With narrow 300-year-old streets and old buildings from various historical periods, the Historic District offers a glimpse into a time capsule. Walk the streets on your own and take in the historic home, grounds, estates and gardens as they draw you to them.
For a more structured and informative exploration take one of the many guided tours by bus, horse-drawn carriage or walking tours. Old houses turned into museums are plentiful.
Two of the more famous of these are the Edmonton-Alston House and the Nathaniel Russell house.
There are also some beautiful Southern plantation properties like Middleton Place, Magnolia Plantation and Drayton Hall. A great vacation idea is to stay right in the Charleston Historic District so you can really soak up the historic atmosphere.
The best way to that is stay in one of the old buildings that have been turned into a bed & breakfast like the Governor’s House Inn which is a National Historic Landmark.
Herons and many types of waterfowl populate the swamp. The Audubon Swamp Garden is part of the Magnolia Plantation & Gardens located about 15 minutes from downtown Charleston. Another fun way to see the magnificent Magnolia Plantation & Gardens is aboard the "Nature Train". Naturalist guides will keep you informed of everything that you see as you travel around the grounds.
The Zoo & Nature Center has a petting zoo and snake exhibits. There is also a unique collection of restored slave cabins which are open for tours. The plantation ground have bicycle, canoe and nature trails.
There are over 60 exhibits and the biggest is the Great Ocean Tank which covers three floors of the aquarium and is home to 450 animals. The popular Touch Tank is where you can actually touch real aquatic animals like stingrays and horseshoe crabs.
Another unique and fun exhibit is Camp Carolina. Here the whole family can gear up for an indoor camping trip with hikes among the animals and camping by a stream. The camp experience is designed for fun of course but also to teach kids about the animals and nature and the importance of a “leave no trace” philosophy.
There are vacation destination companies like the Inlet Sports Lodge which caters to adventurous outdoor enthusiasts on the coast of South Carolina; Alabama Black Belt Adventures which promotes outdoor recreation in Alabama; Cabin Bluff is a rustic cabin destination in Georgia dedicated to outdoor activities.
Other exhibits showcase products for the outdoor enthusiast like duck calls, outdoor fire pots, fishing flies, wooden cherry boxes, hunting dog training and all kinds of other miscellaneous things of interest to outdoor vacation enthusiasts.
The Battery is a good place to relax as there are many benches to sit on with nice views of the harbor including Fort Sumter and Sullivan Island Lighthouse. You can visit the Battery Park on your own or it is part of the itinerary of many of the guided historical tours offered in the city.