With so much history packed into nearly every street, historic Charleston is a great vacation destination to explore on foot.
The Elliott House Inn, one of Charleston’s most beloved downtown bed and breakfast hotels, is situated right in the heart of Charleston; just a stone’s throw from a bevy of the best historical sites around.
There’s so much to see that it can be tough to know where to begin. That’s why we’ve come up with some great suggested walking tours for our guests. Each tour is designed to help you get the most out of your time in Charleston, SC.
Read below for details:
Market Area Trail
This walking tour takes you to the north and east of our Charleston bed and breakfast, leaving on Queen Street and spanning about half a mile through historic downtown Charleston.
1) Dock Street Theatre135 Church St., Charleston, SC 29401
The Dock Street Theatre was the first theatre set up in the United States solely for theatrical performances. In the early 19th Century it was a hotel named the Planter’s, famous for Planter’s Punch.
2) St. Philip’s Episcopal Church142 Church St., Charleston, SC 29401
St. Philips is the oldest Church congregation in historic Charleston. John C. Calhoun, Vice President of the United States, and Edward Rutledge, youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence are buried there.
3) Pirate’s Courtyard141 Church St., Charleston, SC 29401
Pirates Courtyard is the supposed location of the old Pirates Tavern. Pirates were spread throughout the Carolina coast from the late 17th Century until the 18th Century. The most famous pirate with a connection to Charleston was ” Blackbeard.”
*This hidden courtyard is closer to the Queen Street side of the St. Philips Cemetery.
4) Philadelphia AlleyCumberland Street / Philadelphia Alley, Charleston, South Carolina, 29401
Philadelphia Alley was constructed in 1766 from bricks given to the city by Philadelphia after one of Charleston’s major fires. Also, it was a place where people would duel to settle their disputes.
Harleston Village Trail
This walking tour takes you to the north and west of The Elliott House Inn, leaving on Queen Street and up King Street before spanning about 3/4 of a mile through historic downtown Charleston.
1) Charleston Library Society164 King St., Charleston, SC 29401
From its inception over 260 years ago, the Charleston Library Society has been a cornerstone of intellectual and cultural life in Charleston. Founded in 1748, the library is the third oldest subscription library in the United States. Today it is a center for scholarly research and a modern lending library in the heart of downtown Charleston.
2) Unitarian Church4 Archdale St., Charleston, SC 29401
The Unitarian Church is the oldest of its denomination in the South. A group of dissenters founded this church in 1772. Both the Patriot Army and the British Army used the church for shelter during the American Revolution.
3) St. John Lutheran Church8 Archdale St., Charleston, SC 29401
St. John Lutheran Church is the oldest Lutheran Church in South Carolina. One of America’s first African American ordained ministers was ordained by the Rev. John Bachman, minister of the St. John’s Lutheran Church. Bachman was a world-renowned minister and naturalist.
4) Old City Jail21 Magazine St., Charleston, SC 29401
The Old City Jail was used from 1802-1939. The most notorious criminals housed here where John and Lavina Fischer. Lavina Fischer is said to have been America’s first female serial killer.
5) Old Marine Hospital20 Franklin St., Charleston, SC 29401
The Old Marine Hospital was used by the Jenkins Orphanage. The Jenkins Orphanage was an all African American orphanage that was one of the first to internationally promote Jazz.
South of Broad Trail
This walking tour takes you to the south and west of The Elliott House Inn, leaving on Queen Street and down Legare Street before spanning about 3/4 of a mile through historic downtown Charleston.
1) St. John the Baptist Catholic Church120 Broad St., Charleston, SC 29401
The first church on this site was The Cathedral of St. John and St. Finbair. The first church was destroyed by Charleston’s great fire of 1861. The present structure was opened in 1907. Catholicism found its first home in both the Carolinas and in Georgia at St. Marys on Hassell Street.
2) Swords Gate House32 Legare St., Charleston, SC 29401
The Swords Gate House is famous for the Swords woven throughout the ironwork of the gate. The gates were manufactured by Christopher Werner who also forged the swords in the gates at the Citadel. The Swords Gate House was at one time used as a school for female education.
3) Pineapple Gate House14 Legare St., Charleston, SC 29401
The Pineapple Gate House was constructed in 1800 and was added as a National Historic Landmark in 1973. It is famous for the large Pineapple Gates that symbolize ”Southern Hospitality.”
French Quarter Trail
This walking tour takes you to the south and east of The Elliott House Inn, leaving on Queen Street and down Meeting and Church streets before wrapping back up East Bay Street and spanning about 1.25 miles through historic downtown Charleston.
1) Washington Square Park74 Broad St., Charleston, SC 29401
Washington Square Park was originally known as City Green Park. It was rededicated Washington Square Park in 1882 to commemorate George Washington’s 100th year anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown.
2) South Carolina Historical Archives Building100 Meeting St., Charleston, SC 29401
The South Carolina Historical Archives Building was the first fireproof building in the United States. The building was designed by Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument.
3) St. Michael’s Episcopal Church71 Broad St., Charleston, SC 29401
St. Michael’s is the oldest church structure in Charleston. Pew 43 is known as the famous pew in the church, because George Washington, Robert E Lee, and Princess Diana and Prince Charles sat there. Prior to George Washington being the first President under the Constitution, Henry Laurens and Henry Middleton were Presidents under the Articles of Confederation along with eleven others. Both Henry Laurens and Henry Middleton also attended church at St. Michael’s. John Rutledge and Charles Coatesworth Pinckney are signers of the United States Constitution and are buried here.
4) St. Michael’s Alley100 Meeting St., Charleston, SC 29401
St. Michael’s Alley is an alley where numerous members of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church lived. The most famous was James Petigru, a lawyer that believed that South Carolina should not leave the Union. He was quoted for saying, ”South Carolina is too small to be a republic but too large to be a lunatic asylum.”
5) Bedons Alley10 St. Michael's Alley, Charleston, SC 29401
Bedons Alley boasts many homes from the Victorian Architectural period of Charleston. Bedons Alley had several fires that consumed the alley throughout the mid 19th Century.
6) Zig Zag Alley0 Water St., Charleston, SC 29401
Zig Zag Alley was known for its meandering course and narrow passage. It was at one point called Lightwood Alley, but the name was changed back to Zig Zag Alley in the 1970s.
7) Exchange and Provost122 East Bay St., Charleston, SC 29401
The Exchange and Provost Dungeon was the last building in the American Colonies that was built with British money. During the Revolutionary War the Provost Dungeon was used as a prison for patriots.