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Waiting is one of those things we all must do and it can be bothersome. Sometimes the wait is too much and the effort and time spent don’t equal the end prize. But sometimes you get to the end and discover the prize’s value far exceeds the cost of time spent waiting. Charleston, South Carolina is one of those valuable prizes.
This coastal city boasts of Southern charm, exquisite food choices, natural beauty, and intriguing history. So, if you long to visit a place where the locals are known worldwide for their hospitality; a place where you can enjoy some of the finest Southern dishes; or a place where you can tour beaches, gardens, and historical landmarks, then look no further than Charleston. No matter where you come from and how long it takes you to get here, the wait will be worth it.
What is the Best Time to Visit Charleston?
The Four Seasons
Now obviously weather plays an integral part in planning any trip. You will want to know beforehand what the temperature and climate are at your vacation spot because this will make a difference in how you pack and the activities you can plan. While the four seasons can keep some vacationers away from various places during certain times of the year, Charleston is one of those ideally situated locales that is accessible all year round.
This place offers everything from water activities, to historical tours, to romantic walks, and a food lover’s fantasy come true. Each season brings new things for tourists and locals to experience. It is nearly impossible to not find something exciting and interesting to do at any time of the year.
Albeit, there are a few factors to keep in mind when deciding the best time to visit here. In order to do this, we will look through some of the numerous tourist options available during each season and discuss the pros and cons. From this, we will find the best time to visit Charleston, South Carolina.
If you are a temperate person, someone who neither likes the heat nor the cold, then you might the spring to be the best time to visit Charleston. One of the perks of visiting at this time of the year is that the weather will be moderate (60 to 80 degrees) which will make touring a much easier feat.
Another perk for visiting during spring is that there is so much to see and to do. This is the season when flowers are blooming and trees are budding, so if you want to witness these natural beauties wake up from winter hibernation, Charleston is the place to be. This is especially true since they hold an annual Festival of Houses and Gardens during the months of March and April. For lovers of nature, this is not to be missed.
Also, the Charleston Food and Wine Festival is held in March, so this is another perk of visiting during spring. If you are a foodie or a wine connoisseur or just looking to have a good time while munching on something yummy, you are going to want to be in this city for this event.
The temperate weather of spring makes it an excellent time for walking tours. Whether done spontaneous and using one’s own planned route or by joining a tour group, Charleston is a great place to take to the streets for site seeing. Tours could include everything from browsing local street art to walking through an antebellum plantation. The possibilities are numerous.
So, it turns out that spring is an ideal time to visit Charleston because of its beauty, its food, and its moderate climate; unfortunately, there are a few disadvantages to visiting at this time of the year. Since nature comes out to play in such a lovely way during spring, so do all the tourists.
spring is definitely the busiest time of the year for Charleston’s tourist industry. That means you will be competing for hotel, restaurant, and site reservations throughout your visit. This also means you will find crowds wherever you go. Plus, it means you will be paying a higher rate for a hotel room, especially if you visit close to Easter.
There are ways to avoid the crowds, at least a little. Try booking your visit during the week instead of the weekend. Also, reserve your hotel room, restaurant table, and site tickets in advance. At least you will be guaranteed to get in and may avoid standing in lines to pay for a ticket.
These disadvantages, however, should not deter you from a visit in spring. If you have looked at the perks of a spring visit and have decided that those are the reasons why you would visit Charleston, then do so. You will be making an informed decision.
Known for its heat and humidity, Charleston’s summer can seem like a thing to avoid. In actuality, the summer weather opens up more tourism opportunities. This is the time to get to one of the many beaches in the surrounding areas.
So many beaches surround this city and make themselves ideal little oases for the sun-starved. If you love the salt and the sea, this is the time to visit.
On top of access to so many wonderful beaches, the summer weather also offers a performing arts festival called the Spoleto Festival. So, if you are a fan of the sun and the arts, this may be the best time for you to visit.
