A Historical Tour of Charleston
The oldest city in South Carolina was founded in 1670. Charleston is the perfect place for history buffs while it also offers Southern charm, nice weather, and beautiful scenery. It is among the friendliest cities in the United States. A trip to Charleston should include stops at many of the historic antebellum and Civil War sites in the city.
1. Boone Hall
The scenic tour starts at the entrance with the one mile drive up to the house known as the Avenue of Oaks as it is surrounded by oak trees that have grown tall enough since they were first planted in 1743 to meet at the top. The original house was lost and has been replaced, but on site are nine original slave homes, the Cotton Ginhouse, and a smokehouse.
2. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
The gardens have been blooming since the 1670s. Now covering 60 acres, they are the oldest public gardens in America. The gardens are left a natural and are a great place to spot Charleston wildlife. The plantation house, while not the most decadent of Charleston’s plantation homes, offers an interesting historical tour.
3. The Aiken-Rhett House Museum
Another example of antebellum life in the South, a tour of the inside of the house will include a look at some incredible antique furnishings. You can also tour the slave quarters for a look at the darker side of Southern history.
4. Drayton Hall
This National Historic Landmark stands in the same condition it was originally opened in in 1738. It is the oldest unrestored plantation house in America. You won’t find any electricity on your tour. The house is a great example of Palladian architecture. On the property grounds, you will find one of the oldest African-American cemeteries still in use.
5. Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter is the site of the first shots of the Civil War. You must take a ferry to the small island where the Fort and museum are located to get a look at Civil War cannons.
6. St. Philip’s Church
Charleston is known as the “Holy City” for a reason. There are many churches in the city, but St. Philip’s is, architecturally, one of the most stunning.
7. The Nathaniel Russell House Museum
This 19th century home is filled with lavish furnishings and decorations. Unlike many of the other historic homes in Charleston, this one has been restored. It is still a great example of elite Southern life.
8. H.L. Hunley Submarine
The world’s first successful submarine was built for the Confederate Army in 1864. It was lost at sea from the late 19th century until its discovery in 1995. It is currently being restored at the Old Charleston Naval Base. You can watch the restoration process and take a tour of the base.
9. City Market
The market covers four city blocks in the downtown area. Historically, it was the place where slaves purchased food for the plantations where they worked. Today, it is filled with hundreds of vendors selling nearly everything imaginable.
10. Middleton Place
This 18th century rice plantation covers 65 acres of gardens as well as a Plantation House, which you can tour. Activities of plantation estate are recreated each day, and you can dine on Charleston’s great Low Country cuisine in the restaurant. The plantation is a National Historic Landmark.
11. The Battery
A strip of Southern mansions along the Charleston Harbor takes you from the Waterfront Park, home to the infamous pineapple fountain, to the White Point Gardens, full of Civil War relics along with its fauna. The Battery is a great place for a scenic walk to soak up Charleston architecture and culture.