Category: The Best of the Lowcountry
Charleston Foodie Neighborhoods
Charleston is every foodie’s dream come true. Jam-packed with award-winning restaurants, world-renowned chefs and homegrown flavor at every turn, the Holy City’s food scene has something for every food enthusiast to enjoy.
Although good eats are everywhere in historic downtown Charleston, some neighborhoods stand above the rest when it comes to their food. If you’re a foodie interested in Charleston real estate, be sure to check out these neighborhoods:
Explore the Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood and you’ll discover a mix of modern townhomes and condominiums alongside historic homes. The living options reflect the mix of residents in this up-and-coming area, which consists of young families, blue collar workers, students and retirees.
Cannonborough/Elliotborough borders the Upper King Street restaurant district, which means that residents are never far from some of the best dining on the Charleston peninsula.
One of Charleston’s most beloved restaurants, Hominy Grill attracts foodies from across the globe to try its traditional Southern fare. Located inside a free-standing historic house, the cozy and lively atmosphere pairs perfectly with the Lowcountry classics served at this renowned establishment.
Chef/owner Robert Stehling won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast in 2008 for his simple yet authentic Lowcountry-style specialties. From his she-crab soup and fried green tomatoes to his sesame fried catfish po’ boy, everything on the menu at Hominy Grill is a home run.
If the wait at Hominy Grill is too long, consider trying Fuel Charleston, located right across the street Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” the laid-back pub with a Caribbean-style menu makes for a great casual lunch spot.
Sip a Guava Mojito or Fuel Island Tea as you nosh on braised pork tacos or a fried fish sandwich. They also have a delicious brunch menu featuring Lowcountry classics such as local shrimp and stone-ground grits.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
Set in a former gas station, Xiao Bao Biscuit brings a fun and creative mix of flavors to Charleston’s rising food scene. Featuring a variety of comfort foods from Thailand, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Taiwan, this hip eatery offers variety to a city packed with Southern classics.
One of the dishes people can’t get enough of is their okonomiyaki covered in “pork candy,” a savory Japanese pancake made with flour, eggs and shredded cabbage. If spicy food isn’t your thing, be sure to ask the friendly wait staff for recommendations.
Considered one of the best oyster bars in the Lowcountry, The Ordinary is a hotspot in Cannonborough/Elliotborough. Operated by the same people who run farm-to-table favorite FIG, The Ordinary has won many accolades for its great selection of fresh, local seafood.
Led by chef Mike Lata, The Ordinary is housed in a former 1920s bank that features a dramatic setting, complete with high ceilings and rounded windows. With a wide variety of hot and cold items on the menu, this oyster hall has something for everyone.
Harleston Village is one of Charleston’s oldest neighborhoods. Boarded by Calhoun, Broad and King streets and the Ashley River to the west, this vibrant neighborhood was established in 1770, the same year as the College of Charleston.
Diverse and lively, Harleston Village neighborhood is home to families, college students and professionals alike. With its close proximity to shopping, dining, prestigious schools and well-kept public parks, Harleston Village is a great place to live, work and play in historic downtown Charleston.
As if that weren’t enough, this neighborhood is known for its amazing restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood to sip French wines while snacking on cheese and charcuterie or you prefer to dine at Charleston’s most romantic restaurant, this vibrant neighborhood has your epicurean needs covered.
Full of natural light and trendy décor, Basic Kitchen serves healthy dishes in a low-key, modern atmosphere. But make no mistake, there is nothing basic about the diverse flavors at this hip eatery.
From scrumptious fish tacos to rainbow veggie bowls, Basic Kitchen uses seasonal, local produce to create dishes that are both delicious and nutritious. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian — or you simply want to enjoy a healthy meal — this little gem is a great spot for brunch or dinner.
Wait times can be long, but the food is worth it. Order the cauliflower wings and their famous beet margarita — you won’t regret it!
Charleston has no shortage of Italian restaurants, but Le Farfalle is a worthy addition to the city’s dynamic food scene. Located at 15 Beaufain Street, this regional Italian restaurant has a delicious menu tailored perfectly to Charleston.
In addition to their house-made pasta and extensive wine list, Le Farfalle offers many dishes that are reimagined with a Lowcountry flare. The menu is always changing, but you’ll find cuisine such as the roasted duck rice bowl featuring Charleston Gold Rice and a fresh catch of the day, which highlights the city’s impeccable seafood.
The Rise Coffee Bar
If you’re a coffee or tea aficionado, The Rise Coffee Bar at the Restoration Hotel is a must-try. This lovely coffee shop on Wentworth Street offers a European sip-and-stroll experience, complete with artisan coffee, tea, cold-pressed juices and freshly baked pastries.
The Rise Coffee Bar partners with small batch coffee roaster Toby’s Estate and artisan tea maker Bellocq to deliver the finest coffees and teas in the Holy City. From lattes and cortados to their special Charleston tea blend, everything on the menu is bound to please any beverage enthusiast.
If you’re a professor or student at the nearby College of Charleston, you can enjoy a special discount. Another added bonus: The Rise Coffee Bar has two outdoor tables that are dog friendly!
It doesn’t get more romantic than Circa 1886. Located in the original carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion, this polished restaurant oozes romance and old Charleston charm.
Much of the original design of the carriage house remains, including the wood-burning kitchen fireplace, wide pine floor boards and stable doors. Intimate without being crowded, Circa 1886 delivers a fine dining experience that makes it a hotspot for fancier date nights.
Chef and co-owner Marc Collins, founder of the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, creates innovative Lowcountry dishes using seasonal ingredients. From buttermilk fried artichokes to white cheddar infused grits, anything you choose from the menu is sure to delight your taste buds.
Charleston’s French Quarter is known for its cobblestone streets, beautiful courtyards, copious art galleries and stunning architecture. This charming district is bounded by the Cooper River, Broad Street, Meeting Street and Market Street.
Named for the high concentration of French Huguenots in the area, the French Quarter is steeped in history. But in addition to its rich history, the small, quiet neighborhood also has a stellar reputation for refined restaurants and eclectic craft cocktails.
For an exceptional dining experience in Charleston, it doesn’t get much better than McCrady’s. Helmed by James Beard award-winning chef Sean Brock, both McCrady’s Restaurant and McCrady’s Tavern delight diners with bold combinations and complex flavors.
The two establishments are located side by side and provide two different dining experiences. McCrady’s Restaurant became Charleston’s only five-diamond-rated restaurant earlier this year and offers an upscale, experimental tasting experience. McCrady’s Tavern has a more casual vibe yet still provides an incredible menu with an amazing wine selection.
A local favorite, this upscale restaurant serves refined Lowcountry cuisine that’s both exquisite and flavorful. Magnolia’s focuses on every small detail, from creation to presentation to service.
Magnolia’s is great for a fancy night out or a special occasion. While a place like Magnolia’s might seem pretentious on the outside, the welcoming atmosphere and waitstaff are the perfect example of authentic Southern hospitality.
Helmed by Culinary Arts Director Donald Drake and Executive Chef Kelly Franz, the menu at Magnolia’s will have your mouth watering. From classics such as shellfish over grits and the Down South egg roll to Lowcountry dishes with modern interpretations such as boiled peanuts, Magnolia’s menu is topnotch.
The Gin Joint
Fancy yourself a craft cocktail? The Gin Joint is a budding mixologist’s paradise. Tucked away on East Bay Street, this cozy cocktail bar has amazing drinks made from scratch and delicious small plates to match.
The Gin Joint opened in 2010 and was one of the first cocktail bars to begin serving the Holy City after the repeal of the mini-bottle law. Eight years have passed, but the Gin Joint remains a French Quarter hotspot for locals.
Their spirits list is both creative and extensive, featuring drinks using local herbs and other local ingredients. Combined with the speakeasy vibe throughout the bar and an impressive list of elevated bar fare, the Gin Joint can do no wrong.
Insider Tip: If you enjoy wine tasting and art, check out the French Quarter Art Walk. Held the first Friday of March, May, October and December in Charleston’s French Quarter district, attendees can sample tasty wines as they browse more than 40 art galleries located on the historical streets of Charleston.
Also known as Hampstead Village, this up-and-coming neighborhood has investment potential for new home buyers. This neighborhood has cleaned up well in the last decade and is now transformed into a hipster-driven haven.
