The city of Charleston, South Carolina, was chartered more than 300 years ago. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re a history buff — enjoy the shopping in historic landmarks or combine excitement with education on a family trip. Following back surgery, enjoy these iconic sights by foot if you’re able or by tour bus and car if you need to take it easy.
Charleston, SC, is a seaport town and has seen its share of war, weather and wicked tyrants. But it earned its moniker as the “Holy City” because the portside city of Charleston was one of the very first places within the original 13 colonies that practiced what the founders preached — religious tolerance.
Charleston Lives on Through Its Landmarks
While the entire Holy City is iconic in its age, certain landmarks and attractions stand out. And through all the turmoil and triumphs that the South Carolina city has seen, certain sights stand out among the various iconic church steeples and historic homes that line the city streets:
- The South Carolina Aquarium is hands down one of the most popular attractions in Charleston, SC. The Great Ocean Tank is the aquarium’s most well known exhibit, holding more than 385,000 gallons of water and teeming with sea life. If children are accompanying you on your trip to the Southeastern Spine Institute, they’ll appreciate a stop at the Aquarium to see a rare albino American alligator, touch a shark in the Shark Shallows and visit the Sea Turtle Hospital.
- Fort Sumter is where the Civil War began. Standing above the parapets, you can almost feel the battles that involved this island. And the trip across the bay is very relaxing, especially if you need to sit more than walk after your back procedure. Once you get to the island, follow the National Park Rangers around the fort as they fill you in on all the details of this iconic piece of American history in close to its original shape.
- Charleston City Market houses hundreds of local, regional and national artisans, selling everything from cookbooks to baskets and souvenirs. On the actual site of the Old Slave Mart, the Old Exchange Building on King Street is jammed with places to shop. Feel the early American struggles among the boutiques, art galleries and antiques as you amble through the marketplace. All local carriage rides and tour buses can get you to and from the City Market wherever you’re staying.
- Dock Street Theatre is the place to go for a relaxing show in the evening that won’t place extra stress on your back or feet. Recently renovated, this theater is open all year round and houses South Carolina’s largest professional theater company.
- USS Yorktown represents the history of the seaport through its maritime exhibits. Visit the actual retired aircraft carrier located right in the port of Charleston, SC. Get a feel for the life of the seaman from yesterday and today by following the tours through the ships, helicopters and planes exhibited around the USS Yorktown.
- Historic Houses are quite literally everywhere in Charleston, SC. The Aiken-Rhett House, Joseph Manigault House, Nathanial Russell House, Calhoun Mansion, and Drayton Hall are all homes that you can visit on your own or through one of the many guided tours available around town. Enjoy these home museums filled with famous art at a leisurely pace. Stop to enjoy the interiors that have been preserved through the commitment of the historical societies and organizers around Charleston.
- Magnolia Plantation & Gardens is the oldest public garden in America. Tour the grounds, founded by the Drayton family in 1676. View exhibits, go on a boat ride, relax on a train tour and enjoy a light lunch at the Peacock Café. The gardens are open year-round and truly will round out your visit of the iconic sites of Charleston, SC.