When & Where to See Azaleas in Charleston, SC (Free & Paid Spots!)

So, you’re visiting Charleston, South Carolina in March, when springtime bursts forth with every hue of pink, red, and white as azaleas take over the landscape. Well-timed, friend!

There’s always something blooming in the Holy City, but azalea season in March and early April is my favorite. I live here and have years of experience finding the best places to see azaleas in Charleston.

Whether you’re looking for free places to snap a few pictures, magnificent gardens with stunning displays, or just someplace with azaleas to see but other things to do, too, I’ve got options for you.

Charleston’s historic streets and gorgeous gardens come alive with these vibrant flowers. You don’t want to miss it. Timing is key. Peak bloom lasts about 2 weeks, max.

Let’s check out the best spots in Charleston to catch these stunning azalea displays and make the most of your springtime getaway in this enchanting Southern gem.

Quick Recommendations

  • The best time to plan a trip to see azaleas in Charleston is mid-to-late March. Blooms start as early as March 1, but peak bloom usually doesn’t hit until mid-March. It rarely falls as late as April.
  • My favorite free place to see azaleas is Hampton Park, near The Citadel campus and just north of downtown’s historic district.
  • My favorite paid garden to see azaleas is Middleton Place Plantation. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a close second.
  • My favorite paid place to see azaleas but also other interesting things is Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site. The Legare-Waring garden is gorgeous with blooming azaleas of all colors and sizes, but there’s also a ton of history here and a small zoo. Perfect for families or those with travel partners that don’t care about flowers.
Azalea buds looking like sets of bunny ears on the bush before they bloom
Azalea buds look like bunny ears before they bloom!

When to See Azaleas in Charleston

The Charleston area bursts into bloom every March with nearly every park, house, and shopping center landscaping featuring azalea blossoms.

Peak bloom for the spring azaleas is typically mid-March, although it can come earlier or later depending on the temperature and how much rain we’ve had. I live in the Charleston area, and I usually start noticing azaleas in the first week of March.

Peak bloom usually takes a week or two after that. In the meantime, there’s a good chance that a bush will be covered in azaleas and the one right next to it might not even have the bunny ear buds yet.

Charleston is blessed with a wonderfully warm climate, so we also have a lot of encore azaleas. Regular azaleas bloom just once per year for a few weeks in spring, but encore azaleas bloom in spring, fall, and sometimes summer, too! Don’t be surprised if you see some azaleas in Charleston outside of springtime.

If you want to see gardens with every bush covered in azaleas, though, you’ll need to visit in mid-to-late March.

A pink azalea bush peeks out behind a magnolia tree in Charleston, SC
Hampton Park, north of downtown Charleston

Where to See Azaleas in Charleston

There’s a good mix of free and paid locations to see azaleas in Charleston, but, honestly, they’re not hard to find during peak bloom. They’re everywhere.

I’ve started this list of places to see azaleas with options in the downtown peninsula and then move to locations further out but definitely worth your while.

Here are my favorite spots for enjoying peak bloom each year.

Camelia flowers bloom among their green leaves over a brick and wood gate in Charleston
Downtown Charleston neighborhoods are beautiful!

Downtown Neighborhoods (Free or Paid)

Walking around the historic district in downtown Charleston is the perfect flower-spotting activity any time of year, but spring is especially blessed with blooms. When I need to get out of the house, I grab my camera and head downtown for a picture-taking stroll.

Any of the residential streets, but especially those south of Broad Street, love to show off with their window box displays and cute pocket gardens behind walls and wrought iron gates.

Anything you can see from the sidewalk is fair game for photos, but be respectful. Don’t block driveways climb their front steps, or walk into their backyards just because the gate is open.

The Charleston Festival, formerly the Festival of Houses and Gardens, is held every year from mid-March to mid-April. It’s a great way to get into otherwise private homes and gardens to see the splendor of spring in Charleston.

Close up view of pink azaleas on a branch

White Point Garden & The Battery (Free)

The southern tip of the downtown peninsula is home to White Point Garden, a lovely, small park lined by enormous live oaks draped in Spanish moss, and The Battery, once a defensive position and today a seawall walkway with fantastic views of Charleston harbor.

The park and Battery are both Charleston must-sees, but keep your azalea expectations in check. There are azaleas along the Battery Street side of the park, and you can get some great pictures here!

But you can also see far more azaleas in others spots around town.

I recommend you check out both the Battery and the park on your visit to Charleston, but give some of the other locations on this list a visit, too, for more spectacular azalea blooms.

Flowering trees and azalea bushes with a park bridge in the foreground
Hampton Park during azalea season

Hampton Park (Free)

One of my local favorites, you’ll find this park tucked between a quiet neighborhood and The Citadel’s campus. Hampton Park is full of flowers, live oaks, a gazebo, and a small pond.

