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What Is Charleston Known For?

What is Charleston known for? When it comes to fun, we’ve got it all, including history, romance, drama, and food. Check out our definitive list of all the best activities that make the Holy City one of the best in the continental U.S.  

1. History

If you love history, you’ll love Charleston, SC. Established in 1670, the Holy City (as it was dubbed thanks to its over 400 churches) is chock-full of historic buildings, monuments, and museums.

Just some of our favorite historic activities and sites include:

  • Historic Tours of Downtown 
  • Plantation Tours
  • Old Slave Mart Museum
  • Patriots Point
  • Historic Market

One of the most popular activities is walking tours. Our historic downtown area is home to famous homes, cobblestone streets, and plenty of stories. Of course, you won’t discover them all unless you have a guide to show you around. 

We recommend checking out our Charleston History Walking Tour if you want a broad overview of the history of the city.

2. Southern Cuisine

Plenty of visitors head down South for our world-famous cuisine. And we can’t blame them, either. From fried chicken to okra and grits, we’ve got it all in Charleston. Just some of our favorite iconic Charleston foods include:

  • She-crab soup
  • Boiled peanuts
  • Cornbread
  • Shrimp and grits
  • Frogmore stew (no frogs included)
  • Planters punch
  • Hushpuppies 

Yes, much of our food on this list is fried… but who cares? Vacation calories don’t count. But if you’re worried about your cholesterol, we recommend stopping by one of the restaurants on our seafood guide

3. Romantic Settings

Charleston was voted one of America’s most romantic cities by both U.S. Magazine, CNN Travel, and Travel and Leisure! We can’t say we’re surprised, either. Some of the most romantic spots and activities in the city include:

  • Courtyard restaurants
  • Sunset boat rides
  • Rooftop bars
  • Walks along the beach
  • Luxury spas
  • Carriage rides through historic Downtown

If you need any help coming up with romantic activities while you’re here, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re more than happy to curate a private experience for two

4. Miles of Sandy Beaches

One of the city’s biggest draws isn’t in the city proper at all. Charleston’s miles and miles of sandy beaches attract thousands of visitors each year. Some of our favorite beaches located right in the city include:

Folly Beach: one of Charleston’s most popular beaches, featuring shopping, a 1,000-foot pier, and plenty of restaurants.

Isle of Palms: located on a barrier island with plenty of picnic areas and close to dozens of restaurants. 

Kiawah Island: one of the fanciest beaches in Charleston, Kiawah is owned by a hotel and golf resort. The nearby public beach is Beachwalker County Park (in case you’re not feeling so fancy). 

Sullivan’s Island: possibly the most popular of all the local beaches, Sullivans Island is popular with water sports enthusiasts and fishers alike. 

Seabrook Island: known for its activities, including golfing, tennis, and horseback riding. Also a great spot for backwater fishing. 

5. Outdoorsy Activities

Most visitors head to Charleston because of its moderate climate. We get mild winters and comfortable springs and autumns. The only time the weather gets a little intense is in the summer; luckily, there are plenty of ways to beat the heat in Charleston in June, July, and August!

Some of the most popular activities in the city (and nearby) include the ones that entertain al fresco, including:

  • Boat rides (kayak, ferry, and sailboat)
  • Beaches
  • Wildlife gazing (in the wild or at the South Carolina Aquarium)
  • Walking tours
  • Outdoor eateries
  • Sports
  • Horseback riding
  • Patriots Point and Fort Sumter 
  • Fort Moultrie
  • Angel Oak Tree
  • Waterfront Park (featuring the famous pineapple fountain)

6. Easy Day Trips

We happen to think Charleston is the best city in the South (yes, we’re 100% biased). But that doesn’t mean we don’t think you should give the other nearby cities a try, too. Luckily, we’re pretty close to some of the other jewels of the South, including:

  • Savannah
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Hilton Head
  • Beaufort

In addition to the above destinations, we’re less than a five-hour drive from a few destinations where we’d recommend spending the night, including Asheville, NC, and Macon, GA.

7. Stunning Architecture

Yes, Charleston is stunning. But what makes it stunning? Our glorious architecture. Our city is home to over 2,500 historic buildings — and that’s just Downtown alone! 

Some of the architectural styles you’ll see in Charleston include Art Deco, Classical Revival, Colonial, Federal, Georgian, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Victorian. Famous buildings you can’t visit without paying a visit to include:

  • Rainbow Row
  • Pink House
  • Poogan’s Porch Restaurant
  • The Huguenot Church
  • Wentworth Mansion
  • Riviera Theatre
  • Dock Street Theatre
  • Magnolia Plantation
  • Aiken-Rhett House Museum

Rainbow Row is a stop on our popular Downtown Charleston Walking Tour. But did you know you can see even more architecture on our Alleys and Hidden Passages Tour? You’ll learn the history of some of Charleston’s most famous sites — and the hidden alleyways that are tucked behind our most historic structures!

8. Beautiful Sunsets

Charleston is right on the water. That means it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a rooftop bar or restaurant — with a cocktail and appetizer in hand. You’ll get a great view of the Ashley or Cooper Rivers (and possibly even a view of the Ravenel Bridge). 

The outdoor hotspots that made our list include:

  • Aqua Terrace Roof-Top Bar
  • Pavilion Bar
  • The Citrus Club
  • Stars Rooftop Bar & Grill 
  • Eleve Rooftop Restaurant & Lounge
  • Rooftop at the Vendue
  • Snapper Jacks
  • Uptown Social
  • Pour Taproom
  • Red’s Ice House
  • The Cocktail Club
  • Henry’s Bar & Restaurant
  • Carolina Ale House


9. (Practically) Year-Round Boat Rides

Yes, Charleston’s climate is mild, pretty much year-round. That’s why we head out to the rivers to watch the boats float by during their annual December holiday parade. It’s why we can get out on the water with our sweeties on Valentine’s Day. 

The good news is that there’s no one way to get out on the water in Charleston. We’ve got boat rides for every personality type. Whether you’re sporty or just need some rest and relaxation, we’ve got you covered. Our favorite Charleston boat rides include:


  • Charleston Harbor Tours
  • Nature Adventures Kayaking
  • Coastal Expeditions
  • Spiritline Cruises
  • Schooner Pride
  • Charleston Water Taxi


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