South Carolina

Charleston /North Charleston, South Carolina

A- Overview:
Elegant and refined, Charleston mixes European charm with new world energy and excitement. The cityscape is one of beautiful buildings, winding streets and a touch of old world luxury, Charleston is the smaller, more comfortable New Orleans of the Upper South. The city was founded in 1670 and boomed as a center for rice and indigo trading. Since then, Charleston has occupied a prominent place in American history, and its beauty is recognized throughout the world.
The streets of Charleston are lined with historic houses and narrow apartment buildings with stucco walls and wrought iron balconies (make sure to visit Calhoun Mansion). There is something of a Caribbean flavor to Charleston, with its palm trees and welcoming feel. After strolling through the historic district, most visitors head to Waterfront Park. There they explore the landscaped square and boardwalks projecting into the river. White Point Gardens afford a view of the water with its gentle breezes that are cool in the heat of the day. The Charleston Museum is the oldest in the nation, dating from 1773. The market area has old-fashioned, open stalls from which vendors sell all sorts of fascinating items.

Charleston is located on the end of a small peninsula that points into the famous Charleston Harbor, from which traders and immigrants have disembarked for centuries. In the middle of the harbor sits Fort Sumter, the site of the battle that ignited the Civil War. A museum within the Fort tells the full story.

The city was home to members of many Protestant denominations whose heritage survives in the wide variety of church buildings they constructed. Many of these stately and beautifully appointed edifices were the first of their kind in America. Charleston Harbor was the point of entry over the years for persons of many cultures. Their influence has enriched the city.

There are numerous points of interest just outside Charleston. The fabulous beaches draw visitors for water sports and relaxation. Just beyond Charleston is Magnolia Plantation and Audubon Swamp Garden. The ornamental gardens are stunning in the summer when the flowers are in bloom. Visitors tour the grounds, the magnificent main house, and the out buildings, and then enjoy an ecological tour of the fascinating marshes and waterways from the comfort of a scenic tram ride.

Charleston is known for its beauty and its easygoing pace, as well as for its priceless historic treasures. Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Family Fun have rated the city a Top Destination in the United States for value, #1 in friendliness, and #2 in the South for families.

Looking to experience old world charm and elegance in a friendly enjoyable atmosphere? From the Harbor to the plantation, Charleston has so much to offer travelers looking for a thoroughly enjoyable destination.

B- City Information:
Population: 96,650

Elevation: 118 feet

County: Charleston

Land area: 97.0 square miles

Time Zone: Charleston is in the Eastern Standard Time Zone. When it is 12:00 noon in New York City; it is also 12:00 noon in Charleston. Daylight saving time is observed from the end of April through the end of October.

National Holidays:

New Year’s Day Jan. 1

Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 3rd Mon. in Jan.

President’s Day 3rd Mon. in Feb.

Memorial Day last Mon. in May

Independence Day July 4

Labor Day 1st Mon. in Sept.

Thanksgiving Day 4th Thurs. in Nov.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dec. 24 and 25

New Year’s Eve Dec. 31

Getting There:

By Air

Charleston International Airport is in North Charleston on I-26, about 12 miles west of the city. Taxis and the airport shuttle provide transportation from the airport. All major car-rental facilities are available at the airport. If you are driving, follow the airport-access road to I-26 into the heart of Charleston.

By Car

The main north-south coastal route, U.S. 17, passes through Charleston; I-26 runs northwest to southeast, ending in Charleston. Charleston is 120 miles southeast of Columbia via I-26 and 98 miles south of Myrtle Beach via U.S. 17.

Getting Around

By Bus: City bus fares service is available from 5:35am to 10pm (until 1am to North Charleston). Between 9:30am and 3:30pm, senior citizens and the handicapped pay less. Exact change is required. For route and schedule information, call 843/724-7420.

The Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) is a quick and efficient way to get around the main downtown area daily. A day pass is available. For hours and routes, call 843/724-7420.

