For 350 years, Charleston’s streets and landmarks have witnessed every era of American history, and Charleston has been the center of impactful events from before the American Revolution through the Civil War era and into the 21st Century. First on any visitor’s itinerary should be a tour of the historic sites and museums documenting Charleston’s story including The Charleston Museum, the Old Slave Mart Museum, McLeod Plantation Historic Site, South Carolina Historical Society Museumthe Aiken-Rhett House, Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, and Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter.

Forthcoming is the International African American Museum (slated to open in 2022), currently being constructed on the site of Gadsden’s Wharf—a port of entry for tens of thousands of enslaved Africans in the early 19th century. While Charleston consistently makes national headlines as a top travel destination for its beauty, beaches, and renowned culinary scene, it is important to recognize that the city “was built on slave labor, and for nearly 200 years, thrived under a slave economy” (The Post and Courier). Today, about 60 percent of African Americans can trace their roots to Charleston. 

Visitors might also consider making stops at the Gibbes Museum of Art, the South Carolina Aquarium, the Charleston Library Society, and the picturesque campus of the College of Charleston, home to several Spoleto performance venues and the Avery Research Center for African-American History and Culture. 

Charleston’s outlying areas offer a wealth of sightseeing and recreational opportunities. Three local beaches—Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, and the Isle of Palms—are a short drive from downtown. Golfers have a variety of courses to choose from, including Kiawah Island’s famed Ocean Course, which will host the PGA Championship in 2021. The surrounding towns, barrier islands, and coastal communities offer a wide array of activities such as fishing, cycling, kayaking, and paddleboarding.