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Museum Guide for Charleston

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Charleston is a fabulous destination for its the food and the natural beauty, but equally important are the history and culture that weave through every aspect of the city. One of the best ways to learn about this culture is by visiting one (or several) of Charleston's many museums. From the Old Slave Mart Museum to the Gibbes Museum of Art, here is a guide to Charleston's museums.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Thrifty Traveler
  • Like a Local

9 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

9 Places

Old Slave Mart Museum

History Museums

The Charleston Museum

Natural History Museums, Historic Sites, History Museums

Gibbes Museum of Art

Art Museums

North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center

Specialty Museums

Aiken-Rhett House

Historic Sites

Nathaniel Russell House

Historic Sites

Children's Museum of the Lowcountry

Children's Museums

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Military Museums, Specialty Museums

Postal Museum

Specialty Museums

Katie C's City Tips

  • Charleston still maintains classic southern manners, so be sure to be on your best behavior. "Please" and "thank you," "m'am" and "sir" all go a long way.
  • The best way to get around Charleston is on foot. However, if you need to roam farther afield, you have your pick of taxis, rickshaws, buses, trolleys, and carriages.
  • Though spring and fall are high seasons to visit Charleston, consider a visit in the winter — it's less crowded and the temperatures (between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit) are still very comfortable.
  • Old Slave Mart Museum
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    The Old Slave Mart Museum is likely the only remaining slave auction site in South Carolina. While the subject matter is hard, it's an important part of history, and the museum tells of the state's role in the slave trade.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    Tips
    • Because most of the information is shared through posters, children are often bored by this experience.
    • Be sure to talk to and ask questions of the staff. All are very knowledgeable about the history — and many can trace their own ancestry to Charleston slaves.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #38 of 191 things to do in Charleston
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting history 01/15/2019
    • Complexities of slavery in US History ! HIGHLY RECOMMEND! 01/15/2019
    • Old Slave Mart Museum
    Address:
    6 Chalmers St
    Charleston, SC 29401-3005
    Phone:
    +1 843-958-6467
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • The Charleston Museum
    Natural History Museums, Historic Sites, History Museums
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    Founded in 1773, the Charleston Museum is known as 'America's First Museum.' Guests can explore Charleston's long history through quilts and pottery, cultivation tools and implements, and uniforms and armaments.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The Charleston Museum marks the official start to Charleston’s Museum Mile, which runs along Meeting Street.
    • The museum includes two historic houses that you can tour.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #28 of 191 things to do in Charleston
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Charleston’s Story Starts Here 01/15/2019
    • It is the very 1st Museum in the USA. One of the best I have ever seen. and it is the very 1st Museum in the USA 01/15/2019
    • The Charleston Museum
    Address:
    360 Meeting St
    Charleston, SC 29403-6297
    Phone:
    +1 843-722-2996
    Price range:
    $12 - $12
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Mon - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Gibbes Museum of Art
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    The best art museum in Charleston, the Gibbes Museum of Art has a massive collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. In addition to portraits and miniatures of Charleston's well-heeled ancestors, the museum also displays contemporary works by local artists.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The Gibbes is temporarily closed for renovations and will be reopen in spring of 2016.
    • The museum sometimes hosts events and classes. Check the website to see what's on.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #48 of 191 things to do in Charleston
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • You cannot miss this!! 12/29/2018
    • One of the highlights of my trip! 12/05/2018
    • Gibbes Museum of Art
    Address:
    135 Meeting St
    Charleston, SC 29401-2217
    Phone:
    +1 843-722-2706
    Hours:
    Sun
    1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Mon - Tue
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Wed
    10:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Thu - Sat
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    It's worth the short drive to north Charleston to check out the American LaFrance Fire Museum, which holds the nation’s largest collection of American LaFrance firefighting trucks. The horse-drawn wagons and shiny engines are all beautifully restored, and interactive exhibits will entertain the younger members of your group.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The museum is just two miles from the airport, making it an easy stop on your way in or out of town.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 22 things to do in North Charleston
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting Stop 01/14/2019
    • Charleston Fire Museum 01/06/2019
    • North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center
    Address:
    4975 Centre Pointe Dr
    North Charleston, SC 29418-6991
    Phone:
    +1 843-740-5550
    Other:
  • Aiken-Rhett House
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    A wonderful example of antebellum life, the Aiken-Rhett house was built in the 1800s. The house is unique in that it has been conserved and stabilized, but not really restored. The architecture, original wallpaper, antique furnishings, and stunning bronze chandeliers have been virtually untouched since the 19th century.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Check out the self-guided audio tour (which is included in the admission price), so that you can explore at your own pace.
    • Wander the grounds to see the slave quarters, stables, and kitchens — all of which have been preserved, but not restored.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #18 of 191 things to do in Charleston
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Must Must Must 01/11/2019
    • Heavy handed lectures and unrestored home 01/03/2019
    • Aiken-Rhett House
    Address:
    48 Elizabeth St
    Charleston, SC 29403-6250
    Phone:
    +1 843-723-1159
    Hours:
    Sun
    2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Mon - Sat
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Nathaniel Russell House
    Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    Famous for its spiral staircase, well-kept gardens, and elegant furnishings, the Nathaniel Russell House is one of the best examples of southern luxury from the turn of the 19th century. Take a tour — and feel free to pretend that you're back in the days of antebellum glory.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • If you're also planning on visiting the Aiken-Rhett House, purchase a joint ticket to save a little money.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #21 of 191 things to do in Charleston
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good Self Walking Tour 01/14/2019
    • Lovely restored historic home with great staircase 12/28/2018
    • Nathaniel Russell House
    Address:
    51 Meeting St
    Charleston, SC 29401-2536
    Phone:
    +1 843-724-8481
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
    Other:
  • Children's Museum of the Lowcountry
    Children's Museums
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    If the kids have grown weary of garden tours and civil war relics, it's time for a visit to the Children's Museum. With eight interactive exhibits that run the gamut from castles and pirate ships to an art room and fire truck, this is the perfect place for your little ones to learn and play.

