Charleston South Carolina is one of those beautiful historical places you never want to miss visiting. I fell in love with Charleston in 2019 when I visited for the first time with a friend. The dripping Spanish moss, the quaint downtown area, the historic streets and of course, the charming colorful old homes in the heart of Charleston. Not only is the little town beautiful, but it is every photographer’s dream place to photograph!
Here are my favorite tips to make visiting Charleston SC easy and fun!
1. Be careful driving. There are a lot of people (and carriages) crossing the roads and it is busy! Watch street signs, drive slow and allow pedestrians to cross before flying down the street.
2. Ditch your car downtown. There is so much to see and do all within walking distance. You really don’t need to keep driving around. Just park and walk!
3. Drive around for an extra 5 minutes to find free parking. There is a TON here. If you’re desperate, there are a lot of parking garages. But don’t be afraid to add those extra few minutes walking.
4. Don’t stay in downtown Charleston. If you are renting an Airbnb or a hotel, rent one outside the city limits. Inside the city limits you are going to PAY for it.
5. Know how to say the names of streets before asking for directions. This isn’t snobby, this is just helpful. Someone can’t direct you if you aren’t pronouncing it correctly! Here are just a few examples of street names that aren’t the easiest to pronounce:
- Barre: BARE – ee (street)
- Beaufain: BYOO – fain (street)
- Clemson: CLEM – zun (local university)
- Gaillard: GILLY – yard (performing arts center, an old lady actually yelled at a friend for mispronouncing this one)
- Hasell: HAY – zul (street)
- Huger: u – GEE (street)
- Legare: le – GREE (street)
- McLeod: muh – CLOUD (plantation)
- Prioleau: PRAY – low (street)
- Sumter: SUMP • tur (monument and town)
- Vanderhorst: VAN – dross (street)
6. Walking tours are informational, but you can find out a lot on your own. If you aren’t into spending money, save the cash and just google things as you walk!
7. Don’t stand in a line for a meal. There are SO many great restaurants in Charleston, you really are wasting time just standing in line! Some of our favorite restaurants include RuRu’s Tacos and the Charleston Crab House. Delicious food!
8. Don’t buy the sweetgrass baskets in downtown. They are beautiful and have a unique history, but sellers in the Charleston City Market have to pay for that prime real estate and in turn, pass that onto their buyers. Instead, head to Mount Pleasant and drive towards Route 17 and Georgetown. You’ll pass more sellers with better prices.
9. Go outside of the peninsula. Downtown Charleston isn’t all that’s there. There are beautiful plantations, beaches and attractions outside of downtown Charleston. A few of our favorites include:
Cross the Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River to Mount Pleasant to explore:
- Old Town Mount Pleasant
- Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens
- The Pitt Street Bridge
- Sullivan’s Island
- Isle of Palms
Or cross the Ashley River to check out:
- The Avondale neighborhood
- James Island
- Folly Beach
- Johns Island
- Wadmalaw Island
- The Ashley River Road plantations: Magnolia Plantation, Drayton Hall, Middleton Place
Or go north to spend some time in:
- Park Circle
- Or the parks further north of town
10. There are more beaches than just Folly Beach. Seriously. Though Folly Beach is beautiful, the nightlife makes navigating your car in the dark challenging. They also don’t have a lot of different restaurants.
11. Leave the wildlife alone. This should be a no brainer, but there are alligators around Charleston and getting close is not a good idea.