Rainbow Row

Charleston First-Time Visitors Guide

Charleston has so much to offer that it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out what to see and do first. If you only have a short time to visit or if it’s your first time in the Holy City, there are few things you just can’t miss. We’ve compiled a list of the must-visit attractions and tours to see while you’re here. Get started! Charleston is waiting. 

Carriage Tour

Book a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown. Your tour guide is randomly assigned a route and will delight your tour group with stories and facts about Charleston from her earliest days to the present. View carriage tours

Hit the Beach!

Sullivan's IslandThere are three amazing public beaches in Charleston: Folly Beach, Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island. For more info about the beaches, checkout our Ultimate Charleston Beach Guide post.

Shem Creek

One of the most picturesque waterways in the area, Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant is a great spot for kayaking or simply enjoying drinks and a fresh seafood dinner with a water view.

Plantation Tour

Visit one of Charleston’s many plantations to see how wealthy plantation owners lived and for a deeper understanding of slave life in the Lowcountry. View all Plantations

Rainbow Row

If you’re walking down Market or King streets, take a detour to Rainbow Row and Battery Park starting on East Bay Street. Rainbow Row includes a stretch of 13 brightly colored historic homes that you’ve probably seen in famous photographs. It’s definitely a sight to see for yourself. Rainbow Row also sits along the Battery, a Civil War-era defensive seawall and promenade along the Charleston harbor. Continue along the Battery to White Point Garden, a public park on the tip of the peninsula. Walk the park to see several statues and monuments. Watch out Rainbow Row video! 

Charleston SC Walking Tours

Walking Tours



Walking History Tour

To fully immerse yourself in Charleston culture and history, walk the historic streets on a history tour. These on-the-ground tours offer a whole new perspective on the Holy City and afterward you’ll feel like a local with all your newfound Charleston knowledge. View all walking tours

 Fort Sumter

Visit the spot where the Civil War began. On April 12, 1861, the Confederate artillery opened fire on this fort located in the Charleston harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later, and Union forces tried for nearly four years to take it back. Learn the history behind the Civil War, while taking in the beauty of the Charleston harbor. View all harbor tours