Known as the Holy City for its abundance of churches, Charleston has survived devastating hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and two wars fought on its soil. It has basked in prosperity, endured poverty and reinvented itself several times, morphing from a bawdy port town into a cosmopolitan city.
Aquarium Wharf area, Calhoun and East Bay streets: Visitors can sample marine life at the S.C. Aquarium or hitch a boat ride — for a fee — to Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began.
The Battery: A defensive seawall, series of antebellum mansions and White Point Gardens make up the city's signature landmark.
City Hall, 80 Broad St.: Built as a bank, this federal-style landmark serves as the city's memory room but also a place where its future is decided.
City Market, 188 Meeting St.: This tourist attraction once served as the city's grocery store and an extension of its port. Vendors sell everything from sweetgrass baskets to jewelry.
Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St.: Founded in 1773, making it the oldest museum in the country.
College of Charleston, 66 George St.: This picturesque campus serves about 10,000 undergraduates and keeps the city buzzing with youthful energy.
Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park: Better known as “The Joe,” it's home to the Charleston RiverDogs baseball team.
King Street: The city's signature street and center of activity. The lower portion has antiques stores, upscale boutiques and restaurants. Upper King is filled with an eclectic mix of trendy restaurants, nightclubs and shops.
Marion Square: A popular gathering spot at King and Calhoun Streets that plays host to sunbathers, festivals and farmers markets.
Medical University of South Carolina: Founded in 1824, MUSC has grown from a small private college to a massive state university with a medical center.
Rainbow Row, East Bay Street: A historic collection of 18th-century townhomes painted in pastel hues.
Waterfront Park, Vendue Range and Concord Street: Fountains, a pier, swings and beautiful views make this a popular spot.
Exchange Building, 122 East Bay St.: This building, now a museum, once was the city's Custom House, City Hall and even a dungeon.
Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church St.: Created during the Great Depression from several surviving historic buildings, including an old hotel.
Old Slave Mart Museum, 6 Chalmers St.: Once a compound where slaves were housed and sold for a short period just before the Civil War.
Powder Magazine, 79 Cumberland St.: Considered by many to be the oldest surviving public building in the Carolinas, this small brick building also was one of the first Charlestonians preserved for historical reasons.
Denmark Vesey House, 56 Bull St.: This is the property where Denmark Vesey lived as he plotted a major (though ultimately unsuccessful) slave revolt.
Nathaniel Russell House, 51 Meeting St.: One of the city's pre-eminent Neoclassical homes dating from its period of greatest prosperity. A feast for the eyes, inside and out.
Edmondston Alston House, 21 East Battery St.: The view of the harbor from the piazza is worth the price of admission (as is its interior).
Joseph Manigault House, 350 Meeting St.: This two-century-old planter's mansion played a key role in the city's emerging preservation movement almost a century ago.
Aiken Rhett House, 48 Elizabeth St.: The main house is grand, but what's really special here is its surviving set of outbuildings, including a kitchen, carriage house, slave quarters — even the privies.
Heyward Washington House, 87 Church St.: George Washington slept here during his visit. (Its owner at the time, Thomas Heyward, had signed the Declaration of Independence.) Great furniture inside.
Calhoun Mansion, 16 Meeting St.: Built in 1876, this Italianate manor house is the city's largest residence and proves not everyone here was broke after the Civil War.