Charleston is laid out in an easy-to-follow grid pattern. The main north-south streets are King, Meeting, and East Bay streets. Tradd, Broad, Queen, and Calhoun streets cross the city from east to west. South of Broad Street, East Bay becomes East Battery.

C- Attractions/Things To Do:
Public Beaches
A renourished beach lures vacationers to Folly Beach. There are good seafood restaurants and colorful bars. All in all, Folly is a beachcomber’s delight. Directions to Folly Beach: If you cross the Ashley River Bridges and follow Folly Road to the end, you will soon come to Folly Beach, located south of Charleston.

Another popular beach is found on Isle of Palms, a barrier island on the South Carolina coast less than 20 minutes from Charleston. It is home to the world-famous Wild Dunes Resort.

Old Charleston Market
North and South Market Streets between Meeting and East Bay streets
A narrow line of low-roofed nineteenth-century sheds, packed with ‘basket ladies’ selling crafts, jewelry, spices, T-shirts and trinkets.

Charleston Museum
360 Meeting St
803-722-2996
A vast collection of city memorabilia conveniently located across from the town visitor center.The Charleston Museum Summer Family Calendar annually features everything from Submarines and Museum Magic with Harry Potter to Crazy Quilts and Crawling Crustaceans, plus much more. Extended hours begin July 5th. Every Thursday night during the summer, the exhibits remain open until 7:30 p.m. Kidstory offers younger history buffs a chance to have a more interactive museum experience.

Fort Sumter
City Marina, off Lockwood Blvd
803-722-1691
Fort Sumter is the site of the first battle that started the Civil War. A pleasant boat trip docks at this island which features a good Civil War museum inside the fort.

Magnolia Plantation & Audubon Swamp Garden
Hwy-61 (River Road), twelve miles west of Charleston
803-571-1266
Stunning ornamental gardens (best in spring and early summer) with tram rides through the swamp, complete with wildlife and lush flowers.

Splash Zone
James Island County Park
871 Riverland Drive
843-795-7275
Admission charged. Children under 2 free When the temperatures start rising, visitors of all ages will enjoy this favorite summer playground located within the James Island County Park. The park features two 200-foot tube slides, a Caribbean play structure with slides, a 500-foot lazy river, and a recreational pool.

Nathaniel Russel House
51 Meeting Street
843-723-1623
This national historic landmark is one of the most important neoclassical homes in America. Features include art and furnishings from the late 18th century and early 19th century.

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
122 East Bay Street
843-727-2165
Often called the “Independence Hall of South Carolina,” the Old Exchange was built in the late 1700’s. Today, this impressive building is filled with historical items of the state and region.

Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting Street
843-722-2706
This museum features an outstanding collection of more than 7,000 American paintings, prints and drawings from the 18th century to the present.

Aiken-Rhett House
48 Elizabeth St.
843-723-1159.
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 2-5.
Admission charged.
Dating from 1819, this mansion was once the headquarters of Confederate general Beauregard. Of special note are the original wallpaper, paint colors and some of its furnishings. The house, kitchen, slave quarters and work yard are maintained much as they were when the original occupants lived here.

American Military Museum
40 Pinckney St.
843-723-9620
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 1-6.
Admission charged.
The museum has on display hundreds of uniforms and artifacts from all branches of service, dating from the Revolutionary War to the present. Its collections also include antique toy soldiers, war toys, miniatures and weaponry.

Calhoun Mansion
16 Meeting St.
843-722-8205
Hours: Feb.-Dec., Wed.-Sun. 10-4
Admission charged.
This lavish mansion is an interesting example of Victorian architecture. Built in 1876, it’s notable for ornate plasterwork, fine wood moldings and a 75-foot domed ceiling.

Charleston Place
130 Market St.
843-722-4900
The city’s only world-class hotel, this Orient Express property is flanked by a four-story complex of upscale boutiques and specialty shops. The hotel is so beautiful that visitors find it’s worth visiting as an attraction, even if they’re not staying there.

Circular Congregational Church
150 Meeting St.
843-577-6400
Hours: Call for tour schedule
Simple yet attractive, this church has a beamed, vaulted ceiling and is an splendid example of Romanesque architecture.

