Unique things to do in Charleston
Book unforgettable activities hosted by locals on Airbnb.
Travel like a local
This is a city with soul, one that has beauty and grace that is on full display with its architecture and vibrant historic neighborhoods. For unique things to do in Charleston, don’t miss activities that bring you closer to this South Carolina city’s story: do the Gateway Walk, visit PURE Theater, and eat more than the shrimp and grits. Locals can show you firsthand how to enjoy your time here on a Charleston sunset sail, a crabbing adventure at a downtown pier, and history walking tours, among other Airbnb Experiences.
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Your guide to Charleston
What are some of the best neighborhoods in Charleston?
Downtown, also known as the Peninsula, is packed with action: shopping, dining, events, and historic attractions. While it does attract out-of-town visitors with its historic mansions, ghost stories, horse-drawn carriages, and lively energy, it’s also where many locals hang out — with plenty of walkable neighborhoods offering their own spins on Lowcountry hospitality.
This part of the Historic District often gets pinned as the place to enjoy upscale shopping, but it’s also an extremely walkable (and beloved) part of the city to grab drinks, catch live music, and enjoy some of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants. On Saturdays, don’t miss the Charleston Farmers Market for fresh fare and locally made arts and crafts.
While not technically downtown, its close proximity to King Street, Marion Square, and the bustling City Market makes it easy to get to for those who want to enjoy the grandeur of the Historic District in a quieter setting. Beautiful homes are nestled between oak trees strewn with Spanish moss, and there are still plenty of places to grab a 5-star bite, or check out galleries and boutiques. It’s also where you can find lush gardens.
Students, families, professors, and young professionals love this area, in part because it’s within walking distance to the College of Charleston. The 10-acre Colonial Lake Park is a favorite place to unwind, while the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and Library Society (one of the first of its kind in the United States) are hot spots for exhibits and events.
While they are technically two neighborhoods, most residents would consider them one. This revitalized area of downtown is where to come for a glimpse into today’s Charleston: a place for classic Southern cooking and Victorian homes as much as new housing development, global cuisine, and thriving independent businesses.
What do locals recommend doing?
Spend the day on Folly Island
Locals and out-of-towners don’t mind sharing here, where you can take surfing lessons, a dolphin cruise, or just relax on Folly Beach.
Walk (or jog, or bike) the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
The iconic bridge that swoops over Cooper River is a favorite local spot for a walk, jog, or bike ride. The bridge spans about 2.5 miles, connecting Charleston to the nearby suburb of Mount Pleasant, where you’ll find fresh seafood, local dives, and fun fishing outings in the Shem Creek area.
Spend time in the West Ashley suburb
Head out to get some quintessential South Carolina barbecue, and stroll the neighborhoods of Avondale and River Terrace for gorgeous green spaces.
What are important historical landmarks in Charleston?
History is down every cobblestoned alley and extends to the rivers and marshes of this Lowcountry city founded in 1670. Here’s some of the most important historical things to do in Charleston.
Visit the Boroughs of Charleston
The Boroughs — Cannonborough/Elliotborough, Radcliffeborough, Ansonborough and Mazyk-Wraggborough — are home to important landmarks, including the Aiken-Rhett House Museum, that educate on what life was like here in the 18th and 19th centuries. Set to open in 2022, the International African American Museum sheds light on the history and ancestry of the African Americans of South Carolina (and beyond) with exhibits, a family center where people can trace their genealogy, and a memorial garden, among other innovative programs in Radcliffeborough.
Take a ferry to Fort Sumter
This is the site where the Civil War began, and a national historical park shrouded in significant American history best told by a park ranger, or a local historian as your guide. You can reach the monument via ferry at Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center in Charleston or Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant.
Experience the French Quarter
This area, and the neighboring South of Broad, host some of Charleston’s most known attractions such as Rainbow Row, the Battery, White Point Garden, historic mansions, and more. If it’s your first time in Charleston, a historic walking tour around here is an important and fascinating introduction to Charleston’s past. For an immersive experience, visit the Historic Charleston Supper Club. What do locals do in an area like this? Spend time with friends and family at Waterfront Park where kids splash in the fountains and residents relax in the grass. Each year, the Dock Street Theatre is a must for those attending the annual Spoleto Festival.