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Free Museums & Attractions in Charleston

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FREE Adventures in Charleston

Please be sure to contact these museums and locations prior to driving down there. Because of Covid, their hours of opperation may be different.

Also, while these locations are FREE, some locations may accept donations.

  • Angel Oak Tree 

  • Magnolia Cemetery

  • Citadel Parade

  • Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center

    • This Museum filled with the history from the times and lives of Charlestonians during the Civil War period. It is located at Liberty Square next to the SC Aquarium on Calhoun St, off of East Bay St

  • Charleston Tea Plantation

  • Mace Brown Museum of Natural History

    • located inside the College of Charleston School of Sciences and Mathematics Building at 202 Calhoun Street on the 2nd floor. This museum holds more than 3000 fossil specimens. You can even watch them in the lab, cleaning and assembling skeletons. 

  • Postal Museum -

    •  located on the corner of Meeting & Broad St. inside the US Post Office. This museum holds a small collection of items related to postal history. The museum is open M-F 9a-5p  Please note, you need to walk through the customer area of the post office to get to the museum. Please be quiet and respectful of the postal workers and the customers. 

  • Karpeles Manuscript Museum

  • The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art-

    •  located at 161 Calhoun St. This museum rotates many different artist’s exhibitions throughout the year. Check out their website for current and upcoming exhibits. http://halsey.cofc.edu/  

  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site

  • The Gateway Garden Walk-

    •  “Established in 1930 and maintained by the Garden Club of Charleston, this walkway passes through several historicwalkways and cemeteries in downtown Charleston. It begins near the west cemetery of Saint Philip's Episcopal Church. The pathway continues into the graveyard of the Circular Church, and then across Meeting Street to the path on the north side of the Gibbes Museum, and into its sculpture courtyard. Continuing past the Charleston Library Society, across King Street, it goes into the yard of the Unitarian Church. Finally, it passes through the cemetery of Saint John's Lutheran Church. This is a great way to see some of Charleston's old churches, graveyards, and museums. As the name implies, there are indeed quite a few gateways along the way.”

  • Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture

    • This museum offers a look at African American History & Culture. It is located on 125 Bull St. The museum is open for guided tours; 

  • The Best Friend of Charleston Train Museum

    • 36 John St (behind Children’s Museum)

  • Piccolo Spoleto Festival

  • Philip Simmons Museum House & Workshop- 

    • 30 ½ Blake St

    • Philip Simmons was an amazing iron works artisan. He created many of the famous gates seen in historic Charleston. He also has a piece on exhibit in the Smithsonian in Washington DC.

  • Macaulay Museum of Dental History & Waring Historical Library-

    •  175 Ashley Ave, MSC 403

  • Redux Contemporary Art Museum- 

    •   136 St Philip St, Charleston, SC 29403

  • US Customs House

  • The Pirate’s Courtyard 

    • It is believed the pirates and smugglers met at this location and traded their goods. The courtyard can be accessed through a small gate and narrow walkway located between the Pirate houses that takes you to the courtyard. (141-145 Church St) and the St. Phillips Church Cemetery. Yes, it is open to the public. 

  • The City Gallery at Waterfront Park - 

    • is located on Prioleau St. This is an art museum featuring local, regional, national, and international artists. The museum is owned by the City of Charleston and is free to visit. There is an exhibit running at this time. It is based on the history of Charleston City Design. It will be running through Oct 18thThe museum is open T-F 10a-5p, S & Su 12-5pm. Museum is only open during exhibits. The Gallery is handicap accessible, through an elevator located on the street side, under the main staircase on the right side of the building. 

  • Washington Square 

    • located on a different corner of Meeting & Broad St. This is a beautiful park filled with live oaks, beautiful iron work, and architectural aspects. 

  • The Fireproof Building 

    • is located at 100 Meeting St., at the corner of Chalmers St. This is the oldest fireproof constructed building in the USA. It was designed by Charleston native architect, Robert Mills. He also designed the Washington Monument. The Fireproof Building was completed in 1827.

  • One, of many, original cobblestone streets is Gillon St. If you walk down the street you will find there are two different types of stones. The round stones are true cobblestones. The rectangular stones are ballast stones. Ships would use these stones to keep their ships well balanced while they crossed the Atlantic from Europe. After arriving in Charleston, they would unload the ballast and fill their ships with cargo, which provided the same balance affect. Charlestonians used the discarded ballast stones to pave their streets.  

  • Find the Old Bastion Markers 

    • In Charleston’s early days, between the 1690s and 1730s, the Spanish, French, and Native Americans posed a real threat to the persistence of the fledgling colony. What do humans do when they want to shore up their defenses? They build a wall around themselves. Running roughly along the rectangle formed between Meeting and East Bay streets and sided by Cumberland and Water streets, bronze markers now note where the fort-like walls once stood. Walk the old walls and try to find all eight bastion markers, then duck into the cellar of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon for a peek at a portion of the wall visible to the public.