Charleston is rich with old-fashioned politesse, history, and tradition in all of its forms. With the city's deep commitment to historic preservation, one of the main cultural draws is simply strolling around and admiring the architecture. Charleston is sometimes called the Holy City because Carolina welcomed Protestants of all denominations at its inception. Today, a wealth of historic churches populate the city, most of them open to visitors. Be sure to visit the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Charleston Museum, both on Meeting Street. You'll find art galleries concentrated in the French Quarter.

The biggest event in Charleston each year is the Spoleto Festival: over two weeks of international arts performances ranging from full-scale operas to outdoor jazz performances. Piccolo Spoleto, a showcase for local artists, runs alongside the larger festival. The Southeastern Wildlife Expo is held in Charleston each year, drawing tens of thousands of nature aficionados. In less than 10 years, the Charleston Wine + Food Festival has become one of the year's main events. The MOJA Arts Festival, celebrating African-American and Caribbean culture, draws visitors with its performances, parties, and parades.