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How to Live Like a Local: A Guide to Charleston, SC

How to Live Like a Local: Travel Guide to Charleston, SC

Charleston, South Carolina, is an elegant beach town with irresistible charm. Cobblestone streets, pastel Colonial homes, horse-drawn carriages, and beautiful water views are what you can expect when traveling to Charleston, SC. The city’s Southern charm and historical influence aren’t the only things you will fall in love with. Downtown Charleston and the surrounding areas are booming with delicious restaurant options, happening bars, unique shops, and beautiful beaches.

If Charleston isn’t on your list of places to travel, you definitely need to add it! If it is, we’ve got you covered. Our full-proof guide features some of the top restaurants, bars, places to stay, and things to see – all of which are locally approved. Trust us when we say, you should go see for yourself!

Where to Eat

Coffee & Breakfast

The Daily is a must-go-to market with gourmet coffee, baked goods, grab & go items, and delicious breakfast and lunch options. There is a major local vibe here, and we don’t just mean who is hanging out there. The menu items and goods sold here are either created in or inspired by the city of Charleston. Their menu is updated frequently to feature seasonal items, and you can’t go wrong with anything here.

Lunch

Fast-casual probably isn’t the typical meal you would go for when dining out in a foodie town such as Charleston, but Dellz Uptown is one place you don’t want to miss. This vegan-friendly, hole in the wall restaurant serves wraps, salads, pizzas, and more, and all of it is both incredible and affordable. Make sure you order the Jazzy Pizza and the Beach Bum Wrap, you won’t regret it!

Dinner 

Well worth the quick drive out to Sullivan’s Island is The Obstinate Daughter, a Southern restaurant with French, Italian, and Spanish influence. The menu consists of a variety of wood-fired pizzas, small plates, gourmet pasta, and raw bar options. The interior has a dreamy and intimate feel to it, all while maintaining the laid-back beach vibes of Sullivan’s Island. Insider tip: the Grilled Octopus, Ricotta Gnocchi, and the Rutledge Pizza are to die for.

Where to Drink

Drinks with a View

Beautiful city views and handcrafted cocktails make The Watch Rooftop Kitchen and Spirits the perfect place to relax and enjoy the city with a drink in hand. The restaurant is located at the top of The Restoration hotel and overlooks the city of Charleston and the harbor. Enjoy skillfully crafted cocktails, craft beers, and local wines while taking in the skyline of the city – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Local Dive-Bar Feels

The Royal American is a local favorite. Live music, cheap drinks, and intricate decor give it the ultimate dive-bar feel. Whether you prefer to hang inside around the bar or venture outside to the patio, you’ll be able to enjoy the live tunes and relaxed vibe. Royal American is located away from all of the action on King Street, which adds to the laid-back environment. The bartenders are friendly and welcoming, the drinks are strong, and there’s always a good crowd hanging out.

Day Drinking

Shem Creek, located across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Mount Pleasant, is the place to be when you want to enjoy a day of outdoor drinking. Saltwater Cowboys is Shem Creek’s newest restaurant and it does not disappoint. The best views of Shem Creek, ice-cold affordable drinks, and local cuisine make this the best place to kick back and enjoy the Charleston weather with a drink in hand.

What to Do

Soak Up The Sun on Sullivan’s Island

When visiting Charleston, there are a couple of different beach options: Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, Kiawah Island, and Seabrook Island. Each beach is unique in its own way, and they are all breathtakingly beautiful. Roughly nine miles away from Downtown Charleston is Sullivan’s Island, a charming beach town with a lot of character, and our top beach recommendation. While the island is small, there is plenty to do. Local restaurants and shops line the streets while sunbathers, kiteboarders, and bikers take on the beaches. History meets island charm making Sullivan’s Island an unforgettable place.

Walking Historic Tour

The city of Charleston is rich with history, and a Walking Historic Tour is the best way to see it all. Walks of Charleston leads Walking History Tours, Private Tours, and Alleys and Hidden Passages Tours. Their most popular tour, the Charleston History Tour, is a 2.5-hour walk that stops at all of the major points of interest in Downtown Charleston. A few noteworthy stops include the French Quarter, the Battery, Rainbow Row, and views of Fort Sumter. Learn all about this beautiful city for just $20.

Walk the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge

The Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge is an eight-lane, cable-stayed bridge that connects the Peninsula and Mount Pleasant. The Bridge is a magnificent sight with two diamond-shaped towers, a bike lane, and pedestrian lane. The views from the Ravenel are incredible – the Port, Downtown Charleston, and into Mount Pleasant. A sunset walk along the bridge is one of the best views you can get.

Visit Middleton Place

Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark, is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in America. Wander through beautiful gardens, explore the house museum and stable yards, or enjoy a local Low Country meal at the Middleton Place Restaurant. Starting in 1741, the gardens were created and maintained to reflect European style gardens, and they will blow you away with their beauty. Stay on the grounds of Middleton Place at the Inn or explore for the day, either way, it is well worth the visit.

Where to Stay

Belmond Charleston Place

For accommodations in Downtown Charleston, the Belmond Charleston Place is your best bet. At Charleston Place, Southern charm meets luxury. Beautiful rooms, high-end amenities, and a convenient location make for the perfect stay here. The Historic District, King Street, and The Battery are all within walking distance, and the Ravenel Bridge is in close proximity as well. While the prices are on the higher end here, staying at the Charleston Place is an experience you are bound to enjoy.

The Mills House

The Mills House is another luxury hotel in Historic Downtown Charleston.  The hotel has been in service since 1853 and is in close proximity to all that Downtown Charleston has to offer. You can expect a strong presence of Southern charm and hospitality when staying here. Walk to Museum Mile, The Battery, King Street, and more. Enjoy the beautiful views from their rooftop pool or walk out your front door to explore, we promise you will love every minute of it!

Airbnb

There is an incredible selection of Airbnbs in Charleston, and this is a great way to come and experience the city. Airbnbs are scattered throughout Downtown Charleston and the surrounding areas, so regardless of where you’d like to stay, there are options for you. As with Airbnb in any location, this is typically a more affordable option than staying in a hotel.

About The Author

Emily Fay

A Maryland native turned Charleston, South Carolina resident, Emily is all over the map. Emily’s marketing experience combined with her passion for travel and culture brings a unique dynamic to Apartminty. She utilizes her day-to-day experiences and knowledge on the multifamily industry to create insightful content that any type of renter can take advantage of. In her free time, you will find Emily in a hot-yoga class, relaxing on the beach, or enjoying the never-ending selection of delicious restaurants in Charleston.

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