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Isle of Palms in Charleston

17 Amazing Free Places To Visit In Charleston, SC (2023)

Charleston, South Carolina, has so many attractive and exciting locations to see! You will not be disappointed in Charleston when choosing a destination in the South. This historic city is brimming with stunning buildings, delicious eateries, and picture-perfect surroundings down every street and obscure alley.

History lovers will be mesmerized by all the historic sites, and photographers will want to find the most incredible Instagram shots in Charleston. Charleston has a ton of fantastic locations to stay in as well! Luxury apartments are available for large families, while cozy, little bed & breakfasts are available for couples.

It doesn’t matter what type of visitor you are or what your tastes are; Charleston has activities that are perfect for you! If you are planning a visit to Charleston, we have compiled a list of some of the best free places to visit in Charleston!

17 Amazing Free Places To Visit In Charleston, SC

Without further ado, check out the top attractions in Charleston, South Carolina!

1. Edisto Beach

Edisto beach is a wonderful free entry location in Charleston and great for a family beach day or extended camping stay. Despite the distance from Charleston’s downtown, the area is a popular family vacation because of its serenity and quiet surroundings.

Free Place To Visit In Charleston, SC-Edisto Beach

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At Edisto Beach, one can experience small-town tranquility away from the bustle of the city. It’s a terrific place to soak up the sun and provides avid collectors with an excellent shelling experience. Simply go to Jeremy’s Inlet at low tide and dig through the shark teeth and fossilized seashells that have washed up on the coast.

2. Isle of Palms

When considering a pleasant family beach day, Isle of Palms comes in first. This gorgeous stretch of beach, located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, offers a variety of leisure activities for people of all ages. A marina, tennis and golf courses, kid-friendly shark holes, and more are available.

It has a beachside lifeguard station, bathrooms, shower facilities, and other safety features. In the early morning, fishermen can wait for the day’s catch. Enjoy local taverns and restaurants with live music, go sea turtle watching, and participate in water sports.

3. Waterfront Park

You won’t be disappointed with Charleston’s Waterfront Park’s offerings when you’re ready to walk from downtown to the waterfront. One of the best free places to visit in Charleston, USA, this park is excellent for quiet rest. You’ll see parades of passing boats in Charleston Harbor, goofy pelicans, and the magnificent pineapple fountain.

Take a leisurely afternoon stroll among the shaded sections. Choose the most excellent location in Charleston for your feast, and bring a picnic lunch. This park, one of Charleston’s most famous since 1990, offers breathtaking views, flowing fountains, and plenty of park seats to take in the magnificent environment.

4. Angel Oak

About 12 miles from downtown Charleston, in Angel Oak Park on John’s Island, you may find the legendary Angel Oak Tree. It is estimated that this enormous oak tree is 400 years old. Although the tree is not particularly tall, its enormous limbs cast a shade that covers around 17,000 square feet.

According to local belief, the tree got its name from the ghosts of enslaved people who appeared as angels surrounding it at night. Over the years, this tree has endured many hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. Angel Oak Park does not charge admission, although donations are always appreciated to support preservation efforts.

5. Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

When in Charleston, South Carolina, you must see the magnificent Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Magnolia Plantations & Gardens, a Charleston institution dating back to 1676, offers beautiful scenery and plant life in addition to many other things.

The same family has run these gardens for more than three centuries. When you consider the historical history of these gardens, the lavish colors of flowers, such as daffodils, stand out all the more. One of South Carolina’s most significant sights is located at Magnolia Plantations & Gardens.

6. Arthur Ravenel Bridge

The Arthur Ravenel Bridge is a cable-stayed suspension bridge that is 2.5 miles long and has two towers that look like diamonds and are each 575 feet tall. The bridge connecting Charleston and Mount Pleasant is named after politician Arthur Ravenel, who led the campaign to have the Cooper River bridge constructed.

Every day, up to 80,000 cars use the bridge. The bridge’s construction is intended to endure natural disasters and shipping mishaps, which have plagued Charleston historically. One-acre rocky islands surround the towers to shield the bridge from straying ships. The bridge is most enjoyable to ride or walk across around sunset.

7. Florida Beach

Twelve miles south of Charleston’s city center, on Folly Island, it is a famous place known as “the edge of America”. With more than 2,600 people living there and one of the best surfing spots on the United States East Coast, the city is easily reachable by car from downtown Charleston.

The unique city is home to a wide range of surf shops, boutiques, restaurants, and pubs along its main Center Street, as well as natural sites like the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, which provides views of the 1876 Morris Island Lighthouse. Folly Beach County Park also has picnic spots and a pelican rookery.

8. White Point Garden

One of the attractions in Charleston that you really must see is White Point Garden. The park is situated in the southeast corner of the city and is bounded by the Ashley and Cooper rivers. Due to the oyster shells that were on the ground, which were sun-bleached, the earliest settlers initially called the region Oyster Point.

Later, the name was renamed White Point. Many pirates were hanged here and left to dangle from their nooses to dissuade other pirates from approaching Charleston Harbor. Beautiful antebellum houses and enormous oak trees covered with Spanish moss surround the park.

