5 Free Charleston Activities

April 10, 2020

No matter who you ask, it’s safe to say that anyone who has been to Charleston, South Carolina can vouch for its character, southern hospitality, endless sources of fun, unique culture, and quirks. Charleston is practically oozing with charm, thanks to cobblestone streets, cotton-candy-colored homes, and gas lanterns. The grits are spicy, the weather is warm, and the people are oh-so friendly. I spent my childhood vacationing in Charleston and I always knew that one day I would call it home. Now that we live here, I never want to leave!

And while it’s easy to spend a pretty penny in Charleston (hello, King Street), some of the city’s most popular attractions include free admission. It is entirely possible to enjoy a weekend or an entire week in the Holy City on a budget and love every minute of it. Whether you love history, nature, architecture, dining or shopping, you won’t have trouble finding things to do in Charleston. The variety of free activities is proof that southern hospitality is still alive and well

Stroll Down Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row sits along the Battery, a Civil War-era defensive seawall and promenade along the Charleston harbor.  In 1931, Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge purchased 99 through 101 East Bay Street and began to renovate the homes. She drew on Charleston’s Caribbean roots and painted the houses pink. The colorful trend caught on and other owners on the street selected bright, pastel colors for their home’s exterior. Rainbow Row was born. The light colors also served to keep the houses cool on the inside (which was very important  in the days before air conditioning). Now, Rainbow Row includes a stretch of 13 brightly colored historic homes. It is one of the most photographed locations in all of Charleston. The homes are located between Tradd Street and Elliot Street and are right along the route from White Point Gardens to Waterfront Park. No trip to Charleston is complete without a Rainbow Row selfie!


Visit Angel Oak

Have you ever seen a tree that’s more than 1,500 years old? The Angel Oak is located on John’s Island, a 25-minute drive from downtown Charleston and is free to the public for visitation. Visually stunning in any season, the Angel Oak has a diameter of 160 feet, a circumference of 25 feet, and a height of 65 feet. The Angel Oak grounds are open to visitors from 9am – 5pm nearly every day of the year.

Waterfront Park

If there’s one thing you can count on in Charleston, it’s sizzling sunshine. Let the kids cool off with a frolic in the fountains at Waterfront Park. Home to the city’s famed Pineapple Fountain, this eight-acre park offers a wonderful respite from the sizzling sun. Dip your toes in the Pineapple Fountain or sit in the bench swings and take in the views of the Charleston harbor.

Rainbow Row

The Charleston Farmer’s Market

Open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. April through December—in Marion Square offers a bounty of fresh regional produce and products, as well as entertainment like a kiddy bounce and pony rides. Browse the selection while listening to a bluegrass band. Local artisans also peddle their crafts here, and many merchants offer free samples of their food items—don’t miss “the pickle lady,” a favorite among local college students. A handful of stands offer breakfast and lunch, from fresh-pressed juices to one-of-a-kind flatbread sandwiches at Roti Rolls.


The Battery

Many visitors say you can’t leave Charleston without seeing this stretch along the city’s southern tip. This row of Southern-style mansions overlooking Charleston Harbor was formerly the heart and soul of the city’s maritime activity.

More Charleston Travel Guide Resources

For more Charleston tips, tricks, and recommendations, check out these blog posts:

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