There are certain caveats that come along with living in the city that seemingly woke up one morning to being nearly an overnight discovery by every top destination and travel magazine. Voted "#1 City in the World" a time or two, and catapulting to the top of various "Best Cities" lists, meant that all the amazing things that Charleston SC has quietly been known for for decades, suddenly became things that people from all over the world wanted to experience for themselves. From it's pristine, Atlantic coast beaches to its charming downtown historic district, or antebellum plantations with their manicured gardens, even the exploding culinary scene that now offers up some of the Southeast's hottest new restaurants, the list of things to do in Charleston seemingly grows longer everyday. And, while locals love to share in the delight of travelers experiencing Charleston's charms for the very first time, they also want to be able to confidently make that "local recommendation" when asked on the street! Even if you've lived here for years, there may be new shopping, restaurants, or museums that have opened or hidden gems nearby that you've yet to discover. So, whether you're visiting for the first time or are a longtime local, check out some of these top ways discover, or re-discover, Charleston.
A Charleston icon and favorite of many visitors and locals alike, a horse-drawn carriage tour is a great way to see a lot of the city at once while learning about Charleston's fascinating history from expert guides. The friendly, knowledgeable guides at Old South Carriage Co., Palmetto Carriage Co., and Charleston Carriage Works share a mix of historical facts and local knowledge creating a fun and unique experience.
In recent years Charleston has cemented it's status as a foodie destination, attracting 5-star chefs and culinary masters from around the world. Charleston Culinary Tours, Charleston Food Tours, and Chow Down Charleston guides foodies on a culinary journey across the city's ever-changing food landscape. For those just visiting, without the time to have a meal at every amazing restaurant in Charleston (there are a LOT of them!), a culinary tour is the perfect way to taste a little bit of everything!
With more than a dozen plantations in Charleston and the surrounding area, they are a popular option for an afternoon outing. Each plantation has it's own unique history, from cash crops and land owners to scandals and legacy's, no two are the same. Most offer several different tours, usually divided between the main home itself and the surrounding grounds. Among the most popular are Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, McCleod Plantation recently reopened on James Island, and Magnolia Plantation just north of West Ashley.
For many, the most immersive way to experience Charleston's history is by taking a walking tour. And certainly, in a city that requires stringent testing and licensing to lead a tour group, there are many qualified tours to choose from. But, if you are looking for something more uniquely Charleston, Paul Garbarini’s Uniquely Charleston Tours are walking tours customized to your party’s interests. He can take time to answer all your questions and focus on the elements that pique your particular interest. Limited to no more than six people, he explains, “I’m old enough to only do things that are fun, and more than six people on a tour is not fun!” He also works on your schedule to accommodate the stamina and needs on an individual basis planning shady walks, bathroom breaks, and water along the way. With his 20 years experience and his independent research no one else tells the stories he does.
Note: Whether you've lived in Charleston your entire life, just a few years, or if you're only visiting for a weekend, there's always a new way to explore the Holy City and new experiences to enjoy. We've highlighted 6 facts you may not know about Charleston in our Discover Charleston guide. Have a look and see what else there is to discover ...