3-Day Ultimate Charleston, South Carolina Travel Itinerary

Charleston, South Carolina

3 days

Colorful buildings at the Rainbow Row
College of Charleston main building
Pineapple fountain
Eerie trees at the Boone Hall plantation
Broad Street with St. Michael's church

About Charleston, South Carolina

Experience the charm of the South in Charleston, South Carolina. This historic city is a treasure trove of American history, with well-preserved antebellum mansions, cobblestone streets, and iconic landmarks like Fort Sumter. Explore the vibrant downtown area, indulge in Southern cuisine, and enjoy the lively arts scene. Take a leisurely stroll through the picturesque Battery Park or visit the bustling City Market for local crafts. Don't miss the stunning plantations and gardens, particularly the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, known for its beautiful blooms. Charleston's coastal location also offers beautiful beaches and water activities. With its rich history, stunning architecture, and southern hospitality, Charleston provides a unique and unforgettable travel experience.

3-Day Itinerary

Day 1

Exploring the City's Market, Aquarium, and Haunted History

Morning

Start your day with a visit to the historic Charleston City Market. Here, you can shop for local goods, crafts, and souvenirs while soaking in the vibrant atmosphere.

Lunch

Enjoy a traditional Southern lunch in one of the local eateries in the downtown area. Try the famous shrimp and grits or a hearty bowl of she-crab soup.

Afternoon

Spend your afternoon exploring the South Carolina Aquarium. Here, you can see a variety of marine life, including sharks, turtles, and otters. Don't miss the touch tank for a hands-on experience.

Dinner

Dine in one of the city's renowned seafood restaurants. Charleston is known for its fresh, local seafood, so be sure to try dishes like oysters, crab cakes, and clam chowder.

Evening

End your day with a spooky Ghost Tour. Charleston is known for its haunted history, and a guided tour will take you to some of the city's most haunted spots.

Morning

Visit the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in the morning. This historic site features beautiful gardens, a plantation house, and a nature train.

Lunch

Have lunch at a local restaurant in the plantation area. Try some traditional Southern dishes like fried chicken, cornbread, and collard greens.

Afternoon

Spend your afternoon at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum. Here, you can explore historic naval ships, including the USS Yorktown, and learn about military history.

Dinner

Enjoy dinner in the historic district. Try some Lowcountry cuisine, which combines Southern, African, French, and Caribbean influences.

Evening

Take a relaxing evening stroll along The Battery and White Point Gardens. This scenic area offers beautiful views of the harbor and historic mansions.

Morning

Start your final day with a visit to the Charleston Tea Plantation. Take a trolley tour of the plantation and learn about the tea-making process.

Lunch

Enjoy a picnic lunch at the plantation. You can purchase local foods and beverages at the plantation's gift shop.

Afternoon

Spend your afternoon at Folly Beach. Relax on the sandy beach, take a dip in the ocean, or try your hand at surfing.

Dinner

Have your final dinner in one of the city's waterfront restaurants. Enjoy fresh seafood while taking in the beautiful sunset views.

Evening

End your trip with a visit to the historic Dock Street Theatre. Catch a performance or simply admire the beautiful architecture of this historic site.

Attractions in Itinerary (9)

Charleston City Market

1
Charleston City Market

One of the nation's oldest public markets, offering a variety of unique items from local artisans.

Shopping
Cultural Experiences
South Carolina Aquarium

2
South Carolina Aquarium

An aquarium showcasing a variety of marine life, including sharks, turtles, and river otters.

Attractions
Ghost Tour

3
Ghost Tour

A guided tour exploring the haunted history of Charleston.

Tours
Cultural Experiences
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

4
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

One of the oldest plantations in the South, Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond.

Attractions
Gardens
Tours
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

5
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is a must-visit for history buffs. It offers an in-depth look into naval history and houses numerous artifacts.

Museums
Cultural Experiences
The Battery and White Point Gardens

6
The Battery and White Point Gardens

The Battery and White Point Gardens is a historic park that offers stunning views of Charleston Harbor and a glimpse into the city's past.

Parks
Landmarks
Cultural Experiences
Charleston Tea Plantation

7
Charleston Tea Plantation

The only tea plantation in North America, offering tours and tastings.

Attractions
Tours
Cultural Experiences
Folly Beach

8
Folly Beach

A popular beach destination with a fishing pier, shops, restaurants, and bars.

