Home / Travel Guides - Charleston

Let's Explore

Charleston

Romance and Culture in One Historic City

Sean Pavone/iStockphoto.com

Romance and Culture in One Historic City Elegant and cultured, Charleston is one of the South's most romantic places with plenty of things to do. Timeworn cobblestone streets, battered Civil War fortifications and picturesque plantations trigger imaginings of another era, while upscale hotels and places to eat in impeccably restored landmarks offer 21st-century luxuries that keep guests grounded in the present.

MarkVanDykePhotography/iStockphoto.com
Charleston's oldest neighborhoods serve as galleries for a remarkable collection of architectural finery. The Preservation Society of Charleston counts more than 4,800 historic structures within the extensive Old and Historic District, from Colonial-era churches to pastel-hued rowhouses to statuesque mansions. House museums offer intimate glimpses into the lifestyles of early planters, merchants, statesmen—the Charleston elite—and historic inns pamper guests as if they were.

AAA/Thuyvi Gates
Next to its architecture, gardens are Charleston's pride. Everybody has one, whether it's a simple curbside patch or a grand statuary showplace. Public squares and parks bloom with color year-round, and if you're lucky enough to be in town for a spring or holiday tour, you can see the secret world behind iron gates and garden walls. The city that epitomizes Southern gentility receives visitors on vacation graciously and treats them like old friends. Hospitality here is genuine and infectious. By the time you leave Chawl-ston, you'll be talking with a Southern accent and moving at a pace slower than a stroll. And there's nothing wrong with that, ya'll.

Getting There

By CarThe major approach from the north and south is US 17, which angles into the city proper over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from the north and the Ashley River bridges from the south. US 17 cuts directly across the heart of Charleston and provides easy access to all parts of the city. US 17 links with I-526 to bypass the city.

I-26 approaches from the west, terminating at US 17 near the center of Charleston. It provides a link with several important routes, including I-95, another major north-south highway.

SR 61 is a scenic approach paralleling the Ashley River on the west and giving access to several historic plantations. Other important approaches include US 52, which parallels I-26 immediately west of Charleston; SR 41, which traverses the Lowcountry to the north and terminates at US 17 northeast of the city; and US 701, also from the north, which merges with US 17 and terminates in Charleston.

Getting Around

Street SystemCrowded as they are onto a narrow peninsula, most Charleston streets are parallel or perpendicular, and many are narrow or one-way. While a rough grid is evident, the angle of the grid shifts along the dividing line of Beaufain and Hasell streets in the lower part of town.

Several major north-south streets traverse the city. King Street (US 78), one-way heading south below Calhoun Street, and Meeting Street (US 52), a two-way street one block east, run through downtown and the historic districts. E. Bay Street (US 52A) branches off from Meeting Street in the north and winds down the east side, becoming E. Battery Street and then Murray Boulevard as it swings around The Battery. Ashley and Rutledge avenues, a block apart and going one way north and south respectively, connect with the western end of Murray Boulevard.

Major east-west streets that cross all of the above thoroughfares south of the US 17 artery include Calhoun and Broad streets, both going two ways, and Tradd Street, one way eastbound. The speed limit is 30 mph unless otherwise posted.

Unless otherwise posted, a right turn on red and a left turn from a one-way street onto a one-way street are permitted after a complete stop.

ParkingMetered parking at 25 cents for 20 minutes can be found on downtown streets. Downtown meters also accommodate SmartCards, available for purchase from the Charleston Visitor Center at 375 Meeting St. or the Revenue Collections Parking Division office at 180 Lockwood Blvd. SmartCards serve as an alternate form of payment for parking meters. Patrons pay a one-time fee of $5 for the card and can then purchase and charge meter time onto the card. Metered spaces are free after 6 p.m. and on Sundays and official city holidays. Parking garages also are available throughout the area; fees are $1 per half-hour (the maximum daily fee is $16) and may be paid in cash or with a credit card.

Read More

Charleston, SC

AAA Inspected & Approved TOP Hotels

In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.

Sponsored Listing

Members save 5% or more and earn Marriott Bonvoy™ points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Grand Bohemian Hotel Charleston, Autograph Collection

55 Wentworth St. Charleston, SC 29401

AAA Inspector Rating
Book Now
AAA Members

Members save 5% to 15% and earn 10% bonus Best Western Rewards® points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Best Western Plus Airport Inn & Suites

2470 Prospect St. North Charleston, SC 29406

AAA Inspector Rating
Book Now
AAA Members

Members save up to 10% and earn World of Hyatt points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Hyatt Place North Charleston

7331 Mazyck Rd. North Charleston, SC 29406

AAA Inspector Rating
Book Now
AAA Members

Members save up to 10% and earn Honors points when booking AAA/CAA rates!

Hampton Inn & Suites

1104 Isle of Palms Connector. Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

AAA Inspector Rating
Book Now
AAA Members

Travel Information

City Population

130,113

Elevation

10 ft.

Sales Tax

The 9 percent sales tax rate in Charleston consists of 6 percent South Carolina state sales tax, 1 percent Charleston tax and 2 percent special tax. There is no applicable county tax. There is an admissions tax of 5 percent on most amusements and a 2 percent accommodations tax.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(843) 577-7434

Hospitals

Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, (843) 402-1000; MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina), (843) 792-2300; and Roper Hospital, (843) 724-2000.

Air Travel

Most major airlines serve

Rental Cars

Hertz, (843) 767-4554 or (800) 654-3131, is at the airport and offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

The Amtrak train station, (800) 872-7245, is at 4565 Gaynor Ave. in North Charleston.

Buses

Service is provided by Southeastern Stages and Greyhound Lines Inc., (843) 744-4247 or (800) 231-2222, at 3610 Dorchester Rd.

Taxis

Cab companies include Safety Cab, (843) 722-4066; and Yellow Cab, (843) 577-6565. The fare is $5 for all trips that pick up and drop off on the peninsula. A $2 surcharge is added for each additional passenger. Outside of the peninsula, the fare for the first 2 miles is $4 and 35c for each succeeding one-fifth mile. A $1 surcharge is added for each additional passenger. Cabs must be ordered by phone.

Public Transportation

Bus service is provided by Charleston Area Regional Transit Authority (CARTA); phone (843) 724-7420 for information about routes and schedules.

call or visit a AAA Travel Agent Today!

Find a AAA Office

As a AAA member, you'll save even more. Your AAA Travel Agent will check to see if AAA Vacations is combinable with other AAA member benefits, plus cruise and tour past passenger discounts and benefits.

Not a Member?

Join Now