26 Reasons Travelers Love Charleston

Bridge, Skyline, Charleston, South Carolina
Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Getty Images

Travelers from around the world have continued to be charmed by this antebellum town in the American South, which can surprise even repeat visitors with its secret gardens and hidden alleyways overgrown with jasmine and wisteria.

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The Charleston Skyline

Skyline, Charleston, South Carolina
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It’s no surprise Charleston’s nickname is the Holy City. The skyline is punctuated by church steeples.

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The Pineapple Fountain

Pineapple Water Fountain, Charleston, South Carolina
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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.

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Spectator Hotel

The Spectator, Charleston, South Carolina
Courtesy of The Spectator

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.

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Brittlebank Park

Brittlebank Park Pier, Charleston, South Carolina
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With an off-leash dog park, paved running and cycling paths, and twin piers for fishing, Brittlebank is a popular destination for outdoor recreation.

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Planters Inn

Planters Inn, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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.

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Dock Street Theatre

Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

Catch a performance by the local theater company at this historic theater, which reopened after a $19-million renovation in 2010.

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Waterfront Real Estate

Houses along the water, Charleston, South Carolina
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Hometown hero Stephen Colbert still loves this city — he even has a house on Sullivan’s Island.

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Horse-drawn Carriage Rides

Carriage Ride, Charleston, South Carolina
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Many travelers opt to explore historic Charleston by way of horse-drawn carriages.

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Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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.

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East Bay Street

Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

Officially, Rainbow Row refers to homes 83 through 107 on East Bay Street, a cobblestone lane bordered by fragrant jasmine trees.

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Husk, Charleston, South Carolina
Squire Fox

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.

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Broad Street

St. Michaels Church, Broad Street, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

This popular shopping street is home to a number of independent cafes and boutiques, and is best known for tis picturesque storefronts.

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Zero George Street

Hotel Zero George, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

A cluster of historic buildings with meticulous courtyards is now a refined hotel for the most discerning travelers.

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Leon’s Oyster Shop

Leon's, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

This casual local haunt on King Street is famous for its well-seasoned, extra crispy fried chicken and raw bar.

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Longitude Lane

Longitude Lane, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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.

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Francis Marion Hotel

Shepard Fairey Mural, Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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.

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McLeod Plantation

Mcleod Plantation, Charleston, South Carolina
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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.

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King Street

Tucker Payne Antiques, Charleston, South Carolina
Squire Fox

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.

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St. Philip’s Church

St. Philips Cathedral, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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.

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The Vendue

The Vendue Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

A former 18th-century warehouse turned trendy hotel, the property maintained many of the original features, including wood beams and historic Charleston brick.

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Rooftop at the Vendue

The Rooftop at The Vendue Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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).

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South of Broad

South of Broad neighborhood, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

Perhaps Charleston’s most notable neighborhood, South of Broad has uninterrupted views of the harbor and homes dating back to the early 1700s.

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Two Meeting Street Inn

The Inn at Two Meeting, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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.

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Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

Families flock to this eight-acre park for the wide bench swings and excellent views of sailboats cruising by.

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Queen Street

Goat.Sheep.Cow Shop in Charleston
Courtesy of Goat.Sheep.Cow

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.

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White Point Garden

White Point Gardens, Charleston, South Carolina
Peter Frank Edwards

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.

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