Photo: Horse-drawn carriage passing house

Visitors can explore Charleston's old-fashioned charms via horse-drawn carriage.

Photograph by Doris De Witt, Getty Images

This coastal city is steeped in history and Southern charm. Famous for its colonial houses and antebellum mansions, cobblestone streets, and gardens, it’s easy to get lost in another time when visiting Charleston. Take in the historic sites during a carriage ride. Then browse the City Market where vendors sell sweets, paintings, pottery, and Charleston’s famous sweetgrass baskets. Stroll Battery Park, the picturesque promenade known for its views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse.

Where to Play

Located on the Charleston Harbor, the South Carolina Aquarium is a family favorite. You will encounter sharks, moray eels, and river otters. The aquarium even has a turtle hospital to treat injured sea turtles. At the Old Charleston Naval Base in north Charleston, you can see the C.S.S. H.L. Hunley Confederate Submarine—the first submarine ever to sink a warship. Its wreckage was discovered in 1995. For a taste of plantation living, head to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Tour the house, take a boat trip on the grounds, or visit the petting zoo. Another option is Middleton Place Plantation, where costumed interpreters act out the skilled labor performed by slaves. In the winter, you can spot nesting bald eagles at the ACE Basin, a 135,000-acre (54,633-hectare) estuarine nature reserve. In summer, kayak the marshes or take an educational cruise.

At Day’s End

Hominy Grill is a longtime family favorite in Charleston serving classic Southern cuisine like cornbread and fried chicken with country ham gravy.


Old South Carriage Company offers tours of historic Charleston. For Fort Sumter visitor information, visit

Based on articles from National Geographic Traveler and compiled by Stephanie Robichaux

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Join Nat Geo Travel's Communities

2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

  • Picture of a volcano on Reunion Island

    Who Will Win?

    Browse photos of nature, cities, and people and share your favorite photos.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Get Social With Nat Geo Travel