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Hi, I'm Georgina! A coffee-loving adventure enthusiast here to share my favorite travel tips with you! My goal is to inspire others to get out and explore this wild planet by camping, hiking, or wandering around a fun new city!

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  • Georgina D'Angelo

15 Free Things to Do in Charleston, South Carolina

Updated: Apr 22

15 FREE Things to do in Charleston SC

Charleston, South Carolina sits on the East Coast of the USA. Known for its stunning architecture, pastel-colored houses, mouthwatering southern food, and scenic nature, Charleston is a must-visit.

Add this city to your travel list or stop in Charleston on a South Carolina road trip!

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!

15 Free Things to Do in Charleston

Yes, free! They always say free is better right? So how exactly do you see Charleston on a budget? I’ve found the best free things to do in Charleston 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 in Google Maps.

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!

Pineapple Fountain Charleston South Carolina

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!

boat in the Charleston Harbor by the Waterfront Pier

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!

ferns in philadelphia alley charleston sc

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!

pink house on rainbow row Charleston SC

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.

french quarter Charleston SC

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.

king street Charleston South Carolina

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.

water fountain in a the williams mansion garden charleston sc

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.

Folly Beach is also dog-friendly until 10 am!

sunrise at Folly Beach Charleston South Carolina

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!

free things to do in Charleston SC

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.

Colonial Lake Charleston SC

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.

saint michael's church steeple Charleston SC Broad Street

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!

pastry display at Charleston Historic City Market SC

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.

Sword Gate House Charleston SC

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!

marsh in Charleston South Carolina

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.

Free Things to do in Charleston SC

Parking in Charleston, SC

Parking can be a hassle in Charleston. I 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 side street parking costs an hourly fee; same with the parking garages. Most of these sights are within walking distance, so if you can, I recommend leaving your car in one spot and walking between these free sights.

Folly Beach Parking

According to, “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.”

Free Things to Do in Charleston Recap

  • Pineapple Fountain

  • Waterfront Park Pier

  • Philadelphia Alley

  • Rainbow Row

  • French Quarter

  • King Street

  • The Williams Mansion

  • Folly Beach

  • Morris Island Lighthouse

  • Colonial Lake

  • Saint Michael's Church

  • Historic Charleston City Market

  • Sword Gate House

  • Brittlebank Park

  • Aiken-Rhett House

Coffee in Charleston

While you're out exploring what this South Carolina gem has to offer, stop for a pick-me-up at one of the best coffee shops in Charleston. This small coastal city has a surprisingly great coffee and tea scene! If you're a fellow caffeine lover, you don't want to miss these spots.

While there is so much more to see and do in Charleston, a lot of it does cost money. I found that these free things to do in Charleston allowed me to see some of the best parts of the city. I learned 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 on a budget. I hope you found my guide to the free things to do in Charleston, SC to be helpful. This East Coast city is vibrant and full of life.

Will you be checking off all these free things to do in Charleston, SC? Let us know below in the comments!

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Free Things to Do in Charleston | Alpacka My Bags Pinterest Cover

1 commentaire

12 sept. 2022

Charleston is such a great city! Who knew there were so many fun free things to do in Charleston!

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Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 


I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.


I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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