You can visit Charleston any time of the year. However, winter stands out because of the oyster season and the city’s food and wine festival. Plus, the cold weather makes it a great time to try out some of the local cuisines, such as the Lowcountry’s soups and stews. If you’re looking for historic downtown Charleston rentals or a house for sale in Mount Pleasant, SC, winter can be an ideal time to house hunt and visit the city at the same time. Here are things to do in Charleston, SC in winter.
1. Visit Historic Charleston and Downtown
Visiting historic Charleston should definitely top your list. You can visit the area any time of the year. However, the summer crowds will be gone if you head there in the winter. Discover the city with a narrated walking tour or take a self-guided tour. You can also walk across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, which is a 2.5-mile bridge that connects Charleston to Mount Peasant.
For history lovers, take a 30-minute boat ride to Charleston Harbor and visit Fort Sumter. The first shots of the Civil War were fired from the fort on April 12, 1861. If you’d like to pack in more history, visit Boone Hall Plantation, where you can see slave cabins. Or check out Middleton Place, which was established in the 1730s. Besides seeing the interior, you’ll want to stroll through the gardens, which are listed as America’s oldest landscaped gardens.
If the weather feels too nippy, duck inside and spend hours in the South Carolina Aquarium or visit the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum.
Charleston’s downtown neighborhoods are all quite unique, and the only way to truly appreciate them is to stroll down specific streets. Start with King Street, which has 400 blocks. The street is divided into Upper King and Lower King. Upper King is where you want to be if you’re looking for contemporary designs. Lower King is where you’ll find antiques.
If you love fine art, head to Gallery Row on Broad Street. There are about 15 galleries just on this street alone. You can find additional galleries on the side streets. Looking for something quaint? Chalmers Street has cobblestones and is the location of the first African-American slave museum, the Old Slave Mart Museum. The building was opened on July 1, 1856. For something quintessentially Charleston, walk down East Bay Street. That’s where you’ll find Rainbow Row, a row of gorgeously painted houses. Finally, check out the winding gardens on Legare Street.
2. Explore Charleston’s Cuisine
The Lowcountry has incredible cuisine, and winter is the perfect time to spend hours in various restaurants. As Charleston sits on the coast, seafood reigns supreme in much of the city’s local dishes. Look for She-Crab soup at a local restaurant. She-Crab soup is made from female crabs and is a creamy, bisque soup that’s perfect for a cold winter day. Alongside your soup, order cornbread which is a favorite here as well.
Another dish that makes a perfect winter dish is Frogmore stew. No, it’s not made out of frogs. Frogmore stew combines corn on the cob, potatoes, shrimp and sausage.
You can’t pass up shrimp and grits, which you’ll see on many menus in Charleston! Each restaurant makes its grits a little differently, so it’s best to research each restaurant’s signature style and find your own preference.
Finally, your visit to Charleston isn’t complete if you haven’t tried the fried green tomatoes. These warm, fried tomatoes come straight from the skillet. Order them as an appetizer before you dig into your soup, stew or grits.
3. Enjoy Charleston’s Oyster Season
Oyster season around the world is from September to April, and in Charleston, you’ll find Eastern Oysters. You can have raw oysters at a raw bar or have them roasted. Alternatively, there are fried oysters, too.
Oyster festivals spring up throughout the winter, which makes it a fun time to go out oyster tasting. There’s the Lowcountry Oyster Festival at the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens, as well as tons of Oyster Roast events. Prefer dining? There are plenty of casual and fine-dining restaurants that serve oysters.
4. Attend the Charleston Wine + Food Festival
If you want to visit Charleston during a specific event, try the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, which takes place at the end of winter. There are five days of food and wine events held at The Culinary Village, and you can purchase tickets for one day or all five days.
You’ll get to try cuisine from hundreds of chefs, whether it’s fine dining or casual. You’ll also get to taste wines, beers, and spirits. For more hands-on events, there will be food classes and workshops for foodies and wine lovers. If you’re planning on heading to this event, buy your tickets early. This event often sells out months in advance.
5. Attend the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition
Another specialized event to attend in winter is the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. If you love anything to do with wildlife, you can attend exhibits, find fine art pieces that celebrate the outdoors, see sporting demonstrations and attend social gatherings. Watch events like a sheep and duck herding demonstration, a retriever hunting demonstration and puppet shows for the little ones. The event takes place in February.
If you’re looking for a house for sale in Charleston or just looking to go on a vacation, take the time to visit the city to see what it offers. Charleston is rich in history and culture and has so much to offer. Once you spend some time exploring the city, you’ll understand why so many people have voted it their favorite city.