When to Go
Spring and fall tend to be the most popular times to visit Charleston. The former sees courtyard gardens exploding in blooms and warm temperatures coaxing sundresses and seersucker suits out of local closets. The latter finds residents and tourists alike returning to the sidewalks to stroll, now that summer’s most intense heat (and hair-curling humidity) is mellowing out. There are truly only two slightly slower times for tourism in Charleston (July to mid-September and January to mid-February), so those loath to brave crowds or vie for dinner reservations are best advised to visit during those months. Typically, airfare is pricey year-round, but discount airlines Southwest and JetBlue offer options that are easier on your bottom line. Book money-saving hotel packages online or make day-of reservations through Lowcountry Reservations Service at the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Aside from the dog days of summer, where temperatures range from 80°F to 100°F and the humidity nears a stifling 100%, Charleston boasts mild temperatures and a semitropical climate. Expect afternoon rainstorms to blow in and out during summer months, but know that an umbrella is more than enough to keep you happily exploring outside. Come fall, pack light sweaters, and when winter rolls in from December to early February with low 50°F temps, pull on a coat if you’re thin-blooded. Basically there are four seasons here, but summer and spring stretch out the longest.
Festivals and Events
The Southeastern Wildlife Exhibition in mid-February marks the first big annual event on Charleston’s busy social calendar. Dog trials, birds-of-prey exhibits, and wildlife-art sales make it quite testosterone fueled, but it's fun for kids, too. Next up in March comes the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival in Marion Square, where cook-offs, sampling, and special dinners reign. Spring home and garden tours hit in late March, and the catwalks are crawling with fashionistas for Charleston Fashion Week. The Cooper River Bridge Run welcomes some 44,000 runners and walkers for the 10K the last weekend in March, and some 30,000 attendees catch the tennis matches at the Family Circle Cup in early April. Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto both offer live performances and art exhibitions (combined, they total more than 700 options) from late May to mid-June. Charleston’s African American and Caribbean heritage is celebrated with the MOJA Arts Festival in September and October, and fall home and garden tours rev up then as well.