Charleston has been named the #1 tourist destination in the United States for years. Additionally, it is one of the most popular wedding destinations as well. Good weather, a thriving foodie scene, beaches, and a historic city with buildings dating back to pre-Revolutionary War days, make it easy to see why people love visiting here. If you’re planning a destination wedding in Charleston, make sure you make a weekend (or a week!) out of it. There’s so much to do – your guests will leave with full bellies and experiences they’ll be talking about for the rest of their lives.
Butcher and Bee
1085 Morrison Drive, Charleston, SC 29403
butcherandbee.com / (843) 619-0202
Our go-to place in Charleston for dinner with a mix of Mediterranean, Israeli and Southern food. They just got nominated for Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, so put your reservations in early. We love the hummus and the kebabs. Also, the whipped feta is a must-try. Plus they also have world-class sandwiches for lunch. Great coffee as well anytime. Owned by Michael and Melody Shemtov’s, whose wedding we photographed in Atlanta long before we even lived in Charleston.
Pakistani and Indian food doesn’t get better than this in Charleston. Started by our friends Maryam and Raheel Gauba, we’ve been lucky enough to have eaten at their house many times. Now, that experience is open to everyone in Charleston.
1977 Maybank Highway, Charleston, SC 29412
kweifei.com/ / (843) 225-0094
If you like spicy Sichuan Chinese, or just food with a kick in general, make the time to get to Kwei Fei. Ben’s favorite Asian restaurant in town, it’s the closest he’s found to the intense heat of the New Mexican food he grew up with, which makes sense because the owners are also from the Southwest part of the United States. Current favorites are the Biang Biang noodles, Sichuan Beef and the Stir Fried Bok Choy. If you can’t handle the heat, you can ask them to tone it down for you. And our five-year old loves their kid noodles with chicken.
1081 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
edmundsoast.com / (843) 619-0202
Great beer, meats and cheeses, along with a full restaurant. Fun for happy hour, or a late dinner. Try their PBJ beer if it’s in stock (it tastes just like peanut butter and jelly). Also, order the Underberg for an after-dinner drink (ask for the tall, skinny glass).
464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403
lewisbarbecue.com / (843) 805-9500
Texas-style BBQ. Brisket is incredible and as good as anything we’ve had in the South. Make sure to get the green chile corn pudding and the potato fries. This place is always busy, but don’t be scared if you see a line out the door. It goes pretty fast.
1302 Meeting Street Rd, Charleston, SC 29405
santisrestaurantemexicano.com / (843) 722-2633
When we want a margarita and authentic tortilla chips, this is where we go. Get a pitcher, and relax. The staff is really nice and the food is exactly like we find in Mexico. This is a great break from the fancy food scene, and always a place we feel at home.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ
1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
rodneyscottsbbq.com / (843) 990-9535
Voted best chef in the Southeast by the James Beard awards, Rodney is a local hometime hero. We go here for chicken, pork and a good set of sides (the cornbread is a must!). The “Diddy’s Turkey Club” is our friend’s favorite item on the menu.
1107 King Street, Charleston SC 29403
theharbingercafe.com / (843) 637-3410
Awesome, almost completely vegan plant-based pastries will blow you away. You’ll never miss the butter. Also good for a healthy lunch of salads, quiche and unique sandwiches.
6 Payne Ct, Charleston, SC 29403
instagram.com/cheznouscharleston/ / (843) 579-3060
Small, romantic, and charming, you’ll feel like you went back in time a hundred years as soon as you walk in. They have a set menu that changes every day, which you can see around noon on their instagram account.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
224 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403
This is a local favorite. Small but incredible menu, focusing on hybrid Asian dishes. Get the Okonomiyaki pancake there for sure. We usually order literally everything on the menu and share it. And the drinks are really interesting and great.
252 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403
chubbyfishcharleston.com / (854) 222-3949
Hip, amazing seafood place that’s on everyone’s favorite list here in town. Get there before 5 pm to get your name on the list so you don’t have to wait hours to get in.
