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Best Time to Visit Charleston SC | When to Go

Best Time to Visit Charleston SC | When to Go

Taking a trip to Charleston, South Carolina? Let’s talk about the best time to visit Charleston based on weather, events, and personal preferences such as beach time and budget.

There’s a lot to love about Charleston – the food, the culture, the history. Charleston was the first city to have a public college (The College of Charleston) and the first city to have a newspaper (The South Carolina Gazette).

It was even the site of the country’s first play (The Recruiting Officer). While you can travel to this charming city any time and have a great time, we will show you the best time to visit based on the things that are most important to you.

Why You Should Visit Charleston, South Carolina

Man walking his dog down rainbow row during the Spring, the best time to visit Charleston South Carolina

f11photo/Shutterstock

No matter when you visit Charleston, there’s always something to do. The city comes alive in the spring with the Charleston Wine + Food Festival and the Spoleto Festival USA. 

Visitors can enjoy the Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch or the MOJA Arts Festival in the fall. And Christmas in Charleston is a truly magical experience with holiday lights, parades, and caroling in the streets.

Another great thing about Charleston, South Carolina, is that it’s easy to enjoy an affordable vacation. There are tons of free things to do in Charleston, SC, and many cheap hotels, making it an excellent destination for budget-minded travelers.

Charleston weather is also pretty mild year-round, so you don’t have to worry about extreme temperatures no matter when you visit. Then, there are the beaches and the famous horse-drawn carriages, which are enjoyable any time of year.

Overall Best Time to Visit Charleston, South Carolina

Image of Battery Park during the best time to visit Charleston, SC, with people running on the trail

f11photo/Shutterstock

The best time to enjoy Charleston is spring (March through May) or fall (September through November). The weather is incredible, and there are plenty of events and festivals to enjoy. 

The fall months offer a little more relief from the summer heat, making them ideal for outdoor activities. And the spring months are perfect for those who want to avoid the crowds that come with peak tourist season.

Expect temperatures in the low to mid-80s, with very little rain in the fall. The humidity is also more bearable in the fall, making it great to explore Charleston’s many outdoor attractions.

The springtime weather in Charleston is similar to the fall, with temperatures in the low to mid-80s and little rain. Don’t worry about missing out on summer events in the fall. Hardly anything closes down in Charleston just because it’s not summer. In fact, some of the best events take place in the fall.

Here are some tips for making the most out of traveling to Charleston in the spring and fall:

  • Make sure to pack comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
  • If you’re visiting during peak tourist season (spring and summer), make reservations in advance for restaurants and attractions.
  • Be prepared for crowds, especially during popular events like the Charleston Wine + Food Festival and Spoleto Festival USA.

Cheapest Time to Visit Charleston, South Carolina

Image of a park with snow during the cheapest time to visit Charleston SC

David AvRutick/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Charleston is winter (December through February). Hotel prices are at their lowest during this time. There are fewer tourists in the city.

However, keep in mind that Charleston weather is the coolest during the winter months. Also, with daylight savings time in effect, darkness falls at 5 pm. So, your time at the beach may be limited during a winter visit.

Not to mention, there are fewer tourists in Charleston during the winter, so it may just be the perfect time to get that perfect Instagram shot in front of Rainbow Row. Expect the weather to be in the mid to upper 50s during the winter months.

Charleston doesn’t see much snow, but you may get a few days of rain. If you are looking for an extended vacation that doesn’t break the bank and allows you to relax, enjoy the cooler weather, and avoid the crowds, winter may be the best time to visit Charleston.

Some tips for traveling to Charleston in the winter include being sure to pack a jacket or sweater as the evenings can be cool. Also, check the weather forecast in advance and pack accordingly.

Make restaurant reservations in advance as some of the city’s most popular eateries may have limited seating.

If you’re looking for a bargain, take advantage of the winter sales at Charleston’s many shops and boutiques. Lastly, take advantage of the shorter lines at attractions by visiting during the week instead of the weekends.

Least Busy Time to Visit Charleston, South Carolina

Waterfront fountain pictured during the least busy time to visit Charleston SC with a water fountain spewing onto concrete

Cvandyke/Shutterstock

Some people go on vacation to experience the crowds and meet new people. But if you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of peak tourist season, then the best time to visit Charleston is in the winter (December through February).

This is the least busy time of year, so you’ll have more space to yourself at the popular tourist attractions. You may also find that Charleston’s restaurants and shops are less crowded in the winter.

Long lines, traffic, and fully booked hotels are all things you can cut down on by visiting Charleston in the winter. So, if you want to get some quality time with the locals, this may be the best time to visit.

Of course, the weather is cooler in the winter, and you may have to contend with a few days of rain. But overall, the weather is still pretty mild in Charleston. Here are some ways to make the most of your visit to Charleston in the winter:

  • Dress in layers so you can easily adjust to the changing temperatures.
  • Bring an umbrella to help you stay dry during the occasional rain shower.
  • Charleston’s sidewalks can be slippery when wet. So, bring a pair of comfortable shoes that you can easily walk in.

Worst Time to Visit Charleston, South Carolina

Horse and buggy pictured on a hot day during the worst time to visit Charleston SC

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The worst time to visit Charleston is in the summer (June through August). The city is the most crowded. The weather is at its hottest and most humid.

Hurricane season also falls in the summer, so you may have to deal with some bad weather if you visit during this time which could put a damper on your vacation plans. If you visit Charleston in the summer, ensure to pack plenty of sunscreen and light, airy clothing.

