The Charleston International Airport is located about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston by car. Taxis cost about $30, while shuttles—which run every fifteen minutes and don’t require reservations—cost $14 per passenger. The city is also an easy road trip from places like Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbia, and Jacksonville. Stay downtown so you can wander out your front door without worrying about transportation—sneakers or flats are recommended for the uneven sidewalks and cobblestoned streets, and bike taxis, known as “pedicabs” or “rickshaws,” are good for longer trips. A rental car (or a cab budget) is necessary if you plan to enjoy the beaches, golf courses, and surrounding sights, all of which are well worth the short drive out of town.
Charleston is rich with politesse, history, and tradition in all of its forms. In fact, one of the city’s main cultural draws is simply strolling the picturesque streets to admire the architecture. Charleston—often referred to as the Holy City—also features a wealth of historic churches, many of which are open to visitors. There’s even a range of art galleries concentrated in the French Quarter, plus the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Charleston Museum, both on Meeting Street.
The biggest event in Charleston each year, the Spoleto Festival takes place over two weeks at the end of May, offering everything from outdoor jazz performances to full-scale operas. Piccolo Spoleto, a showcase for local artists, runs alongside the larger festival. Visitors should also consider planning their trip around the Southeastern Wildlife Expo (which brings tens of thousands of nature aficionados to the city), the MOJA Arts Festival (which celebrates African-American and Caribbean culture with performances, parties, and parades), or the Charleston Wine + Food Festival (which has quickly become one of the city’s main events).