Written by Jeremy Puglisi
Charleston is arguably one of the most amazing cities in the U. S. The surrounding region has something for every type of traveler including families with young children, retired couples, and solo travelers.
If you are driving or towing an RV to Charleston, there are two wonderful campground options in great locations. We highly recommend the Campground at James Island County Park, and the Mount Pleasant / Charleston KOA. Both are beautiful. Both have amazing amenities. You might even choose to stay at both during your time in the Holy City, or you could just save one of them for a return trip—we don’t know anyone who has only been to Charleston once.
Live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss set the stage for your stay at this top-notch KOA. The ambiance perfectly matches the romance and charm of Charleston and the location off Route 17 is just 20 minutes away from downtown. Popular beach communities such as Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms are also nearby. The RV sites are surrounded by a 30-acre fishing lake, a stunning nature preserve, and manicured grounds.
This fort was the first on Sullivan Island, and has a storied military history from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War and beyond. It’s been restored to display artifacts from the major periods of American history and the setting near the water is spectacular. Visit Fort Moultrie before you head out to Fort Sumter to get a more complete picture of the region’s history.
The first shots of the Civil War were fired here, and you can’t visit Charleston without taking the ferry boat out to Fort Sumter. Book the first boat of the day and you get to participate in the flag raising ceremony. Also make time to explore the exhibits at the national monument. The boat ride out to Fort Sumter, and the fort itself, are immensely photogenic, so don’t forget your camera.
Located at the Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, the USS Yorktown was the 10th U.S. Naval Aircraft Carrier and served in WWII and Vietnam before being decommissioned in 1970. There are multiple self-guided walking tours available and you can get audio sets for an additional fee. We recommend tours #1 and #3, which will lead you through the living quarters of the ship, take you up to the flight deck, and through all the control rooms and officers’ quarters.
There are quite a few options for carriage tours in Charleston, but Palmetto Carriage Works is our favorite. The tour guides are fun and informative. You can tour the barn and visit the animals, plus the company is transparent about the welfare of their horses. A carriage ride through the streets of historic downtown Charleston is fun for families, but can also make for a great date night activity after a romantic dinner in one of the best food cities in the U.S.
Poogan’s Smokehouse has wonderful Charleston BBQ, but the snacks and appetizers are particularly good here so we recommend this place for a late afternoon happy hour. Try the pimento cheese fritters and buffalo pork rinds. If you are really hungry and want something a bit more filling, try the “Four Porksman” which includes pulled pork, smoked sausage, smoked bacon, and a St. Louis rib on a toasted Hawaiian bun.
Learning about the history of pirates in Charleston from a costumed pirate with a parrot on the shoulder? Yes, please. Sabrina and Eric will take you through the oldest parts of the city on a 2-hour walking tour starting at the Powder Magazine Museum and including a visit to the Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon. Bring snacks and water or plan on grabbing lunch or dinner when the tour ends.
This is one of the most historically important buildings in Charleston, so even if you don’t do the Pirate Tour, put this on your itinerary. Visitors can explore two floors of exhibits, and take a 25-minute guided tour of the Provost Dungeon, which was used as a British military prison during the Revolutionary War. Don’t miss the only publicly viewable part of the original city wall, which is located in the dungeon.
The artisans and entrepreneurs of the Charleston area have some of their best wares for sale at the City Market. You’ll find the usual touristy trinkets alongside a variety of beautiful Sweetgrass baskets, fresh roasted coffee, and other local delights. We recommend you be respectful and ask permission before taking pictures—some of the local merchants do not like to have pictures taken of themselves, or their wares.
Minor league games are a fantastic way to soak in local flavor, and the RiverDogs is a particularly great option. The food options include chicken and waffles served in a dog bowl and macaroni and cheese with pulled pork and okra. Bellyitcher Ale is the signature ballpark beer specially made by the local Rusty Bull Brewing company. Prices are affordable, and if you get lucky you might just spot Bill Murray taking in a game (he’s part owner of the team and lives nearby).
There are so many plantation tours available in the Charleston area, but the Magnolia Plantation has two things that make it stand out: a trolley tour and award-winning gardens. The Slavery to Freedom Tour focuses on the dwellings of the enslaved, the history of the Gullah people, and their contributions to low country culture. Like so many attractions in the region, this one is visually stunning despite its cruel and heart-wrenching history.
There are dozens of world-class places to eat in and around downtown Charleston, so consider our recommendations here to be a mere starting point. The Early Bird Diner serves breakfast all day, so there is no excuse for missing out on some of the best chicken and waffles in the entire country. You also can’t go wrong ordering the country scramble, the corn cake benedict, or the ridiculously flavorful and creamy grits. Everything on the menu is good and the ambiance is comfortable and homey
The Campground at James Island County Park offers the natural and beautiful landscape of a public campground combined with amenities and activities usually found at the best private campgrounds. Located just 6 miles southwest of Charleston, this campground is one that will immediately capture your heart. James Island County Park provides easy access to the city, but it is also an utter oasis that feels worlds away.
Banner Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of KOA
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