City Hall
80 Broad St.
843-577-6970
Hours: Weekdays 10-5
Admission: Free
The intersection of Meeting and Broad streets is known as the “Four Corners of Law”, representing the laws of nation, state, city, and church. On the northeast corner is graceful City Hall, dating from 1801. The second-floor Council Chamber has numerous interesting historical displays and portraits.

Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.
843-720-3968
Hours: Weekdays 10-4
Admission: Free tours; call ahead for ticket prices and performance times.
Built on the site of one of the nation’s first playhouses, the building combines the reconstructed early Georgian playhouse and the preserved Old Planter’s Hotel (circa 1809). The theater, which offers fascinating backstage views, welcomes tours.

Edmondston-Alston House
21 E. Battery
843-722-7171
Hours: Tues.-Sat. 10-4:30, Sun.-Mon. 1:30-4:30
Admission charged.
Featuring spectacular views of Charleston Harbor, this imposing home was built in 1825 in late-Federal style and was transformed into a Greek Revival structure during the 1840s. It is tastefully furnished with antiques, portraits, prints, silver and fine china.

French Protestant (Huguenot) Church
110 Church St.
843-722-4385
Hours: Weekdays 10-12:30 and 2-4
Admission: Donations welcome
This church is the only one in the country still using the original French Huguenot liturgy.

Heyward-Washington House
87 Church St.
843-722-0354
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 1-5
Admission charged.
Built in 1772, this home was the backdrop for DuBose Heyward’s book Porgy, which was the basis for the beloved folk opera “Porgy and Bess”. The neighborhood, known as Cabbage Row, is central to Charleston’s African-American history. President George Washington stayed in the house during his 1791 visit. It is filled with fine period furnishings and its restored 18th-century kitchen is the only one in Charleston open to visitors.

Joseph Manigault Mansion
350 Meeting St.
843-723-2926
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 1-5
Admission charged.
A National Historic Landmark and an outstanding example of neoclassical architecture, this home was designed in 1803 and is noted for its carved-wood mantels and elaborate plaster work. Some furnishings are British and French but most are Charleston antiques.

Market Hall
88 Meeting St.
843-723-1541
Saturday noon-4, Sunday 1-4
Admission charged.
Built in 1841 and modeled after the Temple of Nike in Athens, this imposing landmark building includes the Confederate Museum, where the Daughters of the Confederacy preserve and display flags, uniforms, swords and other Civil War memorabilia.

Old Powder Magazine
79 Cumberland St.
843-805-6730
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 2-5
Admission charged.
This structure was built in 1713 and used during the Revolutionary War. It is now a museum with costumes, armor, and other artifacts from 18th-century Charleston, all described during an interesting audiovisual tour.

Boone Hall Plantation
1235 Long Point Rd., off U.S. 17N
843-884-4371
Hours: Apr.-Labor Day, Mon.-Sat. 8:30-6:30, Sun. 1-5; Labor Day-Mar., Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 1-4 Admission charged. This working plantation is found at the end of one of the South’s most majestic avenues of oaks, and was the model for the grounds of Tara in “Gone With the Wind.” You can tour the first floor of the classic columned mansion, which was built in 1935 incorporating woodwork and flooring from the original house; however, the primary attraction is the grounds featuring formal azalea and camellia gardens.
With the opening of a downtown retail shop, Boone Hall on Wentworth provides the only plantation tour available from downtown Charleston. Shuttles to Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens leave daily from a convenient location: Intersection of King & Wentworth Streets.

Live Theater is also available at Boone Hall. “Exploring the Gullah Culture” and “Life in the South” are available twice a day, Monday – Saturday at no additional charge.

Local produce and Lowcountry products abound at Boone Hall Farms, a local roadside market located on Highway 17, across from Boone Hall Plantation. U-Pick fields with in-season produce are open to the public throughout the year. Late May/June – Cucumbers, Squash, Broccoli, Cabbage & Lettuce. June – Corn, Watermelon, Tomatoes, Peppers, Blackberries. Late September – Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cabbage, Collards.