The modern, hipster vibe has influenced the restaurant scene in Eastside significantly. From craft cocktails at Mercantile and Mash to a savory bagel at Eastside Bagel, Hampstead has much to offer.
Mercantile and Mash
Mercantile and Mash is located at the Cigar Factory. Once a cotton manufacturing facility in the 1880s, the Cigar Factory is now a mixed-used building that features high-end retail, professional offices and culinary delights.
Venture through the Mercantile door to discover its gourmet food retail space, where patrons can order a stock of local culinary items, baked goods, fresh pastas, sandwiches, coffee and dessert. From the flaky chocolate croissants to the charcuterie selections, you won’t be leaving Mercantile hungry.
Now step inside Mash, a cozy, laid-back bar serving a wide selection of domestic whiskeys and local beers. The knowledgeable bartenders are always ready to talk whiskey and will make you an amazing Old Fashioned using a type of whiskey exclusive to Mash. Along with its boozy offerings, Mash also boasts an indoor bocce court, shuffleboard and arcade games.
This festive Mexican bar and restaurant is a solid addition to Charleston’s growing food scene. Not only are the tacos unique and delicious, but the staff are always friendly and accommodating to all.
Whether you’re a vegetarian, a carnivore or gluten-free, you’ll love Taco Boy. The roasted cauliflower taco and tempura avocado are scrumptious, and the guacamole is a must! If you’re a meat-lover, the carne asada quesadilla and street tacos won’t disappoint.
For a cheap but delicious meal, Eastside Bagel is the place to go. Tucked away a few blocks from Meeting Street, this one-of-a-kind bagel shop offers large steamed bagels that are packed with flavor and utterly unique.
From its cheeses and meats to the bagel bread, Eastside Bagel takes its ingredients seriously. Whether you choose the traditional breakfast bagel with ham, egg and cheese or the Nassau, a salami and veggie cream cheese bagel, it’s guaranteed to hit the spot. If you’re hungry for lunch, they also have plenty of satisfying options that will turn you into an Eastside Bagel convert. However, you may want to take your food to go. The shop is small with not much seating.
As you can see, culinary delights abound in Charleston. With our award-winning restaurants and tasty craft beverages, it’s not surprising that so many chefs are flocking to the Holy City.
If you’re getting ready to put down roots in Charleston and you are passionate about food, you’ll fit right in here. We promise that you won’t be disappointed with the rich culinary offerings in these Charleston foodie neighborhoods.
When it comes to laid-back coastal living, it doesn’t get any better than Seabrook Island. Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Charleston, this wonderful island community strikes the perfect balance of modern amenities and unspoiled nature.
With a phenomenal year-round climate, pristine beaches and year-round activities, it’s easy to see why Seabrook Island is an ideal place to live, work and play. This private island is a quiet oasis, full of natural splendor and outdoor recreation.
But don’t mistake this beautiful barrier island for your average summer resort town. Explore the secluded charms of Seabrook Island and you’ll soon discover why residents love living here year-round.
THE UNIQUE CHARMS OF SEABROOK ISLAND
Whether you’re a retiree, a working family or simply want your own private oasis to relax, Seabrook Island is sure to delight. This 2,200-acre island may be small, but it has a lot to offer its residents.
Although you’ll find many of the usual high-end amenities on Seabrook, the island has plenty of unique attributes that make it distinct from other Charleston-area resorts.
Unlike other beach resort areas in Charleston, Seabrook Island doesn’t have many amenities for tourists. In fact, there are no hotels on the island. Seabrook Island offers rental villas and condos that blend in with the area’s natural scenery. Although this offers fewer rental options to those who wish to vacation on Seabrook, locals enjoy having the quieter pace of life that having fewer tourists provides.
One significant benefit to living on Seabrook Island is that locals can enjoy the summer months without the congestion caused by a huge number of vacationers. Less tourism also keeps the island feeling like one big neighborhood.
Commitment to Sustainability
The unspoiled beauty of Seabrook is a deep source of pride for the island community. Locals are committed to preserving their island for future generations and have implemented numerous sustainable management practices to support these efforts.
Because of these efforts, the island received the Audubon International Sustainable Community certification—the first community in South Carolina to receive this status and the 75th in the United States. The certification indicates the completion of management practices and policies addressing 14 focus areas, such as wildlife conservation, energy efficiency, health and transportation.
Seabrook is also involved with the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program and retains Audubon certification for both of its golf courses.
No Master Developer
Do you dislike being told what you can and can’t do when building a home? Seabrook Island is distinctly residential in that it has no master developer. That means residents have the freedom to create their own private oasis without strict limitations.
Enjoy an existing home tucked away in live oaks, lush foliage and palmetto trees, or build your own from the ground up. Whichever option you choose, your Seabrook Island home will be perfectly situated in a balance of modern amenities and natural beauty. Click here to view current listings: Seabrook Island real estate
Small, Yet Vibrant Community
Although the island is gated, the Seabrook Island community is friendly, displaying the same Southern charm that Charleston is famous for. Whether you’re dining on the island, popping into one of many nearby specialty shops or getting together with other locals for Sunday brunch, you can expect a warm welcome from the community.
In fact, the island makes it incredibly easy for residents to connect with each other. Periodic social events are scheduled, giving new residents a chance to meet other locals and community leaders.
Horseback Riding on the Beach
For equestrians and nature lovers alike, nothing is more tranquil than riding horses along the beach. Seabrook Island is the only place you can ride horses along Charleston’s coast and the only place in the Carolinas.
Seabrook Island is also home to a large-scale equestrian center offering private lessons, trail and beach rides and horse boarding. For beginners to advanced riders, the Seabrook Island Equestrian Center is not to be missed.
Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphins are a common sight in the coastal waters of the Lowcountry, especially during the peak months of their migration. But less common is witnessing a dolphin strand feeding.
Dolphin strand feeding is a sophisticated form of hunting that requires dolphins to work together to herd fish or shrimp towards shallow water or the shore. This unique behavior is sometimes seen by visitors and residents on Seabrook Island when dolphins are migrating down to warmer waters for the winter.
Visitors in the summer are less likely to see this fascinating sight, but locals who live in Seabrook Island year-round have more opportunities to see dolphin strand feeding. Just remember to keep your distance—at least 50 yards—to avoid interfering with this natural behavior.
A Unique History
Charleston is famed for its rich history, but Seabrook has a unique history all its own. First inhabited by Native Americans, the land that is now Seabrook was settled in 1670 by English settlers.
Originally named “Colleton” in honor of Sir John Colleton, the island would pass hands and experience multiple name changes (often named after the landowner) until it settled upon the name Seabrook Island in 1816 after owner William Seabrook.
Under Seabrook’s ownership, the island was primarily used for growing cotton. During the Civil War, Seabrook sold the island to William Gregg, founder of the Graniteville Company.
The town was eventually incorporated in 1987 when 85 percent of the registered voters of Seabrook cast their vote at the polls. A week later, a certification of incorporation was granted to the Town of Seabrook Island by the Secretary of State of South Carolina.
Interested in more of Seabrook Island’s history? Read the entire history by clicking on the PDF featured on the town’s website.
Unpretentious Seaside Living
Unlike other resort beach towns, Seabrook Island manages to offer modern amenities and a resort-style way of living without any pretentiousness. From its golf courses to its fitness and wellness facility, the town’s amenities are well-kept and welcoming to all.
Whether you want to take personalized golf instruction at one of Seabrook’s golf courses, get in shape at SIPOA Lake House or get involved in a special interest group, the town of Seabrook has an endless number of ways to enjoy the finer things in life.
EXPERIENCE COASTAL LIVING AT ITS FINEST
If one thing is certain about Seabrook, it’s that you’ll never be bored. Edged by 2.5 miles of beaches along the Atlantic coast, Seabrook offers a diverse array of outdoor activities and amenities for residents to enjoy year-round. From championship golf to exciting water sports, there is always something fun to do on this quaint island resort.
With 2.5 miles of uncrowded beaches, a deep-water marina and a phenomenal year-round climate, Seabrook Island is the ideal place for water sports. Residents can take advantage of the secluded waters by way of paddleboard or kayak, take their boat for a deep-sea fishing excursion or hop on a jet ski for an exciting day on the water.
Don’t own a boat? Rent a fishing boat from Bohicket Creek Boat Rentals at Bohicket Marina for a fun day with the family. Seabrook Island’s picturesque waters offer endless aquatic activities for all ages to enjoy.
