Places to Go and Things to Do in Charleston

Explore some of the best places to dine, shop and sight-see in historic Charleston, South Carolina.

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By: Stephanie Hunt

Charleston Essentials: Dining Out

With James Beard Award-winning chefs, media-darling restaurants and a roaring Wine & Food Festival, Charleston has become the Southeast's foodie hotspot. The downside (besides the calories) is that choosing where to dine can be daunting. Start with these standouts, locals' secrets and suggestions for best places to ...

IMPRESS A DATE
Fulton Five
5 Fulton St.
Warm, intimate dining room, fabulous Italian fare, attentive servers

BE SPOILED ROTTEN
Charleston Grill
224 King St., at Charleston Place Hotel
Definitely a special-occasion indulgence. Five-star dining and pampering from the always-personable general manager, Mickey Bakst

EAT HEALTHY
Black Bean Co.
116 Spring St.
All organic and mostly local fresh ingredients. Energizing wraps and salads for vegetarians, vegans and the health conscious

Five Loaves Cafe
43 Cannon St.
Hardy soups, fortified salads, generous servings of healthy entrees

SAVOR THE WATERFRONT
The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene
106 Haddrell St., Mt. Pleasant
Tucked away on Shem Creek, literally on the shrimp docks, here the fried shrimp rules.

Fleet Landing
186 Concord St.
Fleet Landing is smack on the Charleston Harbor, with indoor and outdoor dining. Fresh seafood abounds on the wide-ranging menu.

GET GRITTY
Hominy Grill
207 Rutledge Ave.
Locals' favorite for Southern comfort fare with a cosmopolitan flare. Shrimp and grits take the cake, but save room for their famous Buttermilk Pie.

START YOUR DAY
WildFlour Pastry
73 Spring St.
Sunday morning cinnamon buns -- enough said.

Kudu Coffee
4 Vanderhorst St.
Hip crowd, lovely courtyard, African coffees and even craft beers if you prefer non-caffeinated brew

ENJOY A POST-SURF BEER
Poe's Tavern
2210 Middle St., Sullivan's Island
Local craft beers, killer burgers and a haunting beach vibe inspired by Edgar Allan Poe himself.

EAT PIZZA
E.V.O. Pizza
1075 East Montague Ave., North Charleston
This Park Circle favorite serves imaginative Neapolitan pies using local and organic produce and deliciously inspired salads.

BE A LOCAVORE
The Macintosh
479-B King St.

FIG
232 Meeting St.
Both these award-winning restaurants feature farm-to-table sophistication with fresh, seasonal bounty from nearby fields and waters. 

SEE AND BE SEEN
Halls Chophouse
434 King St.
The bar here is hopping with business deals and the tony dining room filled with movers and shakers. Plus, the Halls family treats you like royalty.

GRAB A LATE-NIGHT BITE
Butcher & Bee
654 King St.
This foodie lunch hotspot reopens for night owls, Thursday through Saturday, 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., with sandwiches worth staying up for.  

Charleston Essentials: Explore Local Culture/Flavor

Whether you're a history buff, a house and garden voyeur or an arts aficionado, the Charleston area has something for everyone. To experience local culture and flavor, check out these best ways/places to ...

GET AN OVERVIEW
A carriage tour gives accurate historic information at a leisurely clip(-ity clop), but also puts you at eye level for peering over gates and inside windows of lovely homes.
Old South Carriage Company
14 Anson St., Charleston, 843-723-9712

STROLL ART GALLERIES
The French Quarter features 30 galleries within walking distance of each other. Friday night Art Walks (first Fridays, quarterly) is a popular roving street party featuring the work of hundreds of artists. Don't miss:
Ann Long Fine Art, 54 Broad St.
Lime Blue/Corrigan Gallery, 62 Queen St.
Nina Liu and Friends, 24 State St.

PEOPLE WATCH
The Farmers Market in Marion Square (Saturdays April through December, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner of King and Calhoun Streets) is bustling. Enjoy a fresh crepe, a cup of coffee, live music and local purveyors, and watch the parade of passers-by.

