This article is all about what there is to see and do in Charleston, South Carolina. It is the third and final article in a series about where my family went on vacation this past summer. If you missed the first two articles, you can go back and read about St. Augustine and Savannah.
We visited these three cities on a road trip, but there are several options to see these three history-rich southern cities. You can travel between these cities by train or on a cruise ship. Or you can take an escorted tour by coach. I work with several suppliers that offer packages, or I can design a custom trip for you.
In St. Augustine and Savannah, we started our visit with a hop-on-hop-off trolley tour. In Charleston, the popular mode of transportation for sightseeing is a horse-drawn carriage. There’s no hopping off, but it is a fun and easy way to see this historic city. Several different companies offer carriage rides.
The buildings and gardens of Charleston are just gorgeous. The carriages travel slowly enough so that you can appreciate the architectural details.
We also drove past a woman selling her handwoven sweetgrass baskets. Sweetgrass baskets are a West African tradition that was passed down through the centuries by the descendants of West African slaves living in the Low Country region of South Carolina. They are not inexpensive, but when you see the workmanship, you will understand why.
Speaking of sweetgrass baskets, the best place to find them is the Charleston City Market.
The Charleston City Market is where you should shop for your Charleston souvenirs. This public market is one of the oldest in the United States. It’s open every day except Christmas. It’s also open on Friday and Saturday nights from March through December. The market stretches the length of four blocks and is fun to explore. You’ll find handcrafted and locally-made goods.
One of the most popular photo spots in Charleson is the Battery, a seaside promenade with gorgeous antebellum homes. It’s perfect for a relaxing stroll.
One must-see for my family was Fort Sumter. Everyone learned about Fort Sumter in history class, right? So we needed to go see it in person. Fort Sumter is a National Historical Park, and part of the National Park System. You have to ride a boat to get to Fort Sumter from Charleston.
Once you get to the fort, you have about an hour to explore the grounds.
Most people just explored on their own, but park rangers were available to answer questions.
We also enjoyed a few attractions outside the city.
Charleston Tea Garden
Did you know that tea is grown in the United States? Well, there’s only one commercial tea operation in all of North America and it’s near Charleston. I have never been a coffee drinker, but I drink tea every day. Often, I drink tea multiple times a day: black in the morning, green in the afternoon, and herbal in the evening. That made Charleston Tea Garden a must-see for me. Until recently, I thought all tea was grown far, far away. So I found it fun that Charleston Tea Garden has a sign showing the next closest tea gardens.
That’s my daughter Corinne holding a cup of tea. She is also a tea lover. We loved that Charleston Tea Garden offered complimentary all-you-can-taste tea samples, both hot and iced, in several different flavors. My other daughter Camille loves factory tours, so she was excited that we got to see how the tea is processed after it is harvested.
We also signed up for a trolley tour through the tea fields.
I really enjoyed our visit. Tea makes me happy. 🙂
Angel Oak Tree
On the way back to the city from the tea garden, we made a stop at the Angel Oak Tree, a very large and old live oak tree. Having seen the largest tree on earth at Sequoia National Park back in 2019, Angel Oak didn’t quite measure up, but there was no admission fee and didn’t take much time to see it, so I’d recommend a stop if you’re there.
There are several grand old plantations near Charleston that are open to visitors. We decided to choose just one. Our choice was Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. This plantation has been the home of the Drayton family since 1676. It has nearly 500 acres of gardens to explore. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love flowers and gardens. Magnolia did not disappoint!