Things To Do in Charleston

Explore Charleston!

There is so much to do in Charleston that Tim and I recommend you arrive as early as you can to explore the town!  Below are suggestions of things to do, see and experience in Charleston, South Carolina.

Site Seeing

The following are unique experiences to Charleston. Feel free to do any or all of them!

  • Fort Sumter tours – Where the American Civil War began. Decades of growing strife between North and South erupted in civil war on April 12, 1861. The rest is history. You can take a ferry boat or a helicopter over to tour Fort Sumter. Allow a few hours for this excursion.
  • Horse-drawn carriage tours of downtown – Tim and I did one of these tours a year ago, and they will tell you all sorts of stories about Charleston. If you like history, horses, being outside, getting the “inside story,” or any/all of the above, you’ll enjoy this activity.
  • The Battery - One of the best spots to get to know Charleston, South Carolina is Battery Park. This lovely spot on the waterfront features southern mansions, cannons, cannon balls, oak trees, palmettos, statues, a gazebo, and incredible views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse. For any runners out there, make sure to make this part of your running route. Sunrise and sunset views are breathtaking.
  • Explore the Historic Charleston City Market – The Market has been a central part of life in Charleston for over 200 years. The Greek Revival-style Market Hall building facing Meeting Street was completed in 1841. It is open every day from sun-up to 6 p.m. (later on the weekends) and is filled with vendors of all sorts. It’s always an entertaining time to visit The Market.
  • Charleston Pirate Tour - In authentic costume & accompanied by Capt. Bob, the parrot, Eric Lavender shares stories of the pirates who plundered, partied, and perished in Charles Towne. This is a walking tour that has won the TripAdvisor Award of Excellence. https://charlestonpiratetour.com/
  • Run or Walk the Cooper River Bridge – The Cooper River Bridge, also known as the Ravenel bridge, is the enormous cable-style bridge over the Cooper River. Each April there is a 10k run that traverses the bridge. You can create your own workout or just take a leisurely stroll in the large pedestrian and bicycle lane that is on the ocean-side of the bride. There is street parking behind the gas station on the Mt. Pleasant side and there is a small parking lot at the base of the Charleston side of the bridge.

Restaurants

Charleston has so many restaurants that it would take you weeks to try them all. Here are some of the best and some of my favorites!

  • Magnolia’s – This is where I (Anna) worked for a year right out of college and right before I won Miss South Carolina. Tyler, my brother, worked there a couple years after I did. It’s my absolute favorite restaurant in Charleston. The food is always good! Tell them you are in town for my wedding if you go. :)
  • Cypress – This is across the street from Magnolia’s. It’s only opened for dinner, but it is phenomenal. The lights in the ceiling/floor change color – but ever so slowly. See if you notice.
  • McCrady’s - This restaurant is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks, and it is an experience of luxury and exquisite food.
  • Trattoria Lucca – This restaurant is a jewel nestled in a residential neighborhood that will knock your socks off. Yes, it’s Italian, but it’s not just any Italian, and the wine list alone will make it worth your while.
  • Grill 225 – This outstanding steakhouse is located in the luxurious Market Pavilion Hotel. Let’s just say that, out of all the restaurants in Charleston, my brother chose this restaurant for his celebratory dinner after being accepted to dental school.
  • High Cotton – This is another fantastic choice for exquisite southern fine dining. The food, the cocktails and the people are all hand selected to provide the best experience.
  • Peninsula Grill – This restaurant is on par with McCrady’s in terms of decadence. A seamless marriage of cosmopolitan accents and Charleston gentility, the ambiance at Peninsula Grill is simultaneously refined and relaxed.
  • Poogan’s Porch – This restaurant is more casual than the previously listed restaurants, but it is very unique to Charleston and a great option. Just to illustrate, the following is on the restaurant’s home page: “WE BELIEVE IN conversations on porches, Sunday brunch, old Southern dogs, ghosts!, seersucker, biscuits, homemade and handmade, sweet tea, handwritten recipes, friends old and new, great stories, gracious hospitality and our Moms. Not necessarily in that order.” (Yes, it does say ghosts. They say that Poogan, the old dog for which the restaurant was named, can be felt brushing by your leg under the table.)
  • Hominy Grill – This restaurant is another restaurant set in a historic Charleston home, but it has certainly made a name for itself. It has been featured on “No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain,” ”$40 a Day with Rachael Ray,” “Man vs. Food” and “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” – Chocolate Edition. There is always a wait, so plan ahead!
  • Husk – This is another great spot! Centrally located in historic downtown Charleston, Husk, the newest offering from James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s and the Neighborhood Dining Group, transforms the essence of Southern food.

Bars & Nightlife

Charleston offers a great selection of bars and nightlife options, too!

  • Pearlz – This is a great restaurant/bar on East Bay street where you can order oysters however you like them! I recommend ordering half a dozen oysters on the half shell and make sure to get an oyster shot! Don’t be a pansy – take the whole thing in one swig!
  • Prohibition Bar – Inspired by the Jazz Age, Prohibition combines amazing food, award winning drinks and a unique atmosphere… all without a secret knock.
  • Republic Garden & Lounge – Republic is the place to be and be seen. With a choice between the swanky inside bar or the lush lounge outside, you can’t go wrong either way.
  • Rooftop at Market Pavilion Hotel – If you are looking for a scene that offers water views, great cocktails, a swanky ambience and a Vegas-like pool, you have to head to the Market Pavilion Hotel rooftop. When you walk in the lobby, just go straight through to the elevators and head to the top. You won’t be disappointed.
  • Rooftop at Vendue Inn – This rooftop can be seen from the previous rooftop, but this one gives you more of a relaxed feel as there is usually live music and local drink specials. The elevator to this rooftop is through a small hallway that is accessible from the street level.
  • Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub – If you are Irish or just like to drink like the Irish, head here.
  • Mad River – This is a heck of a good time, but I’m not saying it’s classy. It’s always packed at night, the music’s always loud, and the dancing is always a-plenty!
  • Squeeze – This bar is so appropriately named! You’ll see why when you stop in for a drink. Located on East Bay, it’s right in the midst of all the nightlife action.

4 Comments

  1. by annatperry on December 30, 2013  4:12 am Reply

    Friends who live in or have been to Charleston, feel free to add your comments about what to do in Charleston here by leaving a reply!

  2. by Lynn ( Boles Frye) Pittman on February 21, 2014  3:51 am Reply

    I'm so excited, Anna, to be a guest at your wedding to see your fairy tale come true. It's a big birthday month, too and I'm considering this trip a Mother's Day treat. I wish you all the happiness in the world. I have booked my room in the host hotel so I can be near the family that I love so much.

  3. by Tom Haas on March 6, 2014  5:03 pm Reply

    SO STOKED for May! But on behalf of Tyler and myself, as former security employees of the fine establishment, I have to protest the absence of Market Street Saloon on this list of wonderful eateries (all of which I agree with, incidentally). I'm just sayin...

  4. by Donny and Susan Oxner on March 9, 2014  2:20 pm Reply

    We are looking forward in being there! Ready to help you in any way! Charleston is great and your wedding I'm sure yours will be one to remember. Love the video save the date!

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