Charleston Bucket List 2020
March 31, 2020
Sitting right in the middle of the Southeastern coast, Charleston is a globally treasured tourist hot spot. Over seven million visitors flocked to the Holy City in 2019, and the numbers keep rising. But for many, it takes several trips to Charleston, or even living there, to get everything you can out of the city. Based on years of visiting and now as a local myself, I’ve created this Charleston bucket list, which has the most essential activities that you should try to incorporate into your next Charleston trip, whether you’re here for 24 hours or a few years!
While in many of my Charleston travel guides I try to give y’all unique suggestions of things to do, there are several things that are classic Charleston recommendations for a reason. Check this list to see how many you hit on your last trip and what you need to do next!
Charleston Bucket List
Take a picture in front of Rainbow Row
Charleston’s colors are quite iconic, and are on wonderful display on Rainbow Row. Grab your camera and head out EARLY to get a snap without fighting the crowds.
Walk the Battery
The Battery, a defensive seawall on Charleston’s southern coast, is home to grassy areas, Civil War canons and monuments, and gorgeous antebellum architecture. Walking along the Battery, you can appreciate several of Charleston’s defining characteristics all at once!
Shop on King Street
King Street runs right down the middle of the peninsula, and has some of the best dining and shopping options in Charleston. Wondering what specific shops you should add to your Charleston bucket list? My favorites are Beckett Boutique, The Skinny Dip, and Kate Spade!
Splash in the Pineapple Fountain
Located within Charleston’s Waterfront Park, the Pineapple Fountain is a symbol of the Southern hospitality that oozes out of every cobblestone in the Holy City. There’s plenty of green space here for kids and families to run around and cool off on a hot summer’s day!
Browse the Historic City Market
Home to a variety of vendors, the Historic Charleston City Market stretches four blocks long. Come here for souvenirs like the famous Gullah sweetgrass baskets and my absolute favorite place to get pralines, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen of Charleston!
Shuck oysters at Bowens Island
This local spot is a well-hidden favorite. One of the few remaining places where you can shuck your own oysters, Bowens Island Restaurant is authentic and unassuming.
Bike around with Holy City Spokes
If you’ve ever tried to walk on cobblestones, you know it’s not always the easiest, especially if you’re wearing nice shoes or anything with a heel. Biking is definitely easy, and Holy City Spokes has drop off locations all over the city, so you can rent a bike and drop it off at your next location!
Catch the sunset at The Watch
The Watch Rooftop Bar and Kitchen is part of The Restoration Hotel in downtown Charleston. The rooftop bar offers sweeping views of Charleston, from the church tops to the Ravenel Bridge.
Beach picnic at the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse
One of the best Charleston beaches, Sullivan’s Island is famous for its lighthouse. My family loves grabbing to-go food from any one of the Island’s amazing restaurants, like Obstinate Daughter, and sitting in front of the lighthouse for a beach picnic while the sun goes down.
Eat Leon’s Fried Chicken
Leon’s Oyster Shop might be more known for its fried chicken than the oysters for which it’s named, but both are good. Pair your perfectly seasoned and cooked fried chicken with Leon’s famous Brussels sprouts. I always end with their soft serve ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.
Wander under the Angel Oak branches
Stretching to 65 feet tall, the 400-year-old tree is one of the oldest and biggest trees in the Lowcountry. Again, getting here early is key to getting good pictures, but you should also note that admission to the Angel Oak is free!
Take a carriage tour at Middleton Place
We had our rehearsal dinner at Middleton Place, and it’s one of my favorite Charleston attractions. You can tour the grounds of the plantation and garden on one of their open-air carriage tours, to get the charm of riding in a carriage while also seeing the gorgeous plantation!
See the turtles at the SC Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium is home to the Sea Turtle Care Center, which works with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to rescue, rehabilitate, and release injured sea turtles.
Sip & sing at Halls Gospel Brunch
Every Sunday, Halls Chophouse puts on its Sunday best for a Gospel brunch, where a local Gospel choir sings as you dine on incredible brunch dishes. Halls has my favorite sweet tea EVER, so I always get that with my brunch.
Macarons at Christophe Artisan Chocolatier
The macarons from Christophe Artisan Chocolatier are so delicious, and they’re comparable to ones you could find in Paris. All of their delectable desserts are made fresh everyday. Pair your sweet selection with The Stella, their chocolate iced coffee. Christophe Artisan Chocolatier is my favorite coffee shop in Charleston, so you know it had to go on my Charleston bucket list!
Catch a wave at Folly Beach
Folly Beach is home to some of the best waves on the South Carolina coast! At an area called The Washout (AKA “Hollywood”) is a stretch of beach where Hurricane Hugo washed out several homes. Now, the wind blows unimpeded to the water, creating great waves to surf.
Take the Schooner Pride out for a tour
My favorite Schooner Pride tour is the sunset tour. Seeing Charleston in the golden glow and watching the sun sink into the water is an incomparable experience. You can often see dolphins from these tours, too!
Walk over Ravenel Bridge
The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge spans the Cooper River to connect downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant and is the third-longest cable-stayed bridge in the United States. The bridge has a dedicated pedestrian lane you can walk across (4 km)!
Golf the Ocean Course on Kiawah
The Ocean Course is the most famous golf course at Kiawah Island and gives golfers views of the Atlantic while subjecting them to the strong ocean winds. It’s been named the most challenging course in America and has been home to many major golf tournaments, most recently the Senior PGA Championship in 2007. This might not make the Charleston bucket list for everyone, but even an amateur golfer can appreciate the beauty of this course!
Grab a scoop at Off Track
Handmade ice cream is the perfect way to cool off on a warm day in Charleston, and Off Track has flavors that will please any palette, like chocolate honeycomb, barrel-aged maple cinnamon roll, and key lime pie. Off Track also makes a variety of vegan flavors. All of their ice cream is made from simple, fresh ingredients and tastes delicious!
Look for alligators on Bulls Island
The Bulls Island Ferry Tour will take you away from the civilization of Charleston into a wild unknown, where you can spot alligators and several species of shore birds on Bulls Island, part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. When we went, we were even lucky enough to see a bobcat on the island.
Visit the Charleston Tea Plantation
The Charleston Tea Plantation is the only remaining original tea plantation in North America. The grounds have acres and acres of tea bushes spreading out. There are also a variety of tours to introduce you to the various parts of the operation, including a tea factory tour to see how the tea plants become what we’re familiar with as tea!
Biscuits at Callie’s
If you’re looking for a quick biscuit in Charleston, Callie’s is the place to go. At their two counter-serve locations (one on King Street and one in the City Market), Callie’s serves up fresh and flaky buttermilk biscuits. Their breakfast biscuit sandwich with pimento cheese is beyond compare!
Revisit history at Fort Moultrie
Fort Moultrie was the first fort built on Sullivan’s Island. It was built during the Revolutionary War and gave the state its nickname of “The Palmetto State,” as it was built from palmetto logs. Today, Fort Moultrie is part of the Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter National Historical Park. Visitors can trace the entire maritime history of the Eastern coast through this one location.
And that’s it for my Charleston bucket list! Did I miss something? It’s difficult to sum up the entirety of Charleston in one list of recommendations, but I think this list is a great place to start!
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