One Day in Charleston: Itinerary

Charleston has that pure “southern charm”. It’s one of the most picturesque cities in the American south, and its rows of colorful streets lined with palm trees have a memorable appeal. It is truly beautiful- even if insanely humid! One day in Charleston Itinerary!

I came here with my family to visit Folly Beach, and we were able to spend a few days in the city too. It instantly reminded me of Savannah, although each have their own unique charms!

If you are short on time, this is what I recommend as an ideal one day in Charleston itinerary. Here are my recommendations, in no particular order:



Charleston City Market – Considered the “most visited attraction” in the city, this is a public market that has been in operation since 1804. It is essentially an indoor/outdoor market space filled with arts, crafts, and food from a variety of vendors. It covers four city blocks, so you can spend as much time here as you’d like!
charleston itinerary one day things to do
Such a beautiful city!

Angel Oak A Southern Live Oak tree, this is a quick stop but still worth visiting. Estimated to be almost 500 years old, it is considered to be one of the oldest living things in the country. This is a great start to your one day in Charleston itinerary!
angel oak tree charleston south carolina

Rainbow Row This is the name given to a row of 13 historical homes on a scenic street along the water. When they were restored after going into disrepair after the Civil War, they were painted a variety of pastel colors. These beautiful “Georgian row houses” are now among the most photographed spots in the city.rainbow row houses in charleston south carolina things to do

Waterfront Park Historically, this was an area central to the maritime traffic of the city, but nowadays it is mainly recognizable for its iconic pineapple fountain! There are also stretches of riverfront walkways with swings, and other fun activities for families.

The Battery Once a defensive seawall, it is now a promenade where you can enjoy views of the bay and check out the historic homes around it. You can also explore the nearby White Point Gardens.
the battery, one day in charleston itinerary
Image via Visit-Historic-Charleston

City Walking Tour– I’m always an advocate for walking tours when visiting a new city. It’s usually the quickest and most efficient way to see the city on foot, while also understanding its history and culture. Check out some options!

Aiken Rhett House– If you’d like a glimpse into life in Charleston before the Civil War, this museum is a good start. According to their website, “the house and its surviving furnishings offer a compelling portrait of urban life in antebellum Charleston”. Aiken Rhett House Charleston

Ghost Tour- A great way to spend your evening is to go on a historic “ghost walk”. Not only are they fun and surprisingly educational, but I think it’s fascinating to learn about the more morbid history and folktales of a city. I personally did the one with Ghost City Tours and loved it! It makes a great evening activity with just one day in Charleston.
magnolia cemetery
Image via South Carolina Plantations

Extra time? Here’s what I suggest:

Charleston Harbor (Fort Sumter)– Visit this historic site, part of the National Park Service. This is THE place where the American Civil War is considered to have started. Please note, this is only possible to visit via one of their official tour boats. If history isn’t your thing, you can also take a boat tour of the harbor, or go fishing, and enjoy views of the fort that way.fort sumter charleston harbor

Folly Beach – I spent a week here with my parents, and it is definitely a classic American beach destination. You can also explore some other nearby beach towns: Isle of Palms, Kiawah, Seabrook or Sullivan’s Island.

Boone Hall Plantation– This was one of my favorite activities in the area. Once a thriving antebellum plantation with a stunning row of oak trees, it is now a museum and events venue. You can stroll the grounds, ride a cart around the property, and learn about the lives of the families who lived there. It also does a great job presenting the stories of the enslaved people and the Gullah heritage of those who lived and worked at this plantation. Click here for a guided tour with transport out of the city and back. 
Boone Hall Plantation, Charleston Things to Do, One day in Charleston itinerary
The main home – fun fact, it was also used in the movie “The Notebook”!
Boone Hall Plantation live oaks
Row of oaks lining the entrance
Boone Hall Plantation slave homes
The cabins of those enslaved at the estate


Check out hotels for your one day in Charleston!

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one day charleston south carolina things to do. how to see the city in one day- a guide for first time visitors

As always, all reviews and opinions are my own. However, should you choose to book the “Get Your Guide” tours listed above, please know I am an affiliate and will make a small commission.

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