Charleston Culture & history

Our most recommended Charleston Culture & history

Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

1. Charleston: Fort Sumter Entry Ticket and Ferry Ride

Enjoy a ferry ride to the grounds of Fort Sumter and explore the grounds at your own pace. Pass by the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and take in the sights of Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes. As you approach Fort Sumter, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene. If you depart from Mt. Pleasant you will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Arrive at The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park, which sits prominently at the mouth of the Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense.  While here, explore the grounds of Fort Sumter. Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The first shots were fired here, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a National Park Ranger. Your approximate 1-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse Museum Store souvenirs. A visit to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts. Learn about the events leading to the war from knowledgeable National Park Rangers who will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a National Park Ranger. Then enjoy the beautiful views of the city as you ride the ferry back to Charleston.

Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

2. Charleston: Daytime or Sunset Historic Harbor Cruise

Cruise through the Charleston Harbor on an old-fashioned 1920s-Bay-Steamer-replica yacht. Enjoy live narration from the captain and purchase treats from a fully-stocked drink and snack bar. See the Civil and Revolutionary war sights and keep an eye out for dolphins. Relax in the enclosed observatory or on the partially-covered upper deck. Listen carefully as your captain guides you on a journey through more than 300 years of American history. You’ll pass by 75 landmarks and points-of-interest on this 20-mile trip. Get close-up views of the “Holy City,” including Fort Sumter - where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Glide past Confederate and Union army forts and see the famous “Fighting Lady” of World War II. Pass by remnants of the Civil and Revolutionary wars and look for local wildlife like dolphins and pelicans splashing nearby. Choose between indoor or outdoor seating.

Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

3. Charleston: 90-Minute Ghost and Dungeon Walking Tour

Test your nerve and explore the dark edges of Charleston's haunted historic district, deeply steeped in South Carolina's low country superstition on a guided walking tour. Venture through Charleston's haunted historic district, one of the oldest places in America, and learn about its terrifying history. Continue along the eerie back alleys and churches to find out why Charleston is known as "The Holy City." Visit the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon to learn about its harrowing past, confining enslaved people, American revolutionaries, and British soldiers.

Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

4. Charleston: Historical Downtown Tour by Horse-drawn Carriage

Ride in a traditional horse-drawn carriage through historic downtown Charleston on a guided tour. Listen to live commentary about the city as you pass by the Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, King Street, White Point Gardens, and Charleston Battery. Begin the tour at the activity provider's stables. Board a beautiful custom-built carriage and depart from the barn. Ride toward the city gate, located in the Old City Market. Learn about the city's rich history from a professional guide while traveling aboard a unique vehicle. Gaze at vibrant neighborhoods and elegant buildings from your seat. Experience the highlights of the historic downtown area, such as Charleston Harbor, Rainbow Row, 4 Corners of Law, King Street, White Point Gardens, and the Charleston Battery. Take in informative and entertaining commentary from your guide, before arriving back at the stables.

Charleston: Patriot's Point Haunted USS Yorktown Tour

5. Charleston: Patriot's Point Haunted USS Yorktown Tour

Come aboard the USS Yorktown and hear the stories of the American heroes who lived, died, and are still rumored to be here today. Commissioned in 1943, the Fighting Lady was once manned by over 3,000 people and designed to fight off enemies all over the globe during WWII. Learn about the ultimate sacrifice and heroism of the people who once inhabited this ship.  This tour gives you exclusive nighttime access to areas of the ship that are usually closed to the public, including the flight deck after dark. Don't forget your camera, you never know who or what you might capture.

Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

6. Charleston: 1-Hour Carriage Tour of the Historic District

Explore Charleston's historic district on a horse or mule-drawn carriage tour. Listen to your guide tell you local stories and anecdotes as you go past iconic landmarks, buildings, churches, and more. Begin your tour at the Big Red Barn in downtown Charleston and meet your local driver/guide. Then, settle into a carriage drawn by either horses or mules for your guided tour. Follow a route that takes in some of the historic downtown district’s most elegant mansions and gardens, learning about the architecture of each place as you drive along. Catch the scent of jasmine flowers from deep, shady porches, and pass by rows of bristling palmetto trees. Get an overview of Charleston’s dramatic history, from long-ago pirate raids to plantations, Revolutionary battles, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. The city was founded in 1670, and Charleston's historic buildings have been meticulously preserved and restored. Conclude your tour with drop-off at the Big Red Barn.

Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

7. Charleston: Historic City Tour and Harbor Cruise

Discover 300 years of Charleston history from land and sea with passionate licensed tour guides. Experience a 90-minute narrated tour of Charleston in a climate-controlled luxury coach and then head to the water for another perspective of the city from Charleston Harbor. Learn fascinating historical facts about Charleston while you cruise the gentle waves of her harbor. Knowledgeable and entertaining tour guides are licensed by the City of Charleston and are eager to share their knowledge with all guests aboard the cruise. Don't forget your camera as you will see all that the Holy City has to offer: Charleston's Historic Homes and Churches, the Old Market, Rainbow Row, Fort Sumter, USS Yorktown, and incredible views from Charleston Harbor.

Charleston: Historical Walking Tour

8. Charleston: Historical Walking Tour

An exciting walking tour of the only English walled city in North America - Charleston! Once the leading seaport of the thirteen colonies and later the United States, historical Charleston is waiting to be discovered. On this 2-hour walking tour, you will learn about the intriguing history of Charleston from veteran guide Al Ray. See pre-and-post colonial homes, storefronts, churches and public buildings while Ray recounts the rich tales and legends of Charleston's proud and turbulent past. Learn the meanings of the ancient symbols on the tombstones, the city's history of rapid growth and rampant piracy, and the rise of the rice planters. Listen to your charismatic guide describe the numerous disasters, such as seven major fires, numerous hurricanes, epidemics, sieges and bombardments, plus a major earthquake, that have struck the city over its long and colourful history.

Charleston: Magnolia Plantation & Historic City Tour

9. Charleston: Magnolia Plantation & Historic City Tour

Begin your half-day tour by boarding a climate-controlled coach in Charleston. Meet your professional guide and ride to Magnolia Plantation, dating from 1676 and the time of the British colony. Witness a slice of living history at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and get an amazing perspective on Charleston's past and present. The Magnolia Plantation and its world-famous gardens have been owned by the Drayton family for 12 generations. Enjoy your visit to one of America's first tourist attractions and first public gardens, which have been open to the public since 1870. Take a guided walk through America's last large-scale Romantic garden, and experience history on a 45-minute narrated nature tram ride through the Audobon swamp gardens. Step out among the Romantic gardens and Spanish moss to see wildlife such as alligators, egrets, herons, and turtles on the nearly 600-acre plantation. Cap it all off with a 30-minute tour of the Magnolia Plantation Home before boarding your bus back to Charleston. Back in the Holy City, your deluxe, climate-controlled shuttle will take you for a 1.5-hour tour of the city’s historical highlights. Accompanied by a knowledgeable, local guide, visit over 100 of Charleston’s most iconic sights of the past and present whilst listening to amazing tales and anecdotes about the city. On your tour, travel through some of the most historic parts of the city and visit Charleston’s historic homes, The Battery Sea Wall, the Four Corners of Law, and Rainbow Row to name but a few. Other highlights of the tour include a number of historic churches, old markets, and picturesque neighborhoods.

Charleston: Boone Hall & Historic City Tour Combo

10. Charleston: Boone Hall & Historic City Tour Combo

Hop aboard a comfortable coach have and uncover local history with a tour of Boone Hall Plantation. Afterwards travel through over 100 of Charleston’s most iconic sights and get up close to the past with some stops along the way. Meet your guide in Charleston and depart for Boone Hall in a deluxe on a climate-controlled coach. Upon arrival, enjoy a 30-minute guided tour of the main house. Have free time at the plantation to enjoy tours of the house or garden, or listen to presentations on history or culture. Choose to take the house tour and begin on the front porch with a guide in historical dress. Be introduced to the history of Boone Hall Plantation and its evolution through several owners since 1681. Select the garden tour to see antique varieties of roses that are over 100. Travel back in time if you select the 'Slave Street and History' presentation. Look at the living quarters, historic relics, and hear about what life was like for the enslaved people that lived and worked at Boone Hall. Immerse yourself in local culture if you choose to participate in the 'Exploring The Gullah Culture' presentation. Boone Hall Plantation is the only plantation in the state's Lowcountry to present a live presentation of this unique culture adapted by African slaves. Drive back to the city for a guided 90-minute tour of the city’s historical highlights. Listening to amazing tales and anecdotes about the city as you ride through some of the most historic parts of the city. Visit Charleston’s Historic Homes, The Battery Sea Wall, the Four Corners of Law, and Rainbow Row to name but a few. Other highlights of the tour include a number of historic churches, old markets, and picturesque neighborhoods.

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What people are saying about Charleston

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 581 reviews

Excellent family run business. Their personnel communicate local knowledge as the carriage passes through the various neighborhoods. As for time, I suggest you arrive on time as the departure is critical to a non-rushed trip.

Very interesting and informative. Narration of history during boat travel is very good. Also got to enjoy views of the habour.

Our tour guide was phenomenal he was funny he was interesting and I would love to do another tour him next time we go.

Capt Mike treated us to a wonderful afternoon and sunset. Super nice, knowledgeable and great behind the wheel!

Our guide was friendly and very knowledgeable of the area.