The lush greens and fairways on Seabrook Island are a golf enthusiast’s dream-come-true. The island features two award-winning golf courses: Ocean Winds and Crooked Oaks.
The two courses are completely unique, uncrowded and offer picturesque views. Ocean Winds, designed by Willard Byrd, is a par 72, 6,765-yard course which takes golfers to the Atlantic Ocean. Crooked Oaks is a 6,780-yard course with a par 72, designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. This course winds through twisted live oaks and marshland.
Tournament Grade Tennis Club
On Seabrook Island, there is no need to hang up your tennis racquet come wintertime. The Seabrook Island Racquet Club features 15 professionally-maintained clay courts which are available year-round.
Ranked in Tennis magazine as one of the top 25 tennis resorts in the world, the Seabrook Island Racquet Club is famed for its state-of-the-art facility and natural beauty. In addition to its tennis courts, the facility also boasts a lounge for members to socialize, private instruction taught by professionals, onsite clinics, ball machine rentals and a Pro Shop for tennis gear and accessories.
Become a member of the SI Racquet Club and enjoy the many fun events that they host throughout the year, such as the New Year Mixer.
Beaches may not be uncommon in the Lowcountry, but Seabrook Island’s unspoiled beaches are second to none. With nearly four miles of sandy beach shorelines, there are ample opportunities to swim, play and take in a gorgeous sunset.
In fact, Seabrook’s beaches have received numerous accolades. Seabrook Island was recently featured in Conde Nast Traveler’s “9 Best Beaches in Charleston” list and was named one of America’s “Best Restored Beaches” by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) in 2016.
Despite its good press, you’ll never need to worry about beating the crowd. Whether you’re taking in a sunrise on North Beach or playing with the kids at Pelican Beach, the miles of pristine shoreline along Seabrook Island are enjoyed primarily by locals. Remember to read the rules before you enjoy the island’s pristine beaches.
Shopping and Dining Opportunities
Not only is Seabrook Island less than 30 miles away from shopping and dining in downtown Charleston, it’s also a short distance to Bohicket Marina & Market and Freshfields Village.
Located between Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island, Bohicket Marina & Market is home to beloved restaurants, including LoKal Seabar and Fischer’s Sports Pub and Grill. The market also features quaint specialty shops where locals can pick up a thoughtful local gift from Doin’ The Charleston or pick up live bait at Bohicket Ship Store.
Freshfields Village is located on Kiawah Island, less than a 10-minute drive from Seabrook Island. This stylish village features an array of dining options, from gourmet coffee to savory, Lowcountry cuisine. Freshfields Village also has a fine collection of boutique stores, a farmers market and service establishments to please locals and visitors alike.
If you’re searching for an easy way of living along the Lowcountry coastline, you’ve found it in Seabrook Island. Peaceful and secluded, this beautiful island boasts all the modern amenities of a resort without the crowds and congestion.
Great choice! The Holy City is packed with beautiful beaches, historical sites and fun activities for the entire family. From outdoor adventures to interactive museums, a Charleston family vacation has something for everyone to enjoy!
But with so many fun things to do, planning your Charleston family vacation can seem overwhelming. To take some stress out of the process, we’ve consulted with some local experts, and this is their helpful guide for planning the ultimate family trip to Charleston this summer.
Activities and Attractions
Whether you’re traveling with teenagers, grade schoolers or toddlers, there are plenty of enjoyable things for your kids to see and do in the Lowcountry. From plantation tours to wildlife encounters, these activities will make your trip to the Holy City as memorable as possible.
Charles Towne Landing
First-time visitors shouldn’t miss Charles Towne Landing. The 664-acre park isn’t just the site of the first permanent English settlement in the Carolina colony; it’s also home to a nature preserve, an indoor interactive museum, beautiful gardens, self-guided history trails and more.
If your kids are old enough, consider renting bicycles from the park to take a peaceful ride under majestic oak trees draped in Spanish Moss. Kids of all ages will enjoy the Adventure, a replica 17th century trading vessel they can board and explore.
Visiting with little ones? They will love the Animal Forest, a wildlife sanctuary filled with animals that once inhabited the region. As an added bonus, admission is free for kids under the age of 5.
Water Fountains and Public Parks
Charleston summers can be brutal, with temperatures averaging mid to upper 80s and humidity that makes it feel even hotter. A great way to beat the heat is by splashing around in Charleston’s many water fountains or relaxing in shaded parks.
The Charleston Waterfront Park boasts numerous water fountains for the kids to play in, including the iconic Pineapple Fountain. While the kids are getting soaked, you might want to grab some gelato and sit on a bench to take in the gorgeous view of the harbor.
Searching for a less touristy option? Try Park West Recreation Complex in nearby Mount Pleasant for a fun playground with fountains or James Island County Park, which has its own splash pad and waterpark.
Nature and Wildlife Adventures
It may be hard to believe, but you don’t need to venture far outside of Charleston’s city center to experience its natural beauty and wildlife. The coastal city boasts many diverse natural landscapes, from magnificent beaches and tidal creeks to salt marshes and forests.
If your family loves outdoor adventures, consider touring a marsh in a kayak or taking an eco-tour out to Bull’s Island. These tours are great for families with older kids and offer a more unique way to experience Charleston’s local ecosystems.
Visiting with younger children? The South Carolina Aquarium is sure to be a hit for the entire family. The aquarium is home to more than 5,000 animals and features indoor and outdoor touch tanks.
Fort Sumter National Park
You don’t need to be a history buff to enjoy Fort Sumter National Park. This famous sea fort is one of Charleston’s most popular attractions, and it provides an exceptional learning experience for the entire family.
Insider’s tip: book your tickets in advance! Because these tours are so popular, tickets sell out fast, and many visitors are forced to wait for the next boat. Also, the southern sun can be brutal in the summertime, but sunscreen and hats will help keep everyone comfortable.
Who says learning can’t be fun? Take the kids to one of Charleston’s many museums for a hands-on educational experience they won’t soon forget.
Parents with small children should not miss the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry (CML). With its many interactive exhibits and programs, youngsters will have a blast exploring all the themed areas.
If interactive museums are a hit with your kids, the North Charleston Fire Museum and Patriot’s Point Naval Museum are also worth a visit. Although neither are as toddler-friendly as CML, they both offer interactive exhibits that are fun for the entire family.
A trip to Charleston wouldn’t be complete without a visit to one of its historic plantations. With their well-kept grounds, lush gardens and rich history, these storied locales can make you feel as though you have been transported back in time.
Each plantation offers a unique experience to visitors. At Boone Hall Plantation, visitors can go U-picking for seasonal crops and see firsthand why these enchanting grounds are the most photographed of any plantation. Or stop by Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and take a relaxing boat tour as you learn about the important role plantations played in our nation’s history.
Charleston’s beautiful barrier islands offer miles of pristine beaches for locals and visitors to enjoy. From the romantic and secluded strands on Sullivan’s Island to the family-friendly shores of Isle of Palms, each of Charleston’s local beaches has its own unique charm.
If you’re traveling with kids, Isle of Palms is a great choice. IOP has many rules to keep beach-goers safe, as well as many recreational opportunities both on and off the water.
Folly Beach is great place to try your hand at watersports. Watch surfers catch waves near the north end of the island or walk along Folly Beach Pier, the second longest pier on the East Coast.
Looking for more information on Charleston’s most popular beaches? Check out this blog post that details the city’s most captivating beaches and their unique charms.
When it comes to choosing a place to stay for your Charleston family vacation, there are a few options to consider. Start by creating a budget and factor in whether you plan to rent a car while you’re in town.
For example, renting a car gives you the option of staying in more affordable hotels and vacation homes located just outside of downtown Charleston. If you’re not renting a car, you’ll want to explore all the fantastic lodging that are conveniently located on the peninsula.
No matter what you’re searching for, the Holy City has great options for every family and any budget. Here are a few suggestions to help you find the right fit for your vacation.
Beach Vacation Rentals
When rest and relaxation are a top priority, a beach vacation rental is the way to go. Families often feel cramped in hotels, but a charming beach cottage can provide a more spacious accommodation where you can unwind and enjoy the peace and quiet of coastal life.
From Isle of Palms to Folly Beach to Dewees Island, Charleston has a beach vacation rental for everyone. Browse the best beach rentals around Charleston and search for your ideal home-away-from-home based on your exact criteria.