And be prepared for crowds at the popular tourist attractions. When traveling between June and August, be prepared for less than favorable weather. Hot and humid weather with temperatures in the 90s is a regular thing.

Possible hurricanes and severe thunderstorms will likely be in the forecast. And crowded beaches, restaurants, and attractions can negatively impact your vacation experience. Additionally, higher hotel rates and airfare prices can cut into your spending money.

Tips to make the best of your vacation during this time include staying hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids. Apply sunscreen often, even if it’s cloudy.

Avoid being outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Make sure your travel insurance covers you in case of bad weather if you need to reschedule. Check the weather forecast before making any plans. Be flexible with your travel plans if you have to change them due to weather.

The great thing about extreme weather conditions like hurricanes is that the forecast usually warns travelers weeks ahead of time, so you’ll have time to change your plans if necessary.

Things to Consider

Pineapple fountain in a park during the best time to visit Charleston SC

cksisson/Shutterstock

Here are some things to consider when planning a trip to Charleston:

Weather

The weather is a significant thing to consider when visiting Charleston. The summer months are hot and humid, while the winter months are cooler. Always bring a raincoat. Rain can happen sporadically, even if not listed in the forecast.

Having a raincoat on hand will help you prepare for any rain that comes your way. Flash floods are common in the area since it’s only 20 feet above sea level. Keep an eye on the roads and never go through a flooded area if you are driving.

Keep in mind that when flooding happens, streets will shut down, and certain events and shops may cancel their services for the day. Don’t be surprised if you see locals paddling down the streets in kayaks.

As mentioned before, Charleston, South Carolina, experiences hurricanes. The best time to visit Charleston is outside of hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. 

While the risk of a hurricane is always present, the chances of one hitting Charleston are pretty low. However, it’s still important to be aware of the potential danger and prepare with a plan in case of an emergency.

Crowds

Charleston is a popular tourist destination, so expect crowds (summer and fall) during the peak season. To avoid crowds, visit Charleston in the winter (December through February). 

Even in crowds, be sure to look down to check for horse dung. The city cleans it up as soon as they can, but sometimes, you will still see it on the pavement.

Events

There are lots of events that take place throughout the year in Charleston. Some of the most popular include Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston Wine + Food Festival, and Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. 

If there is a particular event you’re interested in attending, be sure to check the date before you book your trip. Most of the Charleston events will feature southern food. They include seafood, barbecue, and traditional sides like collard greens and macaroni and cheese.

Southerners enjoy cooking. It brings people together and is a way to show hospitality. Charleston is no different. Asking for seconds is seen as a compliment. 

Price

Hotel prices peak during the busy season (summer and fall) and are at their lowest during the off-season (winter). If price is your biggest concern, visiting Charleston in the winter may be your best bet.

You’ll have more money to spare for food and activities. Keep in mind that some attractions may have reduced hours due to daylight savings time. As always, it’s best to check the hours of operation before you visit.

Keep in mind that Charleston is a popular destination, so even during the off-season, hotel prices can still be higher than in lesser-known areas. 

Southern Hospitality

Charleston, South Carolina, stands on southern hospitality. It means that people in Charleston are generally friendly and welcoming to visitors. Locals will regularly make eye contact and speak as they pass by.

If you’re not used to the southern way of life, don’t worry, you’ll quickly get used to it. It’s normal for individuals who grow up in certain areas not to be used to strangers sparking up a conversation with them.

In Charleston, it’s considered rude not to speak when you pass someone on the street. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the person. It would be best if you still acknowledged them.

If you are in question about how you should respond or how to act, just smile and be polite. You’ll find that most people will be more than happy to help you out. It’s reassuring to know that you are welcomed to Charleston no matter when you visit.

Not to mention, you’ll get to learn more about the hidden gems through conversations with the locals. Getting help from someone waiting to help you is one of the benefits of traveling to Charleston.

Frequently Asked Questions

Popular Boone Hall Plantation pictured during the best time to visit Charleston

Malte Santen/Shutterstock

Below are some frequently asked questions about Charleston, South Carolina:

What should I not miss in Charleston, South Carolina?

There are a few must-see attractions in Charleston, South Carolina. These include Charleston Waterfront Park, Battery Park, and Rainbow Row.

While there, take at least one tour of a plantation. Some of the most famous plantations include Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place, and Boone Hall Plantation. The Aiken-Rhett House Museum and the Charleston Museum are also great places to visit.

If you’re interested in history, these two museums are a must. Then, there are the Fort Sumter and Bulldog Ghost and Culinary Walking tours. Make things easier by getting a tour pass, which will give you access to all of the major attractions.

How many days do you need in Charleston, South Carolina?

You could spend weeks in Charleston, South Carolina, and not see everything. However, three to five days is a reasonable amount of time to see the major attractions.

What is the rainy season in Charleston, South Carolina?

The rainy season in Charleston, South Carolina, typically runs from May to October. However, the rains are usually short, and most days are still sunny.

Is Charleston worth visiting?

Charleston, South Carolina, is worth visiting. It’s a historic city with a lot to offer in terms of culture, food, and entertainment. It’s likely you won’t explore all of its rich culture in one visit.

Is Charleston a walkable city?

Charleston is a very walkable city. Most of the attractions are in the downtown area, so you won’t have to go far to see everything.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Charleston, South Carolina?

As you can see, the best time to visit Charleston depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation. If you want to experience the city at its liveliest, summer is the best time.

But if you prefer to save some money, and avoid large crowds, then winter is the best time to visit Charleston, South Carolina. No matter when you visit, Charleston is sure to offer a memorable experience that will make you feel welcome.