The disadvantages of visiting during the summer are obvious. The weather is not mild. The temperatures are scorching and range between the upper 80’s and the low 90’s. Plus, the humidity is just around 100 percent. Then there is the rainy month of August and the influx of bugs that may deter you from a visit.
But these disadvantages may not be negative to you. You may enjoy the hot sun because the beaches make it worthwhile. Rain and bugs may not be a bother since umbrellas and bug spray can counter their effects. If you find nothing negative about summers in Charleston, then go, and enjoy every warm and sultry moment.
There is nothing quite like Charleston in the autumn. During the months of September through November, the city holds food festival after food festival in the warm, idyllic weather. Cooling temperatures break through the balmy summer heat and remain temperate until late November when winter blows in.
If you happened to miss the Charleston Food and Wine Festival held in the spring, don’t worry, because this foodie oasis will not leave you famished. Charleston Restaurant Week and the Taste of Charleston are held each autumn. These events are sure to please the discriminating palates vacationing at this time.
The downside of planning your visit here during the autumn months is that, once and again, the weather and the events are a magnet for the crowds. Tourism peaks again as will the busyness and prices of the city sites.
Of course, if cool autumn weather is your cup of tea and you enjoy delectable foods along with that tea, then no number of crowds or raised prices will ever stop you from enjoying Charleston. The beauty of travel is that it is for the individual soul. So, go, drink and eat to your heart’s desire.
If avoiding crowds is essential to you when traveling, then visiting Charleston in the winter months is going to be the best plan. Fortunately, the winter season is mild enough here that there is still plenty to do and to see.
The most noteworthy thing to participate in is the Holiday Festival of Lights. This event takes place from November to January and then again around February. Due to its beauty and the romantic feel it exudes, tourism does peak when the festival is in session.
What may be negative about visiting during the winter is that the temperatures are chillier and does keep some of the normal outdoor activities from running. However, the lack of extremes in Charleston’s winter weather does mean that tourism is still an option, and therefore, many events and sites are up and running.
Attractions in Charleston
If season doesn’t drive your desire to travel, perhaps the fantastic things to do in and around Charleston will. There are plenty of family friendly activities, a lot of nightlife, and even some budget-friendly options. If you’re more interested in what there is to do rather than what the weather might be like, then let’s have a look.
Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
If the waterfront is your cup of tea, so to speak, check out this museum in Mount Pleasant, located in the harbor. Come aboard this real aircraft carrier for hands-on history lesson. You can take a tour, get flight lessons, host your own event, and even sleep on board.
You’ll experience what it’s like to be on board a battleship, how the aircraft take off from the deck, and what active duty looks like up close and personal. Active duty military personnel in uniform get in free, so if this is you, don’t forget about this budget-friendly activity!
Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim
This is one of the oldest congregations in the United States. It’s a Jewish synagogue with beautiful architecture, rich history, and an active church family. Come worship or simply come for a tour. It’s a great educational opportunity for people to learn about reform Judaism and observe memorabilia from the eighteenth century.
The Old Slave Mart Museum
The coolest thing about The Old Slave Mart Museum is that most of the staff can trace their ancestry back to the slaves of Charleston when they came from Africa. This is the first African-American Museum in the United States, where almost half of the slaves coming to this country entered.
It’s an eerie spot full of sad history and is better suited for adults who take an interest in African-American history. There is a lot of reading and very few artifacts, but the structure itself is enough to take you through the journey of a slave.
Built in 1859, it is the oldest remaining slave auction gallery in the state and was used only briefly before the end of the Civil War. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a fantastic piece of history.
If you enjoy being out in the open air and fancy some exercise, you can try one of the many walking tours that Charleston has to offer. If you’re a history buff, check out the Historic Charleston Walking Tour. You’ll engage with a guide who shares stories from a rich past while watching history come to life in downtown Charleston. Admire parks and buildings while learning how to enjoy Charleston like a local.
