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Are you thinking of taking a solo trip to Charleston, South Carolina? Dubbed the “Holy City”, Charleston is full of history and is also known to be one of the romantic cities in America. While plenty of couples and bachelorette parties flock to Charleston, can this city still be fun to explore alone?
As someone who just completed a solo trip to Charleston, I’ve got plenty of perspective on the matter. However, I first want to note that this was actually my fourth trip to Charleston. Therefore, I had a pretty high comfort level coming in since I already knew my way around.
That being said, I still think Charleston, SC makes a wonderful destination for solo female travelers, whether it’s your first or fifth time. The beautiful streets of the main historic district are generally safe and easy to navigate, and you should have little trouble getting your bearings. On the other hand, losing yourself in the rows of gorgeous old homes and gardens is part of the fun!
Below, I am discussing exactly what it was like traveling in Charleston solo, and I am sugar coating nothing. My goal is to help you feel empowered to take a solo trip to Charleston, while also giving you a realistic picture of what to expect.
Solo Trip to Charleston: What You Need to Know
Why Travel Solo to Charleston?
I personally traveled solo to the Holy City because I’ve always wanted to do a road trip from Charleston, SC to Savannah, GA. As travel blogging is my full-time job now, sometimes my husband can’t come with me. This happened to be one of those times.
However, I felt super comfortable traveling alone to Charleston, since I’d been to the city before and knew my way around. Plus, I’ve never felt unsafe while exploring the quiet streets of the historic district.
Bottom line: Head to Charleston solo if you seek nice weather, easy walkability, and pretty streets for wandering. The walking path along the Cooper River is an absolute dream! Also, as Charleston is one of the oldest cities in America, there is plenty of history to take in.
Top Attractions in Charleston
The best way to see Charleston’s highlights is by taking a walking tour. However, if you’re exploring on your own, these are the top five sights to check out during a solo trip to Charleston, SC:
1. Visit the Pineapple Fountain
2. Walk Along the Cooper River to the Battery
3. Take a Photo at the Rainbow Row
4. Tour the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
5. Shops at Charleston City Market & King Street
Charleston First Impressions
Since I had already made my first impressions of Charleston itself several years ago, I will share my first impressions of being alone in Charleston.
On my arrival day, I got to Charleston in the afternoon, which left me a little time to walk around before sunset. I decided to visit the Heyward-Washington House and stroll past the Rainbow Row.
I took in how quiet the city was during the week before Valentines Day, even though the weather was so pleasant in the mid-60’s F. Initially, I felt so glad to be in Charleston at such a lovely time, despite the fact that there weren’t many trees and flowers in bloom.
This little high ended when I got back to my hotel that evening and noticed the hotel’s restaurant, Frannie & the Fox, was buzzing with activity. Upon seeing all the couples and friend groups at the bar and waiting for a table, I became hyper aware of my solitude. I found myself in that moment feeling like an outsider and questioning why I ever choose to travel alone.
Meeting Other Travelers
Before you talk yourself out of going, I want you to know that my above feelings of isolation are totally normal. I also want you to know that while you might feel this way at some point, it will pass. In fact, the next day things turned around completely.
First, there was the Powder Magazine, which I strolled past on a whim, and was subsequently waved inside. The guide working that afternoon happened to be from my same hometown: Cleveland, Ohio. A small, energetic 80-year-old woman, we talked for a good thirty minutes about her life in Cleveland in the 50’s and 60’s.
Later, I took a food tour and I wasn’t surprised to see that almost every guest was in a couple. The only non-couple was still two male friends, so I was a bit of a lone wolf.
The thing is – this wasn’t the deal breaker you’d think it would be. It was a very inclusive environment, with everyone participating in the tour instead of sticking to their little groups. I never felt left out or isolated and truly enjoyed myself.
Sometimes traveling solo is hard and you might feel lonely, but always show up to each moment open and ready to engage. Even as someone who is shy and introverted, I am always pleasantly surprised at the people I meet.
Charleston Likes & Dislikes
Below is what I liked and disliked about traveling in Charleston solo.
What I Liked About Charleston:
- The weather was fantastic, being sunny and around 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
- I could peruse the shops on King Street at my own pace and not feel like I was boring my husband.
- The solo walks I took, including along the Cooper River to the Battery and down Folly Beach to see the Morris Island Lighthouse, were delightful. The Cooper River in particular was looking completely stunning, with a totally smooth, shiny surface.
- The interactions I had, both with the woman at the Powder Magazine and on the food tour, made the trip more fun.
- Stuffing my face with a warm, flaky pimento biscuit from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.
What I Disliked About Charleston:
There truly isn’t much I dislike about Charleston, and many of the below are my own mishaps:
- Not having someone to dine with in this romantic, social city
- Getting charged extra for a booking mistake I made at Hotel Emeline
- Forgetting to renew my driver’s license and almost not being able to complete my Charleston to Savannah road trip. Thank goodness for online renewal!
- The lack of flowers in bloom and leaves on the trees in February
- The inferior biscuit sandwich I ate at Clerks, which was soggy at the bottom (everything else I had there was good). For the best biscuit sandwiches, stick to Callie’s!
Safety in Charleston
I don’t have too much to say about safety in Charleston, as I feel the city is overall quite safe for solo female travelers. I mean, on a prior visit my wallet literally fell out of my pocket near the pineapple fountain on a busy day in May. Within thirty minutes, a stranger had turned it into the police station, where I was overjoyed to retrieve it.
That said, it’s always smart to take precautions to avoid any incidents that could ruin your trip. For example, I now have a little purse (like this one) to hold my wallet so I don’t rely on the sad pockets made for women’s clothing.
Additionally, try to stick to the main areas of town where there are other people around. I am not always the best at taking my own advice, as I like to wander alone where it’s quiet. Just trust your gut; if something seems off, listen.
As far as driving, I find navigating around Charleston to be quite easy, give or take some potholes in the city. That said, only rent a car if you need access to surrounding places, like beaches, sea islands, and plantations. You will not need a car in downtown Charleston and parking at hotels can get quite expensive.
Finally, as a woman traveling alone, it’s best to avoid walking around outside after dark. I start my sightseeing early in the day and try to get back to my hotel by the time dusk is setting in.
Should Solo Female Travelers Visit Charleston?
Solo female travelers should absolutely visit Charleston! The streets of the historic district are so lovely to stroll, and I absolutely love spending time at the Waterfront Park. It’s the perfect scenery for a relaxed, low-key getaway where you can unwind and recharge.
Maybe you are, say, the only member of your friend group with an appreciation for history. A solo trip to Charleston gives you the chance to deep dive into every museum and historic house tour without inconveniencing anyone. Basically, it’s your chance to experience Charleston in whatever way you choose!
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Whether this is your first solo trip or fifth, Charleston is an incredible destination for females traveling alone. The city is gorgeous, generally safe, and a calm environment to explore at a leisurely pace. Plus, with delicious local cuisine, dreamy houses, and plenty of history, there is so much for a solo traveler to enjoy!
Are you thinking of traveling solo in Charleston?