The cobblestoned streets and pre-Civil War architecture of Charleston take you back in time, charming you with the old-fashioned feel of a city that redefines "southern comfort." Small, but still brimming with things to see and do, Charleston as undergone a drastic revitalization in the past decade or so, welcoming visitors with horse-drawn carriages and fun, romantic surprises seemingly on every street corner. It's no wonder Travel + Leisure voted Charleston one of the most romantic cities in the USA!
Take a sunset boat ride on the harbor, explore gardens peppered with Civil War relics among the verdant trees, and stroll through a neighborhood lined with beautiful southern-style mansions. History buffs will want to check out Fort Sumter, site of the first shot fired in the Civil War. Later, dine, drink, and dance your way through the city's colorful restaurant and nightlife scene or book a class to learn the Charleston, a dance named after the city where it originated.
Boozy couples can sample craft beer and liquor at local breweries and distilleries, while teeotalers will want to sip coffee at an old-world style cafe or window-shop their hearts out on bustling King Street. You haven't truly experienced southern charm until you've seen Charleston, South Carolina!
Our Top Recommendations
The Best Parts of Charleston
- SAIL THE SCHOONER: Charter a boat to take a sunset or moonlight cruise on The Schooner Pride, styled after the trading ships that once frequented the harbor in the 1700s, and see sparkling Charleston from the water in the prettiest way possible. A sunset sail is the perfect way to snuggle, but they have all kinds of sail itineraries you can check out.
- CARRIAGE SEAT FOR TWO: Book a romantic horse-drawn carriage tour and see Charleston as they did a hundred-plus years ago, passing over oak-lined cobblestoned streets past the charming antebellum mansions of olde.
- ESCAPE WITHIN AN ESCAPE: For a special escape, head to Sullivan's Island, just about 20 minutes from downtown. It's a quiet beach where you can watch the sunset, pack a picnic, or just take in some sun and scenery.
- FLUTTER BY THE BUTTERFLIES: Visit the Cypress Gardens to walk among the butterflies in a gorgeous enclosed habitat, explore wooded trails, and paddle along creeks lined with cypress trees. It's as pleasant as outings get!
- PITT STREET BRIDGE: It's not really a bridge, but it offers some of the best seaside views and sunsets in Charleston. This park is perfect for viewing the peaceful harbor where you can also see Sullivan's Island off in the distance.
- SEE THE MORRIS ISLAND LIGHTHOUSE: An off the beaten path trail allows you to catch breathtaking views of the now-decommissioned Morris Island Lighthouse,