Sorghum and Salt
186 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403
https://www.sorghumandsalt.com / (843) 872-6393
The owner, Tres, brings just about every flavor you can imagine into every dish – Southern, Indian, Mexican – and makes it all work in a way you’ve never experienced anywhere else. We’ve never had a dinner there that wasn’t memorable. Or sometimes, we can’t remember at all after a few glasses of wine.
721 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
https://eatatmelfis.com / (843) 513-0307
This high-end Italian place and a sister restaurant to Leon’s (great oysters and chicken sandwiches) and Little Jack’s (great hamburgers). When you go to Melfi’s, leave the kids at home and have a good adult night out. Lively, electric atmosphere. You’ll feel like you’re in the Sopranos.
434 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
hallschophouse.com / (843) 727-0090
Probably the best steaks, and absolutely the best service, in town. Furthermore, if you want an amazing experience you’re going to remember a long time, go here. Also, one of my favorite bars in town to meet some real characters. If you talk to people at the bar, you’re going to hear some stories. This is a real Southern experience.
The Darling Oyster Bar
513 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
thedarling.com / (843) 641-0821
One of Erin’s favorite places to go out for seafood and drinks. Also, Ben’s favorite hamburger. DO NOT LEAVE without ordering the clam chowder over fries. Trust us on this one. And of course, the oysters are great too. The Darling also has one of the prettiest interior designs in town.
652 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
shopthedaily.com / (843) 619-0151
Best coffee in town, along with Second State Coffee. The Daily is a sister restaurant to Butcher and Bee, and one of our regular breakfast haunts.
193 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
167raw.com / (843) 579-4997
Best seafood, along with The Ordinary, in town. Start with the ceviche and/or guacamole so you have an excuse to eat their amazing homemade tortilla chips. Get there early to put your name down on the list. The last time we went there we waited until 6 pm to sign in and didn’t get to eat until 10:30pm. No joke.
232 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401
eatatfig.com / (843) 805-5900
It’s hard to beat FIG. If you can get a reservation (usually you need to do this a month of two in advance), just go. There is a reason why this restaurant is always on everyone’s best-of list.
Second State Coffee
70.5 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401
secondstatecoffee.com / (843) 793-4402
Another really good (hipster) coffee shop if you’re in that part of town.
Bars, wines and spirits:
Monarch Wine Merchants
1107 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
monarchwinemerchants.com / (843) 576-4845
Our favorite place to find wine in town. Justin Coleman, who owns Monarch, is a sommelier who has a true talent for finding old-world wine. Justin thoughtfully selects every single wine he sells, and knows everything about each one. Every single bottle in the store has a story (make sure to read the tags Justin hand-writes himself), so you’ll be entertained from the moment you walk in.
Pence’s Liquor & Wine
334 E Bay St A, Charleston, SC 29401
penceliquors.com / (843) 277-2534
Ben’s favorite place in town to buy alcohol that doesn’t involve wine. It’s small and family-owned, the owner is really nice, and the entire staff is really helpful. The store is never too busy or crowded to really take your time and explore, while asking a lot of questions about what to try. Burris Liquor (418 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403) is also a good place to go as well. Sometimes their bourbon selection is a little different than at Pence’s.
334 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403
thedewberrycharleston.com / (843) 558-8000
One of the newest, swankiest hotels in town is also one the classiest bars. Go here to sit in the lounge and feel like you’re in Mad Men. Mid-century modern design will really take you back in time. The restaurant here is also very, very good.
547 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
prohibitioncharleston.com / (843) 793-2964
Great cocktails and dinner, with music at night that is usually Jazz. If you want a bourbon drink, go here.
391 Huger St, Charleston, SC 29403
facebook.com/facultyloungechs / (843) 203-6150
Charleston speakeasy…ring the doorbell and you’ll be let in. Most popular with the 20 and 30-somethings, the hipsters, the locals. Lots of interesting cocktails and a cool vibe. No signage, so you’ll feel very cool knowing about this place.
