Drayton Hall is the oldest surviving example of Georgian Palladian arhitecture in the United States and one of the only pre-Revolutonary houses that remain in close to original condition today. Drayton Hall's story spans 3 centuries of American history and 7 generations of the Drayton family and the African Americans were lived and worked here. Today you can tour the house (unfurnished) and take part in programs about life on the plantation or visit the African American cemetery on site.
Edisto Beach State Park
One of four oceanfront state parks in SC, Edisto Beach State Park is known for being rich in both history and nature. There is an ancient shell midden that created by the Edisto Indians in 2,000 B.C. This mound, made up mostly of oyster shells was where the Native Americans deposited of their trash and other unwanted items. Most popular on site are the nature trails, the Environmental Education Center, its educational programs, completely furnished cabins, campsites and of course the view of the South Carolina coastline!
Charles Towne Landing
Truly the birthplace of South Carolina, in 1670 a group of English settlers landed here and established the start of the Carolinas colony, the plantation system of the American South and one of the continent's first major port cities. The view here hasn't changed much at all (except for the fact that you can now enjoy a convenient trolley and audio tour to get you from place to place!). First brush up on your history at the interactive museum and gift shop before you begin your journey through the Adventure (a 17th century replica ship), an experimental crop garden, archaeology sites, an animal forest with species indigienous to SC and 80 acres of gardens. The Legare-Waring House is a favorite place for weddings and events along with Founders Hall, a LEEDS gold certified event facility.
Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture
Once a hub for the African American community in Charleston, the Avery Research Center offered its students training for professional careers and leadership roles from 1865-1954. Today Avery is an archives and museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and documentation of the history and culture of African Americans in Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry. The center currently holds nearly 4000 primary- and secondary-source materials that document the history, traditions, legacies, and influence of African Americans and their place in the American narrative.
Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter marks the beginning of the Civil War. Decades of growing strife between North and South erupted on April 12, 1861 when Confederate artillery opened fire on this Federal fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Union forces would try for nearly four years to take it back. Before you get on the boat to Fort Sumter, you can explore the Visitor Education Center. There are also many artifacts to see at the actual fort, including an original flag. History Trivia: The first death during the Civil War was an accident here at Fort Sumter. As Federal troops surrended to the Confederates, the Union soldiers lowered their flag. A premature discharge during the 100-gun salute caused an explosion that killed Pvt. Daniel Hough of the 1st U.S. Artillery.
Fort Moultrie National Monument
Fort Moultrie is the only unit of the National Park System where the entire 171-year history of American seacoast defense (1776-1947) can be traced. Here you can actually watch time rewind as you experience what it was like on Fort Moultrie from World War II all the way back to it's days as a palmetto and log fort in 1776. Tucked in between the pubs and charming shuttered houses on Sullivan's Island, Fort Moultrie offers self-guided tours and museum exhibits on this key part of military history. History Trivia: The palmetto tree has been a symbol of SC since 1776 because the first Fort Moultrie was built of palmetto logs. The battle of Sullivan's Island was the Revolutionary War's first decisive victory of American forces over the British Navy.
Edisto Island Museum
Edisto Island is known for its natural beauty and a laid-back way of life. But it is also treasured for its rich history of Native Americans, Spanish pirates, English settlers, wealthy cotton planters and military conflicts. The Edisto Island Museum walks you through the history of the island through many artifacts, photographs and displays. There is an Agriculture Room with farm implements, displays from Edisto's oldest Freedman's house and an African-American school, and a Nature Room with fossils and shells found on Edisto's beaches!
Edisto Island Serpentarium
As the first true Serpentarium in South Carolina, this facility is dedicated to the recognition, preservation and study of the world of reptiles. The site provides educational and exciting displays of reptiles from around the world and native to the region.
Caw Caw Interpretive Center
Caw Caw Interpetive Center guides you through 654 acres worth of history and nature. Part of a former rice plantation, the land was home to enslaved African Americans who applied their technology and skills in agriculture to carve a highly successful series of rice fields out of cypress swamp. Still evident are the earthen dikes, remnant water control structures and canals that today provide diverse habitats to migratory waterfowl, songbirds, deer, otter and alligators. Visitors can experience Caw Caw through the 8 miles of walking trails, interpretive exhibits at the interpretive center and a wide variety of educational programs.
