1 Day in Charleston SC | What to See in 24 Hours
If you like charming cities as much as I do, then you will love Charleston. My first visit to Charleston was in 2018, but one visit isn’t enough when there is so much to see, do, and eat! As we made our way north, from Miami to New York, we decided to spend a week in South Carolina.
Charleston was founded in 1670 and is defined by pastel antebellum houses, cobblestone streets, historic sites, horse-drawn carriages, and its beautiful harbor. This port city is one of the oldest and most well-preserved cities in the United States with beautiful Colonial architecture.
Here is a list of my Top Things to See in Charleston, and a complete One Day in Charleston Itinerary (in case you are wondering what to do with your first 24 hours in the city!).
Top Things to See in Charleston
Best Things To Do In Charleston
Waterfront Park is an eight-acre park overlooking Charleston Harbour and the Cooper River.
Be sure to stop at the enchanting Pineapple Fountain, not only is it the iconic focal point of the park, it is also one of Charleston’s most Instagrammable landmarks!
Did you know that pineapple motifs represent hospitality?
You can’t leave Charleston without checking out Rainbow Row!
Rainbow Row refers to the captivating row of thirteen pastel-colored homes located on East Bay Street, just along the waterfront. These historic homes were first constructed around 1740 and were used by merchants who ran their businesses on the ground floor and lived on the top floor.
After the Civil War, Dorothy Porcher Legge and her husband purchased a section of the houses and started the process of renovating them. These homes will brighten your day!
After checking out the homes on Rainbow Row, make your way to The Battery, a fortified seawall at the southernmost tip of the Charleston peninsula. We enjoyed this beautiful promenade that is well-known for its antebellum homes!
Charleston City Market
Spend a couple of hours exploring the Charleston City Market, pick up a regional souvenir, and soak up the local culture. Spanning four blocks, the historic market was established in the 1790s and is one of the oldest public markets in the country. The most popular arts and crafts available at this market include sweetgrass baskets, a true Charleston treasure.
An interactive map of how to spend one day in Charleston SC
Charleston – Where to Eat
If you would like to try traditional Southern cuisine, then you will enjoy this restaurant located inside a beautiful Victorian townhouse tucked away on charming Queen Street. When visiting Charleston, biscuits are a must! Their homemade biscuits are fantastic, and one early morning I walked over to pick up half a dozen for my husband and me!
Address: 72 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401
The Restoration’s The Watch Rooftop is a farm-to-table restaurant that is totally worth checking out! One of my husband’s college roommates recently moved to Charleston, and brought us here for cocktails on the rooftop and a panoramic view of Charleston from above!
Address: 75 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401
Wood-fired pizzas, hand-crafted pasta, and great wine – need I say more?! My husband’s cousin has been living in Charleston for many years, so we met up with her and her boyfriend here for dinner. Delicious food & fun times!
Address: 526 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
We stopped at this lovely eatery on the way to the Pineapple Fountain! This popular cafe has smoothies, sandwiches, and desserts, and it is located just three minutes away from the Waterfront Park area.
Address: 198 E Bay St #100, Charleston, SC 29401
Charleston – Where to Stay
We enjoyed our stay at the Indigo Inn because of its excellent location, it is pet-friendly, it has a parking lot on site, and offers wine & cheese daily at 5 PM. We were traveling with our two dogs, so staying at a hotel that welcomed them was a requirement for us. I feel that we got lucky with this one – we booked it one hour before we arrived in the city!
To see the rooms at Indigo Inn, click here.
UPDATE: As of September 2022, the Indigo Inn no longer accepts pets. See more options in this article.
Address: 1 Maiden Lane, Historic District, Charleston, SC 29401
This historic hotel is also located in the heart of Charleston! Live jazz music along with cocktails is available at the hotel’s Swamp Fox Bar. A full-service spa and Starbucks Coffee shop are on site as well. We could not stay here because the hotel only allows one dog per room, and small breeds only. I think this hotel would be perfect for a romantic getaway!
To see the rooms at the Francis Marion Hotel, click here.
Address: 387 King Street, Historic District, Charleston, SC 29403
This top-notch hotel offers a relaxing and cozy environment in the heart of Charleston’s historic district. If you are looking for refined elegance during your visit to the city, this luxury boutique hotel is a must! The hotel offers complimentary cruising bikes and a Tesla car charging station. Be sure to check out the rooftop!
To see the rooms at The Loutrel, click here.
Address: 61 State Street, Charleston, SC 29401
We didn’t learn about this hotel until after we left, but I’d love to stay here in the future! This 5-star hotel features a gorgeous lobby, indoor and outdoor saltwater pools, a fitness center, and a rooftop terrace! The hotel welcomes two pets of any size, for an additional fee.
To see the rooms at The Charleston Place, click here.
Address: 205 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC, 29401
The best time to visit Charleston
The best time to visit Charleston, South Carolina is during spring (mid-March through May) or fall (September – November) when the temperatures are lovely.
September is hurricane season, so be sure to check the weather reports!
Is 1 day in Charleston enough?
Although one day is not enough, it is definitely a good start! Charleston offers history, charm, architecture, great food, and scenic views, so you will want to visit again for sure! Take a look at the 1 day Charleston itinerary below, and enjoy your time!
How far is Charleston?
If you are visiting Charleston from Florida, the trip from Miami to Charleston is 590 miles (950 km) via Florida’s Turnpike and I-95. The drive usually takes 8.5 hours with normal driving conditions.
Can you do a day trip from Charleston to Savannah?
Yes! The trip from Savannah to Charleston is a little over 100 miles (160 km) via I-95. These two cities are often visited together because Savannah’s proximity to Charleston makes it the perfect day trip destination while staying in one or the other.
Which airport is best for Charleston?
Charleston International Airport (CHS) is 13 miles (20 km) from Charleston.
Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is 302 miles (486 km) from Charleston, a 5 hour drive.
Charleston 1 day itinerary and map!
Map of Charleston South Carolina
Charleston One Day Itinerary
- Start your day with an early breakfast at Poogan’s Porch
- Explore the Historic Charleston City Market
- Take a coffee break at Carmella’s Cafe
- Walk to the Pineapple Fountain & enjoy a walk along the river
- Make your way to the colorful homes on Rainbow Row
- Continue to The Battery & stroll by the water
- Watch the sunset at The Watch Rooftop while enjoying a cocktail
- Finish your day with dinner at Indaco on King Street
A final note!
If you are staying in Charleston for longer than two days, you can do a day trip from Charleston to Fort Sumter National Monument, an island fortress in the middle of Charleston Harbor that is famous for being the location of the first battle of the American Civil War. Less than two miles from the fortress you will find several dining options like NICO Oysters & Seafood, Page’s Okra Grill, and Water’s Edge, a restaurant on historic Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. We had lunch at Water’s Edge with friends of my husband, and I enjoyed the views and the linguini, but check all the restaurant options to see which you’d like best!
What are you looking forward to seeing in Charleston? I hope that this list of things to see, and my 1 day Charleston itinerary is helpful in planning your next trip to the Holy City.
Lots of love, Xx
Shop for your Charleston trip 🙂
Looking for pet-friendly hotels in Charleston?
I wrote an article on the best pet-friendly hotels we have stayed at, and I included pet-friendly hotels in Charleston and other cities along the East Coast of the US.
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