Let’s be honest, we’re in the vacation rental business, so we always recommend staying on the beaches in one of our rental houses. Be we understand there are times, especially with smaller groups, where a hotel is in order and we have some favorites.
The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina
Beautiful views of the harbor, spacious rooms and easy shuttle access to downtown Charleston makes The Beach Club an excellent place for families to stay. Located across the harbor from Charleston in Mount Pleasant, this gorgeous hotel is just a quick shuttle or seasonal water taxi ride away from all the action. The resort is also home to Harborside, a waterfront hotel that offers different rooms and amenities.
Insider tip: Check out Groupon before you book. The resort often has deals for both their Estuary Spa and their hotel lodging.
Holiday Inn on Meeting Street
Don’t want to pay exorbitant prices for a downtown Charleston hotel? The Holiday Inn on Meeting Street offers all the comfort, cleanliness and convenience — but without the fancy amenities that you might find at a luxury hotel like The Belmond Charleston Place.
This relatively new hotel is within walking distance of local restaurants and shopping opportunities on King Street. However, you can also take a quick Uber ride to additional restaurants further along the peninsula.
Restoration on King Street
Visiting with a big family but want to spend a few days living in luxury? The Restoration on King has everything you need to make your stay relaxing and enjoyable.
Located in Historic Charleston, this luxury spa hotel offers spacious suites equipped with a well-stocked kitchen, flat-screen TVs and large bathrooms. Roll-away beds and cribs are available upon request, and guests can rent a room with a terrace for additional space.
Kid-Friendly Places to Eat
It’s no secret that Charleston serves up some of the best Southern food in the country. But can the city’s impressive food scene be enjoyed by young children as well as adults?
Luckily, the answer is a resounding yes! Although some kids can be picky eaters, there are still plenty of restaurants that will please everyone in your party. For a family-friendly dining experience, check out these local eateries:
Bowen’s Island Restaurant
Known for its oysters, hushpuppies and amazing fried shrimp, this funky seafood shack is a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. With its fresh seafood and spectacular view of the water, Bowen’s Island Restaurant may be the perfect place to grab a cold beer and eat a delicious meal with the family after a long day on Folly Beach. Bonus: this is the BEST place in town for oysters when they are in season.
Early Bird Diner
If you’re a fan of the Food Network, you may be familiar with Early Bird Diner and its famous chicken and waffles. However, it’s not just that one dish that makes locals flock to this popular American diner.
From shrimp and grits to homemade ice cream, the Early Bird Diner can do no wrong. Order anything off the ever-changing menu and expect your taste buds to be delighted.
With affordable prices and large portions, this classic Southern diner is ideal for families on a budget. Just be prepared to circle the parking lot a few times if you come during the lunch rush.
Triangle Char + Bar
Triangle Char + Bar is a convenient place for locals to enjoy savory burgers or stop by for a beer during happy hour. Whether you’re in the mood for a craft cocktail or a brisket taco that melts in your mouth, good food at Triangle is always a sure thing.
If you’re staying on Folly Beach with the family, visiting Lost Dog Café is a must. This charming café serves breakfast all day and welcomes dogs to sit outside on the patio with their owners.
From the blackened salmon wrap to flavorful biscuits and gravy, Lost Dog never disappoints. Breakfast is served all day, so you don’t need to worry about missing out on those delicious cinnamon buns or poached eggs.
Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar
Kids and adults should have no trouble finding something to enjoy at Fleet Landing. Located near the City Market in Historic Charleston, this casual restaurant boasts four menus: dinner, bar, brunch and dessert.
Dinnertime at Fleet Landing is usually noisy, but families with little ones may find this to their advantage. Take in the ocean view as you enjoy some specialty crab cakes or she-crab soup.
Smoky Oak Taproom
Craving some good BBQ? Smokey Oak Taproom on James Island is the place to roll up your sleeves and don a bib.
In addition to pulled pork, chicken, beef brisket, pork ribs and many tasty sides, Smokey Oak offers more than 45 craft beers. Combined with its laid-back attitude, Smokey Oak is the perfect dinner place for casual family gatherings.
There is never a bad time for a Charleston family vacation. You can save money — and a few headaches — by planning your trip to the Holy City in advance. This way, you can take advantage of deals and avoid tourist traps that can suck your vacation budget dry.
Ready to put your vacation plans into action? Book your Charleston family vacation today and get ready to start making lasting family memories!
This walkable community puts an emphasis on neighborly. With a number of Nexton-sponsored events and clubs, there are tons of opportunities for you to meet your fellow neighbors! Nexton is designed to live like a small town with homes, schools, shops, parks, restaurants, and businesses all close enough to walk or bike to anywhere you need to be. Almost half of the community is dedicated to parks, natural open space, and paved paths/trails. The pool at Nexton’s Brighton Park Village is much more than just a 25-meter competition pool! There is also an interactive splash pad for young kids, a huge deck with shady areas, a covered pavilion, and green space that can accommodate a volleyball game, a family picnic or just spending time with a good book. The Swim Club is designed for year-round fun, complete with a cozy fire-pit for chilly evenings. The highly praised Nexton Elementary opened back in 2015 and is the area’s only Common Sense Digital Leadership School. Walking your kids to school has never been easier!
The Nexton community is much more than just homes. Its is South Carolina’s first gigabit community providing the fastest, highest-capacity broadband internet connections. Nexton is also well on its way to becoming the region’s third major job center in its town center. The 17-acre site will feature 140,000 square-feet full of shops, restaurants, and services all within a walking/biking distance and centered around the town lake. Hall’s Chophouse, Taco Boy, and Fuji Sushi are just a few local favorites that will be calling Nexton Square home. A Harris Teeter will soon be in the center of the retail district. For beers and brews, there already is Starbucks and Carolina Ale House for you to enjoy.
Nexton is located right in the heart of the lowcountry in Summerville, SC. It is conveniently positioned at the crossroads of I-26 and 17A and less than 30 miles from Historic Downtown Charleston. Enjoy the small town charm of Hutchinson Square in Downtown Summerville where a number of family-friendly festivals are hosted each year. You will find that everything need is just minutes away, including a variety of boutique shops and vintage stores.
You can find residences ranging from apartments to single-family homes. All are exclusively designed for Nexton, starting in the mid $200,000 and go up to the low $600,000’s. Builders for the community understand that an authentic lowcountry home isn’t a historic replica, but rather a home carefully designed for a modern lifestyle while maintaining southern charm. All of the homes meet a high standard of design and craftsmanship and are setting a new bar for the entire region. Currently, the homes are being completed by three developers: Saussy Burbank, Pulte, and Del Webb.
There’s so much about Charleston we can take pride in, like its beauty, charm, and history. And speaking of history, Charleston is credited with many of our nation’s firsts, like the first museum, and first theater. Want to learn more? Here are five firsts that Charleston can take all the credit for, and they’re five more things you can be proud of as a Charlestonian.
America’s First Woman Editor and Publisher, Elizabeth Timothy
You need to know her name: Elizabeth Timothy. One of the world’s first female journalists, she was also the first female newspaper editor and publisher. Of course in addition she also took on the role of being a mom and homemaker — a juggle the modern woman knows all too well. She was also a widow. In other words, she’s like a real life superhero. She immigrated tjo America with her French Huguenot family in 1731, arriving in Philadelphia from London. The family eventually moved to Charleston (then Charles Towne) so her father could take over the South Carolina Gazette. When her father passed away at an early age, none of his sons were old enough to take over but Elizabeth was — she had six kids by the time she became a partner. Although — the paper’s publisher had to be listed as a male, her brother Peter, who was 13, even though she in fact was the publisher. As publisher and editor she certainly had a large role in shaping the city and was inducted into the SC Press Association Hall of Fame in 1973. The South Carolina Gazette lived on Vendue Range, where there is now a plaque there on the bay recognizing her. She was inducted into the SC Business Hall of Fame in 2000.
America’s First Theater, Dock Street Theater
The Dock Street Theater is America’s first theater and where America’s first opera was performed. The theater opened in 1736 with The Recruiting Officer. About 64 years later, the theater turned into Planters Hotel, where Planter’s Punch was invented, and the hotel remained there until almost a 100 years. Dear old Dock Street was reconstructed in 1936. Today it’s a beloved local treasure showing theatre favorites and originals fro traveling companies during special times like our annual Spoleto Festival.
