As a colonial era city able to trace its roots back to 1670, Charleston SC has long been a popular destination drawing history enthusiasts from around the world. Its rich history includes a role in the American Revolution, an Antebellum era boom, leading the charge in the Civil War, and surviving the post war era and desegregation which changed the fabric of the South and the face of the city. Thanks largely to a strong preservationist movement, much of this history has been preserved in the city’s building, plantations, landmarks, and monuments. With a seemingly limitless number of historic attractions it can be tough to select a few to include in a visit to Charleston. We’ve taken the liberty of putting together an itinerary sure to please the history lover in your group.
EAT at local restaurants serving up traditional lowcountry fare…
Henry’s House Since its doors first opened in 1932, Henry’s has been considered THE place to dine in Charleston. Its reputation for culinary excellence has helped it to become the oldest continuously operating restaurant in Charleston and all of South Carolina. Today, the menu includes lowcountry favorites such as Shrimp & Grits, She Crab Soup, and Fried Green Tomato BLT.
Bowens Island Local seafood restaurant on the water, Bowens Island has been serving up fresh, locally harvested oysters, fried shrimp, and homemade hushpuppies since 1946. Just 5 minutes from Folly Beach, the restaurant is known for its friendly, casual, lowcountry atmosphere as much as its freshly caught seafood. During high season there may be a line out the door but it’s always worth the wait!
Circa 1886 Located inside the carriage house of the beautiful and historic Wentworth Mansion, this upscale restaurant offers elevated fare made with locally sourced ingredients. With much of the original architecture intact, diners are able to appreciate the building’s historic features and the many lives it’s had before becoming the celebrated restaurant that it is today.
Martha Lou’s Kitchen Able to trace its Charleston roots back at least 4 generations, this family run restaurant has been serving up authentic soul food for nearly half a century. They’re know for serving up some of the best fried chicken in the south. Look for the distinctive pink building!
VISIT popular tourist attractions and lesser known historical landmarks…
Magnolia Plantation Founded in 1676, this sprawling 390 acre plantation pre-dates the Revolutionary War. The plantation offers something for everyone including tours of the original home and former slaves quarters, petting zoo, nature train, marsh boat tour, hedge maze, and the properties expansive gardens.
Aiken-Rhett House This historic home has been maintained and preserved through the years and now serves as a capsule of life in Charleston during booming antebellum. Home to former Governor William Aiken Jr, the home was considered the epitome of opulence and luxury during its prime.
Fort Moultrie A part of the Fort Sumter National Monument, the retired fort helped to defend the city during the so called “War of Northern Aggression.” Constructed from the spongy trunks of the palmetto tree, they gave the fort a unique protection from cannon fire. This is also the origin for the Palmetto Tree as the state symbol on the state flag.
Patriot’s Point Navel & Maritime Museum The museum, which focuses on the country’s military history, features special exhibits on the Cold War and Vietnam War in addition to its main attraction. Board the World War II aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, learn about enlisted life on board. Military enthusiasts, history lovers, and kiddos alike will enjoy this immersive experience.
STAY in the heart of downtown Charleston…
Maison Des Fleurs Tucked away down Lodge Alley in Charleston’s breathtaking French Quarter, this charming pied-à-terre is in the heart of historic downtown Charleston. Just one block to Charleston Harbor, you can walk to iconic landmarks like Waterfront Park, the Customs House, Charleston City Market, Rainbow Row or the Battery.
Ivy Terrace Feel at home in this charming, ivy covered brick home nestled in Charleston’s Harleston Village neighborhood. Just a block from renowned King Street, step out onto the streets of downtown Charleston, surrounded by Charleston Single homes, local boutiques, and restaurants from this long-term rental. Take advantage of the city’s bike share program, Holy Spokes, to cruise through the nearby historic South of Broad neighborhood.
Though one visit to Charleston may not offer enough time to experience all 400 years of history, the good news is that you’re always welcome in The South’s Friendliest City (2018, voted by the readers of Southern Living Magazine).
Tip: Don’t let your weekend stay in Charleston end. Squeeze in even more history, and save time, by avoiding crowds and lines when your plans include a weekday stay in Charleston.