Ports US Ports Things to Do in Charleston, SC Before Your Cruise

Things to Do in Charleston, SC Before Your Cruise

charleston sc things to do
Charleston, South Carolina, USA at Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

Going on a cruise out of Charelston, SC?  This article will give you some great ideas for things to do near the Port of Charleston before (or after) your cruise vacation.

Charleston, South Carolina has been a travel hotspot for many decades. Travelers and tourists flock there all year long to enjoy the culture, food, and charm you can only find in South Carolina.

The Port of Charleston has been a popular freight port transporting goods since the late 1600s, but it wasn’t till around 1973 when the first cruise terminal was established.

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In 2010, a brand new terminal was built to replace the original one. That terminal is located at Union St. and is still the only cruise terminal available to date.

Carnival Cruise Line currently uses the Charleston Cruise Terminal as homeport for Carnival Sunshine.  Sunshine offers itineraries to Bermuda, San Juan, and the Bahamas.

Other cruise lines visit Charleston as a port of call, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Scenic, TUI, Silversea, Windstar, Aida, Seabourn, and Saga.

Whether you’re visiting Charleston, SC as your homeport or as port of call, you might be curious about what there is to do in the city. You’re in luck, as there are numerous restaurants, attractions, and shore excursions in Charleston that you simply must take advantage of while you’re there.

Below we’ve compiled a list for you of our suggestions of what to do while you’re in Charleston.

things to do in charleston sc

Restaurants in Charleston, SC

It doesn’t matter if Charleston is your homeport, or you’re stopping in for a shore excursion. Chances are, you are going to be hungry. And even if you’re not, you’d be missing out if you didn’t take the chance to sample some of the local fare while you’re in town.

Here’s a list of some of the top restaurants located near the cruise port.

1. Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar

Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar is the closest restaurant to the cruise terminal, making it a prime spot for any cruise traveler to eat at.

If you decide to eat outside on the wrap-around-deck, you’ll have a great view of the port and ships while you dine.

The restaurant serves mainly Southern seafood favorites, but they also have salad, burgers, porkchops, and more. If you’re there on Saturday or Sunday between 11am and 3pm, they serve a tasty brunch menu including Pulled BBQ Pork, Pan Roasted Crab Cake, and Crème Brulee French Toast.

They strongly request to make reservations before coming to the restaurant, especially on nights and weekends. You can book online or call them at 843-722-8100.

  • Address: 186 Concord St, Intersection of Concord and Cumberland, Charleston, SC 29401
  • Phone number: 843-722-8100
  • Website: http://fleetlanding.net

2. Tabbuli Grill

Right across the street from the Port of Charleston is Tabbuli Grill, which serves both Greek, Mediterranean, and American inspired food.

Go simple with a classic gyro, kofta burger, American burger, or grilled chicken club. Or order from one of their Mezze options which includes hummus, masabaha, babaganoush, and more.

They also serve a large selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options for those with varied diets.

Pair any food you order with a nice glass of wine and allow you taste buds to enjoy every bite.

  • Address: 6 N Market St, Charleston, SC 29401
  • Phone number: 843-628-5959
  • Website: http://tabbuli.com

3. Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill

If you’re looking for a meatier menu to order from, right next door to Tabbuli Grill is Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill. this American Steakhouse serves steaks, fish, shrimp, and more. They also provide gluten free options.

All foods and ingredients are locally grown and sourced, and then grilled to absolute perfection. To drink, order from a vast menu of beers, wines, and cocktails.

Make sure you leave room for their Charleston S’mores, a unique dessert treat made using benne wafer, peanut butter mouse, chocolate, honey marshmallow, and butterscotch.

4. Grill 225

Still hungry for steak? Make a dinner reservation at Grill 225 and enjoy their fine dining atmosphere while you eat some of the best 100% USDA Prime Beef Steaks in Charleston. Or order their delicious seafood, all caught in both local and international waters and grilled just for you.

If you’re not a meat lover, don’t fret. They also have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options including a Vegan Cassoulet and Roma Tomato Pie.

5. Slightly North of Broad

Sample some of the best local cuisine at this Lowcountry bistro found just down the road from the cruise port. Affectionally called SNOB, the atmosphere and environment are actually quite warm and friendly.

They get all of their food from local farmers and fishermen, making this restaurant an integral part of the local community.

If you really want to feel like a part of the family and eat some delicious foods you’ll only find in Charleston, be sure to stop in at Slightly North. They have plenty of seafood, as well as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.

6. Revival

Fancy something a little upscale with a pleasant atmosphere? Make your lunch or dinner reservation at Revival, a modern restaurant with relaxed dining, excellent service, and delicious seafood.

Though their dinners and entrees are quite delicious, we’ve been told by many that the appetizers are where the real magic is, especially the She Crab Soup.

Start with the soup, then move on to Lowcountry Pirlou, Pan Seared Grouper, or Breast of Duck Au Poivre. then finish off with a Layered Chocolate Trifle or Cirsea Gelato.

7. Kilwins Chocolate and Ice Cream

Did you already have dinner? How about some dessert? Kilwins Chocolate and Ice Cream, which is only 0.2 miles from the cruise port, has all the sweets you could possibly want and more.