First Municipal College, College of Charleston
Established in 1770, the College of Charleston is the oldest municipal college in the nation. It’s also the 13th oldest institution of higher education in the country. Chartered in 1785, CofC’s founders include three (at that time) future signers of the Declaration of Independence — Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward — as well as three future signers of the US Constitution: John Rutledge, Charles Pinckney, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Today the college continues to carry out its original mission, which is to “encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education.”
America’s First Submarine, H.L. Hunley
The H.L. Hunley is a hand-cranked Confederate submarine that torpedoed the USS Housatonic in the Charleston Harbor on Feb. 14 1864, during the Civil War, making it the first submarine to sink a warship. With it being the first combat submarine to sink an enemy warship, that move altered naval warfare from that point forward, demonstrating the advantages, and the dangers, of undersea warfare. Invented by Horace Lawson Hunley, the Hunley was nearly 40 feet long and was built in Mobile, Alabama. The beast was discovered in the sea in 1995 and on Aug. 8, 2000 it was raised out of the ocean, just 3.5 nautical miles from Sullivan’s Island outside the entrance to Charleston Harbor, where a crowd of proud Charlestonians and history buffs loudly applauded.
America’s First Museum, Charleston Museum
Located on Meeting Street, the Charleston Museum was founded in 1773. It was inspired by the British Museum and established by the Charleston Library Society the day before the American Revolution. Oddly enough the museum didn’t open to the public until 1824 but closed again due to the Civil War. Although the original collections are widely varied and even include Egyptian artifacts, its main focus is still on the South Carolina Lowcountry. The collections include materials from natural history, historical material culture and both documentary and photographic resources.
There is a a long list of Charleston firsts, and these five only scratch the surface. Check back soon for another post with more information about trailblazers in our historic city.
Get ready for another Charleston Restaurant Week – January 10-21, 2018! The event, carried out by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, Inc (GCRA), is one of the most highly anticipated culinary events here in the Charleston area. It is a fantastic opportunity to try some of the best cuisine the Lowcountry has to offer. Participating restaurants offer prix fixe lunch and dinner menus throughout the area. Here is a “taste” of some of the participating restaurants:
Ink and Ivy – Downtown Charleston
This eclectic restaurant offers delectable American cuisine, from raw and fresh seafood, to seared certified angus steak. Start your meal with a cool cocktail or choose from a variety of craft beers with both local and international appeal. Whether your looking for an edgy date night or just a late night drink, you’ll find that they have something for everyone. For restaurant week, Ink and Ivy is offering 4 courses for $35
492 – Downtown Charleston
History buffs will appreciate the extensive renovation of this charming restaurant. The building dates back to the early 1800s and sat abandoned since Hurricane Hugo. During renovations, spearheaded by local architect Reggie Gibson, as much of the original building was left intact as possible. The interior features a contemporary dining room downstairs, a romantic space upstairs, and a picturesque courtyard overlooking King Street. At 492, enjoy executive Chef Josh Keeler’s award-winning cuisine from lamb to swordfish, just be sure to save room for one of their scrumptious desserts!
Coast Bar and Grill – Downtown Charleston
For those of you looking for some fresh catch, Coast Bar and Grill might just be the place for you. Their chefs meet every day with local farmers and fishermen to purchase the freshest seafood and produce in the area. Local favorites include a selection of wood-grilled fresh fish, seared tuna, fish tacos and the full raw bar. For restaurant week, Coast will be serving 3 courses for $30
Stella’s – Downtown Charleston
If you are looking for something different from the typical Lowcountry cuisine, try Stella’s. This classy throwback diner offers traditional Greek dishes and shareable meze (happy hour with small pates and drink specials) along with a special Mediterranean style Sunday brunch. Special for Resaturant Week is $10 Apps/Meze and $20 Entrees/Main.
Looking to nosh outside of the downtown Peninsula? There are plenty of participating restaurants in Charleston’s surrounding communities too!
The Granary – Mt. Pleasant
Enjoy a Lowcountry inspired menu in the heart of Mt. Pleasant. The Granary’s menu focuses on the seasonal ingredients from the region that are sourced from local farms. The menu boasts a selection of Southern staples including baked oysters, fried chicken, and duck pot pie. Top it off with their signature seasonal punch, that they conveniently keep on tap. For restaurant week, The Granary is offering a number of 3 course options for $30.
Al Di La – West Ashley
Al Di La, a small West Ashley gem, is home to a lively bar and some of the most delicious homemade pastas this side of the Atlantic. They are also known for crafting amazing specialty drinks. The cozy dining room is a popular spot, especially during Restaurant Week when they offer an extensive menu with more choices than some other participating spots. You cannot go wrong with their Duck Confit Tagliatelle and their Fettucine Bolognese is pretty special. Offering: 3 for $25, 3 for $33, or 4 for $42
Tomasso at Turtle Point – Kiawah Island
Yes, Charleston Restaurant Week spreads all the way out to Kiawah Island! Enjoy authentic Italian dishes from Chef Derick Wade while overlooking the Turtle Point Golf Course. Start any meal off with a bowl of warm tomato basil bisque. For restaurant week, Tomasso will be serving 3 courses for $30.
There are so many terrific choices to dine in and around Charleston. For the full list of participating restaurants and their featured menus, check out the Restaurant Week page.
It’s been another exceptional year for Charleston. Voted the No. 1 City in the U.S. for the fifth consecutive year, it seems that the Holy City is like fine wine—it only gets better with age. If you’re already making plans next year, here is a list of 2018 Charleston Events you won’t want to miss. The city’s best events and favorite traditions are set to be bigger and better than ever, from Lowcountry oyster roasts to the highly anticipated Spoleto Festival.
Best of all, each season brings something new and exciting for visitors and locals. With so many great activities, festivals, and 2018 Charleston events, how can you possibly choose which ones are worth attending? To make things easier for you, we’ve rounded up a list!
Charleston Winter Events
Whether you live in Charleston or you’re here to escape the biting cold in a cozy beach rental, there are plenty of fun events happening in the winter. The Holy City has something for everyone.
Charleston Restaurant Week
Jan. 10 – 21, 2018
Each year, locals and tourists alike look forward to Charleston Restaurant Week. For 11 days, participating restaurants in the Holy City delight diners by offering great food at amazing prices. With some of the top culinary establishments participating in this event, food lovers can’t miss this opportunity. This is your chance to sample cuisine from the Holy City’s most talented chefs, all for unbeatable prices!
Charleston Jazz Festival
Jan. 18 – 21, 2018
Are you a fan of jazz? You won’t be disappointed with the performances at the Charleston Jazz Festival. Now in its fourth year, this year’s festival is back with an impressive lineup of musicians. Along with Charleston’s most celebrated home-grown talent, some of the world’s best-known jazz musicians will give performances, including Kenny G and Carmen Bradford. Expect to see a bit of everything here, from Gullah contemporary to Disney-meets-jazz performances.
Lowcountry Oyster Festival
Jan. 28, 2018
Each year in January, locals and tourists flock to Boone Hall Plantation for the annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival. As the world’s largest oyster festival, this legendary event is one of the most highly anticipated bivalve festivals in the South. Celebrating its 35th year, the festival is always a great way to start the new year. Live music, wine and craft beer, scrumptious oysters and eating contests await you at this fun-filled event. Get your tickets now to secure your spot!
2018 Carolina Challenge Cup
Feb. 17 – 21, 2018
Football may be the dominant sport in the South, but soccer fans are alive and well in Charleston. The 2018 Carolina Challenge Cup will take place in February, and the Charleston Battery is thrilled to host. This year, the four-team event will see Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, Columbus Crew SC, Charleston Battery, and Minnesota United FC battling it out for the Challenge Cup. Opening the tournament will be Atlanta against Columbia Crew on February 17th. Mark your calendars, soccer fans!
Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE)
Feb. 16 – 18, 2018
If you love animals and nature, the Southeastern Wildlife Expo (SEWE) is for you. This three-day celebration of wildlife and land is the largest of its kind in the country, jam-packed with fun for all ages. Taking place in downtown Charleston at multiple venues, attendees will enjoy food and drink as they view fine art, listen to wildlife experts, witness sporting demonstrations, and share a collective love of animals with fellow guests. This event sells out quickly, as do hotel rooms in the downtown Charleston area. Book your tickets and rooms in advance to avoid missing out!
Charleston Spring Events
There is arguably no better time to visit Charleston than in the spring. The azaleas and dogwoods are in bloom, temperatures are mild, and the season brings some of the Holy City’s most highly anticipated events.
