Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Wed January 05 2022
Charleston, South Carolina, USA.  (photo via Sean Pavone / iStock / Getty Images Plus)


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With a rich 300-year history, today’s Charleston, South Carolina, has been described as a “living museum,” one of America's most beautifully-preserved architectural and historical treasures. Visitors here can stand on the site of the first shot in the Civil War, come face to face with a giant sea turtle, take a tour of an antebellum mansion, climb aboard a WWII aircraft carrier, relax in blossoming gardens and so much more. You can tour the old city by horse-drawn carriage, with its many churches, graveyards and historic buildings, or perhaps spend a day sunning yourself at one of the many nearby beaches.

Historic Charleston is located on the southern coast of South Carolina. Its rich history began in the 1600s as an early English settlement. Over the next few centuries, it became one of the most important cities in the area, playing a major role in the Civil War as one of the South's main ports. Luckily, Charleston was the first city in the U.S. to pass a historical preservation ordinance, so its beautiful colonial architecture remains for generations to see and enjoy.

Charleston played an integral role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, enduring occupation by two enemy forces. Tours of the area cover the majority of the popular points of interest including views of Ft. Sumter, the Battery, the historical districts, and museums. You can choose from walking or bus tours, horse-drawn carriage rides, culinary tours of Charleston’s finest restaurants, harbor cruises, dinner and sunset cruises, ghost tours, and plantation tours.

Beyond Charleston’s historic attractions, the area’s coastal waters, harbor, rivers, and estuaries attract fishermen and nature lovers from around the world. And, if you'd care to play a few rounds, Charleston has some of the country's finest golf courses.

Charleston is also famous for its extensive selection of fine restaurants, which present a fine blend of low country cuisine, continental European flair and the freshest seafood around. After dinner and a stroll through quiet historic neighborhoods, you can choose from traditional pubs and bars as well as dance clubs, live music venues and wine bars. If you're not sure exactly what you'd like to do, stroll down Market Street and take a right on East Bay Street. This strip has the highest concentration of bars and clubs in Charleston.

Consider combining your visit to Charleston with a cruise. In May 18, 2010, Carnival Cruise Lines introduced the first year-round cruise schedule from Charleston, S.C., with the deployment of the Carnival Fantasy. The ship operates five-, six- and seven-day voyages to nearby islands and Key West, Fla., from historic downtown Charleston.

To reach Charleston by car from the north coast or south coast, use Hwy 17. From I-95, take I-26 southeast for about an hour to Charleston. Charleston International Airport is located 12 miles outside of town in North Charleston, with 63 daily flights to 17 destinations.

The city of Charleston enjoys a semitropical climate with four distinct seasons. Spring and autumn in Charleston are pleasant seasons, with temperatures reaching the mid 60s and 70s. In summer, visitors to Charleston can enjoy a warm climate, with the hottest weather of the year during June, July and August, when daytime temperatures can reach around 89°F.