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Spend your day hopping from one historical site to another, shopping for traditional lowcountryhandicrafts, or biking on the beach. Many sites are packed in the southern tip of the peninsula, though the plantations are further afield.

Things to do in Charleston

Charleston City Market

You can’t miss this bustling outdoors market, a Charleston institution since the late 18th century. Vendors hawk souvenirs like sweet grass baskets, local art, and candies to huge crowds of tourists.

75 Calhoun St., SC, 843-973-7236
Tags: family | shopping | moderate | great value | things to do

Charleston Crafts Cooperative

From hand-dyed silk shawls to carved walking sticks to stained glass ornaments, this coop sells a variety of well-made crafts from local artists. With rotating displays, the store functions as a craft gallery as well.

87 Hasell St., SC, 843-732-2938,
Tags: shopping | moderate | editor pick | things to do

Classic Carriage Tours

Clip-clop around the city in an old-fashioned buggy pulled by an enormous Percheron, draft horse while a guide expounds on three centuries of Charleston history. Classic Carriage is one of several popular horse tour operators in town.

10 Guignard St., SC, 843-853-3747,
Tags: family | editor pick | great value | trendy | things to do | outdoors | history

Edmond-Alston House

The Edmonton-Alston House provides a quick fix for newly arrived visitors ready to bone up on local history. The Alston family's treasures, right down to the elaborate silver service, are on display in a neoclassical mansion with three huge porches (known as piazzas here), all facing discreetly to the side, not the street, following the local custom. Fort Sumter on James Island, the site of the battle that helped launch the Civil War, can be viewed from the hotel's entrance. The house and its sister property Middleton Place are both owned by an Alston descendant.

21 East Battery, SC, 843-722-7171,
Tags: things to do | architecture | history | museum

Fort Sumter

The Civil War began with shots fired at Fort Sumter, a Confederate stronghold on an island in Charleston Harbor (it was eventually, mostly destroyed by Union troops). Popular boat tours leave from Aquarium Wharf several times a day. 

Liberty Square on Aquarium Wharf, SC, 843-883-3123,
Tags: things to do | outdoors | history

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue

Charleston was the Jewish hub of Colonial America, and Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue is one of the country's oldest synagogues. Its colonnaded Greek Revival built in the 1840s by the congregation founded 100 years earlier still serves as a temple as well as housing a museum with tours.

90 Hasell St., SC, 843-723-1090,
Tags: historic | things to do | architecture | tour | museum

Middleton Place Plantation

The grandest of the Ashley River Road plantations, this 18th-century estate features a large collection of antique furniture and art, massive, landscaped gardens, and an equestrian center with riding trails.

4300 Ashley River Rd., SC, 843-556-6020,
Tags: editor pick | smart splurge | art | things to do | outdoors | architecture | history

Old Slave Mart Museum

African men, women, and children were once auctioned off as slaves to plantation owners inside this building. Originally built in 1859, the building was reopened by the city as a museum of slavery.

6 Chalmers St., SC, 843-958-6467,
Tags: things to do | culture | history

South Carolina Aquarium

This nearly 70,000-square-foot facility showcases South Carolina's native aquatic life, from alligators in the Coastal Plain gallery to sharks in the two-story ocean tank.

100 Aquarium Wharf, SC, 843-720-1990,
Tags: family | things to do | wildlife

The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Captured pirates, including the famed Stede Bonnet, were once held in the dungeon of this former customs house. Employees dressed 18th-century garb add to the historical atmosphere.

122 East Bay St., SC, 843-727-2165,
Tags: family | things to do | culture | architecture | history

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