Beaches
Dock Street Theatre

9
Dock Street Theatre

America's first theatre, offering a variety of classic and contemporary plays.

Entertainment
Cultural Experiences
Architecture

Local Food and Drinks (12)

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

A classic Southern dish, Shrimp and Grits is a must-try in Charleston. It consists of shrimp sautéed with bacon, garlic, and green onions, served over creamy grits.

She-Crab Soup

She-Crab Soup

A rich and creamy soup that's a Charleston specialty. It's made with blue crab meat, crab roe, and a blend of seasonings, offering a true taste of the South Carolina coast.

Lowcountry Boil

Lowcountry Boil

Also known as Frogmore Stew, this one-pot dish includes shrimp, corn on the cob, sausage, and potatoes. It's a communal meal that's a staple at Charleston gatherings.

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

Often referred to as the 'caviar of the South', Pimento Cheese is a spread made with cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos. It's a popular appetizer in Charleston.

Chicken Bog

Chicken Bog

A traditional South Carolina dish, Chicken Bog is a hearty meal made with chicken, rice, and sausage. It's a staple in Charleston and throughout the Lowcountry.

Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea is a quintessential Southern drink. It's black tea sweetened with sugar and served over ice. In Charleston, it's often enjoyed on a hot day or with a meal.

Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John

A traditional New Year's dish in Charleston, Hoppin' John is made with black-eyed peas, rice, and pork. It's said to bring good luck for the coming year.

Benne Wafers

These thin, crispy cookies are a Charleston tradition. Made with sesame seeds (benne), they have a unique flavor and are often enjoyed as a sweet treat after a meal.

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts

A popular snack in Charleston, Boiled Peanuts are raw peanuts boiled in a salty brine. They have a unique, soft texture and are often enjoyed at sporting events or festivals.

Collard Greens

Collard Greens

A staple side dish in Charleston, Collard Greens are slow-cooked with ham hocks and spices until tender. They're often served with cornbread to soak up the flavorful cooking liquid.

Oyster Roast

Oyster Roast

A traditional Charleston event more than a dish, an Oyster Roast involves steaming oysters over an open fire. It's a communal meal that's a staple at Charleston gatherings.

Champagne of the South

Also known as Blenheim Ginger Ale, this spicy, sweet drink is a South Carolina original. It's often enjoyed as a mixer or on its own for a refreshing treat.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Charleston, South Carolina as a tourist is during the spring season, from March to June. During this time, the weather is warm but not too hot, making it perfect for exploring the city's historic sites, beautiful gardens, and beaches. The city also hosts several popular events during these months, including the Charleston Wine + Food Festival in March and the Spoleto Festival USA in May and June. However, it's worth noting that spring is also the peak tourist season in Charleston, so you may encounter crowds at popular attractions and higher hotel rates. If you prefer a quieter and more affordable visit, consider traveling in the fall, from September to November. The weather is still pleasant, and the city is less crowded.

National holidays

Here you can find the national calendar of all public holidays for the year. These dates are subject to change as official changes are announced, so check back regularly for updates.

DateDayHoliday Name

January 1

Mon

New Year's Day

January 15

Mon

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

February 19

Mon

Presidents' Day

May 27

Mon

Memorial Day

June 19

Wed

Juneteenth

July 4

Thu

Independence Day

September 2

Mon

Labor Day

October 14

Mon

Columbus Day

November 11

Mon

Veterans Day

November 28

Thu

Thanksgiving Day

December 25

Wed

Christmas Day

Please note that during national and public holidays, opening hours for establishments, museums, etc. may vary. Don't forget to check in advance!

How to get around

Charleston is a very walkable city, especially the downtown area. It's a great way to take in the beautiful architecture and historic sites.

There are several bike rental companies in Charleston. The city is bike-friendly with plenty of bike lanes and paths.

Renting a car is a good option if you plan to visit areas outside of downtown Charleston. However, parking can be difficult in the city center.

Uber and Lyft operate in Charleston. This can be a convenient way to get around, especially if you're traveling in a group or have a lot of luggage.

Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) operates buses throughout the city. There's also a free downtown shuttle called the DASH.

Taxis are available, but may be more expensive than rideshares. They can be hailed on the street or booked in advance.

