Charleston Travel Guide [y]

[y] Charleston Visitors Guide

Charleston is one of America’s favorite destinations. It has beautifully preserved architectural and historic treasure, with a rich heritage. You will find exciting and educational amusements, museums, great dining, luxurious accommodations, golf, and outdoor recreation second to none. Come see why tons of visitors enjoy Charleston every year.

You will find tree-lined streets, beautiful homes, and breathtaking parks and gardens when you visit Charleston, South Carolina. Some of the more popular attractions are White Point Gardens and the Waterfront Park. Some other must-see attractions include the new South Carolina Aquarium, Provost Dungeon, Gibbes Museum, and the Old Exchange. Visitors are constantly amazed at the quality and variety of attractions, restaurants, and shopping that can be enjoyed here We hope you are pleasantly surprised too.

Whether you’re on a budget or not, you should be able to find affordable accommodations in Charleston at any time of the year. All About Charleston’s online reservations system offers many hotels & resorts to choose from with discounted rates. You can view individual hotel web pages with pictures and information. Check rates, availability, and make secure online reservations. All About Charleston also offers the guaranteed lowest rates on car rentals anywhere in the city from major companies like Budget & Thrifty. Our online services are easy to use and very secure. We provide quality service to all of our customers.

While visiting Charleston you’ll never go hungry for quality food or shopping. Charleston offers great restaurants that will please anyone’s appetite. You can eat everything from seafood to sushi and do it with a fantastic ocean view. Restaurants serving Italian, French, American, and Seafood can all be found close by. If shopping is what you are looking for you are in luck. Charleston has everything from your department store chain to local specialty gift shops. Shopping here is great for everyday items as well as the special gift items you are looking for.

What to See & Do in Charleston

You will find tree-lined streets, beautiful homes, and breathtaking parks and gardens when you visit Charleston, South Carolina. Some of the more popular attractions are White Point Gardens and the Waterfront Park. Some other must-see attractions include the new South Carolina Aquarium, Provost Dungeon, Gibbes Museum, and the Old Exchange. Visitors are constantly amazed at the quality and variety of attractions, restaurants, and shopping that can be enjoyed here We hope you are pleasantly surprised too.

Attractions & Activities

Calhoun Mansion

George Walton Williams, a wealthy merchant and banker built this Victorian Baronial Manor House following the Civil War (circa 1876). The 24,000 square-foot mansion has 14-foot ceilings, ornate plaster and wood moldings, elaborate chandeliers, a stairwell that reaches to a 75-foot domed ceiling, as well as a ballroom with a coved glass skylight that is 45 feet high. Used in the films, “Scarlett” and “North and South” and featured on A&E’s “American Castles.” Guided tours (about 45 minutes). Behind-the-scenes tours (about two hours), and group rates are available.

Magnolia Plantation

has, for over three centuries, been the original ancestral home of the Drayton family, whose many sons have played important roles throughout American history. It is believed that no other plantation in South Carolina is still under original family ownership from that early date, thirteen generations of the present-owning family having enjoyed it. It is the centerpiece of Ashley River history and played important roles in the early days of settlement, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. The plantation is directed by its owner at no compensation. It pays full taxes, accepts no contributions, and distributes its excess revenue to several animal welfare facilities.

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Located on historic Charleston Harbor, Patriots Point is home to USS YORKTOWN (CV-10), the Fighting Lady. The first USS YORKTOWN (CV-5) sank at the Battle of Midway on June 7, 1942. Onboard the decks of this famous World War II aircraft carrier, you can relive a momentous time in America’s history. The Fighting Lady contains all the evidence of her past; one can see, touch, feel and smell the past, where young Americans fought and died to turn the fortunes of war in the Pacific. Moored next to her is USS LAFFEY (DD-724), a World War II destroyer. LAFFEY survived the onslaught of Japanese kamikaze attacks while off Okinawa as Radar Picket Station #1 on April 16, 1945. She became known as “the ship that wouldn’t die.” Also moored alongside are the United States Coast Guard cutter INGHAM (WHEC-35), which fought in the convoy battles of the North Atlantic and sank a German U-boat; and the diesel attack submarine USS CLAMAGORE (SS-343). Onboard YORKTOWN is dozens of displays devoted to maritime and naval history, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s museum and headquarters, and more than two dozen historic military aircraft are on exhibit. Ashore is a full-size Navy Advance Tactical Support Base from the Vietnam era and our gift shop.

