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Visiting Charleston in Winter: 5 Best Activities You Can Do

Visiting Charleston in Winter: 5 Best Activities You Can Do

Charleston is one of those charming cities where history is ever-present. Visiting in the winter is definitely a great way to experience a unique look into South Carolina’s oldest city. Perhaps you’ve found great vacation rentals in Charleston but are still clueless about what to do in the city, here are our 5 best activities that every visitor should try when in town. 

Enjoy the magical Holiday Festival of Lights

The holidays are certainly the magical time of the year. When the cold winter nights are filled with thousands of shimmering lights and the warmth of the holiday cheer. This warm holiday spirit is what makes Holiday Festival of Lights a truly wonderful sight to behold. This annual Charleston tradition has been bringing joy into the hearts of locals and tourists alike for over 3 decades.

The attraction is held in James Island County Park for over a month starting mid-November. Inside, visitors can enjoy the many family-friendly installations and activities. Explore the many sparkling installations at the Enchanted Walking Trail or take a magical train ride. Visit the many cute gifts and item shops inside for some amazing finds. If you are the romantic type, enjoy a ride at the old-fashioned carousel for that nostalgic holiday cheer. And on some nights, be entertained with various performances such as live music, storytelling, and more.

This holiday attraction is hosted by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission and has been a popular attraction ever since it first started. The Holiday Festival of Lights has gained many awards and recognition throughout the country. For people who enjoy a fun-filled wholesome activity, you should definitely give this one a try.

Visit Museums

One of Charleston’s charm is its deeply ingrained history. The city is filled with various historic landmarks that are relics from its colorful past. Whether you are a serious history buff or just likes and appreciates local history, here are top 3  must-visit historic sites:

The house museums

The people of Charleston are quite fond of their past. Because of this, most of the historic houses built in the county exists to this day and are well preserved. Today these gorgeous homes were turned into museums with tours for any interested visitors. Some notable places are the Joseph Manigault House, the Edmonston-Alston House, and the Heyward-Washington House. 

The Charleston Museum

This museum is regarded as one of the oldest museums in the country. It boasts an impressive collection of local and natural history exhibits as well as various art pieces. These pieces include antique Charleston furniture, several 19th-century firearms, some local rocks, and plant specimens and even Egyptian artifacts.

Old Slave Mart Museum

Not all in Charleston’s history is bright and colorful though. The Old Slave Mart Museum is one such place. This is where slaves were auctioned out back in the day. The old building had a brick-walled courtyard, a slave jail called a “barracoon” and a morgue. Today, the museum holds many artifacts and memorabilia on exhibit for visitors to see. The museum’s collection of photographs and artifacts tells of Charleston’s role in the slave trade. 

Drop by the WWII veteran the USS Yorktown

The USS Yorktown is an Essex-class aircraft carrier that served in World War II. This 890 ft vessel played a significant role during WWII as well as the succeeding Korean and Vietnam war. During its service run, it had gained 11 battle stars proving its might and mettle during those conflicts. Among its accomplishments is at the successful campaign in the Battle of Okinawa where it provided troop support as anti-submarine operations. It was decommissioned back on June 27, 1970, and has was formally donated to the Patriot’s Point Development Authority in Charleston shortly with the retrieval of the Apollo 8 command module being one of its last missions.

Today the craft houses two museums. The hangar has several historic aircraft on display and the Medal of Honor Museum dedicated to the sailors and crew.  At one point, it housed a public radio station run by South Carolina Educational Radio Network with its broadcast room located at the control tower. The radio station, however, ended broadcast back in 1998. Aside from the exhibits, the ship museum also offers other amenities such as a mess hall where you can get hot meals and snacks. The ship can be found docked at the Patriots point a 10-minute drive from downtown Charleston.

Take part in Charleston’s many festivals

While part of Charleston’s charm is its deep history, it is also home to more modernity and festivities. Every year, Charleston holds a number of notable festivals and events that each tourist must experience when they come to visit. Some of these are

BB&T Charleston Wine+Food Festival

This festival is the premier event where over a hundred of the country’s best wine and culinary providers come to showcase the very best. Every first weekend of March, Marion Square is filled with different stalls where attendees get the chance to sample the latest and the best wine, spirits, and culinary delights. If you are a fan of good wine and food, this event should be on top of your list.

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE)

This event is perfect for people who love animals and the outdoors! This 3-day event is where enthusiasts and fans come to gather all for the promotion of wildlife conservation. The event, held every February, holds competitions for canine athletes where they compete in pro and amateur events like long jump and retrieval exercises. A fun-filled activity for animal lovers!

Charleston Fashion Week
Probably Charleston’s most prestigious events. Charleston Fashion Week is presented by Charleston Magazine, where new and up and coming designers showcase their designs and talent for the world to see. Many of the designers featured in the past have gone on to launch successful careers with their creations worn by A-list celebrities. 

Watch a show in their local theaters

Charleston has no shortage of theatre productions. May it be traditional or contemporary, there is certainly something for every discerning taste. Two of the most notable are 

PURE Theatre

Established in 2003, this contemporary theatre production has been a constant presence in the local scene. The Company caters to a diverse audience with a specialization in new and thought-provoking productions. The company also has a few accolades under their belts including 7 Best Actors, and 2 Artist Fellowships in Acting and Playwriting among others. They hold an annual five-play season where new and old audiences experience astounding performances from their ensemble. If you want a contemporary theatre experience, PURE is surely a must-visit.

Queen Street Playhouse

If you want something more old-school then check out Queen Street Playhouse. This 1850s cotton warehouse is home to The Footlight Players established way back in 1931. For a time, they had a nomadic production jumping from one venue to another until finally settling in the historic Queen St building. To this day, the production holds regular theatrical seasons built with the help of passionate individuals. If you enjoy the historic ambiance of a long-standing production then Queen Street Playhouse is perfect for you.


Charleston Culinary Tours

Lastly, we don’t want you to miss Charleston Culinary Tours. There are different types of tours tailored specifically to your range of interest but it will definitely highlight unique historic local cuisine and cocktails. All types of tours will give you the opportunity to meet the best chefs behind the best restaurants in Charleston and learn a few of their ideas and methods. Not only these, with the Culinary Tours it introduces you to the History District and its culinary gems which you may return for breakfast, lunch or dinner.