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Charleston

Culture & history

Our most recommended Charleston Culture & History

Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

1. Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

Enjoy a ferry ride to the grounds of Fort Sumter and explore the grounds at your own pace. Pass by the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and take in the sights of Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes. As you approach Fort Sumter, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene. If you depart from Mt. Pleasant you will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Arrive at The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, which sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense.  While here, explore the grounds of Fort Sumter. Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The first shots were fired here, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a National Park Ranger. Your approximate 1-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse Museum Store souvenirs. A visit to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Learn about the events leading to the war from knowledgeable National Park Rangers who will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a National Park Ranger. Then enjoy the beautiful views of the city as you ride the ferry back to Charleston.

Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise

2. Charleston Harbor: Luxury Dinner Cruise

Embark on a true Charleston Harbor dining experience aboard the Spirit of Carolina. Enjoy a three-course dinner, made to order from local seasonal ingredients. As you dine on a delicious multi-course plated dinner, cruise through the beautiful Charleston Harbor, past Fort Sumter, along the Battery and beneath the Ravenel Bridge. Take in the views from the large enclosed air-conditioned dining decks or the open-air observation deck. Enjoy music throughout the cruise, as well as a full-service bar. Dinner menu: Soup: Charleston she-crab soup Salad: Edisto green salad with a blend of baby lettuce, dried cranberries, crumbled feta cheese, and toasted almonds with herb vinaigrette (gluten-free) Entrées: (All entrees include freshly baked bread and butter) • Braised short rib of beef (gluten-free, dairy-free) with cabernet reduction, roasted garlic whipped potatoes (gluten-free), and seasonal vegetables (gluten-free)• Seared wing tip chicken breast (gluten-free) with white wine lemon sauce, sautéed spinach and feta cheese fillings, roasted garlic whipped potatoes (gluten-free), and seasonal vegetables (gluten-free)• Low country shrimp and grits (gluten-free) with sautéed shrimp, tasso ham, and andouille sausage. Served on creamy stone-ground grits and topped with aged cheddar cheese and bacon jam garnish• Roasted sliced cauliflower (dairy-free, vegetarian) with roasted red pepper drizzle, wilted spinach, lemon and olive oil mixed ancient grains of quinoa, farro, toasted barley (dairy-free, vegetarian), and grilled asparagus (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian) Desserts: • New York-style cheesecake with strawberries and whipped cream • Chocolate pot de crème (gluten-free) with whipped cream and chocolate shavings ($6.00 each) Food is not prepared in a nut-free, shellfish-free, or gluten-free facility.

Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

3. Charleston Harbor: Narrated Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

Take in the amazing sights of Charleston Harbor on a 1.5-hour boat tour with live narration from an expert guide. Pick up insight into the fascinating Charleston history while you glide through the gentle waves of the harbor. Your knowledgeable and entertaining guides have been licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Make sure to bring your camera for famous American landmarks, such as Fort Sumter, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the Battery, the Ravenel Bridge, Castle Pinckney, and other sites from Charleston's past and present. This relaxing and fun tour departs from Patriots Point and Aquarium Wharf daily. Get ready to hear enthralling tales of the city’s colorful past as well as scintillating facts about its most interesting former citizens. Perfect for all ages, the whole family can enjoy cruising along the coastline of the beautiful “Holy City”. Do you know why it's called the "Holy City"? Find out on this trip around the Charleston Harbor.

Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

4. Charleston: 90-Minute Historic City Highlights Tour

The tour departs from Charleston Visitor’s Center where you’ll hop on board a deluxe, climate-controlled shuttle for a 90-minute tour of the city’s historical highlights. Accompanied by a knowledgeable, local guide, visit over 100 of Charleston’s most iconic sights of the past and present whilst listening to amazing tales and anecdotes about the city. On your tour, travel through some of the city’s most historic parts. Visit Charleston’s Historic Homes, The Battery Sea Wall, the Four Corners of Law, and Rainbow Row to name but a few. Other highlights of the tour include several historic churches, old markets, and picturesque neighborhoods.

Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

5. Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

This 60-minute narrated carriage tour covers more than 2.5 miles and 30 blocks of historic downtown Charleston. It really is the best way to see the “Holy City” and learn about its rich and vast history. The tour begins at our stables just one block from the city market, where a number of our horses live. Restrooms and water are available as well as a loading ramp to easily board one of the custom-built carriages.  Departing from the barn, you will continue to the city gate located in the Old City Market. Historic Downtown Charleston is split up into a number of areas that each tour is directed to travel to. Some highlights of these areas are Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, 4 Corners of Law, King Street, White Point Gardens, and the Charleston Battery.  A licensed tour guide will be narrating the entire tour with informative and entertaining commentary. At the end of the tour you will arrive back at the stables, where you will get off the carriage using the unloading dock.

Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

6. Charleston: Magnolia Plantation Tour and Transport

Witness a slice of living history at Magnolia Plantation and its world-famous gardens, owned by the Drayton family for 12 generations. Visit the Historic Gardens, Petting Zoo, and The Conservatory. Begin your half-day tour by boarding a climate-controlled coach in Charleston. Meet your professional guide and ride to Magnolia Plantation, dating from 1676 and the time of the British colony. Step into one of America's first tourist attractions and first public gardens, which have been open to the public since 1870. Take a guided walk through America's last large-scale romantic garden. Experience history on a 45-minute narrated tram ride through the Audobon Swamp Gardens and visit important locations like Drayton Home (not Drayton Hall), Orientation Theater, and the Old African American Cabin.

Charleston: Magnolia Plantation & Historic City Tour

7. Charleston: Magnolia Plantation & Historic City Tour

Begin your half-day tour by boarding a climate-controlled coach in Charleston. Meet your professional guide and ride to Magnolia Plantation, dating from 1676 and the time of the British colony. Witness a slice of living history at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and get an amazing perspective on Charleston's past and present. The Magnolia Plantation and its world-famous gardens have been owned by the Drayton family for 12 generations. Enjoy your visit to one of America's first tourist attractions and first public gardens, which have been open to the public since 1870. Take a guided walk through America's last large-scale Romantic garden, and experience history on a 45-minute narrated nature tram ride through the Audobon swamp gardens. Step out among the Romantic gardens and Spanish moss to see wildlife such as alligators, egrets, herons, and turtles on the nearly 600-acre plantation. Cap it all off with a 30-minute tour of the Magnolia Plantation Home before boarding your bus back to Charleston. Back in the Holy City, your deluxe, climate-controlled shuttle will take you for a 1.5-hour tour of the city’s historical highlights. Accompanied by a knowledgeable, local guide, visit over 100 of Charleston’s most iconic sights of the past and present whilst listening to amazing tales and anecdotes about the city. On your tour, travel through some of the most historic parts of the city and visit Charleston’s historic homes, The Battery Sea Wall, the Four Corners of Law, and Rainbow Row to name but a few. Other highlights of the tour include a number of historic churches, old markets, and picturesque neighborhoods.

Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

8. Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

Discover 300 years of Charleston history from land and sea with passionate licensed tour guides. Experience a 90-minute narrated tour of Charleston in a climate-controlled luxury coach and then head to the water for another perspective of the city from Charleston Harbor. Learn fascinating historical facts about Charleston while you cruise the gentle waves of her harbor. Knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides are licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Don't forget your camera as you will see all that the Holy City has to offer: Charleston's Historic Homes and Churches, the Old Market, Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter, USS Yorktown, and incredible views from Charleston Harbor.

Boone Hall Plantation: Admission & Day Trip from Charleston

9. Boone Hall Plantation: Admission & Day Trip from Charleston

Tour the historic Boone Hall Plantation, a beautiful gem nestled in the town of Mount Pleasant, just across the harbor from Charleston. Enter through the Avenue of Oaks and take a guided tour of the historic mansion. Enjoy a self-guided tour through the original slave cabins and learn about the experience of enslaved people with a presentation by a knowledgeable guide. Learn the history of the area, tour the grounds and homes with expert storytellers and guides.

Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

10. Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

Explore Charleston's historic district on a horse or mule-drawn carriage tour. Listen to your guide tell you local stories and anecdotes as you go past iconic landmarks, buildings, churches, and more. Begin your tour at the Big Red Barn in downtown Charleston and meet your local driver/guide. Then, settle into a carriage drawn by either horses or mules for your guided tour. Follow a route that takes in some of the historic downtown district’s most elegant mansions and gardens, learning about the architecture of each place as you drive along. Catch the scent of jasmine flowers from deep, shady porches, and pass by rows of bristling palmetto trees. Get an overview of Charleston’s dramatic history, from long-ago pirate raids to plantations, Revolutionary battles, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The city was founded in 1670, and Charleston's historic buildings have been meticulously preserved and restored. Conclude your tour with drop-off at the Big Red Barn.

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Frequently asked questions about Charleston Culture & History

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Other Sightseeing Options in Charleston

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What people are saying about Charleston

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 581 reviews

The views of Charleston Harbor, the cotton candy colored sunset, and the Ravanel Bridge, especially after dark, were beautiful. The service of the wait staff was prompt and friendly. The food was quite tasty and satisfying. The live music was very soothing as we enjoyed the cruise. It was a very relaxing, enjoyable evening! So glad we chose to take the dinner cruise!

We really enjoyed the food tour. All the food was amazing!!! Our tour guide, Blake Mims, was informative and made the tour really enjoyable!! Would definitely love to take another tour w/ him as our guide.

Bruce was spectacular he was so informative. You could tell he loves his city and takes pride in sharing the uniqueness of it. This was the highlight of our day.

Had a great time. Enjoyed seeing Charleston in one day. Wish we had more time to see everything. Driver was great!

It was one of the highlights of our vacation. Everyone must do it!