The Charleston Museum

Founded in 1773, the first museum opened in America, the Charleston Museum’s self-stated purpose is to “preserve and interpret the cultural and natural history of Charleston and the South Carolina coastal region.” Quite a daunting task, but the museum does a surprisingly good job of handling the combined roles of historical, natural, sociological, and artistic preservation such that individual museums are not needed for these areas. Located across from the Charleston Visitors’ Center, the museum is housed in a newer brick building best spotted by the scale replica out front of the famed C.S.S. Hunley, the Confederate submarine which was recently discovered in 30 feet of water off Sullivan’s Island. No other attraction presents such a complete portrait of the city and its people than the Charleston Museum, and it is well worth the price of admission. One of the best sections is the natural history segment which gives a unique ecological perspective, and well-done exhibits on ironwork and Charleston silver give this museum a well-rounded appeal. Kids love the interactive experience of the “Discover Me” room, which teaches them by involving them in the exhibit. Look also for the collection of personal belongings such as toys, dolls, and furniture which add a distinctly human side to the history lesson.

The South Carolina Aquarium

Newly constructed in an amazing riverfront building that extends out over the water, the South Carolina Aquarium opened in May 2000. In a short time, it has been open, it has become one of Charleston’s most popular visitor attractions. Visitors walk amongst the residents of the ocean in a calming and fluid environment (the inside of the Aquarium is lit using only natural sunlight) that seamlessly blends the natural underwater world with the man-made structure. But there’s more than just fishes; the aquarium takes a distinctly ecological approach, with local ecosystems as its subject. According to their press kit, “The Aquarium will showcase aquatic life from five major regions of the Southeast Appalachian Watershed as found in South Carolina: Mountain Forest, Piedmont, Coastal Plain, Coast, and the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors will explore a journey from the mountains to the sea witnessing the diversity of plants, animals and habitats and their interdependence on one another. Along with habitat re-creations, many exhibits will include text and graphics panels, video presentations, interactive displays and toddler exhibits.”

The Best Friend Museum

Built next door to the old Camden Depot and across the street from the 1857 South Carolina Railroad Warehouse (now offices of the Chamber of Commerce), the Best Friend Museum is a small museum dedicated to the history of locomotives and railroads. It’s named for its crown jewel, an exact reproduction of the Best Friend of Charleston, a locomotive which ran in the 1830’s-50’s and brought cotton from the upstate and took rice and indigo away, making it a workhorse of Charleston’s early 19th-century economy. The museum also features lots of model trains and old photographs and a pretty good gift shop. Best of all, admission is free! It’s very near the Visitor’s Center and the Charleston Museum, so drop in and check it out.

Hampton Park

Rutledge Ave and Cleveland St. Began in 1901 for the West Indian Exposition, now a picturesque sixty-five-acre public park with a Victorian character. A large lagoon and fountain pool are surrounded by a formal rose walk, outdoor cafe, bandstand, exercise trail, and picnic areas.

James Island Country Park

871 Riverland Drive. A nature-oriented facility on 640 acres near the Stono River. Picnic areas, shelters, trails, bike and pedal boat rentals, fishing and crabbing dock. Open daily 10:00am – 5:00pm. Admission $1.00 per person. Conference center climate-controlled shelter. RV campground and 10 furnished cabins. (843) 795-7275.

Where to Eat in Charleston

Looking for a fantastic dining experience? Charleston has tons of restaurants for every type of craving. There’s delicious steakhouses, fantastic low-country cooking, plenty for the Italian lover, calabash, theme restaurants, and don’t forget since Charleston is so close to the Atlantic Ocean, a fresh catch is always available for the famous seafood restaurants. There’s a place for anything you are looking for.