MEET CHARLESTON AUTHORS
Pat Conroy, Josephine Humphreys, Brett Lott, Dorothy Benton Frank -- the list goes on and on. Charleston's distinguished literary community is celebrated by local independent bookstore Blue Bicycle Books.
Blue Bicycle Books
420 King St.

HEAR LIVE MUSIC
The college crowd hangs at The Music Farm (32 Ann St., Charleston) or The Pour House (1977 Maybank Highway) while jazz lovers flock to the Charleston Grill (224 King St.). Awendaw Green at the Sewee Outpost, Highway 17N, is a laid-back outdoor venue showcasing regional talent.

SHOP TILL YOU DROP
Charleston's King Street is famous for antique shops and clothing boutiques, but it also has everything from home decor to surf attire to an Apple store. Don't miss local retail landmarks Bob Ellis Shoes (332 King), Croghan's Jewel Box (308 King) or the ever-kitschy Robot Candy (322 King).

STEP BACK IN TIME
Middleton Place plantation and gardens is a 45-minute drive out historic Highway 61, and well worth the day-trip. Renowned camellias and America's oldest landscaped gardens, plus plantation crafts demonstrations, a kid-friendly stableyard and slave exhibit.
Middleton Place
4300 Ashley River Road

GET CIVIL
Take a boat cruise out to Fort Sumter -- explore Charleston's harbor and see where the Civil War began.
Spiritline Cruises
Liberty Square, 340 Concord St., 800-789-3678

CHILL & RECHARGE
All that shopping and touring will wear you out. Catch your breath, and some of the best breezy views around, at Charleston's Waterfront Park (Concord Street) or Mount Pleasant's Pier (71 Harry Hallman Blvd., beneath the bridge). Both feature relaxing, gently swaying swings. 

Charleston Essentials: Playing Outdoors

The Low Country is one big playground for outdoor enthusiasts, especially those who love the water. With the Francis Marion National Forest, the Cape Romain National Seashore and the ACE Basin all at our backdoor, the area is also blessed with great birding, wildlife and opportunities to explore nature.

HANG TEN

Surf's up at Folly Beach (the Washout) and the Isle of Palms (near the Pier, or around 31st Avenue), where long and short boarders catch wave action.
For year-round surf lessons, Kai Dilling at Sol Surfers is the man.
Surfboard rentals:
Charleston Watersport
1255 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mt. Pleasant
McKevlin's Surf Shop
8 Center St., Folly Beach

PADDLEBOARD
Stand-up paddleboarding is the perfect way to enjoy Charleston's creeks, rivers, ocean or harbor, and get a great workout while you're at it. Shem Creek Boat Landing (Mt. Pleasant) is a popular put-in spot.
Paddleboard rentals:
Charleston Watersport
1255 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mt. Pleasant
Nature Adventures Outfitters
483 West Coleman Blvd., Mt. Pleasant

GO FISH
For inshore fishing, cast from Mt. Pleasant Pier or any of the beaches. Offshore charters leave from Shem Creek and the Isle of Palms Marina. For gear and info:
Haddrell's Point Tackle & Supply
885 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mt. Pleasant
Charleston Angler
1113-J Market Center Blvd., Mt. Pleasant

KAYAK
Poke around tidal creeks and salt marshes, or paddle to barrier islands. It's a great way to see aquatic birds and wildlife.
Nature Adventures Outfitters (guided tours or kayak rentals)
483 West Coleman Blvd., Mt. Pleasant, on Shem Creek

BICYCLE
Charleston was made for two wheels. Whether you meander through historic neighborhoods downtown, or log serious miles over the Ravenel Bridge and beyond, cyclists love the Low Country's flat roads and scenic surrounds.
The Bicycle Shoppe
280 Meeting St., Charleston
Sweetgrass Cycles
234 Mathis Ferry Rd., Mt. Pleasant

HIKE
The Longleaf pine forests and swamps of nearby Francis Marion National Forest offer hours of peaceful hiking, including the end section of the Palmetto Trail.
Buck Hall Recreation Area, Highway 17N
Half-Moon Outfitters
280 King St., Charleston

GO SHELLING
On undeveloped Capers Island you'll find an abundance of seashells and other marine marvels. Remember sunscreen and bug spray!
Barrier Island Eco Tours
50 41st Ave., Isle of Palms Marina

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