Charleston, S.C., is known for its historical significance, beautiful architecture and rich culture. Founded in 1670 as Charles Town, the community began as a large plot of land that King Charles II of England gifted to a group of settlers. It emerged as a major port city by the late 18th century. When the Civil War erupted in 1861 (the first shots were fired across the bay at Fort Sumpter),
Charleston was an important city that the Union and Confederates battled over. The list of amazing facts about “The Holy City” continues from there. Considering the vast history of Charleston, it’s no surprise that the city is home to some of the nation’s most unique museums and historic properties.
So whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast or just looking for some good family fun, make the most of your trip by visiting one or all of these five museums. And if you fall in love with the area, you can always put down some roots and look for beautiful Charleston, Folly Beach or Mount Pleasant homes for sale.
1. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
Just across the Charleston Harbor, The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is a one-of-a-kind collection of military history that includes artifacts from across the globe. Patriots Point is known as one of the most visited museums in Charleston, and it is easy to see why.
The museum has a wide variety of exhibits, including displays of military aircraft, the Medal of Freedom Museum, a submarine museum and the USS Yorktown, an actual—and allegedly haunted—aircraft carrier used in World War II. Brave visitors can even book a ghost tour of the vessel and visit areas typically restricted to the public.
Patriots Point has a modest entry fee, but the experience is well worth the price. The museum is also child-friendly; children under six get in for free. Whether you’re a history buff or just interested in the local culture, it’s one of the most amazing experiences in the Charleston area.
2. Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
Located at the College of Charleston, the Halsey Institute of Art is a fantastic place to see contemporary exhibitions. Named for artist and Charleston Native William Halsey, the first Studio Art teacher at the College. You can expect to be inspired when you visit the Halsey Institute of Art.
On top of hosting as many as seven art exhibits a year, Halsey offers artist lectures, film screenings and the Biblioteca—a nonlending library full of rare books, artist monographs and books on strange topics.
The museum is committed to supporting young artists and the community through public education programs. As a result, the exhibits often come with extensive educational programmings, such as guided tours, after-school programs and more. The best part? The Halsey Institute is free to visit!
3. Mace Brown Museum of Natural History
Also located at the College of Charleston, the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History is perfect for plants and animal lovers. Located in the Department of Geology and Environment Geosciences and run by undergraduate students, this fascinating museum displays over 1,000 fossils. Visitors can see the reconstructed jaw of a megalodon, dinosaur bones and fossil plants, among many other items.
4. Charleston Museum
Founded on the eve of the American Revolution, the Charleston Museum is known as America’s first museum. Scholars considered the Charleston Museum’s Ethnological and Zoological collections some of the best in the world during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Today, the museum has various collections, historical artifacts, decorative arts and an armory. Visitors can learn the story of Charleston through the site’s exhibits. The Charleston Museum is also an active research museum, working as much to discover and catalog the future as they are preserving collections of the past.
But it’s not just a place for older history enthusiasts — families will enjoy it too. For example, Kidstory is an exhibit where children can examine creatures under a microscope, listen to stories about the area’s history and play in a “fun-sized” historic mansion. The Charleston Museum will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2023, so there are bound to be even more fun exhibits in the future.
5. Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
The Children’s Museum of Lowcountry is a must-visit if you have little ones. For nearly 20 years, the museum has sparked curiosity and imagination in young kids with hands-on interactive exhibits that teach them about the world in fun and engaging ways. In addition to educational programs, camps and classes, Lowcountry has a water play area, pirate ship, sensory garden and full art studio.
From racing boats down rapids to creating masterpieces in the art room or finding gems under the waterfall, your kids will have a blast (and so will you). Entry fees are very reasonable, and the memories and knowledge your kids will gain are priceless!
Charleston Is Yours to Explore
When you’re done exploring the local museums, you can spend the day enjoying the surf and ocean air. Every day can be a different experience. And if you want to stay a little longer? There are always Charleston and Folly Beach homes for sale, so you can visit these fantastic places any time you want.