With rich southern history and legendary hospitality, Charleston's Islands offer unique natural wonders and boundless adventure the whole family will enjoy. From stunning beaches and picturesque shops to celebrated attractions and distinguished restaurants, the city is brimming with exciting things to do.
Whether you are immersed in nature with the whole family or pampered in a luxurious spa on a romantic getaway, your home away from home awaits on the Charleston Islands. Read more to discover the main attractions and hidden gems as you plan your trip to America's Most Friendly City.
A Melting Pot of English, French and West African Culture
Settled along the Atlantic coast at the confluence of the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando rivers, Charleston is the oldest and largest city in South Carolina. Named for Charles II and planned by famed philosopher John Locke, the city boasts a rich history of English, French and West African culture that still affects the area today.
The Charleston Harbor is home to an assortment of barrier islands ranging from wildlife preserves to resort havens. From one of the largest living trees to famous forts and lighthouses, the Charleston Islands boast a rich history dating back to Colonial times and beyond.
Where to Stay
With historic bed and breakfasts, beach rentals and resorts, your first step to planning your dream getaway on the Charleston Islands is finding your perfect accommodation. Couples on a romantic getaway will love the Cottages on Charleston Harbor, which feature a living room, full kitchen, and porch overlooking the nearby water. Trendy travelers will adore the 1920s décor at the Spectator Hotel with lavish butler service and decadent breakfast brought to your door each morning.
Families can choose from beachfront resorts like the Beach Club at Charleston Harbor and Kiawah Island Golf Resort or book a vacation rental with Wyndham or one of the many other property rental groups. From cozy bungalows to large, pet-friendly houses the extended family can share, there's a perfect fit for every vacation.
The Main Attractions
Every inch of the Charleston islands is teeming with historical significance and natural charm. Outdoor adventurers, history buffs and everyone in between are sure to find something to love about the city.
Visit the site where the Civil War began, Fort Sumter, or explore a WWII aircraft carrier. Take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city and learn about the historic architecture then sail through the harbor for a sunset cruise. Visit Charleston's top family attraction, the South Carolina Aquarium, or appreciate the vast art collection during a romantic stroll of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art.
Dive into the great outdoors by chartering a boat for deep sea fishing or taking a kayak tour of the nearby rivers. Walk to a park or stroll along the beaches to a nearby lighthouse then grab your clubs for an unforgettable afternoon of golf at one of the many world-class courses. Stop by the Charleston Harbor Marina Mega Dock, the largest freestanding floating dock in the southeast, to soak up the breathtaking view of the bay. But before you wear yourself out trying to see it all be sure to save some energy for a night on the town with great food and drinks.
Wine and Dine in Style
After sunset, the Charleston Islands light up with entertainment, food, and drinks to continue the celebration.
Couples can start their starry-eyed evening with a mix of Southern, French and modern cuisine with a side of jazz in the relaxed atmosphere of the Charleston Grill, then take in the panoramic view of the city with a few drinks at the Vendue Hotel Rooftop Bar. Surprise your special someone with an evening tour on the Charleston Comedy Bus, or spoil them with lavish cocktails and artisanal popsicles at the Crooked Crown. Immerse yourself in Charleston's southern side with a night of dancing at the Honkey Tonk Saloon, or transport yourself back to the time of Hemingway with bespoke spirits at Victor Social Club.
Families will love the variety of options and organic ingredients at the Rebel Taqueria food truck, or you can treat the kids to a pizza party at Andolini's Pizza in West Ashley. Cap the night with a sweet treat at Cupcake, King Street Cookies or Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.
Shopping, Spas and More
Once you have shopped along Freshfield Village and the Shops at Belmond Charleston Place, wined and dined across the islands and explored the beaches and parks, it is time for some well-earned rest and relaxation.
Lucky for you the islands are a tranquil Oceanside oasis featuring a variety of spas and resorts like the Dewberry Charleston, the Spa at Belmond Charleston Place and the Sanctuary Spa at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which offers countless ways to wash away your stress and become one with the rolling waves and salty air.