Charleston Wine + Food Festival
February 28 – March 4, 2018
If you consider yourself a foodie, attending the Charleston Wine + Food Festival is a must. Each year, top chefs, winemakers, food enthusiasts, and artisans celebrate their passion for food in this five-day event at Marion Square. Consisting of over 100 events, the festival has something for everyone. Our advice is to come hungry and be prepared to sample some of the finest flavors of the Lowcountry!
Charleston Antiques Show
March 16 – March 18, 2018
Whether you consider yourself an antique enthusiast or simply enjoy browsing the fine art and furnishings, the Charleston Antiques Show is sure to delight. Each year, antique collectors and enthusiasts flock to the Holy City to take part in this three-day event. Come marvel at the beautiful furnishings, jewelry, and art spanning from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Lectures and tours will give attendants the chance to learn about the history behind these antiques, along with how to incorporate them into modern-day décor.
Spoleto Festival USA
May 25 – June 18, 2018
This wouldn’t be a proper list of events without the much-loved Spoleto Festival. Each year, the world’s most talented and engaging performers descend upon Charleston’s historic theatres, music halls, churches, and outdoor spaces to delight audiences in this charming coastal city. In our Insider’s Guide to Spoleto, we talked about the superb lineup of artists and which performances were worth seeing in last year’s festival. The festival was so successful that it sold more than 61,000 tickets and generated $3.1 million in ticket sales! It’s hard to imagine how Spoleto Festival 2018 can possibly top last year’s performances, but the performing arts festival only seems to get better each year. Also, don’t forget to attend the Piccolo Spoleto Festival! This celebration showcases local artists in the Southeast region and features events that take place all around the Holy City.
Spring Festival of Houses and Gardens
March 15 – April 21, 2018
For history and architecture buffs, the Annual Festival of Houses and Gardens needs to be on the bucket list. Presented by the Historic Charleston Foundation, this 5-week event gives festival-goers the chance to tour the homes and gardens of some of the Holy City’s most beautiful residences. This isn’t your everyday tour by carriage down the South of Broad in Historic Charleston. During the 71st Annual Festival of Houses and Gardens, you get to see a side of Charleston that few ever experience. Enchanting gardens, magnificent doorways, and renowned architecture await you at this can’t-miss event!
Charleston Fashion Week
March 13 – 17, 2018
If you have a passion for fashion, be sure to catch Charleston’s premier fashion week held in Marion Square. Featuring Charleston’s most fashionable designers, boutiques, models, and trend-setters, this five-night event includes runway shows, shopping, trendy after-parties and more. Ready to get glam in 2018? Find out more about Charleston Fashion Week on their website and purchase your tickets in advance.
Charleston Summer Events
Sure, it can get hot in the Holy City in the summer. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself at one of Charleston’s summertime events!
Bands, Burgers, and Brews Burger Throwdown
If you’re located in the Mount Pleasant area, you can’t miss the fourth annual Bands, Burgers, and Brews Burger Throwdown.Hosted at the Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina, watch as your favorite Lowcountry chefs battle it out for their chance to compete in the World Food Championship 2018.
Charleston Carifest 2018
June 21 – 24, 2018
Attend this Caribbean carnival event and make fond memories with the kids! Each June, the Charleston Carifest is a four-day event filled with food, music, fun, and costumes that will delight audiences of all ages. Held in honor of Caribbean American Heritage Month, Charleston Carifest is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in Caribbean culture and see the artistic talents of the Caribbean people. The festival ends on Saturday with a Carnival Day Parade!
Fourth of July Fireworks at Patriots Point
4th of July, TBA
If you’re going to take in the stunning fireworks display in Charleston, there is no better place to do it than onboard the USS Yorktown. Located on the Charleston Harbor at Patriots Point, guests can watch the fireworks while enjoying live music, barbeque, and complimentary drinks. Tickets sell out quickly, so be sure to plan accordingly. If you’d rather not pay to watch aboard the USS Yorktown, you can always view the display for from the grassy area near the shore.
Who wouldn’t want to spend their summer sampling some of the finest margaritas in the Lowcountry? The 2nd annual Margarita Festival was one of the most popular cocktail events of 2017, and we’re already looking forward to sampling some delicious margaritas in 2018. To no one’s surprise, last year’s event sold out. With Charleston’s hottest bars creating the finest margaritas in the Lowcountry, the festival was bound to be a wild success. Mex 1 Coastal Cantina was the winner of the 2017 margarita competition, but who will take the title in 2018?
Sweet Tea Festival
Third Thursday in September
Minutes from Charleston, the town of Summerville will host its seventh annual Sweet Tea Festival in 2018. Featuring live music, sweet tea vendors, and savory eats, this festival is fun for the entire family. The event is held on the third Thursday in September, easing folks into the fall season. That should mean that it won’t be unbearably hot as you explore the many unique shops in downtown Summerville, while sipping your sweet tea and enjoying the diverse musical talents of local Lowcountry artists.
Charleston Fall Events
Saying goodbye to summer is sad, in a way, but the fall season in Charleston brings exciting festivals and events. Here are the ones that you can’t miss:
MOJA Arts Festival
September 27-Oct 7
In 2018, the 35th annual MOJA Arts Festival will usher in the changing of Charleston’s seasons with a celebration of African-American and Caribbean Arts. Music, art, theatre, dance, and other performance arts promise to wow audiences in an exciting lineup. MOJA, which means, “one” in Swahili, symbolizes the harmony of one community. Join in the fun and enjoy ethnic food, traditional crafts, children’s events, jazz, poetry readings, and much more!
Taste of Charleston
After forgoing the fall festival last year for the first time in 36 years, Taste of Charleston food festival is finally returning in 2018. What can we expect from this year’s lineup? Hosted by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association (GCRA), the event is usually held at Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. This year, the location has yet to be announced. Our guess is that we can expect the usual culinary delights from the Lowcountry’s favorite casual and fine dining establishments. However, there has been interest in adding Charleston food trucks to the event to attract extra people this year. Regardless of the location, Taste of Charleston is one of the city’s best annual events. Check the GCRA’s website for the latest news and get ready to mark this event on your calendar!
Annual Oktoberfest on Daniel island
Attending the Annual Oktoberfest on Daniel Island is another great way to kick off harvest season. Grab the entire family and enjoy live music, seasonal beers, special German foods, and a host of Oktoberfest activities. Play a game of cornhole with the kids or show your competitive side by participating in the popular Bavarian Games, where adults compete for the title of Oktoberfest. With each year, the festival adds more attractions and just keeps getting better.
Annual Harvest Festival
Nov. 2018, TBA
Back in the days of early settlement in Charleston, farming families would gather to celebrate the bountiful fall harvest and give thanks. To keep this wonderful tradition alive, the Annual Harvest Festival was born. Held on scenic Johns Island, the festival is a joyous event for the entire family. You can always count on the Harvest Festival for live music from local musicians, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, crafts, and delicious Southern food.
If you know a bookworm, you should check out YALLFest. This popular book festival features more than 70 young adult authors who give keynote talks at Blue Bicycle Books on King Street and connect with their audience through panels and book signings. Last year’s festival was a huge success, with special appearances by some of the hottest names in YA fiction, including Veronica Roth, Cora Carmack, Cassandra Clare and David Levithan. Put this in the calendar and come out for the weekend to celebrate reading and writing!
As the new year approaches, we’re looking ahead to see what’s in store for Charleston in 2018. One thing is for certain. Whether you are a fortunate resident or planning a visit in the coming year, you’ll find plenty of fun events to attend year-round in this charming Southern town.
The holidays in historic Charleston are full of festive parades, Christmas lights, and holiday art performances! If you’re planning to visit Charleston during the holidays, you’ve made the right choice.
Visiting Charleston in the winter is a great way to escape the cold, and there is no shortage of fun holiday activities for the entire family to enjoy. Whether you want to relax in a beach vacation rental and sip hot cider or explore historic Charleston and take part in the seasonal festivities, the city is a great place to usher in the magic of the holiday season.
Ready to kick off the holiday season, Holy City-style? Here are some of the best ways to experience the holidays in Historic Charleston:
Charleston Holiday Parades
Craft brews, delicious food, live music, and family-friendly activities can all be found at one of the many holiday parades in Charleston this year. Here are a few that can’t be missed:
City of Charleston Holiday Parade
When: December 3, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.
