Founded in 1670, Charleston, SC is steeped in rich history and culture. Here your guests will find scenic parks and gardens, colorful homes, elegant plantations, a world-class arts and crafts market, and museums dedicated not only to the past but to the future as well.
Top Charleston Sites for Your Guests to Enjoy
Charleston is also a very walkable city with many sites in close proximity to one another. Here are 18 things to do in Charleston that are sure to please your out-of-town wedding guests.
The Battery: One of downtown Charleston’s most popular spots, the seawall promenade stretches along the city’s peninsula. The Battery makes a great walking tour of antebellum mansions and offers views of some of Charleston’s most popular sites.
White Point Gardens: Adjacent to The Battery you’ll find this beautiful park that features stunning views of the Charleston Harbor. Admission is free and there is plenty of curbside parking. And if you’re still on the hunt for a ceremony location, the park can be rented by calling the City of Charleston Recreation Department.
Rainbow Row: Just a two-minute walk from The Battery and White Point Gardens, you’ll find a Charleston gem in these brightly painted houses that are a popular spot for photos. Thanks to local preservation efforts, Rainbow Row is designated a landmark by the National Park Service.
Fort Sumter National Monument: History buffs on your guest list will want to put this one on their tour of Charleston. Visitors take a ferry ride over to the island fort, the site of the first battle of the American Civil War.
Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse: Some people just love lighthouses. As a working lighthouse, this one is not open to the public. But your guests can take a stroll on the public access beach and get a photo op of one of the most unique lighthouses on either US coast.
Fort Moultrie: After your guests visit Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse, they can also take a tour of this historic site. Decommissioned in 1960, the fort became part of the National Park Service. Your guests will find representations of the five different eras of the fort’s legacy.
Folly Beach: Sun-loving wedding guests can get their fill at Charleston’s favorite beach. In addition to sun, sand, and shore, visitors can enjoy a stroll on the 1000-foot pier, visit a pelican rookery and take in the view of Morris Island Lighthouse at Lighthouse Inlet Preserve.
Charleston Waterfront Park: Located along the Cooper River, this peaceful park features gardens and meandering walking paths. There’s even a fountain where you’re welcome to dip your toes.
Charleston City Market: This is Charleston’s #1 attraction – and with good reason. Established in the 1790s, this covered market offers the best in Charleston’s local arts and crafts. Open daily, here’s where your guests can find artisans creating the famous Lowcountry sweetgrass baskets.
Charleston Museum: This museum actually consists of three different sites, including two historic homes. The Charleston Museum was the first museum established in America and it’s the largest in South Carolina, featuring exhibits on the area’s nature and culture.
Nathaniel Russell House: Being an important port city in early America, Charleston had a thriving mercantile class. This gracious home showcases the grandeur and lifestyle of those wealthy citizens during the early 19th century. In addition to tours of the home, there’s also a robust calendar of special events. Be sure to check them out to see if any coincide with your Charleston wedding.
Old Slave Mart Museum: Sometimes history is not pleasant. And the fact remains that nearly 40% of the US slave trade came through Charleston. This museum has made its mission to educate visitors about this time in America.
South Carolina Aquarium: Featuring marine life from the Southeastern US, this aquarium is instrumental in preserving sea turtles with its recovery center for sick and injured animals. Your wedding guests can also experience the aquarium with its After Hours events. Visitors 21 and older can enjoy local cuisine, an adult beverage, and entertainment while touring the galleries and enjoying views of Charleston Harbor.
Patriots Point: This is the home of the USS Yorktown. Commissioned in 1943, the aircraft carrier was crucial during World War II and proudly served America until 1970. Just about the entire ship is open to the public – and you can even enjoy lunch in the CPO mess hall. After touring Yorktown, your guests can also explore a destroyer ship, a submarine, the Vietnam Experience Exhibit, and the Medal of Honor Museum.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens: Charleston’s most visited plantation was named by Travel + Leisure Magazine as having one of America’s most beautiful gardens. Unlike many historic gardens that are more formal in nature, you’ll find these blend in with the natural beauty surrounding the plantation.
Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens: Only eight miles from downtown Charleston, this plantation includes beautifully landscaped gardens, a butterfly pavilion, and exhibits on Gullah culture. And with the combo package, you can take a water tour of Charleston Harbor and view the city’s major attractions as well as visit the plantation.
Dock Street Theater: As one of the city’s premier performing arts centers, your guests will find a variety of productions, from local theater groups to national touring companies. And the notable building is open daily for tours.
Ghost Tours: A city this old is bound to have some ghosts. If your guests are looking for something different after dark, recommend one of Charleston’s ghost tours. Your guests can take a walking tour or even see the spooky sites from a horse-drawn carriage.
With so many things to see and do, your out-of-town wedding guests just might want to extend their stay in the “Holy City.”
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