Boone Hall & Farm Market
Boone Hall Plantation has been open to the public since 1956 and today offers tours of the house full of antiques. The plantation was founded in 1681 and the family was influential in South Carolina history, the colonies, and the nation.
Nearby is Boone Hall Farm Market, which specializes in a full line of locally grown South Carolina produce, meats and specialty products such as fresh produce, local seafood, homemade fudge, ice cream, jams, jellies, salad dressings, and a market cafe featuring Farms Fresh meals with meat and vegetables starting at $6.99. Meatloaf is a favorite!!!
Hampton Plantation State Historic Site
Located on a former colonial-era rice plantation, Hampton Plantation features a Georgian-style mansion and grounds that serve as an educational tool for the system of slavery that helped build such plantations into the greatest generators of wealth in early American history. Hampton Plantation also tells the story of freed people who made their homes here for generations after the emancipation. Visitors can explore the mansion, the outdoor kitchen building, stroll beneath the huge live oaks or in the camellia gardens, or take in the view of Wambaw Creek and what remains of the rice fields that stood there long ago. History Trivia: Hampton Plantation inspired the works of a SC poet laureate, Archibald Rutledge, who lived here and gave it to the people of SC as a legacy.
Hampton Park is a 56-acre historic park, and the largest located on the peninsula of Charleston. Today you can stop by the park for it's beautiful gardens and aboretum or for the walking trails and audio tour that examines the many layers of history that have shaped this special place. These layers include a 1791 Horse Race Track, an 1864 Civil War Prison, the 1865 site of First Memorial Day event, and the 1901-1902 West Indian Exposition. Details
Arriving from Barbados, Thomas Drayton and his wife Ann landed in Charles Towne and established Magnolia Plantation along the Ashley River in 1679. Magnolia saw immense wealth and growth through the cultivation of rice during the Colonial era, and later the British and American troops would occupy its grounds during the American Revolution. In 1825 a direct Drayton descendant inherited Magnolia and created a series of romantic gardens for his wife. The romantic gardens have an emphasis on the natural beauty of the site, creating an informal and almost fairy-tale setting. After the Civil War, the plantation recovered and opened the gardens to the public in 1870, making it America's oldest tourism attraction! Today you can tour the gardens, take a boat ride, learn about the African Americans of Magnolia Plantation through the existing slave dwellings and exhibits, stop by the petting zoo or tour the Drayton family heirlooms inside the homesite.
South Carolina Aquarium
The South Carolina Aquarium is one of the top experiences in Charleston! Find out why and by checking out some of their activities such as a 4-D movie theater, daily programs, behind the scenes tours, a visit with an albino alligator, or a visit to the Sea Turtle hospital! There is always something new at the aquarium, so make sure you visit their website to plan your day!
Sewee Visitor & Environmental Education Center
The Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center is operated by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service to showcase the ecosystems of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge and the Francis Marion National Forest. The center has nature exhibits, a live endangered red wolf viewing area, a classroom and laboratory and a nature trail.
Old St. Andrews Parish Church
Created by the Church Act of 1706, St. Andrew's Parish Church is the oldest surviving church building in the Carolinas. The church has withstood over 300 years this church of wars and natural disasters, and except for a period of 60 years after the Civil War, it has housed an active parish church family. Many features of the church are original including the flooring, reredos, reading desks, pews and baptismal front. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Old St. Andrew's is situated on 11 acres and includes a graveyard dating to the early 1700's. History Trivia: John Grimke Drayton, who created the gardens at Magnolia Plantation, was rector here for a time.
The Olde Village
The Olde Village in North Charleston is incredibly charming as well as rich in history. There are wonderful eateries to enjoy and a variety of quaint shops to explore as one strolls down the streetscape. The City of North Charleston was formed in 1972 and today the area captures the historic atmosphere of the past, while establishing new businesses, eateries and shops for the public to enjoy.
Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion
The Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavillion, located in the Town of Mt. Pleasant's Memorial Waterfront Park, is a permanent structure dedicated to showcasing the history, culture and art of sweetgrass basketmaking. Browse the exhibits and visit with local basketmakers. The pavilion is also the site of several events including the annual Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival. The Mount Pleasant Visitors Center and waterfront playground is located beside the pavillion, which makes it a great stop for everyone!