Fort Moultrie
W. Middle St., Sullivan’s Island
843-883-3123
Hours: Daily 9-5
Admission: Free
At this site Colonel William Moultrie’s South Carolinians repelled a British assault in one of the first Patriot victories of the Revolutionary War. A 20-minute film tells the history of the fort.

Museum on the Common
217 Lucas St.
843-849-9000
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11-4
Admission: Free
This small museum has an outdoor maritime museum and a Hurricane Hugo exhibit that documents the 1989 storm damage through video and photos.

Patriots Point
Foot of Cooper River Bridges
843-884-2727
Hours: Labor Day-Mar., daily 9-6:30; Apr.-Labor Day, daily 9-7:30
Admission charged.
Tours are offered on all of the vessels located here at the world’s largest naval and maritime museum. Visitors may tour the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the World War II submarine Clamagore, the destroyer Laffey, the nuclear merchant ship Savannah, and the cutter Ingham.

Palmetto Islands County Park
U.S. 17N, 1/2 mile past Snee Farm, turn left onto Long Point Rd.
843-884-0832
Hours: Apr. and Sept.-Oct., daily 9-6; May-Aug., daily 9-7; Nov.-Feb., daily 10-5; Mar., daily 10-6 Located across from Boone Hall Plantation, the park features a Big Toy playground, 2-acre pond, paved trails, an observation tower, marsh boardwalks and a “water island.”

Beachwater Park
Kiawah Island
843-762-2172
Admission charged per car (up to 8 passengers)
June-Aug., daily 10-7; May and Sept., daily 10-6; April and Oct., weekends 10-6.
This beach features 300 ft of beach frontage, seasonal lifeguard service, rest rooms, outdoor showers, a picnic area, snack bar and a 150-car parking lot.

Folly Beach County Park
Folly Island
843-588-2426
Admission charged per car (up to 8 passengers)
May-Aug., daily 9-7; Apr., Sept., Oct., 10-6; Nov.-Mar., daily 10-5
This large beach has 4,000 ft of ocean frontage and 2,000 ft of river frontage. The beach facilities include dressing areas, outdoor showers, rest rooms, and picnicking areas; beach chairs, raft, and umbrella rentals; and a 400-vehicle parking lot. Pelican Watch shelter is available year-round for group picnics and day or night oyster roasts.

D- Family Fun Attractions:
Old Charleston Market
North and South Market Streets between Meeting and East Bay streets
A narrow line of low-roofed nineteenth-century sheds, packed with ‘basket ladies’ selling crafts, jewelry, spices, T-shirts and trinkets.

Magnolia Plantation & Audubon Swamp Garden
Hwy-61 (River Road), twelve miles west of Charleston
803-571-1266
Stunning ornamental gardens (best in spring and early summer) with tram rides through the swamp, complete with alligators and lush flowers.

Splash Zone
James Island County Park
871 Riverland Drive
843-795-7275
Admission charged. Children under 2 free.
When the temperatures start rising, visitors of all ages will enjoy this favorite summer playground located within the James Island County Park. The park features two 200-foot tube slides, a Caribbean play structure with slides, a 500-foot lazy river, and a recreational pool.

Fort Sumter
City Marina, off Lockwood Blvd
803-722-1691
Fort Sumter is the site of the first battle that started the Civil War. A pleasant boat trip docks at this island which features a good Civil War museum inside the fort.

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
122 East Bay Street
843-727-2165
Often called the “Independence Hall of South Carolina,” the Old Exchange was built in the late 1700’s. Today, this impressive building is filled with historical items of the state and region.

American Military Museum
40 Pinckney St.
843-723-9620
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-6, Sun. 1-6.
Admission charged.
The museum has on display hundreds of uniforms and artifacts from all branches of service, dating from the Revolutionary War to the present. Its collections also include antique toy soldiers, war toys, miniatures and weaponry.

