What is Charleston SC's most famous dish

Charleston - the "Holy City" in South Carolina

Elegant, discreet, unobtrusive, these are the terms that the small town on the Atlantic coast is often used to describe. It is a city with a southern flair, which was not only voted the best city in the world by the travel magazine Travel + Leisure in 2016, but together with its surrounding area also served as the backdrop for the classics of film history "Gone with the Wind" and "Torches in the Storm" .

Table of Contents
Figures, data, facts about Charleston | Quiet port city on the Atlantic coast | Humid subtropical climate with mild winters and humid summers | 445 people per square kilometer | Hotels, Apartments and Vacation Rentals | The Democrats lead the way in Charleston | Tourism plays an important role in Charleston's economy | Infrastructure - Charleston's connection to the rest of the world | Charleston - one of the more dangerous cities in the USA | Charleston for tourists | Worthwhile excursions from Charleston | A trip into the history of Charleston

Boone Hall Plantation | Charles Towne Landing | Cypress Gardens | Black Charleston | The Charleston Economy | Drayton Hall | Fort Sumter National Monument | Magnolia Plantation and Gardens | Middleton Place Gardens | Patriots Point

Charleston is a city with numerous historical and cultural attractions, including around fifty churches, to which the oldest city in South Carolina (SC) owes its nickname "The Holy City".

Numbers, dates, facts about Charleston

  • State: South Carolina
  • county: Charleston County, Berkeley County
  • population: 134,385 (city) / 761,155 (metropolitan area)
  • surface: 376.5 square kilometers (of which 361.2 km2 mainland)
  • Population density: 372.1 inhabitants per square kilometer
  • founding year: 1670
  • Altitude difference: four meters
  • Time zone: Eastern (UTC -5 / -4)
  • Postcodes: 29401 – 29425
  • prefix: +1 843
  • mayor: John Tecklenburg

Charleston is the seat of the city's Roman Catholic Bishopric and the administrative seat of Charleston County.


Quiet port city on the Atlantic coast

Charleston, which was once called Charles Town, was originally built on the peninsula between the Ashley River in the west and the Cooper River in the east, which form a broad estuary there. This funnel merges into the Atlantic Ocean in the southeast. A sheltered bay and perfect for a natural haven, Charleston Harbor. Today the center of Charleston, Downtown, which is often referred to as "The Peninsula", is located there between the rivers.

All in all, however, like so many other cities, Charleston has grown over time and now extends beyond the Ashley River to include James Island and parts of Johns Island. On the other hand, too, the city limits have expanded beyond the Cooper River and now include not only Daniel Island, but also the Cainhoy region. Charleston Harbor is about eleven kilometers southeast of the Atlantic.

As a result, there are currently six different districts in the city in the US state of South Carolina: Downtown, West Ashley, Johns Island, James Island, Cainhoy Peninsula and Daniel Island. Charleston is part of the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

Humid subtropical climate with mild winters and humid summers

The city in South Carolina has a humid, subtropical climate. Winters are mild, summers hot and humid, and significant rainfall throughout the year. Thunderstorms are particularly common in the months from June to September. The warmest months of the year are July and August. The highest temperature ever measured was 40 degrees Celsius.

The temperatures are more pleasant in autumn. You can expect relatively warm temperatures here until mid-November. However, the city is repeatedly hit by hurricanes in summer and early autumn. Charleston was hit by Hurricane Hugo, among other things, which raged in September 1989 and is considered one of the most devastating natural disasters in the United States.

Winters are typically short and mild in Charleston. Snow rarely falls. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 8.8 degrees Celsius. The lowest temperature ever measured was -14 degrees Celsius.

445 people per square kilometer

Charleston is the second largest city in South Carolina and is home to an average of 445 people per square kilometer, with women having a bit of the upper hand at 52.7 percent. At almost 75 percent, whites make up the largest part of the city's population. In second place are the African Americans with nearly 22 percent. Asians, Pacific islanders and members of other ethnic groups make up only a small proportion of the population. In South Carolina and the southern states in general, the traditional Charleston accent is widely known and heard primarily by members of wealthy white families. The Baptists are the strongest religious community in the city on the Atlantic coast.

Hotels, apartments and holiday homes

Find hotels, apartments and vacation rentals in Charleston at www.booking.com.

The Democrats are ahead in Charleston

South Carolina is known as the “Red State” and thus a state in which Republicans are usually elected. In Charleston itself, however, the Democrats won the majority of the vote in the last three presidential elections.

