Horse-drawn carriage rides, harbor cruises, and beach days, oh my!By: Hillary Hoffower
One could spend an entire week in Charleston and not get enough of their fill — a wedding weekend is too short to truly experience what the Holy City has to offer! But we’ve rounded up a few of the must-sees and must-dos to squeeze in while you're there. Whether you’re tacking on a few days to explore Charleston post-wedding or want to provide your guests with a list of things to do, no one will want to miss out on these options.
Photo courtesy of Boone Hall
Step away from downtown Charleston to immerse yourself in the city’' history with a visit to some of its most well-known plantations and gardens. There's Drayton Hall, which is America's oldest unrestored plantation open to the public, and the famed Boone Hall Plantation, known for its famous Avenue of the Oaks. Take a stroll through the Cypress Gardens, which features endless garden trails teeming with butterflies and flowers, or head to Charleston Tea Garden to see how tea is grown and made.
Go for a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
There are plenty of ways to explore Charleston — by foot, by bike, or by car, of course. But the best way to get a feel for the city's charm is through a horse-drawn carriage on the cobblestone streets. View some of the best parts of Charleston, from Rainbow Row to seawall and promenade The Battery, all from the open-aired comfort of a carriage. You'll learn a lot more about the sights than if you were exploring on your own; Old South Carriage Co. offers rides for an hour, complete with a history lesson. Depending on the time of year you go, you can also opt for a themed tour — a haunted carriage ride during Halloween and a "sleigh" ride during Christmas.
If you don’t feel like getting around by land, hit the water and explore the city from the outside in. SpiritLine Cruises will take you back to the 19th century with a cruise along the harbor and a narrated tour. You'll get to see historical Civil War landmarks, such as Fort Sumter, the Ravenel Bridge, and Castle Pickney. They also offer packages for parties larger than 15 people — it could be the perfect way to kick off or close out your wedding weekend with your closest loved ones.
Photo courtesy of Wild Dunes Resort
It’s not a trip to Charleston without a trip to the beach. With soft sand and blue skies, Charleston is the epitome of the Southern Coast. The only problem is deciding which beach to visit! We recommend packing all five main beach towns in, but time likely won’t allow for that. Folly's Beach and Sullivan's Island Beach are arguably the more popular spots, the former a destination for surfers and true beachgoers and the latter suited for those who want to relax and engage in a low-impact watersport, like paddle boarding. There's also Isle of Palms for the family-oriented, Seabrook Island Beach for gorgeous views and a good golf game, and Kiawah Island Beach for endless stretches of sand that provide complete tranquility.
Historic Home Tour
Photo courtesy of William Aiken House
One of historic Charleston's most famous sites is the Aiken-Rhett House, which once belonged to a former Charleston governor and will transport you into the life of antebellum Charleston. The slave quarters in the house have been virtually untouched since the 1850s and still retain their original paint and floors, providing insight into the lives of the slaves who lived on-site. The house, which has been owned by the Charleston Museum since the 1970s, features one restored room — an art gallery that displays the masterpieces that once belonged to the Aiken family.