Market Hall
88 Meeting St.
843-723-1541
Saturday noon-4, Sunday 1-4
Admission charged.
Built in 1841 and modeled after the Temple of Nike in Athens, this imposing landmark building includes the Confederate Museum, where the Daughters of the Confederacy preserve and display flags, uniforms, swords and other Civil War memorabilia.

Old Powder Magazine
79 Cumberland St.
843-805-6730
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 2-5
Admission charged.
This structure was built in 1713 and used during the Revolutionary War. It is now a museum with costumes, armor, and other artifacts from 18th-century Charleston, all described during an interesting audiovisual tour.

Boone Hall Plantation
1235 Long Point Rd., off U.S. 17N
843-884-4371
Hours: Apr.-Labor Day, Mon.-Sat. 8:30-6:30, Sun. 1-5; Labor Day-Mar., Mon.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 1-4 Admission charged. This working plantation is found at the end of one of the South’s most majestic avenues of oaks, and was the model for the grounds of Tara in “Gone With the Wind.” You can tour the first floor of the classic columned mansion, which was built in 1935 incorporating woodwork and flooring from the original house; however, the primary attraction is the grounds featuring formal azalea and camellia gardens.

Fort Moultrie
W. Middle St., Sullivan’s Island
843-883-3123
Hours: Daily 9-5
Admission: Free
At this site Colonel William Moultrie’s South Carolinians repelled a British assault in one of the first Patriot victories of the Revolutionary War. A 20-minute film tells the history of the fort.

Patriots Point
Foot of Cooper River Bridges
843-884-2727
Hours: Labor Day-Mar., daily 9-6:30; Apr.-Labor Day, daily 9-7:30
Admission charged.Tours are offered on all of the vessels located here at the world’s largest naval and maritime museum. Visitors may tour the aircraft carrier Yorktown, the World War II submarine Clamagore, the destroyer Laffey, the nuclear merchant ship Savannah, and the cutter Ingham.

Palmetto Islands County Park
U.S. 17N, 1/2 mile past Snee Farm, turn left onto Long Point Rd.
843-884-0832
Hours: Apr. and Sept.-Oct., daily 9-6; May-Aug., daily 9-7; Nov.-Feb., daily 10-5; Mar., daily 10-6 Admission charged. Located across from Boone Hall Plantation, the park features a Big Toy playground, 2-acre pond, paved trails, an observation tower, marsh boardwalks and a “water island.”

Beachwater Park
Kiawah Island
843-762-2172
Admission charged per car (up to 8 passengers)
June-Aug., daily 10-7; May and Sept., daily 10-6; April and Oct., weekends 10-6.
This beach features 300 ft of beach frontage, seasonal lifeguard service, rest rooms, outdoor showers, a picnic area, snack bar and a 150-car parking lot.

Folly Beach County Park
Folly Island
843-588-2426
Admission charged per car (up to 8 passengers)
May-Aug., daily 9-7; Apr., Sept., Oct., 10-6; Nov.-Mar., daily 10-5
This large beach has 4,000 ft of ocean frontage and 2,000 ft of river frontage. The beach facilities include dressing areas, outdoor showers, rest rooms, and picnicking areas; beach chairs, raft, and umbrella rentals; and a 400-vehicle parking lot. Pelican Watch shelter is available year-round for group picnics and day or night oyster roasts.

South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
843-720-1990

The Great Hall is the impressive introduction to the South Carolina Aquarium. Two-story windows offer one of the best views in town of Charleston Harbor. A large wall map of South Carolina allows visitors to see the regions of South Carolina represented in the Aquarium. The floor is an artistic representation of the entire coast of South Carolina from the North Carolina to the Georgia border. The 15,000 gallon Carolina Seas exhibit that is the centerpiece of the Great Hall allows guests to see some of the colorful fish found around the reef habitats off the coast of South Carolina.

