Charleston

Bounded by the Ashley River to the west, the Cooper River to the east, the Battery to the south, and Calhoun Street to the north, the city's historic heart is a fairly compact area of 800 acres that contains nearly 2,000 historic homes and buildings. The peninsula is divided up into several neighborhoods, starting from the south and moving north, including the Battery, South of Broad, the Market area, and Upper King Street, ending near the "Crosstown," where U.S. 17 connects downtown to Mount Pleasant and West Ashley.

You'll see no skyscrapers in the downtown area, because building heights are strictly regulated to maintain the city's historic setting. In the 1970s, most department stores decamped for suburban malls, turning King Street buildings into rows of (architecturally significant) empty shells. Soon, preservation-conscious groups began to save these beauties, and by the mid-1980s the shopping district was revived with the addition of the Omni Hotel (now Belmond Charleston Place). Big-name retailers quickly saw the opportunity in this attractive city and settled in as well. Lower King thrives and Upper King is booming, with many new businesses—hip bars and restaurants in particular—targeting the city's young, socially active population. Look up at the old-timey tile work at the entrances; inevitably it will have the names of the original businesses.

Beyond downtown, the Ashley River hugs the west side of the peninsula; the region on the far shore is called West Ashley. The Cooper River runs along the east side of the peninsula, with Mount Pleasant on the opposite side and Charleston Harbor in between. Lastly, there are outlying sea islands: James Island with its Folly Beach, Johns Island, Wadmalaw Island, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, Isle of Palms, and Sullivan's Island. Each has its own appealing attractions, though Johns and Wadmalaw have farms instead of beaches. Everything that entails crossing the bridges is best explored by car or bus.

Sort by: 9 Recommendations {{numTotalPoiResults}} {{ (numTotalPoiResults===1)?'Recommendation':'Recommendations' }} 0 Recommendations
CLEAR ALL Area Search CLEAR ALL
Loading...
Loading...
  • 1. Angel Oak Tree

    Viewpoint

    Live oak trees do as much to define the Lowcountry landscape as the salt marsh, and this gorgeous specimen is likely the oldest—and biggest...Read More

  • 2. Folly Beach

    Folly Beach | Beach

    Charleston's most laid-back beach community fills up on weekends, so head out early to avoid traffic if you're visiting on a Saturday. A rebuild...Read More

    View Tours and Activities
  • 3. Kiawah Beachwalker Park

    Beach

    This county park 28 miles southwest of Charleston has a wide beach at low tide, often ranked among the country's best. Stunningly beautiful...Read More

  • 4. Middleton Place

    West Ashley | Historic District/Site

    Established in the 1730s, Middleton Place was at the center of the Middleton family’s empire of rice plantations, where they enslaved 3,500...Read More

  • 5. Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park

    City Park

    Sprawling beneath the Ravenel Bridge, this beautifully landscaped green space invites lounging on the grass with views of Charleston Harbor...Read More

  • 6. Sullivan's Island

    Beach

    The pristine Sullivan's Island beachfront is owned by the town, including 200 acres of walkable maritime forest overseen by the Lowcountry Open...Read More

  • 7. Drayton Hall

    West Ashley | Historic District/Site

    The only plantation house on the Ashley River to have survived the Civil War intact, Drayton Hall is considered the nation's finest example...Read More

  • 8. Mepkin Abbey

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    This active Trappist monastery overlooking the Cooper River is on the site of the former plantation owned by Henry Laurens, a slaveholder whose...Read More

  • 9. Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County Park

    City Park

    With an observation tower, paved nature trails, and boardwalks extending over the marshes, this 943-acre park offers a day full of family fun...Read More

No sights Results

Please try a broader search, or expore these popular suggestions:

There are no results for {{ strDestName }} Sights in the searched map area with the above filters. Please try a different area on the map, or broaden your search with these popular suggestions:

Around the Web