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Charleston

52 expert recommended attractions

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Nathaniel Russell House

Charlestowne 95 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

On lower Meeting Street, the circa-1808 Nathaniel Russell House has the most impressive curved staircase I’ve ever seen. — Travel + Leisure

Set amid spacious gardens, the Russell House is widely recognized as one of America’s most important Neoclassical dwellings — Where

The excellent guided tours provide context not only about the Russell family, but also the enslaved African Americans. — Frommer's

This beautiful Neoclassical house, built in 1809, is maybe the best historic home open for tours in a city dripping with history. — Afar Magazine

The 1808 Federal-style house is noted especially for its spectacular, self-supporting spiral staircase and lush English gardens. — Lonely Planet

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

Charleston 94 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The house is filled with museum-quality Early American furniture, porcelain, quilts, and other Drayton family heirlooms. — Frommer's

This popular, partly wild botanical garden (200ha) is renowned for its spring-blooming azaleas, and a plantation house, Magnolia Plantation, that was part of Thomas Drayton's estate in the 17C. — Michelin Guide

Beautiful! Petting zoo... house tours, swamp tours, boat tours, bus tours. — Afar Magazine

Pick and choose from a variety of entertainments at Magnolia Plantation, established in the 1670s by Thomas Drayton. — Fodor's

Tour a pre-Revolutionary War Plantation House and experience ten rooms filled with antiques, quilts and family heirlooms from the 19th century — Where

Aiken-Rhett House

Charleston 92 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Built as a Federal-style brick single house in 1817, the home was purchased by the Aiken family who remodeled and expanded it during their residence. — Michelin Guide

It’s mostly unfurnished, letting your imagination take over when you walk through the tall-ceilinged rooms. Remnants include a standing harp, family portraits, and a gray-painted drawing room. — Travel + Leisure

One of Charleston's most stately mansions, built in 1820 and virtually unaltered since 1858. — Fodor's

The property still looks as it did in 1858, before the outbreak of the Civil War. — Frommer's

The Aiken-Rhett House is unique among downtown properties in that the whole grounds are preserved, including the former slave quarters and work yard. — Afar Magazine

South Carolina Aquarium

Charleston 94 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Overlooking the Cooper River and Charleston Harbor, the aquarium houses 10,000 creatures representing some 500 species — Michelin Guide

Jutting into the Charleston Harbor for 2,000 feet, the focal point is the two-story Great Ocean Tank. — Frommer's

More than 10,000 types of low-country critters, including loggerhead turtles the size of a car, pythons, alligators, and sharks, call this huge aquarium home. — Concierge

Sharks, sea turtles, wading birds, otters, and seahorses are some of the stars of the conservation-focused displays. — Travel + Leisure

Get up close to an albino alligator, several shark species, sea turtles and river otters at Charleston’s best family attraction — Where

Middleton Place

Charleston 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This former plantation is home to America's oldest landscaped gardens, begun in 1741 by Henry Middleton. — Fodor's

Middleton Place exists because of slavery—that's a stark reality that's not ignored by the exhibits throughout the sprawling plantation. — Afar Magazine

This 1741 historic plantation has an exquisite formal garden. — Travel + Leisure

Most of the property was destroyed in the Civil War and the earthquake of 1886. What remains is still incredibly beautiful. — Frommer's

This carefully preserved, 18th-century plantation and National Historic Landmark features 65 acres of America’s oldest landscaped gardens — Where

Fort Sumter National Monument

Charleston 91 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

This man-made island at the entrance to Charleston Harbor saw the first shots of the Civil War in 1861. — Michelin Guide

Set on a man-made island in Charleston's harbor, this is the hallowed spot where the Civil War began. — Fodor's

It was here on April 12, 1861, that Confederate forces launched a 34-hour bombardment that started the Civil War, aka the “War Between the States.” — Frommer's

No visit to Charleston is complete without a tour of this famous fort, where Confederate soldiers fired the first shot of the Civil War on April 12, 1861. — Concierge

The first shots of the Civil War rang out at Fort Sumter, on a pentagon-shaped island in the harbor. — Lonely Planet

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Joseph Manigault House

Charleston 85 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Built in 1803, this home is a premier example of Adam-style, or Federal, architecture. — Where

