By Courtney – The Insider
The entire historic core of Charleston is a living, breathing historic museum of sorts so we spent most of our time strolling about, taking it all in. Many tour companies offer themed walking tours to orient you to the city’s rich past; house tours are also popular.
We enjoyed these free indoor venues:
City Gallery, right next to Waterfront Park, is a free city-owned gallery that showcases local artists in a striking modern setting. Worth popping into for the art, scenic Bay views from the upper floors and the restrooms!
Fort Sumter Visitor Center, run by the National Park Service, is an excellent free museum full of great displays that help you quickly understand Charleston’s Civil War and slave trading past. (Jimmy wished he had started here on Day 1 to have a deeper understanding of the history of this place!) For a fee, take the ferry out to visit the island with the actual fort; this is a reasonably priced way to experience the waters of Charleston Bay.
Sure it is touristy, but Charleston Market , housed in a beautiful structure, is a must-see experience. Blocks long, this authentic historic marketplace has both covered open air sections and enclosed air-conditioned spaces. Lively, chock full of locally-made foods, including the unique and authentic regional crafts from Gullah artisans, descendants of enslaved Africans who created a wholly unique culture in the Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia. Food stalls amid the wonderful colonial era architecture offer a quick bite or snack. Need a souvenir? This is the place to buy!
The Cigar Factory is a multi-use attraction, housed in a massive old brick factory on the industrial edge of the historic core. Mercantile and Mash is both a “gourmet food emporium” (tasty fare, gifts with local flare) and a bar (Bar Mash) for pop-up markets and other special events.
Well-heeled shoppers (and cheapskate window gawkers like us) enjoy King Street’s blend of unique local shops showcasing southern style (Jimmy drooled over the bow ties made of feathers… yes, feathers!), antique stores and art galleries, as well as upscale global chains.
Read about our other Charleston adventures, here.