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Things to Do in South Carolina

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Charleston City Market
27 Tours and Activities
In the middle of historic Charleston, the Charleston City Market is a central landmark for Holy City visitors. In addition to being one of the most visited historic attractions in town, the City Market—opened in 1807—is also one of the oldest continuously operating public markets in the United States.
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Charleston Waterfront Park
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20 Tours and Activities
Waterfront porch swings, a giant pineapple fountain, and grassy areas perfect for lazing the day away make Waterfront Park feel like Charleston’s personal backyard. Watch the boats float by on the river, snap photos, and enjoy the park’s family-friendly amenities — they keep this park a favorite hangout spot for locals and visitors alike. The 12-acre (4.9-hectare) park is a favorite for its wide-open spaces, neat walking trails, and fantastic views of the Ashley River from Vendue Wharf. The park also has two fountains: one giant pineapple fountain that’s perfect for taking photos, and one smaller splash zone that’s a hit with kids who want to cool off.
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Rainbow Row
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35 Tours and Activities

This street of brightly colored homes in Charleston is easily the most photographed spot in the city. With one look at the architecture, beauty and Southern style that these houses represent, it’s easy to see why. There are 14 different buildings on the row, each with its own piece of Charleston culture and history.

There are many rumors as to why the houses are painted with pastel colors, from identification for sailors returning home to indicating what the shops once contained. Others claim the houses are influenced by traditional Caribbean style.

The Rainbow Row buildings were contructed in the 18th century. Historically, they were once at the heart of Charleston’s commercial area, with shops on the first floor and the owners living above. After a period of neglect, they were renovated by a local woman in the early 19th century and have been restored and revered ever since.

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St. Philips Church
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20 Tours and Activities
This historical church is home to the oldest religious congregation in South Carolina. The first St. Philips Church was a small wooden structure built in 1681, where St. Michael's Episcopal Church stands today. The church withstood hurricane damage in 1710, was reconstructed, burned to the ground in 1835, and finally rebuilt to the present day church in 1836. Before it burned completely, it was saved from one fire by a slave who was granted his freedom for the act. Notable South Carolinians such as John C. Calhoun are buried in the old cemetery on the grounds.
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The Battery and White Point Garden
23 Tours and Activities
The Battery wraps around the edge of Charleston’s peninsula, providing an elegant buffer between the city and the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Stroll and sightsee along the wide pedestrian paths, which pass by antebellum homes and historic sights, or perch beneath the live oaks in White Point Garden and watch the world go by.
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Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
27 Tours and Activities

The Old Exchange is considered to be one of the most historically significant buildings in the United States. The structure was completed in 1771 and quickly became a prominent commercial and cultural center with the expansion of Charleston’s port and import/export trade. It is the former site of banquets held by George Washington, and where the Declaration of Independence was first read aloud to South Carolinians. It was here that the Constitution of South Carolina was ratified. Today it’s a living museum where Charleston colonial and Revolutionary history comes to life, with costumed docents on each of the three floors.

Charleston is known for being a haunted city, and underneath its most prominent public building is the Provost Dungeon—rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of its former prisoners. The dungeon predates the Old Exchange building by nearly a century, and visitors can still see what’s left of the original city wall of “Charles Town.”

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More Things to Do in South Carolina

Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument

17 Tours and Activities

This federal fort at Charleston Harbor is now a national park known as “the place the American Civil War began.” On April 12, 1861, tensions were high between the North and the South when Confederate forces fired upon the troops stationed in the fort. Fort Sumter was surrendered only 34 hours later, signaling the start of the war.

Fort Sumter was built following the War of 1812 to fortify and protect the harbor. Construction began in 1829 and continued up to the Battle at Fort Sumter in 1861. Its foundation is a manmade island of 70,000 tons of granite and rock. It is named for American Revolutionary War General Thomas Sumter.

The National Monument includes the original Fort Sumter, the Visitor Education Center on the banks of the Cooper River and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. The museum at the education center delves into the history of the fort’s construction and provides in depth information about its role in the Civil War.

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Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

2 Tours and Activities
As the last large-scale Romantic garden left in the United States, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens seek to provide an escape from the struggles and stresses of everyday life. Unlike a formal garden that seeks to “control” nature, a Romantic garden cooperates with nature to create a peaceful landscape where people and nature exist in harmony. Magnolia’s are also the oldest unrestored gardens in the United States, and the historic house is one of the oldest in the South.
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St. Michael's Church

St. Michael's Church

16 Tours and Activities
Towering above surrounding Charleston, the nearly 200-foot tall white steeple of St. Michael’s signals the site of the city’s oldest church. Inside, visitors and parishioners are transported back to the colonial era: alcoves shine with Tiffany stained glass windows, the original 1768 organ still pipes tunes and creaky wooden pews have seated centuries of worshipers including notables George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The central chandelier once blazed with candles, but has since been retrofitted with bulbs. Otherwise little altered, the church has survived tornadoes, an earthquake and even civil war bombings. The pulpit still bears battle wounds suffered in the 1865 Siege of Charleston Harbor. A table in the main vestibule along the western wall details the building’s long and storied history.
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Myrtle Beach SkyWheel

Myrtle Beach SkyWheel

2 Tours and Activities
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Aiken-Rhett House

Aiken-Rhett House

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This historic museum is known for being one of the best examples of Southern antebellum architecture in Charleston. It was originally built as a private home—owned in 1820 by local merchant John Robinson and later bought in 1858 by Gov. William Aiken, whose family is responsible for the lavish interior decoration. With antique furnishings and original wallpaper, much of the period style remains intact. Many of the family’s objects and fine art, acquired for the home while touring Europe, can still be found in the rooms they were purchased for.

Walk through the grounds’ historic double side porch, stables, a carriage house, a kitchen and slave quarters. You’ll learn about the house staff, which included footmen, cooks, gardeners and seamstresses, as well as life in the pre-Civil War era. Then step inside and view the collection of sculptures, paintings and chandeliers as you tour the home and learn about the history of the home and the family.

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Edmondston-Alston House

Edmondston-Alston House

4 Tours and Activities
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Greenville

Greenville

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1 Tour and Activity

At an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet, Greenville sits on the front doorstep of the Appalachian plateau. Within a 45-minute drive from town, visitors can be flying through the trees on a zipline and splashing through Class III rapids, or kayaking to waterfalls that spill directly into nearby Lake Jocassee. The convenient proximity to adventure, however, isn’t Greenville’s only perk; the city itself has recently emerged as a burgeoning Southern hub, where shopping, dining, and local art all thrive in Greenville’s downtown. Take a stroll or ride a bike on the city’s Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 19-mile, multi-use trail that passes the waterfalls of Greenville’s Falls Park and the iconic Liberty suspension bridge. Escape to the hills of Caesars Head State Park for a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and return for an evening of perusing the shops and restaurants of tree-lined Main Street.

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Heyward-Washington House

Heyward-Washington House

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5 Tours and Activities
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Middleton Place

Middleton Place

6 Tours and Activities
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Aiken-Rhett House

Aiken-Rhett House

9 Tours and Activities

For an evocative glimpse into antebellum plantation life in South Carolina, visit the Aiken-Rhett House in Charleston. The only surviving urban plantation, the 1818 townhouse complex has changed little since it was expanded in 1858. The rooms are decorated with the fine art and furnishings purchased by the owners more than 150 years ago.

A tour of the mansion takes you through the home's very own art gallery, dining room and parlors. The carriage house and kitchen at the rear of the mansion were slave quarters, and are amongst the best preserved examples in the region.

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