The perfect way to spend one day in Charleston SC.
Charleston SC, renown for it’s beautiful architecture, vibrant night-life and incredible food. This is a city that really does have it all, and if you’re lucky enough to have one day in Charleston SC then you’ll want to cram it full of the best on offer.
We’ve put together the perfect itinerary for a day visit here, but before we get started there are a few things to know before you go.
How To Get To Charleston SC
One of the easiest ways to get to Charleston SC is to drive. The city is well set up for cars, and most hotels offer parking for a small cost, which is well worth it for the ease and security. We’ve designed this itinerary with walking in mind, so you won’t need a car at all. If you do have one though there are some great attractions outside the city which I’ve detailed at the bottom of this post.
If you don’t have a car then we’ve got you sorted! Charleston International Airport is a 20-minute taxi ride from Charleston center, so grab a taxi and hop straight on over! This is one of the cheapest services we could find and will cost you under £40 – book in advance to avoid any hassle on arriving. With only one day in Charleston, you won’t want to waste any time!
Where To Stay In Charleston SC
If you have the time then it’s well worth spending a night in Charleston. The night-life here is world famous and you’ll be in for a treat with the hotel options available. Our advice is to stay as central as possible to make sure you have much time to explore as possible.
Book a room in advance and request early check in so you can drop off your bags as soon as you arrive. Check out the mid-century inspired The Dewberry hotel or Hotel Bennett for Charleston’s most luxurious accomodation within walking distance of all the main sights, or take a look at Barksdale House Inn for something more within budget.
We can’t recommend the John Rutledge House Inn highly enough. It’s exactly what the name suggests – the former home of John Rutledge and a stay here is quite the claim to fame, so it’s a great option for a short stay in Charleston. It’s also beautiful.
What To Book Before Your One Day In Charleston SC
If you only have one day in Charleston SC then you should book any tours you plan on doing in advance so you’re all set up and ready to go when you arrive. You won’t be able to fit in all the top tours available so choose one or two that really take your fancy – there really is so much to do in Charleston that you’ll be sure to find the perfect tour for you.
We’ve listed some of our favourites below, and would highly recommend you make sure a history tour of some kind is included as Charleston SC has such a rich past. We’ve detailed our favourite suggestions in the itinerary but here are a few to take a look at.
- Historic walking tour – this is a must-do to really get to know Charleston’s rich, historic past
- Historic Harbor Cruise – this was a real highlight for us
- Charleston’s Ghost Tour – as spooky (and entertaining) as they come!
- Charleston’s Tour Pass – this will save you money on A LOT of attractions so is well worth getting in advance
One Day In Charleston SC Itinerary
The Morning In Charleston
10 a.m.: Hopefully you’re feeling fresh this morning as with only one day in Charleston you’ll want to hit the ground running! If you’re staying overnight then drop your bags and head straight back out again!
Note: If you couldn’t book early check-in then not to worry, we’ve found this luggage drop service conveniently located in Charleston so you can leave your luggage for the day while you explore and pick up when your room’s ready!
You’ll want to start your trip here with a history tour to immerse yourself in one of the things Charleston is most famous for – its rich and fascinating past. Unsurprisingly, there are tonnes of history tours in Charleston. We have listed a few of our favourites below.
This historic walking tour is the perfect choice for anyone with only one day in Charleston. It crams in over 100 historical sights, including all of Charleston’s most famous and photo worthy spots.
If you want to see Charleston from a different perspective then head out on this historic harbour cruise. You’ll be travelling in style on a traditional 1920s steam boat, and have a guided tour of some of Charleston’s most famous spots from the water. We absolutely loved this trip!
Many people find the horse-drawn carriage rides a real highlight, so with only one day in Charleston why not make the most of your limited time here by combining a little history with a carriage ride! The perfect way to see the city in style and a big hit among couples and families alike!
12 p.m.: Head to Queen Street Grocery for something to eat after your historic tour. This classy cafe opened in 1922 and has been a little of everything over the years – from an Apothecary to a full-blown Grocery Store and now a trendy cafe. The signature crepes are a real treat, or they serve hot-pressed sandwiches to go. With your picnic in tow head to the nearby Colonial Lake park and rest those legs while taking in one of Charleston’s most scenic spots!
In The Afternoon
2 p.m.: Start the afternoon the Gibbes Art Museum for some Charleston culture. Gibbes is one of the oldest art museums in the United States and includes over four centuries of paintings, decorative works, sculptures, and other works from American artists like Angelica Kaufmann and Conrad Wise Chapman. You’ll enjoy a visit here even if art isn’t your ‘thing’.
Alternatively you could head to King Street to indulge in some boutique shopping. Charleston’s historic district is full of cute little individual stores where you can pick up a special souvenir or present for a loved one.
4 p.m.: It’s time to sample what Charleston does best – oysters and champagne! Delaney Oyster House is a really cute place to relax with a glass of bubbly and something delicious.
5 p.m.: Enjoy a late afternoon stroll along the Charleston Harbor and see the “famous” Pineapple Fountain. You sit on one of the swinging chairs on the promenade and watch as sunset draws the day to a close.
In The Evening
7 p.m.: Husk is the restaurant that kicked off chef Sean Brock’s empire and it focuses on mostly Southern cuisine. You’ll need to book in advance to get a seat at this famous restaurant but it’s well worth it, especially if you only have one day in Charleston! It’s the perfect place to get a real taste of the area. The menu changes regularly but you can expect to enjoy dishes like deviled eggs with pickled okra and okra stew with Carolina gold rice.
8 p.m.: If you still have the energy then Charleston has a great evening scene, with something for everyone. In fact, there’s so much to do in Charleston at night that we’ve written a whole post on it. Check it out for your evening entertainment!
We hope you have the most amazing time in this incredible city, and we’re pretty sure that after a day spent in Charleston SC you’re going to be booking a longer stay as soon as you get back! So make sure you check out some more of our top things to do in Charleston below for all the inspiration you need!
We’d love to know what you got up to on your trip in the comments section below, and if you found this post useful then share and join us on the social media channels below!