Charleston is a historic tourist town located on the southeastern coast of the United States. Often referred to as the “Holy City,” Charleston is the perfect getaway destination for those who enjoy touring historic landmarks, museums, and gorgeous architecture. Moreover, visitors can spend an evening swimming with dolphins, kayaking, and canoeing, as well as enjoying a sail on a Schooner ship, or visiting the South Carolina Aquarium, which is home to over 5,000 animals. Vacation rentals range from spacious homes with private pools and saunas to furnished condos and apartments near the center of town. Book a stay at one of many Charleston vacation rentals today. Without further ado, check out the best neighborhoods in and around Charleston.

1. James Island, South Carolina

mcleod plantation
Source: Flickr/mogollon_1

Experience true southern hospitality and charm when you visit James Island. Deep blue waters, beautiful beaches, and many blossoming gardens make this spot a picturesque location for vacation rentals. Go zip-lining through the forest canopy, or take a tour through the McLeod Plantation historic site where you can step back to pre-Civil War times. The James Island County Park features an off-leash dog park, a seasonal splash and play fountain for kids, and a picnic spot for grilling out.

2. Folly Beach, South Carolina

folly beach
Source: Flickr/Randy

Folly Beach is a barrier island located just off the coast of Charleston. You’ll find a friendly atmosphere and plenty of laid-back fun for all ages. Sit on the Folly Island pier and fish all day, or head to the beach for surfing or turtle watching. Casual beachfront bars and eateries provide a brief respite from the heat of the day, and the Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve offers self-guided tours that let you explore at your own pace. Whale and dolphin watching remains a popular pastime for travelers and locals alike, or you can treat yourself to a massage and facial at one of the local spas.

3. Johns Island, South Carolina

Source: PixabayRegalShave

Sip coffee from your Johns Island vacation rental and look out over the expansive Atlantic Ocean, spotting cruise ships as they pass by and people watching on the beach below. Pack your to-do list with exciting activities, such as scheduling a fishing charter, taking a private sailing tour along the coast, or renting a kayak and sculling down the Stono River. If you’re looking for more invigorating experiences, Eden Wind Farm offers horseback riding, or you can rent a bike for the day and get some fresh air while exploring the city. Be sure to bring your camera, so you can snap some pictures of the Angel Oak tree, the oldest living tree east of the Mississippi River.

4. North Charleston, South Carolina

Source: Pixabay/Pexels

The northern part of the city of Charleston is ideal if you want a slightly more laid-back atmosphere. Sign up for scuba diving and explore the beauty of the ocean with your family, then spend the evening shopping for bargains at the Tanger Outlet Mall. Riverfront Park, which hosts an annual Fourth of July festival, provides miles of paths for hiking and relaxing, so you can spend a day exploring the outdoors and enjoying a picnic lunch. There are several early American historical landmarks within the park, and a large children’s playground offers beautiful views of the Cooper River and Shipyard.

5. Downtown Charleston, South Carolina

Source: Pixabay/kelijy0

Downtown Charleston is often referred to as the historic district. Here you can sign up for a pirate walking tour to explore the Charleston Pirate history or test your willpower on one of the ghost tours. If you prefer the water, set sail on the Carolina Queen Riverboat for dinner and a concert, or take part in an interactive Murder Mystery cruise. Fort Sumter offers tours that peek into the past where the Civil War began, or you can explore the site on your own. There’s also plenty for the kids to do, as Charleston provides children’s tours, complete with treasure hunts, hands-on activities, and free souvenirs.

6. Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina

Source: Pixabay/jill111

Choose from a variety of beautiful vacation rentals on Wadmalaw Island, including a quaint room, a southern mansion, or a furnished efficiency apartment. In Wadmalaw, you can tour the Charleston Tea Plantation to see how tea is grown and harvested and even sample a cup at the end of your adventure. Sample a glass of vino at the Deep Water Vineyard, or take a trip to the Bears Bluff National Fish Hatchery for a mile-long walk along the water while learning about sturgeon and various other fish that are native to the area.

7. Kiawah Island, South Carolina

kiawa island
Source: Flickr/rjones0856

Enjoy the slower pace of life on Kiawah Island where you can play golf and tennis and take part in a variety of watersports. Go shopping at Freshfields Village shopping mall, or get treated like royalty when you spend the day at the Sanctuary Spa. Night Heron Park lets the animal lovers in your family get a good look at alligators, snakes, birds, and turtles. The park also has a playground for children and nature interpretative center with hands-on exhibits.

8. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

pickett park sunrise
Source: Flickr/Yvette Wilson

Mount Pleasant sits just to the northeast of Charleston, and it’s one of the largest municipalities in in the state. Burn off some calories after dinner with a walk on the wooden bridge in Shem Creek Park, or tour an aircraft carrier, fighter ship, and submarine from World War II at the Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum. There’s dolphin and whale watching, golf, and fishing, and you can even rent a board and learn stand-up paddleboarding.

9. Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina

sullivan island
Source: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

Spend time with the locals of Charleston on Sullivan’s Island. This small residential town provides beach and island front rentals with easy access to all Charleston has to offer. Get out of the sun and walk through the Fort Moultrie Museum. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fort Moultrie has a host of artifacts, and a 22-minute film is shown every hour on the history of the area. Climb to the top of the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse and see the beautiful views of the coast from above or travel to the Edgar Allan Poe Library where the famous poet lived while he wrote “The Raven.”

10. Dewees Island, South Carolina

big driftwood
Source: Flickr/Barb & Dean Russ & Williams

Tucked away on the edge of the Atlantic just north of Charleston, Dewees Island is one of South Carolina’s best-kept secrets. Choose from pet-friendly vacation rentals directly on the beach, or travel slightly inland and grab a comfortable home on a quiet street. When you want to cool off, head to the Dewees Island shaded salt-chlorinated swimming pool to take a dip. Six Pipes is a quiet place to go fishing, or you can grab a bite to eat at one of the island’s restaurants.

11. Goose Creek, South Carolina

goose creek
Source: Flickr/Tom Austin

Goose Creek is the perfect place for families. Show your family a beautiful piece of history by visiting St. James Church, which is a stunning, Georgian-style attraction that was built in 1719. Rent a mountain bike and spend the day on the Marrington Plantation Bike Trail, or visit the Lake Greenview Park for hiking or soccer or birdwatching.

12. Summerville, South Carolina

herbert jessen boardwalk
Source: Flickr/Yvette Wilson

Travel inland to Summerville, which is just to the northwest of Charleston. Talk a walk along the Herbert Jessen Boardwalk on the Ashley River, and catch some fish at the pier for a tasty evening meal. At night, take the kids to one of the entertainment centers for video games and bowling. If you’re looking for fresh fruits and vegetables, browse the vendors at the Summerville Farmers’ Market.