If mysterious hauntings get you excited, check out one of the many haunted walking tours including The Spirits of Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston Ghost & Graveyard Walking Tour, Charleston Haunted Jail Tour, Charleston Ghost & Dungeon Walking Tour, Haunted Arsenal Tour, or Haunted Yorktown Tour.
Circa 1886 Restaurant
Charleston has more than enough food to fill your belly. The stunning greenery that surrounds the entrance to Circa 1886 Restaurant sets the tone for the gorgeous ambiance that awaits. From preserved rabbit starters to squash cake dessert, you’ll enjoy a unique dining experience.
Don’t miss out on the menu that features a melting pot of flavors from Charleston’s rich history. Items like shrimp and rice grits from Africa, foie gras from Europe, and southern grilled cheese from the South Carolina of today will make your mouth water in anticipation.
For more than your ordinary middle school walking tour, Uprising Charleston is a must-see. It follows the life of Denmark Vesey, a former slave who bought his own freedom and went on to lead one of the biggest slave rebellions this country ever saw.
He was a martyr in the eyes of slaves and nearly destroyed the entirety of the slave trade in Charleston, which was the largest hub of slave importing in the United States at the time. He was an intellectual and a freedom fighter who many have never heard of but will be inspired by after the conclusion of this one of a kind tour.
The Cocktail Club
The Cocktail Club offers up a full serving of swanky, prohibition-era nightlife. Enjoy superior cocktails and appetizers to die for, before hitting the rest of the town. Go on a slow weeknight to gain entry easier. The rooftop deck features more space for drinks in the garden. If you like what you taste here, join them for cocktail making classes to learn how to source the best herbs and accouterments and mix up your own drinks at home.
The Vendue Rooftop
For a touch of romance in your nightlife, this rooftop space is known for unforgettable scapes like the spectacular East Bay Stree architecture or the marvelous Charleston Harbor. The classic beauty, fantastic hospitality, and cultivated art will provide the backdrop for an evening you won’t soon forget.
This classy locale is only open until midnight, so you can start here before you move on to more lively activities after watching the sunset on the horizon.
For an unconventional way to spend your evening, enjoy good company, dancing, and a drag show at the Cure Nightclub. They have the best music, the most vivacious atmosphere, and an LGBT epicenter that welcomes everyone, as long as you’re 18 years old or older.
Whether you’re drinking top-shelf mixes or the house liquor doesn’t matter here. They’re open until well past midnight, so come on any weekend night for a famous show and no cover on Sunday. Sometimes local talent is the best you’ll ever see.
Wind down your evening at Edmund’s Oast, for a huge selection of draft beers and the best dessert in town. Of course, you can always enjoy appetizers like charcuterie and cheese plates, entrees like a catch of the day, and frequent menu changes to keep it fresh.
The chef excels at attention to detail, which you will see with every order. Edmund’s Oast boasts the largest selection of local and foreign brews in town, so beer nerds unite to have a great, relaxing time at this joint. It’s a challenge to find a spot sometimes, so you know it must be good.
So What Are You Waiting For?
Charleston, South Carolina offers its visitors so much all year round and it is a difficult task to say that one time of the year is the absolute best time for anyone and everyone to visit. Travelers vacation in certain places for reasons all their own. Vacations are personal experiences and should be planned out and implemented based on those who are going.
If you are someone who vacations to get away from the crowds, then visiting Charleston during the summer or winter months will be the best option. However, if you vacation in order to participate in local activities and culture, then visiting Charleston during the spring or autumn months will be the best. All this being said, we still must conclude that one season offers a better time, even if slightly.
The Best Time to Visit Charleston, South Carolina – Final Thoughts
It seems that the overall best time to visit, especially when weather drives your vacation activities, is the spring. With its beauty, its activities, and its moderate temperature, it offers the tourist the most satisfying time of all the four seasons.
However, as you can tell by now, there’s plenty to do in any season and you won’t want to wait to visit Charleston at any time during the year. Go for a visit in any season. It will be a most memorable trip.