Tourism plays an important role in Charleston's economy

Charleston is a popular travel destination with many hotels, inns, and other accommodations. There are also numerous restaurants and shops. Commercial shipping and the IT sector are also important to the economy. The latter has seen the highest growth rates in recent years. Well-known companies are for example Blackbaud, SPARC, BoomTown, CSS and Benefitfocus. Charleston's economy is growing faster than any other metropolitan area in South Carolina. In 2016, the city had an inflation-adjusted gross domestic product of just under 34 billion US dollars.

Infrastructure - Charleston's connection to the rest of the world

The port city in South Carolina has an international airport that is served by eight airlines. Direct flights are available from Charleston to 30 airports and 25 cities in the United States. Charleston is also a popular cruise ship destination. Many of the ships also go to destinations in the Caribbean.

The city in the southern state is served once a day by Amtrak's Silver Service / Palmetto, which connects New York with Miami. Daily bus services are also available from Savannah, Myrtle Beach and Columbia. In these places there is also a connection to the long-distance buses of the Greyhound Lines.

The city is the terminus of Interstate 26 from Columbia. Other road connections are via the U.S.A., which runs parallel to the coast. Highway 17, which runs from Myrtle Beach and Georgetown in the north to Savannah in the south.

Charleston - one of the more dangerous cities in the United States

The southern US city has a reputation for being one of the US cities facing the greatest crime problems. In Forbes' 2009 list of the most dangerous cities in the United States, Charleston was in the top 10.

However, the problem does not affect the entire city, but mainly areas outside the tourist areas. You should avoid these during your visit, especially in the dark. Especially if you are out on foot.

Charleston for tourists

The port city is not a destination that impresses with a lot of fanfare. It is an architectural jewel that invites you to travel back in time, but also leads to dark times in American history. Because once Charleston was not only the metropolis of the southern states, but also the hub of the slavery of the British colonies. Many splendid estates are reminiscent of the time when many Americans grew rich through slavery and plantations, and Charleston's economy flourished. You can admire some of these buildings on a walk or a carriage ride through the historic old town.

tip: With the Tour Pass Charleston you can save money on entry to numerous sights and, since processing is 100 percent digital, you no longer have to queue for tickets. This leaves more hours to properly appreciate the numerous attractions Charleston has to offer. The price for the pass starts at 66.51 euros per person.

But also numerous sports and shopping opportunities, restaurants and attractions for children and nature lovers invite you to entertaining fun in the city in South Carolina.

Tickets for attractions and activities

Tickets for attractions and activities in Charleston can be found at www.getyourguide.de.

Historical and cultural attractions in Charleston

With a rich history, Charleston has a variety of cultural attractions to offer travelers, including:

  • The Charleston City Market: The Charleston City Market is one of the oldest public markets in the US and is considered the cultural heart of the city. More than 300 dealers sell their goods in the market halls there all year round and there is always something to do, try and of course buy. From April to December there is also a lot of activity there on Friday and Saturday evenings between 6.30 p.m. and 10.30 p.m. A very special product are the Sweetgrass Baskets, which are made by the descendants of the former slaves according to centuries-old African tradition.
  • The Battery: The battery is in Charleston Harbor. Here you will not only find magnificent private properties in the style of the southern states, but also cannons and cannonballs from the American Civil War, as well as many statues. Rainbow Row is also located at the port of the city, with its colorful houses an extremely popular photo opportunity. The unique array of restored pastel-colored houses from the 18th century can be found at 83-107 East Bay Street.
  • The Boone Hall Plantation: One of the oldest and probably also one of the most famous plantations is the Boone Hall plantation, whose majestic oaks covered with Louisiana moss flank the way there like a trellis. The crowns of the trees planted in 1743 provide pleasant shade on hot days. And even if the house itself is no longer in its original condition, when you look at this stately property you get the feeling of being transported back in time.

    This feeling is reinforced by the Gullah women (descendants of African slaves), who you can watch here weaving traditional baskets. If you want, you can also visit the former cotton plantation, which became world famous through films such as "Gone with the Wind" and "Torches in the Storm", as part of a carriage ride. In addition, the ground floor of the house, the former accommodation of the slaves and the gardens with the butterfly pavilion can be visited.