Choose from any flavor of candied or caramel apples, hand crafted truffles, fudge, and ice cream using their own recipes. The possibilities are endless, and there is plenty here to satisfy any sweet tooth.

And the best part is, if you really love the desserts they make, there are other locations scattered all over most of the east coast.

cruise ship in port of charleston

Things to See & Do in Charleston, SC

Once your bellies are full of good food, why not walk it off by exploring some of the nearby attractions? There are several museums and exhibits, beaches, and shopping markets to visit. Or just take a stroll through the town and do some sightseeing.

There are plenty of things to do before, after, or during your cruise. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best activities and tours to take part in.

8. Charleston Harbor Tours

If already planned to go on a cruise isn’t enough, why not book a harbor tour? The basic tour runs 2-4 times a day for 90 minutes, and on some nights there is even an evening tour.

See over 75 landmarks and points of interest around Charleston while also getting a rundown of facts and history pertaining to each one.

Tour only costs $28 per person. They also have city tours by carriage ride, plantation tours, graveyard tours, and more.

9. Fort Sumter

fort sumter in charleston sc

If you took the Charleston Harbor Tour, you likely saw Fort Sumter from the boat and learned a brief history about the place where the shorts that started the Civil War were first fired.

Take a ferry out to the island of Fort Sumter and get a much more in-depth history lesson about this popular landmark. See the original cannons, still intact, along with various other historic treasures.

10. Middleton Place

Middleton Place is a National Historic Landmark where the Middleton family once lived, centuries ago, along with the slaves they owned.

It is now a museum, working stable yard, garden, restaurant, hotel, and more where anyone can come and shop, eat, sleep, and learn a bit about some of Charleston’s history.

11. Sullivan’s Island

sullivan's island charleston sc

Just off the harbor is a charming little island called Sullivan’s Island. It’s only about 3.3 miles across, but that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer.

Take a short ferry ride to the island and you’ll find a welcoming little town filled with boutiques, waterfront restaurants, and more. Don’t forget about the beach, where you can surf, kayak, or fish.

Make sure you also have your camera with you so you can remember this hidden gem even after you leave.

12. Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

This children’s museum is a non-profit organization that invites families and children’s of all backgrounds to come visit. The many environments there fosters imagination and curiosity by letting the children play.

Children can learn about the basics of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) through art, learn the importance of moving and physical activity, or become a prince or princess at the Medieval Creativity Castle.

They offer various interactive activities, field trips, and camps for all ages. Admission is $12 for out-of-towners, $10 for SC residents, and all children under 12 months are free.

  • Price: $12 ($10 for SC residents)
  • Address: 25 Ann St, Charleston, SC 29403
  • Phone number: 843-853-8962
  • Website: http://explorecml.org/

13. South Carolina Aquarium

If you want to take some time to see aquatic wildlife up close and personal, come to the South Carolina Aquarium for a visit.

They have alligators, trout, horseshoe crabs, sea horses, sharks, and so much more. You can visit various exhibits and see otters, gorgeous tropical birds, and turtle habitats. Take your children to the touch tank and get to see and feel hermit crabs, sea urchins, starfish, and sting rays.

Anyone young and old with a fascination for life under the waves will enjoy visiting and exploring.

  • $29.95 (age 13 and up), $22.95 (age 3-12), Members and Toddlers visit for free
  • Address: 100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401
  • Phone number: 843-577-FIS (3474)
  • Website: https://scaquarium.org

14. Go Shopping at King Street or Charleston City Market

charleston city market for shopping

Of course, you can’t possibly leave Charleston without taking some souvenirs with you. Although photographs can hold many fun memories, having something tangible to bring home with you is just as memorable.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of places to shop in downtown Charleston. The most popular are King Street and the Charleston City Market.

King Street is overflowing with clothing boutiques (and not the cheap stuff, either), eclectic music stores, bookstores, antique shops, and so much more. And depending on when you visit, you might find yourself in the middle of a festival!

Charleston City Market is located between North Market Street and South Market Street. The series of buildings it is housed in were originally built in the early 1800s, and have been used as the city’s public market ever since.

15. The Battery

Take a leisurely stroll down The Battery and enjoy the line of gorgeous mansions as you walk past. This is a time to relax and enjoy the friendly southern air you can only find in South Carolina.

Many locals will tell you that The Battery is a must-visit when you’re in Charleston. Originally constructed in 1750 and then remodeled almost a century later, it’s the perfect place for those scenic photographs you’ve been wanting.

what to do in port of charleston

Conclusion on Things to Do in Charleston, SC

It doesn’t matter if Charleston is your homeport of port of call. There is plenty to do in Charleston, SC, and most of it is just a stone’s throw from the cruise terminal.

Have lunch, dinner, or dessert at some of the top restaurants and bars, then go sightseeing or shopping. Visit numerous museums that tell Charleston’s rich history, or take the kids to the aquarium.

You certainly won’t be lacking for anything to do in Charleston, SC, so allow yourself to take advantage of what the city has to offer.
Things to Do in Charleston, SC Before Your Cruise

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