15 FREE Things to do in Charleston SC
The BEST and FREE Stuff to do in Charleston
The East Coast, USA is home to many charming cities, parks, and more. The nature is so diverse, the cities are rich with history, and the food is mouthwatering. One place you definitely need to visit while you’re on the East Coast is Charleston, South Carolina. This coastal city boasts unique and beautiful architecture, lipsmackin' food, and incredible beaches. Another pro about visiting Charleston, South Carolina? You can do so on a budget!
If you want to make the most of your time in Charleston, but you don’t want to spend a fortune doing so, then you have come to the right place! There is so much to see and do here, so how can you possibly narrow it down? Opt for the free things to do in Charleston, SC!
Things to do in Charleston, SC for FREE
Yes, you read that right. FREE! They always say free is better right? So how exactly do you see Charleston on a budget? We’ve found the best free things to do in Charleston, SC so all you have to do is make your way to these sights and have a great time enjoying this historical east coast city. P.s. you can click on a name for its location.
This fountain is a must see for everyone while in Charleston. It is a multi-tier fountain with a giant pineapple to top it off. There are benches, trees, flowers, and the oceanfront within the surrounding area which makes the pineapple fountain a great place to stop for a picnic or just to relax for a minute. You can even walk into it and cool your feet off on hot days!
This public pier offers great views of the Charleston Marina and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, another popular Charleston monument. There are benches along the pier where you can stop and admire the views, or even bring a picnic lunch to have with an ocean view. Some of the benches even swing!
Charleston is filled with hidden streets and gorgeous alleys. One of the most famous is Philadelphia Alley. Beautiful plants line both sides of this historical alley that was once part of Francis Kinloch’s residency. There is a plaque you can read here as well that explains the alley’s history and significance. This is a great spot for photos!
A street filled with multicolored houses, detailed architecture, and rich history, Rainbow Row is a street you have to walk down when in Charleston, SC! There are numerous plaques along the road that offer interesting facts about various houses. Rainbow Row is also a great photo opportunity for all you instagrammers out there!
While the entire city of Charleston is well worth walking around, one of the best neighborhoods to explore is the French Quarter. Several of these free sights are within the French Quarter, so you might enjoy spending a couple hours walking down all the side street and admiring the beautiful architecture.
You simply cannot visit Charleston, SC without walking down King Street. This famous street is lined with all kinds of restaurants, hotels, stores, and cafes. If you want to buy clothes, enjoy a delicious coffee, or find a hip spot for lunch, then King Street is the place to be. The great part about King Street is that a ton of the stores are dog friendly! It’s fun to walk down, admire the unique buildings, and window shop on King Street.
One of Charleston’s most famous historical houses, the Williams Mansion is a must see. If you love admiring different architectural styles, then you must visit this house. It is beautifully designed in a colonial style, and it holds rich history within its walls. While you cannot enter the house, it is well worth admiring from the street.
One of the East Coast’s best beaches is located in Charleston, South Carolina itself. Folly Beach is a must visit while in Charleston, and we highly recommend visiting during sunrise if you can get yourself out of bed. Parking here is the only struggle, but if you arrive early in the morning, you will be fine. More on parking at Folly Beach* below. This beach is also dog friendly until 10 am!
At the far end of Folly Beach is Morris Island Lighthouse which is an old structure sitting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean offering a unique photo point. It is free to walk down the beach and enjoy the views of the lighthouse and all the wildlife along the way. This is often much quieter than the rest of Folly Beach, so if you want more peace and quiet, walk down to the lighthouse!
This park and small lake offer a great place to slow down and enjoy the nature of Charleston. There are some cafes and restaurants nearby, so if you’re feeling hungry, you can grab a bite to eat and bring it to Colonial Lake. There are benches, paved paths, and a playground too! It’s pretty to walk around at night as the houses all start to turn their lights on.
A beautiful church with a huge, white steeple, Saint Michael's Church is a great stop to make while exploring Charleston. It is located on Broad Street which is another great street to stroll down. The buildings lining the street offer a picturesque view of downtown Charleston. The church was built in the 1760s and there is actually a pew there that George Washington himself sat on.
While you have to spend money to buy something in the Historic Charleston City Market, you can truly enjoy its charm without opening your wallet. This 4 block city market is quite the sight to see, housing tons of vendors that sell artwork, sweets, bags, and more. This market is over 200 years old and still going strong. It’s definitely worth walking through!
While you cannot enter Sword Gate House, it is still stunning from the outside. The intricate gates and lush garden within are wonderful to admire. You can view the house from outside the gates, and still get the entire feel for the place. Sword Gate House is located in a very historically rich area of downtown Charleston, so you can enjoy learning about the neighboring houses as well.
You have to admire the ocean while in Charleston, but you must also see the saltwater marshes that are dotted throughout the city. Brittlebank Park offers a great pier to walk out into the marsh on. Enjoy views of the harbor and all the wildlife in the area. This is another great spot to catch a sunrise or sunset while in Charleston!
This historical house is another must see for all you history lovers. While it is also a museum (tickets are sadly not free), you can enjoy the outside for free and still learn quite a lot. Add this famous house to your list of Charleston houses to see, it’s definitely a must! If you’re up for another little walk, check out the Joseph Manigault House as well. It is just a block down and around the corner from the Aiken - Rhett House.
While there is so much more to see and do in Charleston, a lot of it does cost money. We found that these free things to do in Charleston, SC really allowed us to see most of the city and learn a lot about its history without having to spend a penny on tours and such. While visiting cities in the US is never the cheapest, you can easily see a lot of historical Charleston, SC on a budget.
We hope you found our guide to the FREE stuff in Charleston, SC to be helpful. This east coast city is vibrant and full of life. Parking can be a struggle; we recommend parking on the outskirts of downtown on a side street, or in a parking garage further from the center of downtown. The further away you are, the cheaper it will be. Most of these sights are within walking distance, so if you are able bodied, we recommend leaving your car in the same spot and walking between these free sights. Will you be checking off all these free things to do in Charleston, SC? Let us know below in the comments!
*According to ParkFollyBeach.com, “All Park Folly Beach parking kiosks are free after 8:00 PM every day. In addition, parking is free on these holidays (unless otherwise announced): Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Parking is free on Center Street and all side streets. However, always reference the signage to ensure parking is free and never block a private driveway.”