  • College of Charleston: Founded in 1770, the College of Charleston is the oldest educational institution south of Virginia. A tour of the historic building can be perfectly combined with a stroll through the Upper King Street Design District with its many artisans.
  • Nathaniel Russell House: The past is omnipresent in Charleston. This is also the case in this house of merchant Nathaniel Russell, which was completed in 1808. The lavishly designed architectural masterpiece is one of the US National Historic Landmarks and can be viewed on your own or as part of a guided tour.
  • Fort Moultrie: The history of Fort Moultrie goes back to the end of the 18th century. At that time the fort consisted only of palm trunks and sand. It was just one of several that were built on Sullivan's Island for defense. In the course of time, the fort was modernized more and more, as the weapon technology became more and more sophisticated. Today Fort Moultrie is a tourist attraction where visitors are able to trace the fort's history from the construction of palm trees to the time of World War II.
  • Fort Sumter National Monument: In Charleston Harbor is Fort Sumter, the place where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. The fort has been a National Monument since 1948, can be visited and can only be reached by Fort Sumter Tours boats. Depart from Liberty Square / Aquarium Warf in downtown Charleston.
  • Dock Street Theater: The Dock Street Theater was America's first playhouse in 1735. The existing building dates from 1809 and was restored in 1935. The facade, entrance and balcony have been preserved. The inside of the Dock Theater is also worth seeing. The model for the interior was a London theater from 1730.
  • John Rutledge House: John Rutledge House is a historic home on Broad Street and was once the home of John Rutledge, a signatory to the United States Constitution. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1973.

The Holy City - Charleston and its numerous churches

Charleston is located in the so-called Bible Belt in the south and southeast of the USA. But even for the cities in the Gürtel, the number of churches in the city is exceptional. Because there are fifty places of worship in the city, which are not only worth a visit on Sundays.

For example:

  • Circular Congregational Church and Parish House: The church, built in 1890, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also one of the United States' National Historic Landmarks.
  • St. Michael’s Church: It is the oldest church of its kind in Charleston and not only worth a visit for its ornate stained glass windows.
  • Huguenot Church: The Huguenot Church is located in the French Quarter and is the oldest neo-Gothic church in South Carolina. It was built in 1844. It has been declared a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In English, the Gothic Revival is known as the Gothic Revival.

Must-see museums in Charleston

If you want to learn more about the city's turbulent past, its plantations and the role of slaves and the slave trade in the history of Charleston, you should definitely pay a visit to one or the other museum on this topic. But the city also has other museums that are worth seeing.

  • Charleston Museum: The museum was founded in 1773 and is commonly known as America’s First Museum. You will find important collections of ethnological and zoological exhibits here.
  • Denmark Vesey House: Denmark Vesey was once a slave in Charleston until he won the lottery and was able to buy a house that was just as magnificent as his masters at the time. He lived there until planning an uprising in 1822. Today the historic building is a museum that offers an interesting glimpse into American history and the history of the slave trade in Charleston.
  • Edmondston-Alston House: Another Charleston residential home worth a visit is Edmondston-Alston House, built in 1825, which has great views of the city's harbor. The house with its extensive collection played a major role in the civil war. Because from there General P. T. Beauregard observed the bombing of Fort Sumter by the Confederates on April 12, 1861. Guided tours are offered Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. and Sunday and Monday from 1 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.
  • Old Slave Mart Museum: In the Old Slave Mart, during the slave trade, slaves were auctioned off to wealthy citizens who were often looking for workers for their cotton and rice plantations. Today the house is the first African American museum. The employees are often people who descended from the former Charleston slaves.
  • Middleton Place House Museum: Middleton Place is another property that can be visited today. The museum provides information about the Middleton family who made their fortune from their rice plantations. Construction of the house began in the late 1830s.
  • American Military Museum: The collection of the American Military Museum consists of hundreds of authentic uniforms, pieces of equipment, artifacts and weapons from military conflicts from the time of the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum: The Naval and Maritime Museum is located on Patriots Point Road by the city harbor. The aircraft carrier USS YORKTOWN from the Second World War forms its centerpiece.
  • Gibbes Museum of Art: The art museum opened in 1905 and houses a first-class collection with a focus on works by American artists related to Charleston or the southern United States.
  • Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum: This is one of the twelve museums owned by the married couple David and Marsha Karpeles, which owns many valuable manuscripts, which are exhibited alternately in these museums.The Charleston Museum with its valuable manuscripts is housed in a former church. And if you're even more interested in historical material, check out the Charleston Library Society. The Society's library is one of the few remaining private libraries in the city.

Cultural activities in Charleston

The tranquil city on the Atlantic offers its residents and guests numerous cultural offers. In addition to theater and ballet, the symphony orchestra and the Charleston Music Hall are worth a visit. There is a lot of fun at Theater 99 on Meeting Street, where live improvisation shows take place with artists from the city and special guests. Art lovers will appreciate Charleston's many galleries. By the way, did you know that the famous Charleston dance also owes its name to the city?