Where: Colonial Lake, Broad Street, King Street, and concluding at Marion Square
The Holiday Parade is one of Charleston’s best traditions. Hosted by the City of Charleston and the Charleston Fire Department, the parade will feature bands, performers, floats, and other entertainment to celebrate the season and get your family into the holiday spirit.
Holiday Parade of Boats
When: December 9, 2017, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Charleston Harbor
Another beloved Lowcountry tradition, the 36th Annual Holiday Parade of Boats offers a dazzling display of lights as boats decorated for the season sail past the viewing docks.
Part of the fun is attending the parade’s official viewing party! Located at the Charleston Maritime Center, guests can snack on festive foods and listen as their favorite holiday carols fill the air.
Small Town Beach Parades
Are you staying in a cozy beach vacation rental? You’ll want to experience at least one beach town parade during the holiday season.
One that can’t be missed is the annual Christmas Parade on Folly Beach. On December 9th, Santa will parade through the streets of Folly Beach as candy and other goodies are handed out to the kids.
Staying in the Town of Mount Pleasant? Check out their quaint parade. A tree-lighting and fireworks display will kick things off before more than 100 floats parade down Coleman Boulevard, delighting all who attend.
28th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights
There is no doubt about it—Charleston has some of the best festivals in the country. From Spoleto to the Lowcountry Oyster Festival, there is always something to look forward to, and the Holiday Festival of Lights is no exception.
Now in its 28th year, the Annual Holiday Festival of Lights is back and promises to deliver more excitement than ever before. Held at James Island County Park, the event is known for its three miles of stunning, multicolored light displays, and it has been named one of the “10 Best Holiday Light Shows in America” by USA Today.
The festival is more than just a driving tour; the Holiday Festival of Lights organizers welcome visitors to park their cars and explore the large, decorated walking path, visiting shops and partaking in holiday activities along the way.
The event runs from November 10th to January 1st, giving you ample opportunities to experience a magical evening that will create cherished memories for years to come.
Tree-Lighting Ceremonies in Charleston
Tree-lighting ceremonies mark the beginning of the holiday season for many people, and Charleston kicks things off with multiple tree lightings. From the official Charleston tree lighting to the celebration of Chanukah, the following tree-lighting ceremonies are sure to dazzle and delight the entire family:
Charleston Official Tree Lighting
When: December 3, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Marion Square
If you thought Charleston’s church steeples were a beautiful sight, imagine a 64-foot lighted tree against Charleston’s skyline. Attend early to experience the festive performances from music and arts organizations in Marion Square, which will culminate the lighting of the 64-foot Holiday Tree of Lights.
Chanukah in the Square
When: December 17, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Marion Square
This festive party is free and features music, dancing, and, of course, the lighting of the nine-foot Menorah. Charleston’s local Holocaust survivors continue the tradition of lighting the Menorah in this special Jewish celebration.
With special treats, including potato latkes and other traditional Chanukah foods, you will want to bring your appetite to this event!
Kwanzaa Kinara Lighting
When: December 26, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.
Where: Marion Square
For more than 40 years, Charleston has kicked off Kwanzaa celebrations with a special lighting of the Kwanzaa Kinara in downtown Charleston at Marion Square. Join the community in the celebrations and enjoy music, dancing, and readings from Lowcountry Kwanzaa leaders.
Light the Lake
When: December 1, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Colonial Lake Park
Stop by one of Charleston’s most popular parks for the Colonial Lake Christmas Tree Lighting! Enjoy food trucks and hot cocoa and a DJ playing your favorite holiday tunes as the famous Charleston Christmas Tree is lit in the middle of the lake, glimmering for all to see.
Holiday Performing Arts
Charleston has boasted a thriving arts scene for years. From improv comedy to musical performances, the Holy City always has fine performances being held in one of its historic venues.
The holidays are the perfect time to catch a festive show with the family. Whether you want a family-friendly musical performance or wish to celebrate the season with your significant other, these shows are sure to be a delight:
Annie – Dec. 1 – 17
For a family-friendly performance, be sure to catch Annie at the Footlight Players Theatre on Queen Street. This musical will warm everyone’s heart with the tale of a little orphan girl’s quest to find her family.
A Christmas Carol – Nov. 29 – Dec. 20
Presented at the historic Dock Street Theatre, the Charleston Stage brings the critically acclaimed musical adaption of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale to life this year. Prepare to be dazzled by colorful costumes, a live orchestra, and a professional cast that will help you ring in the holidays.
A Christmas Story, The Musical – Dec. 22 – 24
Laugh along with the entire family with the hilarious tale of Ralphie Parker’s desperate quest to get an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle. Directed by Tony Award winner John Rando, this new Broadway musical will be coming to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center just in time for Christmas.
Holiday Strings – Dec. 13
The Charleston Symphony Orchestra (SCO) string quartet is sure to get you into the holiday spirit with Holiday Strings, a performance featuring your favorite holiday tunes. Held at the historic Charleston Library Society on King Street, don’t miss your chance to mingle with the musicians at the reception following the concert.
Nutcracker – Dec. 2 – 3
This holiday classic has become synonymous with Christmas and is now a treasured holiday tradition for fans of ballet. Take in the magical sights and sounds at the Charleston Gaillard Center this December and witness the adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s famous composition.
Holiday Cabaret, Dec 1-22
Stuffed with your favorite holiday songs, Charleston’s best original Christmas show is bound to get you singing along. Hosted by the Charleston Performing Arts Center, this cheery cabaret brings C-PAC’s signature Reindeer for pure, holiday fun. Check out their “Dinner and a Show” tickets for a mouth-watering 3-course dinner at Edison, followed by the show at the theatre!
Holiday Runs for Charity Organizations
The holidays are a time to partake in charitable giving. What better way to give back than by signing up for a holiday race?Get some healthy exercise and give back this holiday season by participating in one of these holiday runs:
4th Annual Cocoa Cup 5K
Presented by Fleet Feet Sports, the 4th Annual Cocoa Cup 5K is charitable fun for the entire family. Whether you’re running with your kids in the one-mile kid’s fun run or tackling the 5K, you’ll get a warm feeling inside at the end of the race. Whether this feeling is from the complimentary hot cocoa you get at the finish line or from supporting the Lowcountry Food Bank, we can’t be certain.
27th Annual Reindeer Run – Dec. 2
Run through the lower peninsula of downtown Charleston in this family-oriented, pet-friendly race! Presented by Half-Moon Outfitters, the 5K run/walk starts near the corner of East Bay and Queen Street, taking participants along the beautiful Charleston Battery. Funds generated from the Reindeer Run will help build the new MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital that will open in 2019.
2017 Jingle Bell Run – Dec. 9
Support the Arthritis Foundation this holiday season by racing in the Jingle Bell Run. This run will help raise awareness and funds for America’s #1 cause of disability.
Held at Riverfront Park, you can run with a team of friends and family or fly solo, with 100 percent of your registration fee going toward a great cause!
Other Holiday Happenings
It’s impossible to list all the fun events during the holidays in historic Charleston. If you’re looking for a few more festive events to do in the Holy City, these are some of our recommendations:
Holiday Market at Marion Square
Take advantage of Charleston’s mild weather and venture through the Holiday Market at Marion Square. In addition to the regulars, holiday vendors will feature festive foods, art, and produce. Listen to the live band, take part in the Christmas carols, and let the kids get free visits and photos with Santa.
Christmas 1860 at the Edmondston-Alston House
On a regular day, stepping inside the Edmondston-Alston House will have you feeling as though you’ve traveled back in time. On Dec. 1 and 8, the historic house will be decorated like it would have been in 1860, allowing you to experience Christmas in Charleston just before the beginning of the Civil War.
For history buffs, this one is a can’t miss. The theatrical performers are adorned in period costumes and shed light on what life would be like before their lives would forever change.
Family Yuletide in the Stableyards
On Saturday, December 15, historic Middleton Place presents “Family Yuletide in the Stableyards,” a holiday favorite for families in Charleston. Gather around a warm fire for a night of storytelling, caroling, and craft demonstrations. The live nativity scene featuring the plantation’s animals is always a favorite feature, along with the delicious hot cider and seasonal refreshments.