Carolina’s

For fine dining, Carolina’s behind the Old Exchange Building is an opulent and excellent place for regional cuisine.

82 Queen

In the at least swanky and perhaps fine range is 82 Queen, located – not surprisingly – at 82 Queen Street, and some of the plantation dining rooms. According to Southern Living magazine readers, 82 Queen is the Best City Restaurant in the South, with its menu focused on Lowcountry cuisine and brilliantly executed desserts. They are also said to serve the best She-Crab Soup in Charleston. Among plantations, Middleton Place, fourteen miles north of downtown on Highway 61, is probably the most elegant dining experience, though the food at Boone’s Hall Plantation Kitchen Restaurant is certainly worth a visit.

Melvin’s Barbecue

Melvin’s Barbecue is a generally revered institution in a region where people know their barbecue. Their two locations, at 538 Folly Road on James Island and 925 Houston Northcutt in Mount Pleasant, are favorites for casual dining. Melvin’s does great casual catering, too.

A.W. Shuck’s

A.W. Shuck’s on Market Street offers the most extensive seafood menu in Charleston. Charleston’s oldest family restaurant, Old Towne Grill and Seafood on King Street, serves Greek food, flame-roasted steaks, slow-roasted chickens, and desserts from their open kitchen.

Toucan Reef

For magnificent views, while dining, nothing beats Toucan Reef on Aquarium Wharf, with its twelve-foot tall window wall overlooking the harbor and the new Ravenel Bridge. They advertise their menu as International Comfort Cuisine. It is quick and inexpensive without being fast food or cheap food. They have recently started serving Sunday brunch, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where to Stay in Charleston

Charleston offers hotels, resorts, motels, and inns for almost any budget. Whether you need a room downtown or close to the beach, the selection is enormous. By clicking on the “View Charleston Hotels & Resorts” link below, you can view a variety of accommodations in different areas of Charleston, South Carolina. View individual hotel web pages with pictures and information.

The Nightlife in Charleston

Plenty of nighttime entertainment awaits you as the sun sets on another perfect vacation day in Charleston, South Carolina. Choose between moonlit walks by the shore or dancing under pulsating lights at a number of clubs in the area. The nightlife in Charleston varies with the sounds of country, top 40, rock-n-roll, 50’s and 60’s favorites, 70’s retro, dueling pianos, alternative and beach music. You will also find line dancing clubs for the country music fan. Comedy clubs are also on the menu for folks who need to finish their day with a smile. No matter what you are looking for when the sun goes down, Charleston will not disappoint you.

Golf Courses in Charleston

Looking for a game of golf? Charleston has many courses to choose from. These courses designed by some of the greatest minds in golf today are sure to offer everything for every skill level. If you are a beginner or an advanced player you will enjoy your golf vacation in Charleston, South Carolina. Below we have outlined some of the local courses for you to browse through. Please feel free to look around and don’t forget to check out our online reservation service for your hotel and car rental needs.

Sightseeing, Tours & Cruises in Charleston

Don’t know where you are going or what you want to see. That’s perfectly OK! Charleston offers guided tours in and around the city, through the air as well as on the water. You will feel right at home while the guide takes you places you have never been. Important sites, landmarks, and pieces of American history will be pointed out while you travel to make sure you don’t miss a thing. Below we have highlighted some tour information to assist you in planning your vacation to Charleston, South Carolina.

Flying High Over Charleston, Inc.

3 different tour packages are available. Experience beautiful, historic Charleston, her islands, and plantations from a sea gull’s point of view. Take a private air tour with your own personal pilot. Jim Ellison has over 14 years flying experience in the charleston area. Our exciting tours are less expensive than you think. Tours seven days a week and includes photo flights.

202 Commons Way, Goose Creek, SC 29445, Phone: (843) 569-6148

Carolina Polo & Carriage Company

The only carriage company in the city-owned and operated by old Charlestonians whose families arrived here in the 1600s. Don’t just take a buggy ride, come see the real thing as we shoe you sights that will leave you breathless and tours that will eave you speechless. All our guides are trained by a tour director who first drove carriages in 1978 and has been giving tours since. Private carriages are available for tours, weddings and other occasions. Give us 60 minutes and we’ll give you Charleston as you’ve never experienced it before. Group tours available.

