10 Best Places to Visit in Charleston, South Carolina on a Girls Trip

10 of the best places to visit in Charleston, South Carolina on a girls trip. Make planning easy with this comprehensive list of activities!

10 of the best places to visit in Charleston, South Carolina on a girls trip. Make planning easy with this comprehensive list of activities!

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I recently visited Charleston, South Carolina, with some girlfriends and we had an amazing time! We visited many places that are unique to Charleston and experienced the southern charm (and delicious food) that is inherent there. If you are looking to visit Charleston, South Carolina on a girls trip, I have a list of 10 best places and activities to do while you’re there!

Why Visit Charleston, South Carolina on a Girls Trip?

Charleston, SC is a beautiful mix of old and new, historic and modern. Imagine being able to walk down the streets where significant events took place, admiring buildings that are centuries old! There are markets to stroll through with booths selling unique souvenirs, hundreds of churches dotting the skyline (it’s not called the Holy City for nothing) and miles of waterfront to explore.

The area surrounding Charleston offers so much to see and do, from plantation tours to sailboat rides to wide stretches of beach. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy. Below I’ve listed 10 of the best places to visit in Charleston, South Carolina on a girls trip.

Take a Carriage Ride Through Downtown Charleston

On the second day of our trip, we took a daytime carriage ride through downtown with Palmetto Carriage. The route you take is determined by how many other carriage tours are happening at the same time to minimize congestion on the streets. We drove past historic homes (some as big as 10,000 square feet!), the Battery, churches, graveyards and more. Our driver, Ian, was very knowledgeable about the area and shared so many interesting details.

I recommend taking the carriage ride at the beginning of your stay because it allows you to get a nice overall sense of the area. This is useful because it can help you decide what places you’d like to go back and see during the rest of your visit.

Boone Hall Plantation

Located in Mount Pleasant (about 8 miles from Downtown Charleston), Boone Hall Plantation is one of the longest working plantation in the United States, meaning they are still harvesting crops. Boone Hall is exactly what you would expect to see when you think of a southern plantation. (This is probably why they chose it as a location for the movie The Notebook.) The drive up to the main buildings is lined by giant oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.

You can sign up for a guided tour of the impressive mansion, as well as a self-guided tour of the surrounding gardens. A feature unique to Boone Hall is the live presentation given about the Gullah culture. We could have easily spent half the day here because there was so much to see!

Each general admission ticket to Boone Hall includes access to the gift shop, gardens, tractor tour, visitor’s center, museum, stable tour, Gullah presentation and free parking.

Sailboat Tour of Charleston Harbor

If the thought of enjoying 1.5 hours on the water, enjoying the breeze and escaping the crowds sounds appealing to you, then you definitely need to take a ride on The Schooner Pride. This 84′ tall, 3-mast sailboat is the only one of its kind in Charleston and is an amazing way to see the city from the water.

Keep an eye out for dolphins playing in the water and pelicans diving for fish as you sail past Patriot’s Point, the USS Yorktown (WWII aircraft carrier) and get a unique view of the Ravenel Bridge from the harbor.

For many of us, this was a highlight of our visit to Charleston. The water was perfect, the breeze was just right and we all felt happy and refreshed when we got off the boat. One thing to keep in mind is that parking is limited by the dock so plan to get there early and expect to walk.

Explore Historical Charleston Architecture

There are so many beautiful, historical places to visit in Charleston. One of the highlights for many of us was the architecture. While Charleston was established in 1670, the original homes built are not still standing due to war and natural disasters. The oldest homes still standing in Charleston were built in the early 1700s and there has been a lot of effort put into preserving and restoring them. You can pick almost any street in downtown Charleston and start exploring.

Here are a few specific locations you can visit depending on your architectural interests:

  • Rainbow Row: 83-107 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
  • Courthouse: southwest corner of Meeting and Broad Streets
  • Churches & Graveyards
    • St. Philip’s Church: 142 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • First Baptist Church: 61 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • Circular Congregational Church: 150 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • French Huguenot Church: 136 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • St. Michael’s Episcopal Church: 71 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401

Not sure where to start? Another option is to do a free self-guided walking tour. I love the 5 route suggestions given in this post by The City Sidewalks. She hit on a lot of the places we visited, although we didn’t follow any specific route.

Visit Waterfront Park

Located on Concord Street, Waterfront Park is 10 acres of lovely views. The main walking path is shaded by large trees and wide enough for many people to walk on in either direction. From Waterfront Park, you can view Ravenel Bridge and see the famous Pineapple Fountain.

