The Best Times to Visit Charleston
Planning a trip to Charleston? According to most travel guides, the best times to visit are September-November and March-May. Fall and spring are both ideal from a weather perspective, with temperatures lingering in the 60s and 70s, but if you want to avoid soaring hotel rates and crowded streets, I highly recommend visiting in fall.
September – November
Charleston is a city that begs to be walked, and in my opinion, fall is the best time for that. Humidity levels relent, and September boasts an average high temperature of 82° with an average low of 71°. Average highs drop to 74° in October and 67° in November. Fall is downright pleasant. Historically, it is also the driest season in Charleston. On average, October has 6 or less days of precipitation. And with tourist season peaking in spring, Charleston is much easier to navigate in the fall months. Sidewalks are less crowded, parking is readily available, local attractions aren’t as busy, and restaurant wait times are perfectly reasonable.
Charleston Restaurant Week, a biannual event organized by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, occurs each year in September and January. Participating restaurants offer prixe fixe lunch and dinner menus, and these deals are an excellent way to sample local cuisine. The Fall 2017 installation of Charleston Restaurant Week is already underway and will run through September 17th. Visit CharlestonRestaurantAssociation.com for more information.
And if you miss Restaurant Week, The Preservation Society of Charleston hosts a highly-anticipated tour series in the month of October. The Fall Tours cover homes, history and architecture, and I highly recommend the House and Garden Tours. These self-guided walking tours offer a rare glimpse of private homes and gardens that are not typically open to the public. Tickets are limited, so I recommend purchasing them in advance online.
Fall Flowers & Foliage
Charleston is renowned for its stunning spring display of azalea and magnolia blooms, but fall flowers and foliage are nothing to scoff at. Crepe myrtle tree blossoms typically last well into September, and camellias bloom throughout the fall season. Late-blooming varieties (such as camellia sinensis and sasanqua) flower in October and November. The most common camellia variety (camellia japonica) has been known to blossom as early as November and continues blooming through early spring. Cascades of pyracantha can also be found throughout Charleston’s Historic District in the month of November.
Take a Stroll
I limit my tour groups to a capacity of 12, but springtime in Charleston’s Historic District can feel a bit crowded even with this limit. Other tour groups book to a capacity of 20, and there is plenty of local foot traffic filling the sidewalks as well. Fall isn't as busy and offers some unique photo opportunities. Rainbow Row, Philadelphia Alley and Stoll’s Alley are a few of my favorites, and I am always more than happy to pause for photos or lend an assist if selfies aren’t your thing. Please take a moment to learn more about my regularly scheduled walking tours, and feel free to contact me directly if you have questions about the area or want to schedule a private tour.