Daily 9am-5pm. Two convenient locations: in the Doubletree Hotel lobby at 181 Church at the corner of N. Market and Church streets and 16 Hayne St.

16 Hayne Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: (843) 577-6767

Classic Carriage Company

Charleston has played a pivotal role in American History, overcoming the Indians, the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and the scourge of the pirates. Let us make her history come alive on an hour tour of her streets and buildings! Oldest Stable in Charleston! Look for Green Carriages! Paid Reservations are Discounted!

10 Guignard Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: (843)853-3747

Palmetto Carriage

9 am – dusk daily. Appreciate the beauty and history of Charleston by taking a carriage tour. Palmetto Carriage, the oldest continually operating carriage company, has the most experienced guides and always gives one hour, fully-narrated tours. They begin from the “Red Barn” where we have plenty of animals, including miniatures. Plenty of free parking. Come see us today!

40 N. Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-723-8145

Charleston Tours Inc.

The best introduction to Charleston – Charleston Tours tours historic city and famous plantations. Recommended by the late great travel writer, Charles Kuralt. Free hotel pick-up. Special rates for seniors and groups. Southern hospitality at its best!

545 Savannah Highway, Charleston, SC 29407, Phone: 843-571-0049

Charleston Hospitality Tours

Welcome to Charleston and experienced licensed tour guides that specialize in all aspects of Charleston’s many diversities. Knowledgeable step-on guides, bilingual guides, walking tours, school groups, art gallery walks, plantation tours and tour packaging for groups of every size. Come join us – you’re as special as our tours!

17 Colonial Street, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-722-6858

Aqua Safaris, Inc.

With over 15 years of owning and operating charter boats worldwide, we are your experts. Quality fishing, power and sailing yachts. Corporate, wedding, public or intimate charters. Accommodating 2-200. All vessels are personally inspected, insured and exceed US Coast Guard safety regulations. We pride ourselves on personal, professional service. Office hours: 9 am – 5 pm Monday – Friday, weekends by appointment (boats may run anytime).

Po Box 309, Isle of Palms, SC 29451, Phone: 843-886-8133

Schooner Pride

Experience the romantic days of coastal sailing through the historic harbor of Charleston aboard the tall ship PRIDE. The 84 foot, a three-masted schooner is USCG certified to carry up to 49 guests for a two-hour harbor sail departing from The City Marina. Passengers who wish to help work the sails are encouraged to participate. Private charters are also available. Call for afternoon or evening schedule, prices, and reservations.

PO Box 1067, Johns Island, SC 29455, Phone: 843-559-9686

Spiritline Harbor Tour

Explore Charleston Harbor aboard the new Spirit of Carolina, Charleston’s finest passenger yacht. Charleston history uniquely unfolds from the perspective of its Harbor on this 1 1/2 hour nonstop cruise. It features historic forts, palatial homes, and bustling port activities. Departs Patriots Point and City Marina.

205 King Street, Suite 204, Charleston, SC 29401-3145, Phone: 843-722-2628

Where to Fish in Charleston

Charleston is next to the second largest body of water on the planet. The Atlantic Ocean is not only the second largest body of water, it also has vast resources and beauty. One of the pleasures allowed on the water is deep sea fishing. This can be an exciting adventure for a novice to the advanced fisherman. You will probably catch fish larger than you have ever seen and you thought only existed tin the minds of people who told the story about “the one that got away”.

Folly Beach Edwin S. Taylor Fishing Pier

April – October: 6 am- 11 pm; December – February: 8 am -5 pm; March & November 7 am – 7 pm. 1,045 ft. long fishing pier on the Atlantic Ocean. Double-deck diamond-shaped platform at end. Concession area, Gangplank gift & tackle shop, “Starfish Grille Restaurant”. Parking is $4 per vehicle which may be applied towards daily fishing fee or for a meal at the pier restaurant. For fees, call 588-FISH.