Charleston for nature lovers

In and around Charleston there are numerous spots of nature where you can spend the day wonderfully. Above all, of course, the idyllic plantations that surround the city. But the city's beautiful parks also offer numerous opportunities to have a good time in the countryside.

  • Sullivan's Island: The island is located near the Isle of Palms and offers an inviting mix of beautiful beaches, history and folklore. A small island with local restaurants and shops that make up for what it may lack in size with beauty and charm. Definitely a guarantee for great photo opportunities.
  • Waterfront park: The Waterfront Park is a perfect place to relax and enjoy the time. A romantic and picturesque park overlooking Charleston Harbor. You can linger there on one of the many benches, watch the people, the birds, the small sailing boats and the giant cruise ships or visit the famous palm fountain, which is one of the most photographed landmarks in Charleston.
  • White Point Garden: The spacious White Point Garden, also known as Battery Park, is the perfect place for a shady walk or to sit on one of the many benches and look out over the water. Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse can be seen in the distance.
  • James Island County Park: James Island County Park is a true outdoor oasis and haven for Charleston residents and guests of the city. If you want, you can do wonderful sports here, hike over the 643 hectare property or go pedal boating and kayaking. Kids will love the Splash Zone Waterpark.
  • Hampton Park: Historic Hampton Park is one of the city's oldest parks and was once part of a plantation known as The Grove. Today it is an ideal place to play sports, have a picnic or take a quiet walk in this naturally beautiful green area.
  • Washington Square Park: Washington Square Park, with its beautiful azaleas and mature trees, is quietly located in the heart of the city and is surrounded by historic buildings such as Charleston City Hall, the South Carolina Historical Society and the historic courthouse. The park, which is only 1.48 hectares in size, is surrounded by wrought iron gates and is a popular refuge in the heart of the city, especially in spring and summer, where life can be enjoyed.
  • Gadsdenboro Park: Gadsdenboro Park is on Concord Street near the SC Aquarium. The huge public green space that was once called Concord Park has lots of nice ways to stretch your legs, a nice playground, sports fields and other amenities.

Charleston for kids

With such a dark past and so much history, you may be wondering whether Charleston has enough attractions to offer families with children to spend fun days there. It did. In addition to the beautiful parks, mention should be made of the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry, which offers numerous interactive exhibits for the young.

The South Carolina Aquarium with its over 5,000 wild animals is equally suitable for children and adults. The sharks and stingrays as well as the Sea Turtle Hospital are particularly worth seeing.

The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, where the outlaws once served their sentences, brings American history to life. It was not uncommon for them to include pirates. Children will especially enjoy the little show at the attraction. The dungeon is at the end of Broad Street, which is home to other historic houses in the city.

Good things to do in Charleston

The city with southern charm is a place that enchants and the Southern Belle offers so many possibilities to create unforgettable experiences. Even if it is just a nice walk through the historic old town, which gives many visitors the feeling of having landed in a Hollywood film of the 50s.

  • shop: The Charleston City Market is one of the oldest markets, but it is by no means the only place to shop in Charleston. Numerous malls such as the Citadel Mall on Rittenberg Blvd and the Northwoods Mall on Rivers Ave. invite you to extensive shopping. Antiques lovers should also visit Downtown and Kings Street, which is home to numerous antique shops. Many of them are open every day. Spring Street also offers an entertaining shopping experience.
  • Enjoy: “The Holy City” is a city for connoisseurs, in which especially fish and seafood fans will get their money's worth. After all, Charleston is a true El Dorado for shrimp and grits lovers. Good places to enjoy the delicious seafood are Hank’s Seafood, Amen Street Fish and Raw Bar on the corner of Cumberland / East Bay and Bubba Gump’s Shrimp, which will inevitably remind you of Forrest Gump. Another specialty of the city is the She-Crab Soup and the Creole Gullah cuisine has its permanent place in the city. The Charleston Grill in the Charleston Place Hotel offers fine dining with first-class jazz music. The brewery Holy City Brewing promises the best beers.
  • to do sports: There are a number of ways to get plenty of exercise in the Charleston area. For example, many types of water sports are possible. There are also over twenty golf courses there.
  • To celebrate: The place in South Carolina offers a lively nightlife despite or perhaps because of its numerous churches. The trendy pub district on Upper King Street, for example, is worthwhile. In addition, Charleston is considered the Mecca of the blues. Many bars and restaurants with live music can be found in the city's French Quarter.
  • Shudder: Charleston is a place that has so far been largely spared from mass tourism. Nevertheless, many tours are offered, including many with a scary factor. There are even tours of the cemetery. After all, Charleston, along with Savannah, is the place that is said to be one of the most haunted places.