If you time it too early, you’ll see both early azaleas and the last of the camellias. Time it too late and you’ll still see lingering azaleas and the rest of the park’s flowers, like foxglove, pansies, and daisies.

It’s popular for locals with joggers, bikers, and walkers circling it all day long and sunbathers, picnickers, and family birthday parties taking over the lawns and picnic tables on the weekends.

Bring your own picnic and stay an hour or two to soak it in. There are always birds around the pond and in the live oaks, and the flower-lined paths are a nice place to take a stroll.

Don’t miss the Denmark Vesey Monument just off the side of the path on the way to the gazebo.

Pink azalea bushes behind a live oak tree in the Legare-Waring Garden at Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site
The Legare-Waring Garden at Charles Towne Landing

Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site (Paid)

This is one of the best state parks for history in South Carolina, but it also has a large, stunning azalea garden, a live oak tree allée, and a small zoo.

Charles Towne Landing is the site of the first town founded by European colonists. They lived here before eventually moving to the more exposed but better for trade spot on the peninsula in the harbor, which is today’s modern Charleston.

You could spend all day here if you take your time to see it all. Or, rent a bike at the visitor center and see it all in an hour or two.

  • The history museum inside the visitor center is chock full of detailed information on the founding of the colony, and it’s a wonderful air-conditioned respite if you need to escape the heat.
  • The history trail takes you past the remains of the first colonist town here, including a palisade fence, house foundations, some cannons and earthworks, and, the best part, a working replica schooner sailing ship, The Adventure.
  • The Legare-Waring house and gardens feature award-winning azaleas and live oak tree-lined paths, often hosting weddings. <<This area is gorgeous during peak bloom!
  • The animals in the Animal Forest (zoo) were all once native to this area, and some of them will surprise you.

Just 15 minutes from downtown, this park is worth a stop for the azaleas and the history.

A Magnolia Plantation path lined with blooming azalea hedges in pink, red, and white.
A path during peak bloom at Magnolia Plantation

Historic Plantations (Paid)

All of the historic plantations in the Charleston area have azalea gardens, but my personal favorites are Middleton Place and Magnolia. Middleton boasts America’s oldest formal gardens, and Magnolia is the opposite: wild, romantic gardens.

Basically, if you like to walk in straight lines, go to Middleton. If you like curvy paths and getting lost, go to Magnolia.

Charleston’s historic plantations aren’t just about the pretty flowers, though. They’ve all addressed the terrible history behind the beautiful exteriors, and you can take history tours to learn more at each.

Need help choosing which plantation to visit? Here’s our full guide to Charleston’s plantations, including a helpful chart comparing prices, amenities, and distance from downtown.

Pink azaleas in Charleston below a crepe myrtle with lots of Spanish moss

Cypress Gardens (Paid)

Get away from the city for a minute and enjoy a day trip out to Cypress Gardens. A popular spot for filming movies, like The Notebook and The Patriot, its pathways are lined by azaleas and shaded by beautiful cypress and live oak trees.

Plus, taking a rowboat out onto the little pond is included in your entry. There’s also a small playground and a butterfly garden, and food trucks might be on-site for lunch time (but check before you go so you have a backup plan).

This is a bit far out to go just to see azaleas, in my opinion, but it’s a fun day trip without the sometimes overwhelming crowds you’re more likely to run into downtown.

Bubblegum pink azaleas covering the entire bush so you can't see any green leaves underneath.

Charleston Tea Garden (Free or Paid)

Take a day to visit America’s only tea farm, the Charleston Tea Garden. While azaleas aren’t the focus here, there are a ton of them lining the front entry and visitor center.

Stop inside for free tea tastings and a cute tea-inspired gift shop with everything from tea towels and tea-making supplies to t-shirts.

The farm tour is worth your time as well. See how the tea is processed in the back, and then take a trolley around the farm to learn how tea is grown and harvested.

Plan Your Trip in 30 Minutes! In just 5 easy steps, plan and price out your dream trip! Get Your Free Quick Trip Budget! with arrow pointing below and a mockup showing the one-page printable.

Enjoy Beautiful Azalea Season in Charleston!

I hope this article was helpful and you’re well on your way to exploring all the azaleas Charleston has to offer during this beautiful time of year!

Need more help planning your Charleston trip? Here’s some of our best tips.

Happy travels!

Headshot of Rachel Means at Clingmans Dome in Smoky Mountains

About the Author: Rachel Means

With six-figure student loan debt and only 10 PTO days per year, Rachel started traveling the world. A decade later, she’s paid off her loans, changed careers, and been to 36 US states and 14 countries. She’s an expert at planning and budgeting for travel and loves to help others do it, too! Read her full story here.

A photo collage of pink and white azaleas with text overlay, Azaleas in Charleston: When to Go and Where to See Them