Free Things To Do Guide to Charleston, South Carolina
With such a long trip, we’re careful to make sure the money we spend on activities are things we really want to do. With that in mind, I research the areas we are in ahead of time if I can in order to take advantage of free activities. Charleston is a wonderful little city with a lot of fun things to do without spending a dime. Of course, there are PLENTY of interesting things to do that cost as well.
1. White Point Gardens and the Battery
Take a stroll through the nearly 6 acre White Point Gardens and Battery Park. When you picture the South in your head, you most likely picture large oak trees, Spanish moss, picturesque water fountains and English style gardens, right? Well, this place has it all. We stopped in to have a snack of fried peanuts (shell and all!) and took in the views out over Charleston Harbour. This is a great place to slow down, read a book, and imagine what life was like back in 1837 when they first used this area as public park.
2. Rainbow Row
Leaving White Point Gardens, you can walk up East Bay Street along the waterfront. Continue past the end of the promenade and look to your left! There are 13 brightly painted houses along this stretch called Rainbow Row. With Georgian style architecture and bright pastel colors, this is the perfect place to practice your photography. First built in the 1700s, this area is steeped in history. At one time was actually considered a slum!
3. Waterfront Park
Keep heading straight and then make a right towards the waterfront. Waterfront park has those iconic tree lined walking paths that are so picturesque. If you have a puppy there is even a little dog park there by the baseball field. The star of the park is actually near the other end. The large Pineapple fountain is incredibly beautiful and you can actually cool off in it! They allow up to 25 waders at a time. After the Pineapple Fountain take a stroll down the Pier to get the best views of the water.
4. Market Street
Head on up to Market Street to check out the Charleston City Market. Between traffic, there is a long narrow building that houses artisans and their wares. The market was established in the 1790s and its one of the oldest markets in the United States! You can observe artisans creating the locally made traditional sweet grass baskets. Although a bit touristy, it’s perfectly acceptable to walk through and not buy anything! We didn’t buy any art however we did meet a nice man selling boiled and fried peanuts. We couldn’t resist and picked up a bag of cajun-spiced fried peanuts! Yum!
5. Angel Oak Tree
Admittedly, this one is a little outside of downtown Charleston but it’s worth the 23 minute drive! Angel Oak tree is estimated to be between 400-500 years old. It stands 66.f (20m) feet tall, is 28 feet (8.5 m) in circumference and it’s longest branch distance is 187 feet! It’s technically in John’s Island however it’s completely free and you really must see it.
6. Charleston Tree Plantation
Also not in downtown Charleston however you can easily do all of these activities in a day if you want to (we did!). The Charleston Tea Plantation is the only tea producer that grows in North America! You can sample several different kinds of hot and cold brewed teas for free. They also do factory tours where you can see the machinery they use and learn about tea production. There are additional tours you can purchase if you want to take a trolley tour of the grounds. We skipped that because we drove through some of them on the way in and we were allowed to walk around as well. If you love tea, this is a pretty cool place to check out!
There is plenty more to do in Charleston and this really is scratching the surface! The main thing is to get out and walk or bike around!