The Royal American
970 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
theroyalamerican.com / (843) 817-6925
One part hipster bar, one-part biker bar, this place is a photographer’s dream with some of the best music in town on a nightly basis. Very cool design inside – red, sexy, hip and interesting.
As residents, we aren’t always the best at taking advantage of everything Charleston has to offer. Consequently, we tend to go out to dinner more than we go to places where tourists might visit. However, here are some of the places we do go to all the time. And for more ideas, Charleston CVB’s website is really helpful.
FAVORITE ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH KIDS & FAMILY IN CHARLESTON, SC
Rent a bike: Affordable Bicycle Shop
573 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
affordabike.com / (843) 789-3281
When the weather is nice (and it usually is, even if it’s hot), getting on a bike and exploring downtown is one of our favorite things to do. When our friends are in town, this is where we go to get them a bike so we can all ride together.
Fort Sumter National Monument
nps.gov / (843) 883-3123
This is where the Civil War started, and worth a visit anytime you can go. Plus you get to take a ferry out there and just imagine life in Charleston in the 1800s. Ben would go here every week if he could.
Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
25 Ann St, Charleston, SC 29403
explorecml.org / (843) 853-8962
One of the gems of downtown, this museum can keep your children happy for hours. Our kids are regulars here. Goes without saying, but this is the perfect solution for a rainy day on your vacation.
South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf, Charleston, SC 29401
scaquarium.org / (843) 577-3474
A place to take your children for just an hour, or half a day.
Folly or Sullivan’s? Go to Folly Beach for a more eclectic South Carolina experience with lots of entertainment. Go to Sullivan’s if you want a more calm day. Both are great, and one of the best parts of living here.
West Ashley Avenue, Folly Beach, SC
ccprc.com / (843) 762-9960
Folly Beach County Park (at the very end of the island. You’ll need to pay to park, but it’s a little less crowded than the main beach, and there are bathrooms).
1851 Thee St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
During the summer, this is the beach we usually go to the most (usually at Station 26). Roxy loves it here. Super chill, and you’ll meet other families and hang out with new friends. Bonus: there’s often a tidal pool for the kids to play in.
Kiawah Island Golf Resort
1 Sanctuary Beach Dr.
Kiawah Island, SC 29455
kiawahresort.com / (843) 768-2121
There aren’t many places that are more relaxing or luxurious on the East Coast than Kiawah Island. You’ll need to be staying at the resort, or renting a house, to get past the gate house. But if you want to splurge on your vacation, this is a great place to do it.
Charleston Farmers Market
329 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29403
On Saturdays from 8 am-2pm, April 14th-November 24th, you can’t beat a good farmer’s market morning.
CVB’s listings for top carriage tours in Charleston.
There are a lot of companies that provide tours, and we’ve never tried them all. Subsequently, with Charleston’s fascinating history that dates back to the 1600s, you’ll love getting to hear the stories behind each home and street you go down.
CVB’s listings for the best plantation tours in Charleston.
If you love history, you’ll love visiting all the plantations in the area.
30 Mary Murray Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
Charleston’s version of Central Park or Golden Gate Park, this is where we go as locals to hang out, ride our bikes and visit the ducks. Most importantly, the light coming through the Spanish moss on the ancient oak trees is mesmerizing and always peaceful.
Walk the Battery
East Battery Street and Murray Boulevard, Charleston, SC 29401
Charleston loves to live in the past, and there’s no better part of the city to feel that than the Battery. Uniquely, the mansions date back centuries, and you can just feel the presence of 400 years of people doing the exact same thing as you are right now. You could walk the Battery every day and never get tired of it.
Charleston Plantation Tours
Historic Home Tours in Charleston
So whether you’re visiting for a week, or just a day, you can now feel and act like a local. Have fun, and drink up for us!
Ben and Erin