The SC Aquarium’s summertime detective theme allows children and adults alike to use their detective skills to uncover mysteries throughout each of the South Carolina regions represented at the Aquarium, from the mountains to the ocean. Guests have the opportunity to use clues, a scavenger map, a Dorsal Decoder, and the help of the five Something’s Fishy animal characters to learn more about the wonders of the natural world. Discover new facts while exploring with Ollie the Otter, Olivia the Octopus, Dr. Ali Gator, Carlos the Shark and Harrison the Heron. Turtles of all colors and creative whim have taken up residence around Charleston for the South Carolina Aquarium exhibit, Turtles on the Town. Fiberglass loggerhead sea turtles, transformed by South Carolina artists, are displayed at locations throughout the community. Modeled after successful community art projects such as Cows on Parade in Chicago, Turtles on the Town will raise funds and awareness for the conservation programs of the South Carolina Aquarium. Call 843-720-1990

E- Events & Entertainment:
Events

The Charleston Boat Show
Late January
Charleston Area Coliseum & Convention Center
(843) 762-3997

Lowcountry Oyster Festival
Late January
Boone Hall Plantation
(843) 577-4030

February

Lowcountry Coin Club Show
Early Februry
(843) 225-8456, (843) 200-7416, (843) 744-2072

Budwiser Lowcountry Blues Bash
Early-Mid February

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition
Mid-February
(843) 723-1748

March

French Quarter Art Walk
Early March
Downtown Charleston, SC
(843) 577-7100

Festival of Houses and Gardens
Mid-March 17- Mid-April
Downtown Charleston, SC
(843) 723-1623

The Garden Club of Charleston Annual

House and Garden Tours
Mid-late March
Downtown Charleston, SC
(843) 762-0091

South Carolina In-Water Boat Show

Late March – Early April
Brittlebank Park
(843) 579-0065

April

Flowertown Festival

Early April
Summerville, SC
(843) 871-9622

Cooper River Bridge Run
Early April
(843) 792-6611

Family Circle Cup
Mid-April
(800) 677-2293

World Grits Festival
Mid-April
St. George, SC
(843) 563-7943

Charleston’s Peak Blooming Season
March thru End of April

Blessing of the Fleet
Late April
Mt. Pleasant, SC
(843) 849-2061

French Quarter Art Walk
Early April
Downtown Charleston, SC
(843) 577-7100

May

Air Expo

Mid-May
Charleston Air Force Base
(843) 963-6341

Boone Hall Outdoor Pops Concert
Late May
Boone Hall Plantation
(843) 723-7528

Spoleto Arts Festival
Late May-mid-May 27 through Mid-June
(843) 722-2764

June

Charleston Greek Festival
Early June
Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity
(843) 577-2063

Charleston Maritime Festival
Mid-June
Maritime Center Complex, Downtown Charleston
(843) 722-1030

Annual 4th of July Celebrations
July 4

Charleston: Patriots Point
(843) 884-2727

Brittlebank Park

(843) 577-3647

Summerville

(843) 821-7260

September

Moja Festival
Late September – Early October
(843) 724-7305

Annual Fall Candlelight Tour of Homes and Gardens
Mid-September 16 –Late October
The Preservation Society
(843) 722-4630

Scottish Games and Highland Gathering
Mid-September
(843) 224-7867

October

Charleston Corn Maize

Throughout October
Johns Island, SC
(843) 559-0788

A Taste of the Town
1st Weekend in October
Summerville, SC
(843) 873-2931

The Taste of Charleston
2nd weekend in October
(843) 577-4030

Touring the Tombstones
Mid-October
(843) 766-2080

Carolina Coastal Fair
Late October – Early November
Ladson, SC

November

Civil War Reenactment of the Battle of Secessionville
Boone Hall Plantation
November 20 & 21, 2004

December

5K Reindeer Walk/Run
Early December
161 East Bay Street at Cumberland St.
(843) 345-6906

Charleston Tree Lighting Ceremony

Early December
Marion Square
(800) 774-0006

Annual Charleston Parade of Boats
Early December
Charleston Harbor
(800) 774-0006

First Night – New Year’s Eve
December 31
(843) 853-6423