Spend Your First 24 Hours in Charleston: 7 Sweet Ways

Charleston, South Carolina, often referred to as the “Holy City,” is a captivating blend of history, charm, and Southern hospitality. From its cobblestone streets to its picturesque waterfront, Charleston offers a unique experience that will leave you enchanted. If you’re planning a visit to this historic gem and wondering how to make the most of your first day, you’re in the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll reveal the must-see attractions, delightful culinary experiences, and hidden gems that will help you create unforgettable memories during your first 24 hours in Charleston.

7 Ways to Spend 24 Hours in Charleston

1. Begin with Breakfast at a Local Favorite

To kickstart your day in Charleston, head to one of the city’s beloved breakfast spots. Start your culinary journey with a mouthwatering Lowcountry classic like shrimp and grits or indulge in a delicious stack of Southern-style pancakes. Hominy Grill, a local institution, is an excellent choice for traditional Southern breakfast fare. Remember to pair your meal with a steaming cup of locally roasted coffee for an authentic Charleston experience.

2. Explore the Historic District

Charleston’s Historic District is a treasure trove of architectural wonders, well-preserved buildings, and enchanting gardens. Begin your exploration at the iconic Battery and White Point Garden, where you can admire stunning antebellum homes and enjoy panoramic views of Charleston Harbor. Wander through the cobblestone streets of Rainbow Row, a vibrant row of colorful Georgian-style homes, and soak in the city’s charm and history. Don’t forget to visit the Charleston City Market, a bustling marketplace featuring local artisans and unique crafts.

3. Immerse Yourself in History at Fort Sumter

No visit to Charleston is complete without delving into its rich history. Take a boat tour to Fort Sumter, the site where the American Civil War began. Explore the fort’s museum, learn about the events that unfolded, and enjoy the scenic boat ride that offers beautiful views of Charleston’s skyline and harbor. It’s a captivating experience that will transport you back in time.

4. Savor a Flavorful Lowcountry Lunch

Charleston is renowned for its delectable Lowcountry cuisine, which draws influences from West Africa, England, and the Caribbean. For lunch, indulge in a traditional shrimp po’ boy sandwich or a plate of she-crab soup, a regional delicacy. Visit a local seafood restaurant or one of Charleston’s charming eateries to savor the authentic flavors of the region.

5. Stroll Along the Waterfront Park

After lunch, take a leisurely stroll along Charleston’s Waterfront Park. Breathe in the refreshing ocean breeze as you walk along the pier, admire the famous Pineapple Fountain, and revel in the stunning views of the Charleston Harbor. Find a bench to relax and watch sailboats passing by, or simply enjoy the serene beauty of the waterfront.

6. Visit the Magnificent Plantations

Charleston’s surrounding areas are adorned with grand plantations that offer a glimpse into the city’s past. Head to Boone Hall Plantation or Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, both steeped in history and natural beauty. Explore the meticulously landscaped gardens, take a guided tour of the plantation homes, and learn about the captivating stories of the people who lived there. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the region’s rich heritage.

7. Indulge in a Memorable Dinner

As evening approaches, Charleston’s culinary scene comes alive. Treat yourself to a remarkable dinner at one of the city’s acclaimed restaurants. From upscale seafood establishments to Southern farm-to-table eateries, Charleston offers a diverse range of dining options to suit every palate. Sample locally sourced ingredients and innovative flavors, paired with a fine wine or a craft cocktail, to complete your Charleston culinary experience.

With its historical significance, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering cuisine, Charleston is a destination that captivates the hearts of visitors from around the world. By following this guide, you can make the most of your first 24 hours in Charleston, immersing yourself in its unique charm and experiencing the best the city has to offer. Whether you’re strolling through its historic streets, savoring the flavors of Lowcountry cuisine, or exploring its magnificent plantations, Charleston is sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Q: What is the best time of year to visit Charleston?

A: The best time to visit Charleston is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) seasons. These months offer pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and a variety of outdoor festivals and events. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters are mild but can be chilly.

Q: How do I get around Charleston?

A: Charleston is a walkable city, especially in the Historic District. You can easily explore the downtown area on foot. Additionally, Charleston offers various transportation options such as ride-sharing services, taxis, and a free trolley system called the DASH. Renting a bike or using a bike-sharing program is also a popular choice for getting around.

Q: Are there any beach options near Charleston?

A: Yes, Charleston is surrounded by beautiful beaches. Some popular nearby beaches include Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Kiawah Island. These beaches offer sandy shores, scenic views, and opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water activities.

Q: What are some other attractions to visit in Charleston?

A: In addition to the mentioned highlights, Charleston offers numerous other attractions worth exploring. The Charleston Museum, the oldest museum in the United States, provides a fascinating look into the city’s history. The South Carolina Aquarium showcases marine life from the region and beyond. You can also take a carriage tour through the Historic District or enjoy a boat tour to explore Charleston Harbor and see the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

Q: Where can I find authentic Charleston cuisine?

A: To experience authentic Charleston cuisine, explore local restaurants in the Historic District and surrounding areas. Visit seafood restaurants like Fleet Landing or Hyman’s Seafood for fresh seafood dishes. For Lowcountry cuisine, check out Husk or Hominy Grill. Don’t forget to try the famous Charleston She-Crab Soup and shrimp and grits, which are iconic dishes of the region.

Q: Are there any notable annual events in Charleston?

A: Charleston hosts several noteworthy events throughout the year. The Spoleto Festival USA, held in late spring, is an internationally recognized performing arts festival featuring theater, dance, music, and more. The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) showcases wildlife art, conservation education, and sporting demonstrations. Additionally, the Charleston Wine + Food Festival celebrates the city’s culinary scene with tastings, cooking demonstrations, and events featuring renowned chefs.

Q: Are there any day trips or excursions from Charleston?

A: Charleston’s location provides opportunities for day trips and excursions. You can visit the charming town of Beaufort, explore the historic plantations of Boone Hall or Magnolia, or take a boat tour to visit nearby islands such as Morris Island or Bulls Island. The historic city of Savannah, Georgia, is also within driving distance and makes for a fantastic day trip.

Q: Are there any special considerations for visiting Charleston?

A: Charleston can be quite hot and humid during the summer months, so it’s essential to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. Additionally, the city experiences occasional heavy rainfall, particularly in the summer and fall. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Finally, be mindful of the city’s rich history and cultural heritage, and respect the local customs and traditions during your visit.