Fill your day-trip agenda with Kiawah Island Getaway’s top things to do in Charleston!
Just an easy 45-minute drive from Kiawah Island, Charleston, SC has a haunted aura that adds to its magic. (The first shots of the Civil War were fired here, among other historic events!) But you’ll find much more than that: Delicious cuisine, alleyways and historic homes lush with climbing greenery, gas lamps flickering in the evening dusk… we could go on, but suffice it to say, it’s worth the short drive to spend a day.
Here are our favorite things to do in Charleston.
Stroll Historic Streets
Meandering the charming streets of Charleston feels like time travel, especially if you make your way south of Broad Street.
Rainbow Row is a great first stop, with its thirteen candy-colored Georgian homes that have stood in the same spot since the late 1700s. Then stop by the John Rutledge House Inn, the genesis point of several early drafts of the United States Constitution. While you’re there, check out the smallest museum in the state, the Postal Museum—also the oldest running post office in the Carolinas.
Make your way further south to ogle artful landscaping and antebellum architecture on The Battery. At the southernmost point of the city sits White Point Gardens, featuring over five acres of magnificent oak trees, civil war cannons, a large gazebo and beautiful water views.
Tip: If you like to sightsee on two wheels, Charleston is a good biking city with manageable traffic and plenty of side-street shortcuts (just be careful of those cobblestones!). Rent your wheels from B’s Bikes.
Explore Gorgeous Cemeteries
Charleston’s residential architecture is a sight to behold, but nowhere is the city’s history more apparent than in its churches and cemeteries. Conveniently, the Garden Club of Charleston created a self-guided walking tour that connects eight churches and their cemeteries. Grab a (free!) map from the Charleston visitor center and start your tour at the Unitarian Church just off King Street.
Learn Why Charleston is a Foodie City
Between the history lessons and visual delights, stop to sample Charleston’s culinary treasures. Consistently at the top of lists of America’s best food cities, Charleston serves up Gullah-inspired cuisine, seafood favorites, and southern comfort food with a twist.
In our opinion, Bowens Island is a must. Dine on local oysters, fried shrimp and hushpuppies within its graffitied walls. We also love Aaron’s Deli at Hyman Seafood, which features kosher sandwiches, including deli classics like pastrami, tuna melts, and BLTs.
Another great lunch option, Fleet Landing has floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor patio for water views while you dine.
Keep dinner easy (and family-approved) with a slice from Dal’s Pizza, another Charleston staple. Post-dinner, try 34 West Theater, which has a small stage surrounded by bistro tables where you can sip on cocktails and small plates while you watch creative shows and revues.
Date Night Meals
Date nights and celebratory meals deserve something a little more special, like FIG (“Food is Good”) one of Charleston’s original culinary standouts. FIG serves elevated Southern classics with locally sourced ingredients and a bistro-style setting—and it’s a long-time favorite of ours.
One of the premier steakhouses in the state, Hall’s Chophouse boasts 28-day aged beef, as well as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. Live music and a lively bar might encourage you to stick around after the sun goes down.
And if you want to feel exceptionally taken care of, try R. Kitchen, which has only 16 seats inside (20 outside on the patio) and a prix-fixe five-course menu that changes nightly.
Make a Wish at the Pineapple Fountain
As the fruit of hospitality, pineapple symbols can be found all over Charleston. But none is more well-known than the Pineapple Fountain at Charleston’s Waterfront Park, overlooking the Charleston Harbor. Kiddos love splashing and wading in the fountain, and adults can grab one of the shaded swings right on the water. Don’t forget to take in a distance view of the Cooper River Bridge – it’s a dramatic feat of engineering and design.
Shop the Charleston City Market
At the heart of the city, you’ll find the last item on our list of things to do: the Charleston City Market. The Market combines historic brick market stalls with local artisans selling handmade wares with more modern shopping options, as well as spots to grab a foamy latté or a sweet treat. You’ll more than likely come away with at least one treasure.
Accommodations Near the Best Things to Do in Charleston, SC
Whether you’re looking for an oceanfront penthouse or a lagoon-view cottage, Kiawah Island Getaways will make your vacation memorable! All just 45 minutes from Charleston.