Things to Do in Charleston

Charleston has been named the #1 tourist destination in the United States for years. That means 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.

Restaurants:

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. We love the hummus and the kebabs. 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. 

Ma’am Saab

1503 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403

maamsaabchs.com/ / (843) 996-4500

Pakistani and Indian food doesn’t get any better than this. Started by our friends Maryam and Raheel Gauba, we’ve been lucky enough to have eaten at their house many times, and now that experience is open to everyone in Charleston. Run, don’t walk, to this restaurant. 

Edmund’s Oast

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). And order the Underberg for an after-dinner drink (ask for the tall, skinny glass).

Lewis BBQ

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. And their New Mexico-themed taco truck Juan Luis is equally as great, especially as breakfast. 

Workshop

1503 King St, Charleston, SC 29405

workshopcharleston.com / (843) 996-450

Known around town as a “fancy food court”, this is our regular Friday night spot with our kids and all the other neighborhood kids. Home to several different and always changing food vendors, adults can drink wine while the kids run around like crazy on the astroturf. 

Santi’s

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!). 

Harbinger Cafe

1107 King Street, Charleston SC 29403

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.

Chez Nous

6 Payne Ct, Charleston, SC 29403

instagram.com/cheznouscharleston/

Small, romantic, charming. 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

xiaobaobiscuit.com

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.

Chubby Fish

252 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403

New, hip seafood place. We’ve only been here once, but that’s only because it’s so popular it’s tough to get in. But worth it if you do. And right now, because of Covid, you can rent the entire restaurant out for private parties. 

Sorghum and Salt

186 Coming St, Charleston, SC 29403

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.

Melfi’s

721 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

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.

Hall’s Chophouse

434 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

hallschophouse.com / (843) 727-0090

Probably the best steaks, and absolutely the best service, in town. 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. But 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. 

The Daily

652 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

shopthedaily.com / (843) 619-0151

Best coffee in town (along with their second location inside The Gibbes Museum of Art and Harold’s Cabin – see below). The Daily is a sister restaurant to Butcher and Bee, and one of our regular breakfast haunts. Also, when we say this is the best coffee in town, we actually mean it.

Harold’s Cabin

247 Congress St, Charleston, SC 29403

haroldscabin.com / (843) 793-4440

Great coffee/speciality coffee drinks and food. Open for lunch and dinner, and we are also regulars there for brunch on Saturday or Sunday (you can’t go wrong with the egg and pimento cheese biscuit). Generally easy to get in, and they grow a lot of their produce on the roof. Cozy, woodsy atmosphere.

167 RAW

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.

FIG

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.

The Dewberry

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.

Prohibition

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.

Faculty Lounge

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.

Activities:

As residents, we aren’t always the best at taking advantage of everything Charleston has to offer. We tend to go out to dinner more than we go to places where tourists might visit. But 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. 

The Beaches

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.

Folly Beach

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).

Sullivan’s Island

1851 Thee St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482

sullivansisland-sc.com

During the summer, this is the beach we usually go to the most. 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

charlestonfarmersmarket.com

(843) 724-7305

On Saturdays from 8 am-2pm, April 14th-November 24th, you can’t beat a good farmer’s market morning.

Carriage tours

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. But 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.

Plantation Tours

CVB’s listings for the best plantation tours in Charleston.

If you love history, you’ll love visiting all the plantations in the area. 

Hampton Park

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. 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. 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

Magnolia Plantation

Boone Hall

Middleton Place

Historic Home Tours in Charleston

Edmonston-Alston House

Nathaniel Russell House

Aiken-Rhett House

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