North Charleston Cultural Arts
Visit the north Charleston City Gallery, located within the Charleston Area Convention Center, and view monthly exhibitions of 2-D work by international, national and local artists in a variety of subjects and mediums. Stop by the North Charleston Riverfront Park and enjoy the annual National Outdoor Scuulpture Exhibition on display from May-March. North Charleston City Hall doubles as a showcase for their public art collection, displaying over 60 pieces in the artrium areas throughout three floors of the building. The arts are also celebrated throughout the city each May during the North Charleston Arts Festival!
Charleston Visitors Center
Housed in an 1856 railroad depot with the original floors and beams, you should definitely make this visitors center your first stop in Charleston! Many attraction tickets can be purchased right here, and there are tons of magazines, brochures, videos and informational kiosks that will inspire your trip! The Visitors Center is also a point of departure for many trolleys and tour companies. There is a (cash only) parking area for those who want to explore the historic downtown district.
Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
Charles Pinckney was a principal author and a signer of the United States Constitution. This remnant of Snee Farmk, his coastal plantation, is preserved to tell the story of a "forgotten founder," his life of public service, the lives of enslaved African Americans and their influences on Pinckney.
McLeod was established in 1851 as a sea island cotton plantation. Today McLeod is a 37-acre park open to the public and is recognized as a significant historic site most notably for exploring African American history and Gullah Geechee culture.
Visitors are invited to
Tour the homes and compare the McLeod family home with those built for enslaved families.
Learn about daily life and the relationships among the men, women, and children who lived and worked here before and after slavery.
Study the cultivation and importance of sea island cotton.
Gain insight into the plantation’s strategic importance during the Civil War and the role of the free black Massachusetts 55th Volunteer Infantry in emancipating enslaved people.
Examine the influence of the Freedmen’s Bureau at McLeod Plantation and throughout the South.
Trace the emergence of Gullah Culture in the Lowcountry.
Explore worship and spirituality in the lives of McLeod Plantation’s residents.
Draw parallels between the changing relationships among McLeod Plantation’s residents and in American society during the 20th century.
See how people dramatically changed the natural history of the plantation’s landscape through time.
Center for Birds of Prey
Ideally situated on a 152-acre campus near Charleston, the Center for Birds of Prey is dedicated to the study and welfare of birds and their habitats and to engaging the public in important environmental issues that affect birds and humans alike. With nearly 50 species of birds of prey on display, the Center offers educational guided walking tours and demonstrations with birds in free flight on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Charleston Tea Plantation
Come to quiet Wadmalaw Island in the Lowcountry for a visit to America's only tea farm. You can take a trolley tour through the thousands of tea plants (camellia sinesis) and then stop in at the factory to see how the leaves get from the field to your cup! The gift shop is a must with everything from candles to tea pots. Charleston Tea Plantation also holds the First Flush Festival every Spring to celebrate the new harvest season of the tea plants. History Trivia: The "first flush" or first harveset of tea plants has a unique taste and was usually reserved for royalty.
Rich in tradition and history, Legare Farms is a bustling, 300-acre farm on the banks of the Stono River just 14 miles outside of Charleston. Open by appointment and during special events (the Pumpkin Patch is a favorite!), the farm raises Black Angus and Hereford cattle without the use of antibiotics or hormones and also raises pigs of fine heritage breeds such as Yorkshire, Hampshire, Berkshire and Tamworth. The eggs produced on Legare Farms are free-range and of top quality and the vegetables (free of chemicals and pesticides) are offered to memberships in a successful CSA food co-op program. Legare also grows Zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Centipede sod as well as a variety of nursery plants
North Charleston Fire Museum
The tours here give you a glimpse into the life of a firefighter and the changes and advancements that have occurred in fire fighting throughout time. Fire vehicles and antique fire equipment that dates back to the 1700s fill the space with interactive displays and hands on activities. There is also a visitor information desk on site, which makes the site fun AND convenient!
Patriots Point is a floating naval and maritime museum on the Charleston Harbor. The center piece is the World War II aircraft carrier, the USS YORKTOWN. Walk through the history of our nation's bravest men and women and learn their stories in educational and engaging ways through the Cold War Memorial, the only Vietnam Support Base Camp in the United States and the official Medal of Honor Museum. This is a favorite place for children's groups, especially since the YORKTOWN has one of the largest educational and overnight camping programs in the nation!