Charleston: An Insider’s View

Charleston: An Insider’s View



With its unique Antebellum architecture and painstakingly preserved Colonial-era urban core, Charleston is perhaps the most graceful of America’s historic cities. See Charleston through the eyes of resident John Meffert, a longtime preservation expert whose insights and camaraderie have captivated countless National Trust travelers. Peek through the city’s countless wrought iron gates and see the preserved homes and ornate architectural detailing that embodies the city’s charm. Visit exquisite private gardens in Charleston’s historic quarter and participate in special insider tours of Drayton Hall and Middleton Place—two outstanding Ashley River plantations.


Pricing from

Limited Space Available!

Trip Type
Closer to Home, Group Travel Tour
Departure Dates
Mar 16, 2025 - Mar 20, 2025


Francis Marion Hotel
Built in 1924 as the Grande Dame of the Carolinas and named for Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, the restored Francis Marion Hotel remains one of Charleston’s premier hotels. Rising 12 stories above the historic district, the hotel offers spectacular views of historic Charleston’s church steeples, its antebellum mansions, and its famous harbor. And located downtown on Marion Square, the hotel is within walking distance of the magnificent gardens, house museums, antique shops, boutiques, award-winning restaurants, and nightlife that make Charleston a world-renowned destination.


  • John Meffert

    John Meffert

    John Meffert, consultant on Heritage Conservation Services, has a long tradition with the National Trust. He has served as the Director for our Southern Office and was the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, the oldest nonprofit organization in the United States, responsible for preserving the historic resources of Charleston, S.C. John has delighted many study tour groups with his lectures and insights on preservation, and receives rave reviews as study leader.


Cancellation by participant must be made in writing to ISDI and is effective only upon acknowledged receipt by ISDI. There is a non-refundable registration and planning fee of $500 per person regardless of cancellation date.


  • day 1


    Upon arrival in Charleston, transfer independently to the elegant landmark Francis Marion Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America and your home for the next four evenings. Late this afternoon, join architectural historian and longtime Charleston resident John Meffert for an opening lecture and overview of the days to follow. Following his talk, enjoy a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres during a welcome reception. Continue on a casual stroll past several hidden architectural gems taking in the historic charm of South Carolina’s cultural jewel.

  • day 2

    Charleston’s Historic Homes

    Depart for a full day of touring the best historic homes in Charleston. First, visit the Heyward-Washington House. This brick Georgian-style double house was built in 1772 and houses a magnificent collection of Charleston made furniture including the priceless Holmes-Edwards bookcase, dating from 1770 to 1775. Next, at the Nathaniel Russell House, enjoy a guided tour of the property and its decorative arts collection. Set amid spacious formal gardens, the Nathaniel Russell House is a National Historic Landmark recognized as one of America’s most important neoclassical dwellings. The graceful interior—restored to its 1808 grandeur with elaborate plaster ornamentation and a grand spiral staircase—is among the most exuberant homes ever created in early America. Following lunch at a popular local restaurant, enjoy a curator-led tour of the Gibbes Museum of Art, home to early American paintings by such renowned American artists as Benjamin West and Thomas Hart Benton, along with contemporary American art and a special exhibition featuring landscapes of the Hudson River School. This evening, depart for Bowen’s Island to experience a local tradition, an authentic Low Country oyster roast with fresh, local oysters cooked over a fire pit and accompanied by other delicious local favorites.

  • day 3

    Drayton Hall & Middleton Place

    This morning, go behind the scenes at Middleton Place for a closer look at Middleton family collections during a tour of the historic house and spectacular gardens. Relax over a barbecue lunch featuring classic local dishes like ham biscuits, okra gumbo, she-crab soup, collard greens, and Huguenot torte, all while enjoying the spectacular view of the plantation through the glass-paned porch. Continue to Drayton Hall, a National Trust Historic Site and plantation home that survived the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the earthquake of 1886. The main house, in its near-original condition, is considered one of the finest examples of Georgian-Palladian architecture in the United States, and the grounds represent one of the most significant, undisturbed historic landscapes in America. Next, enjoy an in-depth, director-led tour of the stately Edmondston-Alston House, one of the city’s most splendid dwellings and a classic example of Charleston’s changing and sophisticated taste in architecture and decorative arts. The house, which was built in the late Federal style and later updated with Greek Revival elements is a repository of family treasures, including Alston family silver, furniture, books, and paintings that remain in place where they have been for more than a century. Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.

  • day 4

    Private Homes in Charleston

    Today, be special guests at two magnificent, historic Charleston homes open exclusively for the National Trust. Enjoy private access on guided strolls through the grounds and interiors while learning about the joys and challenges of maintaining a historic property. After free time for lunch and independent exploration of the city, rejoin your fellow travelers this evening to bid farewell to Charleston during a memorable dinner in an exceptional local restaurant.

  • day 5


    After breakfast at the hotel, transfer independently to the airport for return flights home.

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