Take a Staycation
Whether or not Charlestonians will admit it, tourism drives a lot in this town. Charleston does have the best of most everything, after all. From beaches to boutiques, museums to the Market, there’s a lot to take in. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite tourist stops in the Holy City, so you won’t have to do the legwork. —Moira Phillips and Kinsey Labberton
Fort Sumter National Monument
Tourists and natives alike flock to the fort, accessible by boat, to see where the Civil War began.
340 Concord St., Downtown
Ferry departs from Patriots Point and Liberty Square
$16, $14.50/seniors, $10/ages 6-11, free/ages 5 and up
The aquarium is home to more than 10,000 plants and animals; its Great Ocean tank extends through two stories and contains over 300 animals. Though you might not expect to see penguins in our balmy climate, the newest exhibit features the exquisite birds.
100 Aquarium Wharf, Downtown
$17, $16/seniors, $10/ages 2-11, free/under 1 year
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
Patriots Point undoubtedly has a lot to offer. Perhaps its most famed attraction, however, is the USS Yorktown, which was commissioned in 1942. From stem to stern, this giant runs 188 feet long and displaces over 30,000 tons of water.
1 Patriots Point Road, Mt. Pleasant
$16, $13/seniors and military, $8/ages 6-11, free/under 6
Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
This museum gives kids and parents a break from the constant touring of historic buildings. There’s a healthy grocery store, a children’s garden, and a creativity castle.
25 Ann St., Downtown
$7, free/under 1 year
The H.L. Hunley
The H.L. Hunley sank the Union sloop-of-war Housatonic. Several hours later, the Hunley sank with all eight soldiers onboard. The Hunley was resurrected from its watery grave in 2000.
Charleston Naval Yard
1250 Supply St., North Charleston
Boone Hall Plantation
Boone Hall Plantation hosts house and slave quarter tours, a brand new black history exhibit, a show honoring the Gullah culture, a butterfly garden, and U-Pick gardens which allow visitors to grab a taste of what’s in season.
1235 Long Point Road, Mt. Pleasant
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
This plantation features a stunning home and gardens, slave cabins, and a boat tour, as well as a nature train and a petting zoo for the kids.
3550 Ashley River Road, West Ashley
$7-$15, $7-$10/ages 6-12, free/under 6
Avery Research Center
For any information concerning the African-American experience in Charleston, the Avery with its galleries, museum, and archives is a resource one shouldn’t ignore.
125 Bull St., Downtown
Take a trip to the other side with these ghost tours
In a city that’s known for being holy, there sure does seem to be a whole lot of the undead walking around. No, not zombies — we’re talking about ghosts. If you’ve never lived in a house that made weird creaks and scared the bejeezus out of you at least once a week, you probably know somebody who has. With a past as long and rich as Charleston’s, there are bound to be a few skeletons hanging around the closet or moving your coffee mug half an inch to let you know how damn pissed off they are that they’re still stuck around here.
You wouldn’t even imagine how angry my house ghost Beau got when I told him the Yanks had actually won the War of Northern Aggression. But if you’re not lucky enough to have your very own Rebel or hooker or old Charleston socialite, my God, are there tours to take!
Each tour offers access to particular sights throughout Charleston. Julian Buxton of Tour Charleston told us about the Unitarian Church Graveyard, which their tour has access to. He says the church dates from 1772 and the cemetery is “overgrown with lush foliage.” He recalls with a laugh the night when “a big white lab ran through the cemetery and scared everybody.” Not exactly eerie, but we bet it was funny as hell.
Ghost tours offer the added bonus of taking place at times that don’t involve standing under the blistering sun or fighting your way through flocks of school groups on their way to any seafood restaurant they can find. Whether you think it’s all a bunch of hooey, or you consider yourself a ghost whisperer, ghost tours are designed to fright and delight us all. —Moira Phillips
Ghost & Dungeon Tour, Dark Side of Charleston Tour, Ghost & Graveyard Tour, and Haunted Jail Tour
40 N. Market St.
Ghosts of Charleston, Ghosts of Charleston II, and Pirates of Charleston
184 East Bay St. #103
Charleston’s Ghost Hunt Tour
200 East Bay St.
Tour de Tourist
We’re not quite sure how many different ways there are to tour Charleston, but the number is probably somewhere in the high thousands. On foot, in a carriage, on a bus, or by boat — these are some of the best ways to get around town and take in the sights. —Moira Phillips
40 N. Market St.
Civil War Walking Tour
17 Archdale St.
Original Charleston Walks
45 S. Market St.
Tour Charleston LLC
184 East Bay St. # 103
Carolina Polo & Carriage Co.
181 Church St.
Classic Carriage Tours
10 Guignard St.
Olde Towne Carriage Co.
20 Anson St.
Palmetto Carriage Works
8 Guignard St.
Adventure Sightseeing Tours
1090 Fort Sumter Drive
Charleston’s Finest Historic Tours
375 Meeting St.
Doin’ the Charleston Tours
Charleston Harbor Tours
285 East Bay St.
Spiritline Cruises & Fort Sumter Tours
360 Concord St.
Ghost Walk Walking Tour
74-A N. Market St.