9. Fort Sumter National Monument

A vacation to Charleston would be incomplete without a visit to Fort Sumpter. Find more about the events on the American territory where the Civil War’s first shot was fired. Visit the museum and explore the stone tunnels and cannons used during the Civil War.

The museum provides information showcasing Fort Sumpter’s significant contribution to the defense of the country. For transportation to Fort Sumpter, a ferry is required. The excursion is a charming ride in the harbor, not an attraction. Enjoy the scenery as you travel to the island; you could be fortunate to see some dolphins.

10. The Drayton Hall

Drayton Hall, the oldest still-standing plantation mansion in the United States, is tucked away within 20 minute’s journey to the northwest of the downtown area. It was constructed in 1738 and featured stunning Palladian architecture. It is incredibly well-preserved yet unrestored and unfurnished.

The enormous mansion, with its opulent halls and rooms, is fascinating to explore because its interior has lay unchanged for generations. The tours and visitor’s center provide fascinating information on the daily lives of the plantation’s former white owners and the African Americans they enslaved.

11. The Battery

The Battery and White Point Gardens, located near the southernmost point of the Charleston peninsula, provide breathtaking views of the bay. Numerous fascinating monuments and memorials are scattered around the park and promenade, and some exquisite residences border its perimeter in the Southern style.

The area’s defensive barrier was initially a public park, but during the Civil War, it was strengthened, fortified, and converted into a battery. Because of this, many of its memorials have a military theme. You may meander around the fountains, green paths, and flowerbeds while admiring historical artillery and statues of military heroes.

12. Charleston City Market

The vibrant, frenetic Charleston City Market, located in the city’s historic core, is particularly well-liked by locals and visitors. The expansive market, which has about 300 stands and stalls, is dominated by its magnificent Market Hall, a Greek Revival structure constructed in 1841.

The enormous open-air market, with its plethora of vendors, is a lot of fun to explore, offering a wide variety of goods like fresh food and fruit, clothing, toys, and souvenirs. Additionally, you can try regional foods, grab a coffee, or purchase one of its highly sought-after traditional baskets.

13. South Carolina Aquarium

It is simple to understand why the South Carolina Aquarium has been a family favorite since it opened in 2010 near the historic Charleston Harbour. Alligators, sharks, otters, sea turtles, and starfish are among the many aquatic and marine animals housed in its enormous aquariums.

Visitors can interact with stingrays, crabs, and even sharks in the fantastic touch tank, in addition to learning everything there is to know about the state’s undersea habitats, coastal climates, and salt marshes. The incredible aquarium features the deepest tank in the United States and birds and reptiles.

14. Middleton Place

This city offers visitors the chance to visit many wonderful plantations, and this is one of the best free places to visit in Charleston. Middleton Place should be among your top choices if you wish to view numerous. This stunning complex serves as a testament to the city’s undeniable southern beauty.

The Great Earthquake further destroyed the original Middleton Place, which had been mostly set ablaze near the end of the Civil War. The Southern Flanker’s House Museum, now a reality, intends to inform visitors about how residents at Middleton Place lived, including slaves, amazing gardens, a top-notch restaurant and stores, and more.

15. Magnolia Cemetery

If you want to see through a window into the past, you must visit Magnolia Cemetery. This Charleston cemetery honors the departed, many of whom lived over a century ago. Additionally, it is a beautifully constructed room, which aids in demonstrating the enigmatic beauty of death.

The beautiful furnishings lighten the room, which is otherwise rather solemn. If you’re interested in the Civil War, you should visit the cemetery where many Confederate troops were interred. Visits to Magnolia Cemetery may be both educational and emotional experiences that help people realize how precious life is.

16. King Street

The ideal place to wander around downtown Charleston is King Street, even though there are many things to do there. Residents and tourists alike have come to love this area of Charleston, South Carolina, where they may enjoy a wide variety of activities. King Street in Charleston is a wonderful option to have fun.

King Street is one of the most significant locations to visit in this city, with a history spanning more than three centuries. It’s enjoyable to visit particular sights or prepare for whatever comes your way. It’s also essential to learn about King Street’s past, as the Civil War caused it to go through a lot of hardship.

17. Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island is one of Charleston, South Carolina’s most stunning free entry natural tourist attractions. You should bring your family here if you’re seeking activities in Charleston this weekend. There are many breathtaking sights on Sullivan’s Island, which is a location outside the city.

Sullivan’s Island is one of the most captivating spots to visit in the entire south, despite being relatively little, at just over three square miles. Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse is one of the best lighthouses in the nation. Additionally, you should spend some time at the beach fishing or making sandcastles.

The Bottom Line

Charleston has plenty of exciting locations to visit, including amazing parks, stunning beaches, and historic structures. Whatever Charleston vacation destination you choose, you will undoubtedly have joy in this quaint Southern city. There are so many best free places to visit in Charleston that it was difficult to choose just a few to include on this list.

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