Events throughout the year

There's plenty to do all year round in the Holy City in the southern United States. Numerous worthwhile events have their permanent place in the event calendar of the city and attract numerous visitors year after year. One of them is Charleston Fashion Week, which takes place on different days of the year.

Some other events:

  • Southern Wildlife Exposition: All sorts of things related to nature are on display at this exhibition held in Charleston every February. It is one of the largest of its kind in the United States.
  • Charleston Wine + Food Festival: Culinary delights and delicious drinks are the theme at this festival, which takes place every year in March.
  • Spoleto and Piccolo Spoleto Festival: Art and culture is everything at this festival, which takes place in the city of South Carolina from late May to early June, year after year.
  • Patriots Point Fireworks Blast: In Charleston, celebrate July 4th on one of the most historic warships in the United States. The USS Yorktown is located on the city harbor, there is live music and a program for children.
  • Annual Fall Tours of Homes and Gardens: Every year in autumn, this event offers the opportunity to delve even deeper into the eventful history of the city.

Worthwhile trips from Charleston

In the Charleston area there are numerous excursion options not far from the city itself.

For example:

  • Magnolia Plantation with Waterfowl Refuge bird sanctuary: The former rice plantation has been in the family for over 300 years. Here you can stroll through the garden with its bridges and colorful flower fields, admire the manor house or rent a boat from the canoe rental and marvel at the beautiful flora and fauna on the Ashley River.
  • Shem Creek Park: The Shem Creek area in Mount Pleasant is known for its scenic landscape. You can take a great stroll on the promenades in the park, watch the many boats or pass the time fishing. The seafood restaurants on Shem Creek are also worth a visit.
  • Isle of Palms: The Isle of Palms is only twelve miles from the historic old town and offers its visitors not only a beautiful beach and many sports facilities, but also many worthwhile events with live music.
  • Folly Beach: Folly Beach is a town on Folly Island and is located around 18 kilometers from Charleston's old town. It is one of the most famous surf spots on the east coast and offers a beautiful beach as well as many restaurants, souvenir shops and bars. With a little luck you can watch dolphins and whales on the coast of the island. Or they stretch their legs on the beach and keep their eyes peeled for sand dollars, which are more common there.
  • Angel-Oak Park on John's Island: About a twenty minute drive from downtown Charleston is Angel Oak Park on John's Island. Its main attraction is the Angel Oak, an estimated more than 1,500 years old, twenty meters high tree with a trunk diameter of 2.47 meters. The longest branch of the "angel oak" is 27 meters long.
  • Wadmalaw Island: The island borders John’s Island to the south and west and is a perfect place to pause and enjoy the peace and quiet of unspoiled nature. Worth seeing are the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only "tea garden" in the USA, the Firefly Distillery and the Irvin House Vineyards, with the latter developing over time into a world of entertainment for young and old. The petting zoo should be a lot of fun, especially for children. But hikers will also find countless opportunities on Wadmalaw Island to indulge their passion.

A trip into the history of Charleston

Charleston was founded by British settlers in 1670 and named after the then King Charles, Charles Town. Due to its predestined location on the Atlantic Ocean and the harbor, it was not long before the city, which was renamed Charleston in 1783, flourished. Twenty years after its founding, the town had blossomed into the fifth largest city in North America. However, the city in what is now South Carolina was also prone to attack and was occupied by the infamous pirate Blackbeard in 1718.

But all in all, the city flourished in the 18th and early 19th centuries, a fact that was not least due to Charleston's inglorious importance for the slave trade in the southern states. The city was the hub of the slave trade of the British colonies and was the scene for the sale of slaves to wealthy masters, on whose plantations the slaves had to toil. Many magnificent buildings testify to the time of the rice barons. During the American Revolution, nine of the ten richest families in the United States lived in Charleston. Until 1788, the city was also the capital of South Carolina.

The civil war began in 1861

But in 1861 the civil war began. And it was Charleston, Fort Sumter to be precise, the target of the first shots in the conflict that lasted until 1865. In 1886 the Charleston earthquake destroyed most of the city and economic times also began for the once prosperous city after the civil war. Between 1901 and 1993 the city played an essential role as a US naval base.