Ravenel Bridge

12 Free, Low-Cost Ways to See Charleston, SC


Whether you love history, nature or beautiful water views, it’s easy to find plenty to do in Charleston. The good news is there are some terrific attractions and activities that won’t bust your vacation budget. We’ve put together a list of 12 free or very low-cost things to do around the Charleston area.

  1. Riverfront Park sits on the bank of the Cooper River in North Charleston. Stop by and see the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial honoring the many military personnel and civilians who served our country and the Charleston region at the former Charleston Navy Base.
  2. Mace Brown Museum of Natural History at the College of Charleston. This museum is home to 3,000 fossil specimens, including dinosaurs, cave bears, Pleistocene mammals of the Carolinas, fossil plants and more. Geology students work at the museum and can give guided tours.
  3. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge spanning the Cooper River has a more than 2-mile bike/pedestrian lane called Wonders’ Way. It is accessible from East Bay Street in downtown Charleston and on the Mount Pleasant side. Be sure to stop at the top for a bird’s eye view of Charleston.
  4. Angel Oak, Charleston, SCAdmire the majestic Angel Oak tree, part of a public city park. Its canopy of branches spans 17,000 square feet. The tree is located at 3688 Angel Oak Road on Johns Island.
  5. See Charleston’s historic City Hall, 80 Broad St., constructed in the early 1800s. Also, the picturesque Washington Square Park is located by city hall and features beautiful architecture and ironwork.
  6. The Charleston County Parks system has more than 10 terrific park spaces, some of which have dog parks, waterparks, trails, bike paths, green space and beach access. (Admission: $2/person at James Island County Park, Mount Pleasant Palmetto Islands County Park, North Charleston Wannamaker County Park, and Caw Caw Interpretive Center.)
  7. Stop by the Red Barn at Palmetto Carriage Works, 8 Guignard St., to visit the horses, mules and other animals. There’s a fee for tours, but no charge to visit the barn.
  8. Charles Pinckney National Historic Site on Long Point Road in Mount Pleasant highlights the work of Charles Pinckney, a principal author and a signer of the U.S. Constitution. This remnant of his coastal plantation is preserved to tell of a life of public service and to highlight the lives of enslaved African Americans on Lowcountry plantations and their influences on Pinckney.
  9. Summerville’s town square is a picturesque downtown lined with boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and antique stories. Go window shopping before stopping in Guerin’s Pharmacy – the oldest pharmacy in South Carolina – for an old-fashioned ice cream float.
    Guerins Pharmacy

    Photo/VisitSummerville.com

  10. Visit the cemetery at the Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St., likely the oldest English burial ground still in existence in Charleston. The earliest unmarked grave dates from 1695.
  11. Charleston is home to America’s only tea garden. Visit the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island and take a complimentary factory tour and browse the gift shop.
  12. For iconic Charleston views, walk the Battery. Once a defensive seawall, the area is now known for its historic homes and nearby White Point Garden and Battery Park at the intersection of Murray Boulevard and East Battery Street.