This elegant red-brick mansion was built in 1803 for wealthy rice planter Joseph Manigault (a descendant of French Huguenots). — Frommer's

The three-story house was once the showpiece of a French Huguenot rice planter. — Lonely Planet

Typical of the Adam style of architecture, the house incorporates a variety of shapes and delicately carved woodwork in addition to its fine period furnishings. — Michelin Guide

The National Historic Landmark reflects the urban lifestyle of a well-to-do rice-planting family and the African Americans they enslaved. — Fodor's

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Drayton Hall

Charleston 90 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Framed by majestic live oaks, the Georgian-Palladian house and its hand-carved woodwork and plasterwork represent New World craftsmanship at its finest. — Frommer's

Oldest unrestored plantation house in America that is open to the public.  — Atlas Obscura

A 1742 plantation on the Ashley River run by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. — Travel + Leisure

This 1738 Palladian brick mansion was the only plantation house on the Ashley River to survive the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and the great earthquake of 1886. — Lonely Planet

The only plantation house on the Ashley River to survive the Revolutionary and Civil Wars intact, Drayton Hall was occupied by seven generations of the Drayton family. — Michelin Guide

Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon

Charleston 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Kids love this dungeon, built in 1771 as a customs house and later used as a prison for pirates. Costumed guides lead tours. — Lonely Planet

The site of many historic events, including the state's ratification of the Constitution in 1788 and two grand celebrations hosted for George Washington. — Fodor's

During the Revolutionary War, American patriots were held prisoner in the Provost Dungeon, which now provides an eerie tour through history — Where

The main floor contains exhibits on the history of the town... while the top floor is home to the Great Hall and Isaac Hayne Room. — Frommer's

Built by the British in 1771 as an Exchange and Customs House, this Palladian-style building was where South Carolina Patriots ratified the US Constitution in 1788 — Michelin Guide

Charleston Museum

Charleston 83 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Claims to be the country's oldest museum, with exhibits from various periods of Charleston's long and storied history. — Lonely Planet

If you are a fan of trinkets and ephemera, you'll have a blast at the Charleston Museum—America's very first museum, founded in 1773 — Afar Magazine

Across the street from the visitor center, America's first museum was founded in 1773. — Michelin Guide

Permanent galleries include the Lowcountry History Hall... charting the struggles of the first African American slaves and European settlers. — Frommer's

To the delight of fans of Antiques Roadshow, the collection is especially strong in South Carolina decorative arts, from silver to snuffboxes. — Fodor's

Edmondston-Alston House

Charlestowne 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

In 1825, Charles Edmondston built this house in the Federal style on Charleston's High Battery. — Fodor's

Stop in for this annual Charleston tradition — Where

The house has remained in the Alston family, who open the first two floors to visitors (on guided tours only). — Frommer's

Tour of the manse, with its triple-storied piazza supported by Doric and Corinthian columns, depicts the life of Charleston's 19C elite. The second-floor library contains more than 1,000 rare volumes. — Michelin Guide

The Greek Revival Edmondston-Alston House, which is open for public tours throughout the year. — Travel + Leisure

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Gibbes Museum of Art

Downtown 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Charleston’s premier art gallery hosts seven temporary exhibitions each year. — Frommer's

If you’re there during the week, stop by on a Wednesday night, when you can hear lectures and watch film screenings on the ground level. — goop

The most interesting way to visit is in conjunction with a two-hour walking tour. — Lonely Planet

The Gibbes isn't just Charleston's oldest art museum: it's one of the oldest art museums in the country, with a history that stretches back to the 1850s. — Afar Magazine

Recently renovated, The Gibbes houses a premier collection of fine art—principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection. — Where

Old Slave Mart Museum

French Quarter 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

An intelligent museum in a former slave-trade sales room. — Travel + Leisure

This is thought to be the state's only existing building that was used for slave auctioning, a practice that ended here in 1863. — Fodor's

South Carolina's last remaining slavery auction house is now a museum devoted to its own tragic history.  — Atlas Obscura

African men, women and children were once auctioned off here, now a museum of South Carolina's shameful past. — Lonely Planet

Rare recordings of ex-slaves are preserved inside, along with a permanent exhibit, “Triumph over Slavery.” — Frommer's

Boone Hall Plantation

Charleston 87 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

A drive through a ½-mile-long live-oak alley draped in Spanish moss introduces you to this still-functioning plantation, the oldest of its kind. — Fodor's

