Charleston Travel Guide: Where to Eat, Stay and Play

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As the days grow longer and warmer, many people are looking to escape for a domestic getaway these days, even if that means rediscovering your own city on a stay. Charleston, South Carolina is one of the most popular destinations for those traveling through the Low Country, and for good reason too. The chic town is full of amazing restaurants, bars with impressive drink menus, quaint shops, and plenty of space on the beach. Whether you’re looking for an upbeat weekend getaway or a great place to live while you relax, Charleston has so much to offer.

Where to stay

Tired of staying in your apartment? Or would you like to book a hotel within walking distance of local attractions? Lucky for you, Charleston has plenty of accommodation options to suit your budget, needs, and lifestyle. From trendy hotels to comfortable apartments, here are our top picks.

Best Airbnb: Upper King Street Apartment

Upper King Charleston Airbnb
AirBnb

Set in an 1820s farmhouse, this tidy and modern living room features a bedroom and bathroom as well as a living room, kitchen and even a utility room, making it a suitable option for up to two people. Thanks to its wonderful downtown location, this apartment is within walking distance of many attractions, although transport services can be easily called upon to reach other parts of the peninsula. Of course, Wi-Fi and a TV are also available in the reservation. A major plus for this location is an off street parking spot which is a must for those who drive around town. However, it should also be noted that this apartment is a second floor with no elevator, which means that it is not accessible by the ADA.

  • Nearest airport: Charleston Intl Airport
  • Time: 28 minutes by car
  • Distance: 11.3 miles

Best budget: Quality Inn Goose Creek

Quality Inn Goose Creek Charleston
Reservation

Those looking for a budget-friendly yet comfortable stay should look to the Goose Creek Quality Inn. This location is only a short jaunt from downtown Charleston. Its suburban location is quiet and easy to access for those who prefer to avoid driving in the city. The rooms are comfortable and clean and have everything you need. Reservations also include free breakfast.

  • Nearest airport: Charleston Intl Airport
  • Time: 23 minutes by car
  • Distance: 11.5 miles

Best Mid-Range: Hyatt Place Charleston Historic District

Hyatt Place Historic District Charleston
Reservation

The historic Hyatt Place is a great option for guests who want to book a hotel near attractions and restaurants. Located on King Street and less than 2 miles from historic Charleston City Market, this hotel offers everything you need such as free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool and gym. The rooms are clean and minimalist, and some have a separate sitting area. You can easily walk to King Street to shop, eat or have a nightcap before going upstairs at the end of a busy day to relax and unwind.

  • Nearest airport: Charleston Executive Airport
  • Time: 23 minutes by car
  • Distance: 10.9 miles

Hottest hotel: The Dewberry

The Dewberry Hotel Charleston
The Dewberry

Located on Meeting Street, just across from Marion Square, the Dewberry is one of Charleston’s best and trendiest hotels. The rooms are sleek and modern with mid-century touches and floor-to-ceiling windows so you can wake up to wonderful city views. The bedrooms also have stunning marble bathrooms. The hotel includes amenities such as a comfortable and complete bar and lounge, a magnificent rooftop with breathtaking views of the coast and even a spa. For a stylish and luxurious stay in Charleston, there are few places that offer better value than The Dewberry.

  • Nearest airport: Charleston Intl Airport
  • Time: 27 minutes by car
  • Distance: 11.3 miles

What to eat

Your time in Charleston won’t be complete without trying these top-notch (and Instagram-worthy) restaurants. Most of them offer delivery or pick-up services to curb the spread of COVID-19, while others require a reservation. You can of course dine there, but be sure to follow the restaurant’s security measures. Below is a short guide to understanding the prices of each restaurant establishment:

  • “$” = Economical or inexpensive
  • “$$” = average
  • “$$$” = expensive

Best Classic: Poogan’s Porch

Fried green tomatoes at Poogan's Porch
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Located just off King and Queen Streets, Poogan’s Porch is set in a sunny pale yellow Victorian house with wide porches and palm trees in the courtyard. This Charleston classic serves equally traditional Southern cuisine. From chicken and waffles and fried green tomatoes to mac and cheese and shrimp and oatmeal, you’ll find all the staples you need to try while you’re in town at this restaurant. Make a reservation to dine and sip cocktails on the porch, or make the effort to pick up your food. While this option does not offer delivery, it is worth getting it to go.

