Founded in 1670 as Charles Town in honor of King Charles II of England, Charleston, South Carolina, has seen a lot of American history. From the colonial era and the Revolutionary War to the antebellum period leading to the Civil War, the city has survived it all. It also has survived (if just barely) countless fires, though you wouldn't know it to look at the city today.
Today, Charleston is known for its history, old-world architecture, and southern hospitality – in fact, its residents have been voted the most polite, hospitable, and friendly in America by magazines like Travel + Leisure and Southern Living, and in 2013 Conde Nast Traveler even named the city “America's Most Friendly.”
If you're headed to the American South anytime soon, this is one city you don't want to skip and these are the experiences you must do while there.
Charleston's most popular area is its Historic District, full of old, attractive southern homes complete with towering palm trees and privacy porches. The district has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1960 and is one of the most popular parts of the city for first-time visitors.
Located on East Bay Street between Elliot and Tradd, Charleston's “Rainbow Row” consists of 13 historic houses painted in pastel colors. These iconic buildings were all once shops serving the town, but today they have retired and are instead the subject of millions of photographs every year.
Don't skip the historic city market downtown, which has been operating for more than 200 years. Here you can find vendors selling everything from artwork to pottery and jewelry. There's also a special local product sold here: hand-made sweetgrass baskets. This traditional art of basket weaving was brought over to the American South by slaves from West Africa and this delicate art form has been passed down from generation to generation.
How to see these: Hop on a carriage tour. These one-hour tours around Charleston are extremely popular with tourists, and are a great way to get an overview of the city and its history. Afterwards, you can walk to any part of the city you'd like to explore further.
Located in Charleston Harbor, it was here at Fort Sumter that the first shots of the American Civil War were traded between Union and Confederate forces back in April of 1861. The sea fort today is part of the Fort Sumter National Monument, run by the National Park Service.
If you're looking for a beach or perhaps just a nice vacation rental to relax in, head to the Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the coast of Charleston. The island is quite well known for its love of beach volleyball, and also has a resort located on the northern tip of the island.
Visiting a former plantation in the area is a great way to learn more about local history and I recommend a visit to Boone Hall, located in nearby Mount Pleasant. This is one of the most popular antebellum plantations to visit from Charleston, thanks to its beautiful Avenue of Oaks, gardens, and its historic plantation house that you can tour. The best news? Everything is included here for a ticket price of $20.
How to see these: For these attractions located outside of Charleston, renting a car is the best option although tours are available throughout the high season.
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
Your bag when backpacking is heavy enough. Here's how travel insurance can help take some weight off your shoulders.
Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
Travel smarter with travel insurance from RoamRight. Get your free, no-obligation quote online today.
View all Blog Authors
View Countries with Blogs
Sign up for RoamRight's FREE monthly email newsletter to get travel tips, tricks, news, ideas, and inspiration!
The RoamRight mark is used by Arch Insurance Company and owned by its parent company, Arch Capital Group (U.S.). All insurance products are offered and underwritten by Arch Insurance Company. The term "Partner", as used on this website refers to any unaffiliated third party entity that may offer or disseminate Arch RoamRight travel insurance. The term has no legal meaning whatsoever and Arch RoamRight hereby disclaims any such legal meaning that may be ascribed to it. Click here for privacy notice.
Copyright© 2021 Arch Insurance Company. All rights reserved.