Charleston Museums & exhibitions

Our most recommended Charleston Museums & exhibitions

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: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

2. Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

Test your nerve and explore the dark edges of Charleston's haunted historic district, deeply steeped in South Carolina's low country superstition on a guided walking tour. Venture through Charleston's haunted historic district, one of the oldest places in America, and learn about its terrifying history. Continue along the eerie back alleys and churches to find out why Charleston is known as "The Holy City." Visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon to learn about its harrowing past, confining enslaved people, American revolutionaries, and British soldiers.

Charleston: Patriot's Point Haunted USS Yorktown Tour

3. Charleston: Patriot's Point Haunted USS Yorktown Tour

Come aboard the USS Yorktown and hear the stories of the American heroes who lived, died, and are still rumored to be here today. Commissioned in 1943, the Fighting Lady was once manned by over 3,000 people and designed to fight off enemies all over the globe during WWII. Learn about the ultimate sacrifice and heroism of the people who once inhabited this ship.  This tour gives you exclusive nighttime access to areas of the ship that are usually closed to the public, including the flight deck after dark. Don't forget your camera, you never know who or what you might capture.

Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

4. 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.

Charleston: 3-Hour Secret Food Tour

5. Charleston: 3-Hour Secret Food Tour

On this secret food tour, you'll get to sample grits, fried oysters, fried green tomatoes and so much more. Charlestonians are extremely passionate about their local food, city, and its history. You'll get to learn all about the best southern foods and the unique culture behind them. By booking this tour, you'll get to try delicious food all around the beautiful historic district of Charleston. Plus, you'll also be able to discover the best shops and restaurants, and learn many other great local tips to make your experience truly memorable.

Charleston: French Quarter Guided Walk

6. Charleston: French Quarter Guided Walk

The tour highlights include the imposing 4 corners of Law and its four nationally historic registered buildings of St. Michael’s Church (ca.1752), where President George Washington, General Charles Pinckney, and Marquis de Lafayette worshiped, Charleston's Federal building (ca. 1896), Charleston County Courthouse (ca.1790) designed by John Hoban who designed The White House in D.C., and Gabriel Manigault's City Hall (ca. 1800). The tour swings back down Charleston's longest cobblestone road to see a glimpse of the Dock Street Theater (ca.1735), the oldest French Huguenot Church (ca.1681), St. Phillip's Church (congregation's history dating back to 1680), the Bermuda stone-built Pink House (ca.1688-1712),  historic baracoon / slave hotel, Unity Alley, and ends with the breathtaking view of the harbor castle, forts, islands, and Atlantic Ocean. Two Hour Option: Spend an enjoyable 2 hours walking along the old walled city perimeter with its cobblestone roads and alleys in the steps of Charleston's French merchants and other European forefathers. Your native storyteller/guide will show you some of America's earliest architecture and national historic landmarks. Visit the oldest burial grounds to see the final resting place of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, and take in the remains of a 17th-century drawbridge. Admire beautiful parks with historic monuments, and expansive views of Charleston's great harbor with its castles and forts that shaped much of America's maritime and military history. Charleston's French Quarter is home to many fine historic buildings, including: • the Pink House (c. 1688-1712) • the Old Slave Mart baracoon where slaves were confined in the 1850s • many of America's first churches dating back to the 1600s • Dock Street Theater, where the first theatrical performances were held in the U.S. • the imposing 4 Corners of Law with its 1752 St. Michael’s Church attended by George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette • the headquarters of General Robert E. Lee • the Old Exchange Building • and many more!

Charleston: Historic City and Southern Mansion Combo Tour

7. Charleston: Historic City and Southern Mansion Combo Tour

Take a journey through Charleston's 300 years of living history with passionate licensed tour guides. Experience the Old Market area and the historic homes and churches where generations of Charlestonians worked, lived, and worshipped. Step out of the air-conditioned minibus onto the famous Battery Seawall to admire the wonderful views. See and hear about Fort Sumter, the Harbor of History, and the Aircraft Carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point. Enjoy a tour through the elegant interior of a fully-restored historic home - Joseph Manigault House. Come and enjoy the beauty and hospitality of one of America's most historic cities.

Charleston: City Tour and Museum Combo

8. Charleston: City Tour and Museum Combo

Feel the past come alive on this combination tour in Charleston. Ride in comfort on a climate-controlled coach and discover Charleston's 300 years of living history with passionate licensed tour guides. Follow your bus tour with a visit to the Charleston Museum, one of the oldest museums in the United States. On your bus tour, experience the Old Market area and admire the historic homes and churches where generations of Charlestonians worked, lived, and worshipped. See and hear about Fort Sumter, the Harbor of History, and the Aircraft Carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point. Make sure to take your camera as you will have the opportunity to stop at the famous Battery Seawall and enjoy the spectacular views. Keep your camera handy when you pass by the colorful houses on Rainbow Row, too. Finally, dive into the history of the Holy City at the Charleston Museum, which was opened to the public nearly 200 years ago. Explore the exhibitions that cover the American Civil War, the natural history in the area, and much, much more.

Charleston: African-American History & Simmons House Tour

9. Charleston: African-American History & Simmons House Tour

Start the tour at the Philip Simmons House where one of the greatest African-American artists of the 20th century created a lifetime of beauty. Led by museum docents, learn more about the humble life of a great Charleston artisan. After the museum visit, walk down America Street, the heart of Charleston’s African-American community. Along the way, learn about and witness the trials and tribulations of the past and present. Briefly stop at the edge of the African-American community where you'll see a powerful visualization of class division. Finally, walk to Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest AME church in the southern United States. Learn about how free African Americans came together to form flourishing communities and houses of worship.

Charleston: Historical Walking Tour with Storytelling

10. Charleston: Historical Walking Tour with Storytelling

Stroll through Charleston’s oldest neighborhood on a guided walking tour, led by an expert guide. Learn about the women and men – both pirates and patriots – who first founded the city, as you discover its highlights. The tour begins in front of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, one of Charleston’s oldest and most historical buildings. Continue down East Bay Street, passing Rainbow Row. See period mansions, and admire the views of Charleston Harbor and White Point Garden. Walk in the footsteps of pirates and their captors, as your guide tells you stories of looting and plundering. Wander the streets and alleys of Charleston’s South of Broad neighborhood. Learn about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the founding of America. Head back to the starting point, passing the Four Corners of the Law and the shops and residences on Broad Street. Your experience includes entrance to both the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and Philip Simmons House.

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What people are saying about Charleston

Ferry ride was very informative and the grounds at Ft. Sumter we’re all we could expect. Would be nicer to have more than an hour to walk the grounds.

The rangers at the Fort were amazing! The flag ceremony was phenomenal— very inspirational and meaningful! Thank you so much!!

Could use more time at Fort Sumter - flag raising was great but not enough time to read the placards and visit the museum.

Jess Freeman our tour guide was knowledgeable and made the tour worthwhile. The BBQ was the best of the tastings.

Fantastic trip. The park ranger, Christopher, was wonderful. Full of info and dad jokes. He knew his stuff.