For a unique and historic way to see the city, consider a horse-drawn carriage tour. These tours often provide a narrated history of Charleston.

The Charleston Water Taxi operates between downtown and Mount Pleasant. It's a fun way to see the city from the water and visit attractions like the USS Yorktown.

A fun group activity, pedal pubs are a unique way to tour the city. You pedal a multi-person bike while enjoying drinks and music.

Electric scooters are available for rent throughout the city. They're a fun and fast way to get around, but be aware of traffic and pedestrian rules.

While we strive for accuracy in our "How to get around" section, the information may not always be up-to-date or 100% accurate; we highly recommend cross-checking with local resources before your travel.

Important information

Currency$ USD

Time zoneUTC-5

Driving sideRight

Emergency phone911

Drinking waterYes

Power sockets

Power socket type APower socket type B

Voltage120 V

Things to know about Charleston, South Carolina as a first time visitor

1

Charleston is known for its hot, humid summers and mild winters. The average high temperature in the summer is around 90°F (32°C), while in winter it averages around 60°F (15°C).

2

Charleston is a very walkable city, so comfortable shoes are a must. Many of the city's attractions are within walking distance of each other.

3

The city is known for its Southern hospitality. Locals are generally very friendly and welcoming to tourists.

4

Charleston is a foodie's paradise. Be sure to try local specialties like shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and Lowcountry boil.

5

Charleston is a coastal city, so be prepared for occasional hurricanes and tropical storms, especially during hurricane season from June to November.

6

The city is rich in history, so consider taking a guided tour to learn more about its past. There are many walking, carriage, and ghost tours available.

7

Charleston's beaches are a big draw. Don't forget to pack your swimsuit, sunscreen, and beach towel.

8

The city has a vibrant arts scene. Check out the local galleries, theaters, and music venues.

9

Charleston is a great city for shopping, with many unique boutiques and antique shops.

10

The city has a relaxed, laid-back vibe. Take your time to soak it all in.

11

Charleston is known for its beautiful gardens. Visit during the spring to see them in full bloom.

12

The city has a strong preservation ethic, so many of its historic buildings and sites are well-preserved.

13

Charleston is a popular destination for weddings and other special events. Be aware that some attractions may be closed for private events.

14

The city has a diverse nightlife scene, with many bars, clubs, and live music venues.

15

Charleston is home to many festivals and events throughout the year. Check the local calendar for any that might coincide with your visit.

16

Public transportation is available, but many tourists find it more convenient to rent a car or use a ride-sharing service.

17

Charleston has a subtropical climate, so pack lightweight, breathable clothing.

18

The city is a popular destination for golfers, with many top-rated golf courses in the area.

19

Charleston is a great city for outdoor activities, with many parks, trails, and water sports available.

20

The city is known for its beautiful architecture. Don't forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning buildings and streetscapes.

Packing List

  • Clothing

  • Lightweight clothing

  • Underwear

  • Socks

  • Sleepwear

  • Swimsuit

  • Comfortable walking shoes

  • Flip flops

  • Sunglasses

  • Hat for sun protection

  • Light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings

  • Toiletries

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

  • Deodorant

  • Shampoo and conditioner

  • Body wash or soap

  • Razor and shaving cream

  • Sunscreen

  • Lip balm with SPF

  • Makeup and makeup remover

  • Hairbrush or comb

  • Prescription medications

  • Travel documents and essentials

  • Valid ID or driver's license

  • Credit and debit cards

  • Cash

  • Health insurance card

  • Hotel and car rental reservations

  • Emergency contact information

  • Electronics and gadgets

  • Smartphone and charger

  • Headphones

  • Camera and charger

  • Portable power bank

  • Travel adapter (if needed)