Keep in mind that Waterfront Park is different from The Battery, which is a 12 minute walk south. If you are visiting in the morning, be sure to grab breakfast from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit just up the street on King St before parking at the Prioleau St. Parking Garage and walking over to the park. They have some nice metal benches and chairs you can sit on in the shade to eat your breakfast before more exploration.

Walking Ghost Tour

Because Charleston is such an old city, there are a lot of historical events that have taken place, as well as important people who have lived and visited the city. If you want to get a different view of Charleston, consider signing up for a walking ghost tour. We booked our tour through Ghost City Tours. They offer three types of tours: The Ghosts of Liberty Tour, The Death and Depravity Ghost Tour and The Charleston Haunted Pub Crawl.

We went with the Ghosts of Liberty Tour because it was advertised as being family friendly and none of us were all that interested in the macabre or drinking. The tour lasted about 1.5 hours. We walked all around the downtown portion of the city, stopping near historical buildings and walking past graveyards. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and told the stories in a way that left you wondering if there was any truth to what she said.

Charleston City Market

During our carriage ride through the city, we drove past the Charleston City Market. There are three open air structures, called sheds, that have stood for more than 200 years! Today, they house a variety of fun and unique booths, selling all types of items, including the iconic sweetgrass baskets.

This is a great place to shop for souvenirs from your visit to Charleston. I got a hand-painted magnet to add to my fridge magnet collection, another friend bought an ornament for her Christmas tree and others simply browsed and admired the art and other treasures found there.

Drive Across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (aka Ravenel Bridge) is the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America and tallest structure in South Carolina. It is 2.5 miles long and almost 200 feet above the water of Charleston Harbor’s shipping channel. The bridge isn’t very old compared to the rest of the city and was finished on July 16, 2005. You can walk or bike across it as well by parking at Waterfront Park in Mt. Pleasant.

As mentioned above, if you take a harbor tour, you will get a unique view of the bridge that can’t be seen anywhere else.

Angel Oak Tree

We couldn’t leave Charleston without making a stop at the Angel Oak Tree. This Southern Live Oak is actually located on Johns Island, which is about 12 miles from downtown Charleston and takes about 30 minutes to get there. Hours are not the same every day so make sure to check them ahead of time. We were on our way to the airport and weren’t able to stay until they opened, but we parked next to the fence and admired it from afar. Even then, it was beautiful!

What makes the Angel Oak Tree so special? This tree is considered to be the largest Live Oak Tree east of the Mississippi and is estimated to be 300-400 years old. It is 65 feet high, with a circumference of 25.5 feet.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

One of our friends had been to the Charleston area before and suggested we make a stop at the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. I am so glad she did! Those of us who went with her agreed that it was easily one of the most beautiful and peaceful places we’d visited.

The grounds of the plantation are huge (66 acres), but the gardens are what really set it apart. Where the gardens at Boone Plantation were more manicured and well-kept, the gardens at Magnolia Plantation were more wild and free. There is a white bridge that spans a large pond surrounded by trees covered in dripping moss. We could have wandered for hours among the gardens and lawns if we’d had more time.

There is also a gift shop on the bottom level of the plantation house (the former kitchens) that had a fun variety of paintings, candles, jewelry, clothing and more. Tickets can be purchased to visit the gardens, Nature Train tours, wildlife center and house tour. You can find more information HERE.

*BONUS* Parking

It’s important to know that you will be doing a lot of walking when you visit Charleston, so planning ahead in terms of parking will help you save time.

Parking in Charleston can be difficult, as the streets are often narrow. There are designated parking lots and parking garages throughout the city. Much of the time, we parked at the Prioleau Street Parking Garage. They have bathrooms, a drink vending machine and affordable pricing. (The picture below was taken in the alley right next to the parking garage!)

There is also metered parking available on the streets throughout the city. You can find all the parking garages and metered parking on this comprehensive list from the Charleston City website.

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10 of the best places to visit in Charleston, South Carolina on a girls trip. Make planning easy with this comprehensive list of activities!
10 of the best places to visit in Charleston, South Carolina on a girls trip. Make planning easy with this comprehensive list of activities!

Hi! I’m Shani,

A stay-at-home mom of 4 and wife. I love sharing easy to follow craft tutorials, kid activities, family-friendly recipes, organization, travel and motherhood. I hope you’ll feel uplifted and empowered by each post, regardless of what kind it is. Join me as I raise my little munchkins and share the sunshine in this beautiful, crazy thing called life! Read more...

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