For inspiration for your next getaway, consider paying a visit to a city in the southern United States that has been called one of the best in America.
Charleston is a port city in the state of South Carolina known for its rich history, with storied streets, picture-perfect beaches, tons to see and do and plenty of southern charm.
The city has consistently been named as one of the best cities in the U.S., having been named among the prettiest places to vacation in the southern U.S., among the best destinations to visit in 2023, and the top city in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure readers.
The city is located on the east coast just 2 hours from neighboring Savannah, Georgia, making it great for a day trip or weekend getaway spot.
Ready to get going? Here's why you should plan a trip to the Holy City.
What to see in Charleston
I visited Charleston on a trip with my family during a visit to Myrtle Beach. Charleston is about 2 hours from the beach town, so you could easily visit the city as a day trip if you're basing your vacation there.
While Myrtle Beach is more modern and touristy, Charleston is like stepping into the past. Here, you'll find historic Antebellum mansions, moss-draped-tree-lined cobblestone streets, restored plantations and Civil War sites.
History buffs can visit Fort Sumter, which is only accessible by ferry, to learn about the origins of the Civil War.
One of the best ways to get a taste of Charleston's history is with a horse-drawn carriage tour. A guide will take you through the city's storied history as you pass stately mansions, centuries-old churches and elegant homes.
You can also of course explore on foot. Walking downtown, you'll pass bars, boutiques, and Southern-style restaurants and multiple points of interest, like the scenic White Point Garden and the French Quarter, where homes are still lit by flickering gas lamps.
One particularly beautiful area of the city is a street called Rainbow Row. Located on Charleston's picturesque waterfront, here, you'll find 13 candy-coloured houses built pre-Civil War.
The pastel houses make for a picture-perfect backdrop, so you'll definitely want to set aside some time to stop and take photos here.
During your visit, be sure to also stop at Charleston's City Market, which was established in the 1790s and is one of the oldest public markets in the U.S.
Here you'll find everything from trinkets and handmade crafts to jewelry and locally-made food. You can also find here the city's most prized souvenir, a woven sweetgrass basket.
Is Charleston haunted?
Despite its pastel buildings, charming restaurants and romantic quality, Charleston is actually a pretty spooky place.
The city is actually said to be one of the most haunted destinations in the U.S., up there with famously haunted cities like New Orleans, Savannah and Salem.
One of the haunted places you can visit is Poogan's Porch, one of the city's most beloved restaurants housed in a two-story home built in 1888.
The restaurant is said to be the site of strange occurrences, like water faucets and lights turning on of their own accord, and reports of a ghostly woman seen in the mirror of the restaurant.
One of the site's most famous spectres is the spirit of a stray dog named Poogan who had become a fixture of the neighbourhood. Despite his death in 1979, the pup has been seen hanging around the restaurant by several patrons and staff members.
Another famously haunted site is the Charleston Old City Jail. Home to the city's most notorious criminals in the 1800s and early 1900s, it's now said that the Old Jail is haunted by the more than 13,000 prisoners who were executed there.
If you're brave enough, you can even book into a haunted hotel in the city where "a couple of ghosts" are reported from time to time.
According to Ghost City Tours, the Battery Carriage House, one of the city's most historic hotels, is also one of its most haunted, home to ghosts of Civil War-era soldiers and paranormal occurences.
The site has been featured on tons of ghost programs, including Ghost Adventures.
If you're brave enough, you can embark on a ghost tour and discover the others for yourself.
What is the best time of year to visit Charleston, SC?
Summer is a gorgeous time to visit South Carolina, with daily highs of around 30-31 C in Charleston.
However, one of the best times to visit the city is actually said to be from September to November, when temperatures are still warm but not blisteringly hot. In November, Charleston still sees daily highs of about 20 C, making for pleasant weather to stroll the city's streets.
Because of Charleston's subtropical climate, even a visit in winter should still deliver mild weather, with average temperatures of around 16 C.
If you're planning on visiting Myrtle Beach while you're in South Carolina, September and October still offer hot enough weather to swim and lay on the sand, with average highs of 30 C and 25 C, respectively.
Charleston makes for a great day trip spot from Georgia, located just 2 hours from Savannah. It's also about a 3-and-a-half-hour drive from Jacksonville, Florida,
If you're planning to base your South Carolina vacation in Myrtle Beach, you can plan a day trip to Charleston, which is about 2 hours from the beach town.
Charleston Harbour Tours even offers a day trip from Myrtle Beach to Charleston where the tour company will pick you up and bring you back, allowing you to experience some historic tours or spend the day shopping around in and exploring the Holy City.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.