26 Reasons Travelers Love Charleston
Related: The Top 15 Cities in the United States
Waterfront parks and quiet beaches are as abundant as antique shops — as are world-class hotels, restaurants serving upscale Lowcountry fare, and historic landmarks and museums.
Here are 26 reasons travelers can't get enough of Charleston, South Carolina.
The Charleston Skyline
It’s no surprise Charleston’s nickname is the Holy City. The skyline is punctuated by church steeples.
The Pineapple Fountain
Find this iconic fountain in Charleston’s Waterfront Park. This tropical motif is common in the Holy City, as it’s meant to represent that famous southern hospitality.
Every guest at this glam, 1920s-inspired hotel is assigned a personal butler. Book a room with a view of the French Quarter and get a drink at the clubby, book-lined lounge just off the lobby.
With an off-leash dog park, paved running and cycling paths, and twin piers for fishing, Brittlebank is a popular destination for outdoor recreation.
Staying at this Relais & Châteaux property is like visiting well-to-do friends in their beautiful mansion home. Rooms boast plantation-style four-poster beds and Italian marble bathrooms.
Dock Street Theatre
Catch a performance by the local theater company at this historic theater, which reopened after a $19-million renovation in 2010.
Waterfront Real Estate
Hometown hero Stephen Colbert still loves this city — he even has a house on Sullivan’s Island.
Horse-drawn Carriage Rides
Many travelers opt to explore historic Charleston by way of horse-drawn carriages.
No trip to Charleston would be complete without visiting rightly-named Rainbow Row: a cluster of Georgian-style homes dating back to 1740. Legend has it the pastel hues helped drunken sailors find their way home.
East Bay Street
Officially, Rainbow Row refers to homes 83 through 107 on East Bay Street, a cobblestone lane bordered by fragrant jasmine trees.
Local star chef Sean Brock serves contemporary Southern fare inside this 19th-century estate (like bacon-corn bread with pork butter). At the next door bar, order a bourbon cocktail like the Turcotte’s Tipple, which is crafted with grapefruit shrub, pamplemouse, and pink saltwater.
This popular shopping street is home to a number of independent cafes and boutiques, and is best known for tis picturesque storefronts.
Zero George Street
A cluster of historic buildings with meticulous courtyards is now a refined hotel for the most discerning travelers.
Leon’s Oyster Shop
This casual local haunt on King Street is famous for its well-seasoned, extra crispy fried chicken and raw bar.
Take a guided walking tour of Charleston to discover the city’s secret streets and hidden alleyways, like the narrow cobblestoned strip called Longitude Lane.
Francis Marion Hotel
Local artist Shepard Fairey has left his mark on the city in the way of colorful murals, like the so-called Green Power mural on the College Lodge Residence Hall and an OBEY GIANT mascot atop the Francis Marion Hotel.
A carefully preserved historic site with beautifully preserved grounds, visitors can learn about daily life for its inhabitants — both enslaved and free — during the 1800s.
South Carolina’s ultimate antiques drag is lined with delightful shops like George C. Birlant & Co., Croghan’s Jewel Box (you’ll need to ring a bell to access the century-old shop selling estate diamond brooches and antique lockets) and Tucker Payne Antiques.
St. Philip’s Church
Established in 1680 on the corner of Meeting and Broad, St. Philip’s is now on Church Street. The brick portico building is a National Historic Landmark.
A former 18th-century warehouse turned trendy hotel, the property maintained many of the original features, including wood beams and historic Charleston brick.
Rooftop at the Vendue
The Vendue even has a buzzy multi-tiered rooftop bar with an ample drinks menu. Try a specialty cocktail or local craft beer (Holy City Washout Wheat from North Charleston; River Dog Riverwalk Pilsner from nearby Ridgeland).
South of Broad
Perhaps Charleston’s most notable neighborhood, South of Broad has uninterrupted views of the harbor and homes dating back to the early 1700s.
Two Meeting Street Inn
The city’s oldest inn is an intimate, nine-room property with Tiffany stained-glass windows, Audubon prints, and a wraparound porch furnished with rocking chairs.
Families flock to this eight-acre park for the wide bench swings and excellent views of sailboats cruising by.
This tree-lined strip South of Broad is home to a petite fromagerie inside one of the 200-year-old buildings. Goat.Sheep.Cow even has limited lunchtime baguette sandwiches for visitors on-the-go.
White Point Garden
Surrounded on three sides by water, this beautiful garden marks the end of the city’s seawall and promenade. Visitors will find historic memorabilia like Civil War-era cannons and pieces of the USS Maine.