There is so much to explore around the Charleston area. But did you know there are several ways you can spend your day without breaking the bank? Whether you are a local or a visitor, there is a free event out there for everyone to enjoy! Here is a budget friendly guide to 10 Fun & Free Things to do in Charleston.
Farmer's Market - Downtown Charleston
The award-winning Charleston Farmer's Market has been around since 1989, and it is the perfect place to go for all of the local goods. Almost every Saturday of the year, Marion Square is filled with local produce, food vendors, artists, entertainment, and more!
📍 Marion Square, 329 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29403
⏰ Saturdays April 13, 2019 until November 30, 2019, 8:00AM - 2:00PM
🎁 Holiday Market - December 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, & 22
Charleston Tea Plantation Factory Tours
The only tea factory in America can be found nestled away on Wadmalaw Island, which is approximately a 40 minute drive from downtown Charleston. Take a free factory tour and learn about the tea making process and the nine special flavors of tea that can be found at the Charleston Tea Plantation, while taking in the beauty of this historical American plantation! Go to the top of the stairs in the gift shop to meet for the tour - tours are run every fifteen minutes on the quarter hour.
📍 6617 Maybank Highway, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487
⏰ Monday - Saturday, 10:00AM - 4:00PM
⏰ Sunday, 12:00PM - 4:00PM
Angel Oak Tree - John's Island
The majestic oak tree on John's Island, the Angel Oak, is estimated to be 400-500 years old and believed to be the oldest living organism east of the Mississippi River. It miraculously has survived the many hurricanes to pass through Charleston, with just a little damage from Hugo that was able to be recovered. It stands over 65 feet tall and outstretches nearly 2,000 square yards - wow! This live oak is beautiful, ancient, and completely free to visit. Head over to John's Island to marvel at this oak and learn about the several hundred years of stories and history behind it!
📍 3688 Angel Oak Road, Johns Island, SC 29455
⏰ Monday - Saturday, 9:00AM - 5:00PM
⏰ Sunday, 1:00PM - 5:00PM
Charles Pinckney Historic Site - Mount Pleasant
Charles Pinckney was a signer of the United States Constitution, 37th South Carolina governor, and plantation owner. His coastal plantation is a National Historic Site that can be visited for no cost. Visitors can walk the grounds of the 715-acre plantation, learn about the life of Charles Pinckey and his slaves, and enjoy exhibits, artifacts, and displays. Make sure to visit on a Saturday in March for the celebrations of the local Gullah culture!
📍 1240 Long Point Road, Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
⏰ Wednesday - Sunday, 9:00AM - 5:00PM
The Citadel Students Parade
The tradition of parading the troops can be witnessed on several Fridays at The Citadel. Parades also take place for special occasions, such as presenting awards or recognizing notable people. Parades are open to the public and free. Click here for a schedule of the parades for each semester.
📍 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29403
⏰ Most Fridays during the school year, 3:45PM
Morris Island Lighthouse - Folly Beach
Head over to the northeast end of Folly Beach to see the Morris Island Lighthouse! You can park in the lot at the end of East Ashley Street and walk about 1/4 mile to the beach for the best view. This lighthouse was built in 1767, but did not survive the Civil War. It was then rebuilt in 1876. Even though it was ordered to close in 1962 and the light has not shined since, it is still a treasured piece of history to locals and visitors.
📍 1750 East Ashley Ave, Folly Beach, SC 29439
⏰ Daily, Sunrise-Sunset
Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art - College of Charleston
This non-profit contemporary art institute in the heart of downtown Charleston showcases the work of emerging artists. The different exhibitions held at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, HICA for short, are open to the public and free to view. Come check out the galleries at HICA, and take a stroll through College of Charleston's beautiful campus after.
📍 161 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29424
⏰ Monday - Wednesday, 11:00AM -4:00PM
⏰ Thursday, 11:00AM - 7:00PM
Charleston Pour House Live Music
Enjoy live music by local and traveling artists at Charleston Pour House! And what's even better than live music? Free live music! Check out the performance schedule below to see which shows are free to attend.
📍 1977 Maybank Highway, Charleston, SC 29412
⏰ Monday -Saturday, 4:00PM - 1:30AM
⏰ Sunday, 11:00AM - 1:30AM
ArtWalks - Downtown Charleston
Charleston is full of talented artists whose work deserves to be recognized - so the Charleston Gallery Association hosts free ArtWalks! Almost 40 galleries with a wide variety of artistic styles, pieces, and genres participate in each ArtWalk. Some galleries will even offer complimentary snacks, drinks, and live music. These events happen four times a year - so make sure you catch one!
📍 Participating Downtown Galleries
⏰ First Friday of March, May, October & December, 5:00PM - 8:00PM
The best way to see Charleston is by foot, and that is an all-day free event! Take a stroll down The Battery and admire the beautiful homes sitting alongside the water. Window shop down King Street where you can see some of the most high-end fashion. Head over to Rainbow Row and the Pineapple Fountain for some great photo opportunities. Get lost in the history, local vendors, and people of the Charleston City Market. Visit the historical churches and graveyards found all over the Holy City. The free sights to see in Charleston are endless!