101 East Arctic Avenue, Folly Beach, SC 29439, Phone: 843-588-FISH

Aut-Top-Sea Charters

The nicest deluxe fishing charter in Charleston! Come aboard the brand new 54′ fully air-conditioned sportfishing boat and prepare to catch some beautiful fish! The Aut-Top-Sea is powered by twin 800 horsepower MAN diesel engines providing a 25-knot cruise speed. For those of you preferring in-shore excursions, we can provide those trips too, exploring the bounties the inland rivers and streams often provide. For those of you wishing to explore from a visitor’s point of view, we offer many action-packed sightseeing excursions including intercoastal waterway trips, dolphin excursions and sunset wine & cheese cruises. Please click on our website or call us by phone to secure your best water vacation in the Charleston area!

PO Box 100, Bennetsville, SC 29512, Phone: (843) 971-2129

Bohicket Boat: Adventure & Tour Co.

8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week. Kiawah and Seabrook Islands, 30 minutes south of Charleston. Wildlife wonder! BYC offers dolphin-watching river tours and sunset cruises, ACE Basin adventures, shelling shuttles to remote barrier islands, sailing charters and kayak tours and rentals. Power and sailboat rentals for easy family fun: crabbing, fishing and exploring our pristine creeks and marshes. Inshore and offshore fishing charters, custom tours and renowned guides. Tackle rentals. Since 1982. AMX, D, MC, V.

1880 Andell Bluff Boulevard, Johns Island, SC 29455, Phone: 843-768-7294

Creek Fishing Charters

SShhh! Don’t tell anyone ’cause we’re going to take you to a secret spot back in the salt marsh. This is fun-fishing at its best, with light tackle and plenty of action. Catches include red fish, trout, flounder, sheepshead, shark, bluefish, whiting, croaker, spot, rays and more!! Boat is covered and all fishing is in calm, inshore waters. Trips run 3.5 hours, fresh bait and all tackle provided. Best deal for fishing in the Charleston area. Great for all ages, individuals welcome. AMX, MC, V.

Isle of Palms Marina, Isle of Palms, SC 29451, Phone: 843-886-5000

Palmetto Charters, LLC

Open Monday-Saturday 9-6 pm with 24-hour answering service. Palmetto Charters is located at Charleston Harbor Marina at Patriots Point. We offer offshore and inshore fishing, parasailing, sailing charters and cocktail cruises for groups of 20 or more. Palmetto Charters has the finest sports fishing fleet in one location in South Carolina. MC, V.

24 Patriots Point Rd., Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464, Phone: 843-849-6004

Reel Screamer Charters

Experience the only sightseeing tour to beautiful Morris Island. View Dolphins and other aquatic wildlife on the trip out up close! USGA certified. Call Captain Gresh at 1-877-349-4465 to book your inshore charter soon!

1027 Oceanview Road, Charleston, SC 29412, Phone: (843)762-7190

Spiritline Charters

Spiritline Cruises owns and operates the largest charter fleet in South Carolina. Private sportfishing, harbor cruise and barrier island eco-excursion charters for parties of 6 or less on the sports fisherman Blockade Runner. Private parties, dinners and receptions for groups of 50 to over 400 on the dining and passenger yachts, Spirit of Carolina, Spirit of Charleston and General Beauregard.

205 King St. Suite 204, Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-722-BOAT

The City Marina

Daily 7:30 am – 7:30 pm. The City Marina is Charleston’s hottest destination for all water activities–upscale catamaran charters and daily sails around Charleston Harbor, luxurious yacht charters, great for weddings/corporate or group events, historic forts of Charleston tour, plantation trips and educational saltmarsh tours as well as a full line of watersports: parasailing, Waverunner and waterski rentals.

17 Lockwood Blvd., Charleston, SC 29401, Phone: 843-853-4386

Where to Shop in Charleston

Charleston offers lots of great shopping. You’ll find indigenous local crafts, unique specialty shops, and antiques galore–plus, a wide variety of high-end national retailers, including Saks Fifth Ave.. No matter what you are looking for you will find it in one of our area shops, stores, malls or outlet centers. Furthermore, your vacation would not be complete without a pop into one of our many beachwear and souvenir shops.