Best for breakfast: The Harbinger Cafe & Bakery

The Harbinger Breakfast Sandwich
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Located in a quiet area, The Harbinger is a chic and cozy cafe offering delicious light bites prepared on site. The extensive drink menu is perfectly paired with the daily selection of cookies, pastries and quiches, among other items offered by the shop. Order the Harbinger Breakfast Sandwich which includes an herb frittata and white cheddar and chili cheese, as well as a dirty turmeric chai tea latte. Take it with you or sit on the terrace at the back of the store.

Best Seafood: Hyman’s Seafood

Hyman's Seafood Menu
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This Meeting Street staple has been around since 1890 and is one of Charleston’s most popular restaurants. With celebrities like Mel Gibson, Sandra Bullock, and Martin Sheen gracing this no-frills seafood house, it’s no wonder people keep coming. Hyman’s fry some of the best freshest seafood in the holy city and serve beautiful oysters on the half-shell. Hyman’s has a huge wine cellar, so don’t forget to take a look at the wine list either. While the restaurant is enforcing extensive security measures due to COVID-19, it also offers contactless delivery and take-out orders.

Best vegetarian restaurant: Neon Tiger

Neon Tiger interior
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Neon Tiger is a funky joint with a mid-century modern twist that meets club-like neon lights inside the restaurant. With consistently rave reviews, this is one of the best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in town that doesn’t just focus on bowls and salads, though there’s no shortage of them either. Located on Upper King Street, this central restaurant is easy to access for eating and picking up. Try the blackened cauliflower platter with hummus, the barbecue seitan sandwich, or the butternut squash mac and cheese.

Browse the menu of Neon Tiger

Best Small Plates: Félix Cocktails and Cuisine

Felix
Andrew Cebulka

Located on King Street, Félix is ​​a clean and elegant Parisian-inspired bistro that serves amazing small plates alongside its full bar. The wide selection of whiskey and bourbon goes wonderfully with the dishes prepared by the kitchen. For something light but delicious, order the Lobster Stuffed Eggs. For something more substantial, try the small steak and chips and egg or the raclette burger; both are deliciously appetizing. You can also dine on site to enjoy the drinks menu or order pickup or delivery.

Ideal for special occasions: Husk

Husk by Sean Brock
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While it seems like most southerners these days have heard of Sean Brock’s Husk, others may have heard of the chef and his restaurants through his episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix. There has never been a better time to check this stop off your bucket list. Husk focuses on preserving southern traditions and heirloom plants using only locally sourced ingredients. The menu is constantly changing, so be prepared to go with an open mind. Although the restaurant does not offer delivery, you can pick up meals. However, it’s worth booking to dine inside the Queen Street Victorian House. Security measures are in place, and the experience is not quite the same at home.

Outside

Gullah Geechee Sweetgrass Baskets
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There are only a limited number of hours that you can stroll along King Street or browse the bars while visiting Charleston. That’s why it’s worth taking a hike to Sullivan’s Island or Folly Beach for a day of sun and sand. While you can certainly enjoy the rays of the sun, you can also get out on the water.

From fishing trips and boat trips to surfing and paddle boarding, there are plenty of options for making the most of the coast. You can even book a kayak tour during the day or under the stars. If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can walk along the beach and visit the lighthouse. While you’re away from the city center, it’s also worth visiting Angel Oak, one of Charleston’s most notable attractions.

Another way to pass the time without leaving the heart of the holy city is to stroll along the city’s coastline to The Battery, which is a lovely public park. Grab a frisbee to throw for a while before heading home. You can also take a walking tour with Gullah Geechee Tours which educates locals and tourists alike about black history and Charleston’s rich culture.

You can even find Gullah Geechee artwork, sweetgrass baskets, at the city’s historic market. The second Sunday is also a success every month. On the second Sunday of the month, King Street becomes completely pedestrianized and features an outdoor market as well as small farmers’ markets to check out if you’re there on the right day.

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