  • Miscellaneous items

  • Snacks for the journey

  • Water bottle

  • Travel guidebook for Charleston

  • Umbrella or rain jacket

  • Reusable shopping bag

  • Travel pillow and blanket

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Face masks

Weather Conditions

Charleston, South Carolina is known for its warm, humid climate. The city experiences hot summers and mild winters, making it a popular destination for tourists year-round. During the summer months, from June to August, temperatures can reach highs of around 90°F (32°C). It's also the city's rainiest season, so it's recommended to pack light, breathable clothing, a hat, sunscreen, and an umbrella or raincoat. Remember to stay hydrated as the humidity can be quite high. In the fall, from September to November, the weather becomes more comfortable with temperatures ranging from 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C). This is a great time to visit as the city is less crowded and the weather is perfect for outdoor activities. Winter, from December to February, is mild with temperatures usually ranging between 40°F and 60°F (4°C to 15°C). It's the driest season, but occasional rain showers can occur, so it's advisable to pack a light jacket and an umbrella. Spring, from March to May, is a beautiful time to visit Charleston. The temperatures are comfortable, ranging from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C), and the city is in full bloom. However, spring can also be quite rainy, so don't forget your umbrella. Regardless of when you visit, always check the local weather forecast before your trip to ensure you're prepared for any unexpected weather changes. Enjoy your visit to Charleston!

MonthHi / Lo (°C)Weather Overview

January

18° / 4°

January is the coldest month in Charleston, but it's still relatively mild with an average high of 18°C. It's a great time to visit if you prefer cooler temperatures.

February

20° / 6°

February sees a slight increase in temperature, with highs reaching up to 20°C. It's a good time to visit for those who enjoy mild winter weather.

March

24° / 10°

March marks the beginning of spring in Charleston, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 24°C. The weather is pleasant, making it a good time for outdoor activities.

April

28° / 14°

April is a beautiful month in Charleston with temperatures averaging between 14°C and 28°C. The city is in full bloom, making it a perfect time for sightseeing.

May

32° / 18°

May is warm with temperatures reaching up to 32°C. It's an ideal time to visit the beaches and enjoy water activities.

June

36° / 22°

June is the start of summer in Charleston with high temperatures averaging 36°C. It's a great time to enjoy the city's outdoor festivals and events.

July

38° / 24°

July is the hottest month in Charleston, with temperatures reaching up to 38°C. It's a perfect time for beach visits and enjoying the city's vibrant nightlife.

August

38° / 24°

August continues the summer heat with temperatures similar to July. It's a great time to explore the city's historical sites and enjoy outdoor dining.

September

34° / 20°

September marks the end of summer with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 34°C. It's a good time to visit for those who prefer less crowded tourist spots.

October

28° / 14°

October brings cooler temperatures, ranging from 14°C to 28°C. It's a perfect time to enjoy the city's fall foliage and outdoor festivals.

November

24° / 10°

November is a mild month with temperatures averaging between 10°C and 24°C. It's a great time to explore the city's historical sites and enjoy the fall colors.

December

20° / 6°

December is a cool month in Charleston with temperatures ranging from 6°C to 20°C. It's a good time to enjoy the city's holiday festivities and mild winter weather.

Did you know?

Did you know that Charleston, South Carolina is the oldest city in the state, founded in 1670?

1 of 10

Places near by Charleston, South Carolina

Beaufort

Beaufort

Historic city with antebellum mansions, streets lined with live oaks, and Civil War era history.

2h
112 km / 69.6 mi
How to get there
Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park

National park known for its giant hardwoods and towering pines, offering hiking, camping, and bird watching.

2h
169 km / 105.0 mi
How to get there
Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Popular vacation area known for its beachfront boardwalk, amusement and water parks, and lively nightlife.

2h
150 km / 93.2 mi
How to get there
Savannah

Savannah

Historic city known for its manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages, and antebellum architecture.

2.2h
170 km / 105.6 mi
How to get there
Hilton Head Island

Hilton Head Island

Resort town on a barrier island with beaches, golf courses, and a lighthouse.

2.5h
158 km / 98.2 mi
How to get there
Columbia

Columbia

State capital with a downtown area that has museums, art galleries, and shops.

2.5h
177 km / 110.0 mi
How to get there
Charlotte

Charlotte

Major city known for its modern city center (Uptown), home to the Levine Museum of the New South, NASCAR Hall of Fame, and many dining and entertainment options.

3.3h
337 km / 209.4 mi
How to get there
Augusta

Augusta

Home to the prestigious Masters golf tournament, the Augusta Museum of History, and the Riverwalk.

3.3h
265 km / 164.7 mi
How to get there
Greenville

Greenville

City in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains featuring a vibrant arts scene and rich history.

3.3h
320 km / 198.8 mi
How to get there
Atlanta

Atlanta

Georgia's capital known for its southern hospitality, rich history, and bustling city life.

2h
482 km / 299.5 mi
How to get there

Other Destinations in South Carolina