    Good for
    • Family
    Tips
    • If you need a pick-me-up before letting the kids loose, nearby City Lights Coffee is a great place to stop in for a snack.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #46 of 191 things to do in Charleston
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Quite pricey for a run down "museum" 12/29/2018
    • Children's Museum 10/13/2018
    • Children's Museum of the Lowcountry
    Address:
    25 Ann St
    Charleston, SC 29403-6213
    Phone:
    +1 843-853-8962
    Hours:
    Sun
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Tue - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
    Military Museums, Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    Patriots Point is a complex of living museums, featuring aircraft carrier USS YORKTOWN, destroyer USS LAFFEY, and submarine USS CLAMAGORE — all of which are open for tours. Exploring these giant vessels provides a glimpse into the lives of the military.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Want a bird's-eye view of the Yorktown? Helicopter tours show off the fleet, as well as the surrounding Charleston area.
    • Active duty military (in uniform) receive free admission to Patriots Point.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 24 things to do in Mount Pleasant
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Very Interesting 01/14/2019
    • Military Museum 01/13/2019
    • Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
    Address:
    40 Patriots Point Rd
    Mount Pleasant, SC 29464-4377
    Phone:
    +1 843-884-2727
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 6:30 PM
    Other:
  • Postal Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Katie C Says:

    Open since 1896, Charleston's post office is the oldest continuously operating post office in the Carolinas. It's worth visiting for the historic building itself, but the small Postal Museum inside also displays some fascinating gems, from old stamps to newspaper clippings.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Admission is free — stop in while you're mailing postcards to the folks back home.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #84 of 191 things to do in Charleston
    • Small but very intersting 05/16/2018
    • Confederate artifacts 05/27/2017
    • Postal Museum
    Address:
    83 Broad Street
    Charleston, SC
    Phone:
    +1 800-275-8777
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