Charleston Attractions

Places to visit, points of interest and top things to see in Charleston

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Historic Charleston is located in the state of South Carolina. The city was previously called "Charles Towne", after King Charles II of England. Aside from being historic, Charleston is also known as "The Holy City" because of the many churches that are located within the area.

Charleston's proximity to the sea made it open to numerous trades and vulnerable to civil war attempts. The Colonial Dorchester and Fort Moultrie sites serve as testament to the city's role during the American Revolution.

As a port town, Charleston became a dock for ships with African slaves. Slave owners sold their slaves for labor at Charleston. That is why some of its famous attractions include plantations where slaves grew crops, such as the Magnolia Plantation and gardens, and Boone Hall plantation.

Charleston also served as a dock for many naval ships... read more arrow
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In the 18th and 19th century, the city of Charleston thrived on the merchandise, which was grown in its many plantations. Charleston's main produce were rice and indigo, which the city managed to export, many thanks to its seaside location.

When slavery was abolished in 1865, many plantations were abandoned and burned. Thankfully, five Charleston plantations are still left intact, which serve as areas of historic and educational importance to many tourists.

One such plantation is the Drayton Hall, which remains to be the oldest, unrestored plantation in America still open for tours. Drayton Hall was established in 1738, and has withstood many civil wars and horrifying earthquakes.

Another site is the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. The gardens, which are more than 300 years old, are considered as the oldest public garden in America.

America's oldest landscape gardens can be found at the Middleton Place House Museum and Stableyards... read more arrow
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Drayton Hall, which was built in the year 1738, is considered as a National Historic Landmark. It served as a big rice plantation during its' heyday, until it was bought in 1974. Up to now, Drayton Hall continues to be the oldest unrestored plantation hall in America still open for tours.

Drayton Hall became the staging grounds of the British during the American Revolution, and was shaken by the 1886 earthquake, yet it remains to be one of the few architectural landmines that remain intact and close to its original condition.

The main house, located near the Ashley River, has been home to seven generations – from John Drayton, who built the house in 1738, to Frank and Charles Drayton, who sold the house in 1974 to the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP.) Now, NTHP continues to make preservation road at the centuries-old Drayton Hall... read more arrow
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Fort Sumter is a coastal fort located along the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Fort Sumter was named after Thomas Sumter, a general and Revolutionary war patriot. The fort was one of the many coast forts built in the southern part of the United States. The construction of Fort Sumter started in 1827, and remained unfinished until 1861, when the Civil war started.

The Confederates who occupied Fort Sumter built a sand bar, which continues to dawn the entrance to the harbor of Charleston. The fort has five brick sides, each 170 to 190 feet long, with walls standing 50 feet tall and with a thickness of about 5 feet. The capacity of the fort is for 650 army men and 135 guns.

The first shots that sparked the beginning of the American civil war were directed to this fort, resulting in the famous "Battle of Fort Sumter." It was April 12, 1861 when the Confederates opened fire at the fort for 34 straight hours... read more arrow
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The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is home to three museum ships, namely the USS Clamagore, a naval submarine; USS Yorktown, a naval aircraft carrier; and USS Laffey, a naval destroyer which was closed in August 2009 and recently reopened to the public December 2011.

The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum can be found at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. It sits on Charleston River's famed Cooper River. It also served as exhibit grounds of the USCGC Comanche and USCGC Ingham, both Coast Guard Cutters. The NS Savannah, the only nuclear merchant vessel of the
American naval fleet, called Patriots Point its home until 1994.

Upon entering the USS Yorktown, the visitors will be treated to another series of exhibits, which include the Medal of Honor Museum, and 25 more naval airplanes, such as the F-9 Cougar, A-& Corsair, A-4 Skyhawk, and F-14 Tomcat, to name a few.

Other artifacts, which can be seen in the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, include a naval support camp, cannon from the Civil War era, and artifacts from the Vietnam War era, such as the PBR-105 river patrol boat, the USMC Bell AH-1 Sea Cobra helicopter, and the US Navy Bell UH-1 Helicopter... read more arrow
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Folly Beach, tagged as the "Edge of America", is a city situated on Folly Island, one of the districts of Charleston County, South Carolina.

This beach town is famous for its surfing attractions, such as the Folly Beach County Park, 10th Street, and Washout. The waters of Folly Beach are usually calm, yet it has drawn the attention of many surfers. Now, it's one of the most popular surfing locations at the East Coast. The city is truly a haven for surfers. The city's main road, Center Street, is filled with restaurants, shops (specifically surf shops,) and bars.

Other beach parks in the area are the Isle of Palms County Park and Kiawah Beachwalker County Park. After a day on the beach, the kids can head straight to the city's water parks, namely Splash Zone, Whirlin' Waters, and Splash Island. For fishing enthusiasts, great fishing locations include Mt. Pleasant Pier and Folly Beach Fishing Pier... read more arrow
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Located along the Harbor of Charleston County, South Carolina is Sullivan's Island. Also called as S.I., the island served a major role in the American Revolution, when it became the main battle grounds of the attack that took place on June 28, 1776. The date is now known as Carolina Day, is honor of the Battle of Sullivan Island.

The island was named after Captain Florence O'Sullivan, who served as the island's lighthouse keeper during the 17th century. O'Sullivan, who later on became surveyor general, first served as ship captain of one of the ships of Englishmen and Irishmen who first settled at South Carolina. During the height of slavery, Sullivan's Island served as the receiving port of over 200,000 slaves sold to different American colonies.

Much of the island's history centered on Sullivan's Fort Moultrie. The fort served as the command base of the city of Charleston, and was closed before the end of the 1940's... read more arrow

* Regular pre-pandemic touristic activity level.

You can also rate and vote for your favorite Charleston sightseeing places, famous historical landmarks, and best things to do in Charleston by visiting the individual Charleston attraction pages.