Charleston, SC

  • Charleston, SC
advanced search

Explore Charleston, SC

Give in to the genteel feel of the old South on Carnival cruises from Charleston, South Carolina. This is a gracious city of antebellum homes and sprawling plantations, best appreciated from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. The city’s unique Low country cuisine and dozens of delicious restaurants make it a southern foodie destination. Enjoy warm southern hospitality as you prepare to depart on your cruise from Charleston.

  • Set foot where English settlers first touched land.
  • Learn how the battle for Fort Sumter started the Civil War.
  • Buy a sweetgrass basket to use aboard your Carnival cruise from Charleston.
  • Tuck into Low country-style shrimp and grits at a downtown restaurant. 
  • Hop on a horse-drawn carriage for a slow-paced tour of the Historic District.

Things To Do

Local Attractions

When your cruise from Charleston departs, you’ll be leaving an historic, graceful city. While in town, tour 18th- and 19th-century houses and plantations, such as the Nathaniel Russell with its dizzying staircase, and the Spanish-moss covered Magnolia Plantation. Set aside an afternoon for the breezy waterfront, taking in the views of nearby islands before ferrying to historic Fort Sumter.

  • Duck below the branches of oaks covered in Spanish moss in Charleston’s gardens.
  • See where African slaves were bought and sold at the Old Slave Mart.
  • Set off for a waterfront walk through Battery Park, at the city’s southern tip.
  • Take a ferry ride to the Civil War battleground at Fort Sumter.
  • Duck below the branches of oaks covered in Spanish moss in Charleston’s gardens.

Fun Facts

  • The key ingredient that gives “she-crab soup,” a Low country staple, its name (and distinct pink color) is crab roe.
  • Charleston was the setting for the first documented golf played in North America—in 1786, at Charleston’s South Carolina Golf Club.
  • The steps to the Ragtime song and dance “The Charleston” are said to have been developed by African Americans living off the coast of Charleston in the early 1900s.

Within Walking Distance

Charleston’s elegant Historic District is full of Federal-style buildings and antebellum mansions. Settle into a horse-drawn carriage to roll through the tree-lined streets at a leisurely pace. The Aiken-Rhett house is preserved as it was in antebellum days, decked out with glittering chandeliers and plush furniture. A free-flying spiral staircase connects the three floors of the ornate Nathaniel Russell House, built in 1808. Gaze into the eyes of historic South Carolinians at the Gibbes Museum of Art, where the galleries display hundreds of miniature portraits. The nearby Old Slave Mart from 1859 was once an auction gallery for slaves bought and sold to work on southern plantations. A block away, the nearly three-feet-thick walls of the Powder Magazine once held gunpowder during the Revolutionary War.

Around the Port Area

At the southernmost tip of the district, the waterfront Battery Park has views across the water to Fort Sumter. On April 12, 1861, a battle at Fort Sumter touched off the War Between the States. Start a tour of the fort from Liberty Square, just north of where cruises from Charleston depart, where ferries leave for the island fort.

Beyond the Port Area

The stately plantation houses just outside of Charleston, South Carolina, make for a great day excursion. The vibrant public gardens at Magnolia Plantation are reputedly the oldest in America—a local attraction since 1870. The lush array of camellias, azaleas, and oaks drooping with Spanish moss provide a quintessential Southern atmosphere, while the plantation house showcases what life was like in the 19th century. Down the road and older still, Drayton Hall is in astonishing condition considering its 1738 vintage. Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens, in Mount Pleasant, is a sight for romantics: The arching live oaks create a dramatic approach to this replica plantation—a throwback to Scarlett and Rhett’s days. Want to go even further back in history? At Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, guides in colonial costumes recreate early settlement times and nature trails lead past gardens, cannons, and even bison—which roamed the area some 350 years ago.

Beaches in Charleston

Caribbean Beaches

Charleston is close to a few attractive beaches, including the 7-mile-long Folly Beach and, further south, Kiawah Island, full of pristine sands and some of the best golf courses South Carolina has to offer.

Shopping in Charleston

Within view of the cruise port terminal are the four historic buildings of the Old City Market. Watch experts carry on a 300-year-old tradition of weaving baskets made from sweetgrass (or sea-grass, as it’s also known) and pick up some Low country delicacies.

Dining in Charleston

Before your cruise from Charleston departs, make sure to enjoy a meal in the city’s renowned restaurants. You’ll get fresh seafood in abundance at Hyman’s Seafood Co. and A. W. Shucks, but for a real local treat, try Low country cuisine, with its zingy, Creole-style flavors. Order a meat-and-sides at Jestines or, for a more modern take on old favorites, try the Hominy Grill, where savory shrimp and pecan-crusted pork chops are just two of the signature eats.

Travel Tips


  • Carnival cruises from Charleston depart from the Port of Charleston’s passenger cruise terminal, right downtown at 196 Concord Street.
  • Much of Charleston is compact, walkable, and near the cruise terminal, though carriage tours are a fun, romantic way to see the city.
  • Don't miss the plantations and gardens outside of Charleston.
  • As a warm, coastal city, Charleston enjoys cooling ocean breezes and has  pleasant weather throughout the year. Summertime highs average in the upper 80s and wintertime around 60 degrees.