Looking for Things To Do in Charleston? You’ve Come To the Right Place
One of the unique things about Charleston is that residents and visitors do many of the same things. For many residents, living in Charleston is like being on vacation 365 days a year. Even if residents work from 9:00 to 5:00, they still have time to surf before work or go to dinner at the beach in the evening, and many residents go downtown for Second Sunday or boat in Charleston Harbor on the weekends.
If you are looking for things to do in Charleston, you are spoiled for options. Whether you live in one of Charleston’s neighborhoods or are visiting for the week (or weekend), there are lots of ways you can make the most of your time in the Holy City. Whether it is summer or winter, whether you want to enjoy the outdoors or get out of the sun, you can find something to do that will create memories that last a lifetime.
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What Are You Looking To Do in Charleston?
So, what do you want to do in Charleston? Here are some ideas for individuals, couples, and families with children of all ages:
Families & Children
The Charleston area offers several options for families and children. From the peninsula to Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, and Charleston’s barrier islands, some of these options include:
- Visit a museum in downtown Charleston – There are multiple museums in downtown Charleston that are well-suited to family outings. These include the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry, Gibbes Art Museum, and Mace Brown Museum of Natural History.
- Visit a Charleston County park or South Carolina state park – All Charleston County Parks and Recreation (CCPRC) parks are clean and well-maintained, and many offer options such as waterparks, playgrounds, and trails. The South Carolina state parks around Charleston offer hiking, biking, and opportunities for other activities (both on and off the water) as well.
- Go to a public playground – There are public playgrounds all over Charleston, from McMahon Playground in Hampton Park downtown to the multiple playgrounds for different age groups at Mt. Pleasant Waterfront Park and James Island County Park. Take a picnic, and have a relaxing afternoon in a welcoming atmosphere.
- Go to the beach – Whether it’s hot or chilly outside, a beach day is almost always a good idea. If you are a local, try visiting a different beach than the one you visit normally. If you are on vacation, don’t spend all of your time at one of Charleston’s beaches. Each has its own unique flavor, and it is worth the short drive to check out more than one while you are here.
- Go for a hike or bike ride – Along with hiking and biking at Charleston’s parks, residents and visitors can go human-powered exploring in various other areas as well. Biking around one of Charleston’s beaches is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening, or you can check out another option like the West Ashley Greenway.
- Go see a movie or show – There are large movie theaters in Mt. Pleasant and West Ashley, and there are several concert and live show venues in and around Charleston. There are performances in downtown Charleston and at the Charleston Coliseum year-round.
- Take a class or sign up for lessons – Want to try something new as a family or sign your child up for some lessons. From music, dance, and gymnastics lessons to classes on kayaking and windsurfing, there are options for all ages and interests in Charleston.
Parents in Charleston can find family and children’s activities in and around the city year-round. Many of the ideas listed above are options every day of the year; and, on the few days of the year that it is too wet or cold to go outside, families can catch a movie, go out to breakfast or lunch, or simply enjoy some time at home (or in their hotel room or vacation house).
Exercise, Gyms & Studios
If you are interested in exercise or fitness, there are several gyms and studios throughout the Charleston area. This includes options in popular vacation areas like Folly Beach and Isle of Palms as well as options that are more popular with locals in downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, on James Island and Johns Island, and in West Ashley.
There are many options for children as well—including options for kids interested in everything from dance and gymnastics to skateboarding and rock climbing. Residents and visitors can check out facilities including:
- Fitness gyms
- CrossFit gyms
- Pilates and yoga studios
- Gymnastics facilities for children and teens
- Dance studios
- Climbing walls
- Trampoline parks
If you are interested in fitness coaching or personal training, there are lots of coaches and personal trainers in Charleston. Whether you live here or you are on vacation, you can find someone who will come to you, or you can schedule a one-on-one session at a gym or studio near you.
Is going out more your style? If so, your first step is to decide what you want to do. Are you interested in fine dining on the water or a Lowcountry culinary experience? Are you interested in attending an event or going to a show in one of downtown Charleston’s historic theaters?
Events in Charleston range from walking food tours downtown to regattas in the Charleston harbor. There are also holiday events throughout the year, from multiple July 4th celebrations with fireworks to the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park and ice skating at Skate the Stadium on Daniel Island.
Charleston is known for its restaurants, and many visitors come to Charleston specifically to try as many of the Holy City’s famous restaurants as possible. While Charleston is largely known for its seafood and Southern fare, there are all types of casual, fine dining, and gastronomic restaurants on offer. While many people go downtown, there are waterfront restaurants off of the peninsula, and Charleston’s beaches are home to several unique and locally well-known restaurants as well.
While Charleston isn’t generally known as a sports town, it is home to three professional sports teams: the Charleston RiverDogs (baseball), Charleston Battery (soccer), and Charleston Stingrays (ice hockey). The Charleston RiverDogs’ stadium (Joe Riley Stadium, or “the Joe”) is located downtown on the banks of the Ashley River, while the Ravenel Bridge serves as a background to the Charleston Battery stadium in Patriots Point.
The Sottile Theatre and Gaillard Center are historic theaters in downtown Charleston that host live musical and dance performances throughout the year. Charleston Music Hall, the Charleston Coliseum, and Credit One Stadium host live performances year-round as well.
Historic Places and Tours
Visitors who don’t come to Charleston for its beaches or restaurants often come for its history. The Civil War started in Charleston, and many relics of the Civil War and the antebellum period are still standing—and welcoming visitors who are interested in learning about the nation’s past. Some of Charleston’s most popular historical attractions include:
- Boone Hall
- Charles Towne Landing
- Drayton Hall
- Fort Moultrie
- Fort Sumter
- Magnolia Plantation
- Middleton Place
These are just examples. In downtown Charleston there are numerous historic places to visit, from antebellum and Civil War-era buildings to the Charleston City Market. The Charleston Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District, and is home to Nathaniel Russell House, Aiken-Rhett House, Edmondston-Alston House, and other notable residences.
Spending as much time outdoors as possible is a way of life in Charleston. Residents and visitors have several ways to enjoy the outdoors, whether they prefer to be on land or on the water. Some of the most popular outdoor activities in Charleston include:
- Beach days
- Exploring parks and trails
- Guided tours, rentals, and lessons
- Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)
- Running races (road and trail)
- Windsurfing and kitesurfing
The Lowcountry’s landscape makes it uniquely suited to outdoor activities involving the water. Charleston has five main public beaches on its barrier islands that are all accessible via bridges from the mainland. It also has several beaches that are only accessible by boat or kayak.
But, you don’t have to go to the beach to enjoy spending time on the water in Charleston. Kayakers and boaters can explore the area’s numerous creeks and waterways—which offer access to tiny beaches that they can easily have all to themselves. Or, you can simply cruise and check out Charleston’s waterfront homes, search the sky for bald eagles, or watch over the bow for dolphins. Of course, fishing is an extremely popular outdoor activity in Charleston as well. You can fish from any of the Charleston area’s public piers or boat landings, kayak fish, surf fish at the beach, go on a fishing charter, or take your own boat up one of Charleston’s rivers or offshore.
If spending time on the water isn’t your thing, then you can run, hike, or bike all over Charleston. If you like participating in organized events, you can sign up for road and trail running races ranging from 5k to 100 miles or more, and LOWVELO takes cyclists on a tour of the Charleston area.