take a few moments to watch the ships sail by.
North Charleston Fire Museum
One of the most overlooked attractions near Holy City, the North Charleston Fire Museum is one of the best things to do in North Charleston for families.
Kids can learn about the history of fire fighting, try on a flame-retardant suit, and even get a chance to ‘drive’ their own fire truck!
Audubon Swamp Garden
Located at Magnolia Plantation’s gardens, the Audobon Swamp Garden highlights some of the most beautiful species of wildlife in the Lowcountry.
Walk along the boardwalk through the swamp as you spy deer, turtles, herons, and even alligators!
Shopping enthusiasts head up to North Charleston to score deals on some brand-name and designer fashions at the Tanger Outlets. Get discounts at stores like Nike, Tory Burch, Coach, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
If you have a little time to spare in North Charleston, head a little further north to Summerville. This town’s claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of sweet tea, an iconic lowcountry drink!
These days, there are plenty of spots all over the South to enjoy a glass of this refreshing beverage. But if you’re a big fan of sweet tea, you’ll want to head up to Summerville to check out the Sweet Tea Trail.
Pose in front of the sweet tea mural, snap a photo of the world’s largest sweet tea, and sample some sweet tea for yourself.
Need a little help getting to this area of the Holy City? Want to find more things to do in North Charleston? Book a private tour! Our private tours will take you to neighborhoods in Charleston and beyond. We can shuttle you up to any (or all!) of the attractions on this list.