pineapple fountain Charleston

Three Fun Days Exploring Charleston SC

We visited Charleston, SC. This is a popular tourist destination on the South Carolina coast. We tried to hit the highlights on our three-day visit. While you probably can’t do everything, we asked a local for information on the must-do Charleston attractions.

We had three days to explore Charleston. In that time, we were able to do a lot of the must-do attractions. However, we left a few things for our next visit. And it was so much fun, we’ll likely be back again.

We visited in our travel trailer and stayed at the KOA in Mount Pleasant. This was a fantastic home base that enabled us to easily explore Charleston. We’ll cover more about the campground in an upcoming review.

Charleston Day One: Fort Sumter & Patriot Point

Charleston is filled with history. We wanted to experience a bit of that history. And what better way than to visit a historic fort with the bonus of spending time on the water.

You can take the tour to Fort Sumter either from downtown Charleston or from Mount Pleasant. Since we were in Mount Pleasant, we opted for the Fort Sumter tour that leaves from Patriot Point.

Fort Sumter

You’ll board a large boat that provides a 30-minute ride out to the fort. During the ride, they’ll point out interesting landmarks and share some of the history of the area. You get about an hour to explore the fort and then you’ll head back for the return boat ride.

Fort Sumter with boat

We had a perfect, sunny day. Exploring the fort was fascinating. During the Civil War, cannon fire did significant damage to the fort. You can see examples of some of the cannons that were used. If you look closely, you can even spot where a cannon ball struck and left its mark.

Cannonball damage at Fort Sumter

We started our tour early in the morning. After our return, we opted to spend some time at the Naval Museum. This is the home of the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier. Additionally, you might choose to explore the USS Laffey destroyer or the Vietnam Experience.

Yorktown bridge

We spent several hours exploring the Yorktown. You can take a self-guided tour through the ship to see areas like the bridge and mess hall. There is a great collection of historic aircraft on board the Yorktown. We really enjoyed having the opportunity to explore the Yorktown.

Yorktown plane

Note that there aren’t any restaurants at the museum. There is a gift shop that sells some snacks. If you are planning to do both the fort tour and the naval museum, you may want to bring a picnic lunch.

Charleston Day Two: Downtown & Angel Oak

Our goal for day two was to explore historic downtown Charleston. We crossed the Ravenel Bridge, an iconic part of the Charleston Harbor area. This bridge connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. Construction was completed in 2005.

Ravenel Bridge Charleston SC

Once we got to downtown Charleston, we found parking. There is metered street parking in Charleston along with some parking garages. However, as this is a historic area, streets can be a bit narrow. Parking for larger vehicles can be limited. Since we were in our pickup, we opted to use a parking lot at 175 East Bay Street. You can pay for parking using the Honk parking app. Thanks to Chad and Tara from Changing Lanes for the parking tip. If you are visiting Charleston in an RV, you may find parking available at the Charleston Visitor Center.

large truck parked in Charleston

Our first stop in Charleston was the Pineapple Fountain. The Pineapple is a symbol of hospitality. This was a popular spot with many people trying to get their picture in front of the fountain.

pineapple fountain Charleston

From the fountain, there is a beautiful, shaded park and walking trail along the harbor. We had another sunny day and enjoyed walking through the park. At the end of the park, we headed into the historic neighborhood filled with colorful 18th century homes. Walking this area is the highlight of a visit to Charleston.

After spending the morning exploring Charleston, we headed to another interesting landmark – Angel Oak. The historic Angel Oak was a great place to visit. The Oak tree is estimated to be over 400 years old. It is 65 feet tall. According to the information at the site, the tree could live to be 1,000 years old. Amazing!

Angel Oak tree

There is no fee to enter. A gift shop is available. If you visit, know that parking is limited. It is located along a narrow gravel road. You may have a hard time finding a place to park a larger vehicle like an RV.

Next time, we’ll try to allow time to visit more attractions on this side of Charleston including the Morris Island Lighthouse, Folly Beach, and the Deep Water Vineyard.

Charleston Day Three: Sullivan’s Island, the Beach, & Fort Moultrie

We really want to enjoy a visit to the beach during our Charleston trip. There are several nice beaches in the area. We opted to head to Sullivan’s Island, a barrier island near the entrance to Charleston Harbor.

Cooper River Coffee Roasters

On our way there, we looked up where to get freshly roasted coffee. Cooper River Coffee Roasters was on the way to the beach, so we made a quick stop. Fresh, locally roasted coffee is always better, and this was a good way to start the day.

We opted to park near the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse. This is a very unique lighthouse. Rather than having a round shape like most lighthouses, Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse is triangular. It was completed in 1962 and is 140 feet tall. It isn’t open for tours. There were a few parking spaces on the street with easy access to the beach.

Sullivan's Island Lighthouse

Sullivan’s Island has a large beach. It is three miles long and very wide. We enjoyed walking from the lighthouse to Fort Moultrie and back.

wide sandy beach on Sullivan's Island

From the beach, we could look out toward Charleston in one direction and toward Fort Sumter in another. During our visit, we saw many jellyfish washed up on the beach.

After a long walk on the beach, we arrived at Fort Moultrie. Fort Moultrie was built around 1776 during the Revolutionary War. It was a log structure with canons. Surprisingly, the fort was able to survive an attack by British troops and do significant damage to the fleet.

The fort was later improved and strengthened. It played a significant role in the Civil War. After Union troops moved to Fort Sumter, Confederate troops took over Fort Moultrie and used it to bombard them. There is a nice display of historic cannons outside the Fort.

historic cannon display at Fort Moultrie

Fort Moultrie is managed by the National Park Service. To visit the inside of Fort Moultrie or park here requires a small fee.

On our way from the beach, we noticed a nice looking town area with several restaurants. We’ll have to check them out next time we visit Sullivan’s Island.

Melvin’s Barbeque

While we didn’t get to enjoy as much food in Charleston as we would have liked, we did get to try one local favorite – Melvin’s Barbeque. We ordered the special of the day which included BBQ, hush puppies and the largest onion rings we have ever seen. These onion rings are as big as donuts and are very tasty. Of course, we had to try the freshly made banana pudding too.

Barbeque, hush puppies, and onion rings at Melvin's BBQ

Melvin’s has been in business since 1939. There are several Melvin’s locations. We visited the one in Mount Pleasant.

Charleston SC YouTube Video

Check out our Three Fun Days in Charleston YouTube video where we show some of the must do attractions in Charleston, SC.

Erling and Judy share must do Charleston attractions


We enjoyed three fun days in Charleston, SC. We were able to hit some of the best attractions in the area but we couldn’t get to them all. What is your favorite thing to do in Charleston? We’d love some tips for next time we visit. Please leave us a comment.

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