Today visitors are welcome on the remaining 738 acres, which also host many public and private events, as well as serving as a popular film location. — Michelin Guide

Boone Hall Farms opened in 2006, selling produce grown on the plantation and offering seasonal pick-your-own crops (strawberries run Apr–June). — Frommer's

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Charleston City Market

Charleston 88 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

In the present day, the market is a shopping favorite of locals and tourists alike. — Where

The Charleston City Market is home to more than 50 sweetgrass basket weavers who demonstrate their hand-weaving techniques daily. — Afar Magazine

Charleston’s City Market dates back to 1788 and remains a fun if touristy place to explore, crammed with arts-and-crafts stalls, restaurants, and the city’s famed Gullah “basket ladies”. — Frommer's

The historic market is the crowded center of the district, with vendors hawking junky souvenirs from open-air stalls. — Lonely Planet

Most of the buildings that make up this popular attraction were constructed between 1804 and the 1830s to serve as the city's meat, fish, and produce market. — Fodor's

Heyward-Washington House

Charlestowne 85 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Built in 1772, this was the townhome of Thomas Heyward Jr., Revolutionary patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence. — Where

In a district of Charleston called Cabbage Row, this red-brick Georgian-style house was built in 1772 by Daniel Heyward, aka “the rice king.” — Frommer's

Contains some lovely examples of Charleston-made mahogany furniture. — Lonely Planet

Home of Thomas Heyward, patriot leader and signer of the Declaration of Independence. — Fodor's

Lawyer and patriot Thomas Heyward was the original owner of this red-brick double house. The site on which the home stands is within the boundaries of the old walled city. — Michelin Guide

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Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

Charleston 84 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

You can tour an 1820s coastal cottage, constructed after Pinckney's death, that features interpretive exhibits about the man, the Constitution, and slave life. — Fodor's

Outside, only 28 acres of Pinckey’s once massive Snee Farm plantation remain undeveloped, accessible by a half-mile interpretive walking trail. — Frommer's

Charles Pinckney (1757-1824) is one of four Charlestonians who went to Philadelphia in May 1787 to help draft the new Constitution of the United States. — Michelin Guide

See the remnants of the plantation of one of the principal authors and signers of the U.S. Constitution. Watch for special events. Open daily. Free admission. — Where

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The Calhoun Mansion

Charlestowne 84 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

The largest, most ostentatious, fascinating, and plain over-the-top mansion in Charleston was built in 1876 for successful entrepreneur George Walton Williams. — Frommer's

The mansion encompasses 35 rooms, fitted with lavish Victorian-era furnishings. The airy second-floor music room rises 45ft high to a glass skylight. — Michelin Guide

Visit one of Charleston’s most fascinating homes, which features an Italianate design, 35 rooms, 35 fireplaces, a grand ballroom, a 75-foot-tall ceiling with dome and Japanese water gardens. — Where

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The Citadel

Charleston 78 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

A fortresslike building on Marion Square became the first home of the Military College of South Carolina—now called the Citadel—in the 1840s. — Fodor's

Arsenal was converted to a military academy in 1842, and in 1922 it began the move to its present Ashley River Campus. The 24 attractive buildings of the college feature Romanesque and Moorish design. — Frommer's

Rising northwest of the historic district along the Ashley River are the white Moorish-style notched walls of the Citadel Military College of South Carolina. — Michelin Guide

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Charleston Waterfront Park

Charleston 76 The TripExpert score is determined by calculating the general consensus of expert reviewers. Learn more →

Enjoy the fishing pier's "front-porch" swings, stroll along the waterside path, or relax in the gardens overlooking Charleston Harbor. — Fodor's

Along with the fountain, which is open for kids to splash and play in, the park has running trails and oak-lined pathways to wander beneath. — Condé Nast Traveler

Set along Charleston Harbor, in the heart of the historic district, this eight-acre linear park occupies the space once filled by the warehouses and wharves of the old port — Michelin Guide

This park a couple of blocks north of the Battery is a good spot from which to check out ships and other craft in Charleston Harbor, watch kids play in the fountains or take a leisurely stroll — Where

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  • Museums
    9 museums and galleries
  • Outdoors
    8 parks, gardens and outdoor attractions
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    1 places of historical interest

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