Holiday Market and Craft Show
Whimsical crafts, baked goods, and homemade preserves can all be found at the annual Holiday Market & Craft Show at the Mount Pleasant Farmers Market Pavilion. Stop by on December 9 and find a treasured, holiday keepsake ornament to take home with you from one of the many local craftsmen and artists.
Wine Under the Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation
Looking for a fun date night activity? Buy your tickets to Wine Under the Oaks at Boone Hall and celebrate the season with delicious food and wine pairings, along with wine and cooking demonstrations by some of the finest chefs in Charleston. The plantation looks stunning with all its holiday decorations, making it a night you’ll always remember.
With its mild weather and lighter crowds, the holidays are the perfect time for you to explore everything that Charleston has to offer. Whether you are a local or simply visiting the Holy City, there are many holiday activities that will bring joy to the entire family.
Charleston’s culinary scene is booming, and chefs from across the country are flocking here to put down their roots. If food is your passion, then Charleston is your dream destination.
Who can blame them? Charleston’s food scene is hot right now. Restaurants are popping up everywhere, featuring both traditional and modern dishes bursting with flavor from farm-fresh ingredients. The city’s diverse neighborhoods and unbeatable hospitality only enhance the culinary experience.
Charleston is a vibrant dining destination that is luring food enthusiasts from all over with its delicious food and southern charm. Here is a deeper look into why the Holy City’s expanding food scene is causing chefs to pack up their knives and move to Charleston in droves.
A Diverse Food Scene
As a historic port city, Charleston was destined to become a mecca for aspiring chefs. Spurred by the Spoleto Festival in 1977, the Holy City quickly became a prominent food destination to accommodate the influx in tourists drawn by the performing arts scene.
Today, many chefs, bakers, craft brewers, local food artisans, and more have found their perfect home in Charleston. This has made the city not only the ideal setting for aspiring chefs to flex their creativity, but also a great place to live and explore the diverse food scene.
A Taste of Lowcountry Cuisine
Whether you’re ordering shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, oysters, okra, or Frogmore stew, you won’t be disappointed with Charleston’s traditional Lowcountry cuisine. With its fertile lands, coastal location, and varied cultural influences, Charleston was destined to stand out with its own exceptional culinary dishes.
Traditional Lowcountry cuisine draws from African, French, English, and European influences to create a one-of-a-kind comfort food that locals and tourists can’t stop craving. Here, you can find local chefs cooking up Lowcountry classics, while others branch out and put their own unique spin on traditional dishes.
Foodies come from all around the globe to taste the flavors of the many award-winning restaurants in Charleston. From fine dining to casual restaurants, Charleston has made a name for herself by offering some of the best food in the country.
Husk, FIG, and Hominy Grill are culinary hotspots in Charleston, and all are winners of the James Beard Award. Many restaurants in the city have also been featured in prominent food magazines, such as Bon Appetit and Food & Wine.
Want to take your culinary skills to the streets? Food trucks are expanding in Charleston, as both locals and tourists demand greater variety in their street food.
Whether you’re looking to nosh on Caribbean Creole, Southern BBQ, gorgeous Greek food from the beloved Platia food truck or a tasty dessert from Sweet Lulu’s Bakery, there are some amazing food trucks here—and room for more if you act quickly.
The Tourism Industry Continues to Thrive
Each year, Charleston attracts more than 5 million visitors for its historic downtown, bustling art scene, and culinary offerings!
In fact, South Carolina’s tourism is now a $19.1 billion industry, driven largely by the Charleston metro region. According to the 2016-17 Outlook Forecast from the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the city’s economic forecast shows continued growth in the tourism industry over the next two years.
The thriving tourism industry is great news for chefs in Charleston. Locals and tourists alike are hungry for a taste of Charleston cuisine, and they have no shortage of options when it comes to exploring the city’s eclectic food scene. From guided food tours to the highly-anticipated Charleston Wine and Food Festival, the Holy City provides many reasons for foodies and chefs to visit year after year.
You know you’ve reached culinary success when your restaurant is one of the stopping points on a Charleston food tour. The city’s burgeoning food scene has grown so much over the past decade that tasting tours are a must for people visiting the area.
Charleston is a walkable city, making food tours extremely popular here. Give your taste buds a thrill and take a culinary tour on historic Upper King Street to sample the city’s finest food offerings.
Legendary Oyster Roasts
Ready to shuck some oysters? The Lowcountry Oyster Festival is the world’s largest oyster festival and attracts people from all over to devour steaming pots of oysters.
Of course, it isn’t the only oyster roast that is popular in Charleston. From Kiawah Island to Folly Beach, there are plenty of legendary oyster roasts scattered around the peninsula.
The Charleston Wine and Food Festival
Each year, foodies descend upon Charleston to attend the annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival to sample the rich flavors from the area’s best chefs, beverage makers, and artisans.
Now in its 35th year, the festival brings people from around the globe to celebrate and experience Southern culture and cuisine. This five-day event is just one of the many festivals that attract tourists to America’s Best City, with the Spoleto Festival drawing approximately 70,000 visitors each year.
Food Inspiration Is Everywhere in Charleston
If you need a bit of inspiration to fuel your passion for food, you won’t have to look far in Charleston. Inspiring figures are everywhere you look, from prominent chefs to local food artisans and Lowcountry farmers.
Top Chefs in Charleston
Charleston has already attracted the top culinary talent from across the country and currently boasts many famous chefs, including James Beard Award-winning chefs Sean Brock of Husk, Mike Lata of FIG, and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill.
Other notable chefs include culinary legend Nathalie Dupree, Michelle Weaver (executive sous-chef at Charleston Grill), and Frank Lee of S.N.O.B. (Slightly North of Broad Restaurant). Each of these culinary experts has left a lasting mark on Charleston and has helped shaped the city’s food scene.
Local Food Artisans and Farmers
Nothing beats the taste of freshly caught seafood and farm-to-table ingredients. The local food artisans and farmers in Charleston take pride in providing locals and visitors with ingredients that are locally sourced and bursting with flavor.
Visit the Charleston Farmers Market held at the beautiful Marion Square on Upper King Street, and this passion will be on full display. Charleston locals are fiercely dedicated to supporting the community, and it’s an inspiring sight to see.
A Taste of History Through Gullah Cuisine
There is something special about eating a dish that was passed down in someone’s family for generations. Many restaurants in the Lowcountry have kept the recipes of their ancestors near and dear to their hearts, including the Gullah people, the direct descendants of the West African slaves.
Traditional Gullah restaurants are hard to find in Charleston, but places such as Bertha’s Kitchen in North Charleston still offer traditional Gullah dishes, such as stewed greens, okra soup and fried pork. Gullah recipes have been passed down for centuries, reflecting their collective memory through their delicious cuisine and preserving the Palmetto State’s rich culinary heritage.
The Perks of Living in Charleston
Whether you are an aspiring chef or not, Charleston is an undeniably attractive place to live, work, and play. In addition to its booming food scene, the city offers residents a wide variety of perks that makes living here a dream come true.
History Is Everywhere You Look
With over 300 years of storied history, Charleston is a history lover’s paradise. Many of the neighborhoods in Charleston are easily walkable, allowing you to stroll along cobblestone streets and view the stories etched in stunning works of art and architecture.
From its original settlement by English colonists in 1670, Charleston has been home to patriots, artists, and pirates. The city has also survived wars, fires, and natural disasters, making its history particularly diverse and enthralling.
In addition to its historical architecture, Charleston residents also get to enjoy mild weather for most of the year. While summers can turn uncomfortably hot and humid, winters are mild, and residents love how sunny it is year-round.
If you plan to visit Charleston, consider coming in the spring. Not only are temperatures perfect this time of the year, but its food, architecture, and culture are on full display with the Wine and Food Festival in early March and the Spoleto Festival USA in May.
A Great Place to Raise a Family
With its beautiful communities, friendly atmosphere, thriving economy, and excellent schools, it’s not surprising that Charleston is consistently named one of the “Greatest Places to Live” by Outside Magazine. If you’re looking to raise a family, you couldn’t ask for a better place to settle down.
In fact, that’s exactly what former NYC chef Michael Toscano did when he left Manhattan for Charleston and opened Le Farfalle in 2016. The Holy City’s reputation for Southern hospitality does not disappoint.
Big City with Small Town Vibes
Despite being the second biggest city in South Carolina, Charleston has managed to retain a charming, small-town feel. This is partly due to the friendly nature of the locals, but also because Charleston’s historic architecture makes you feel as though you have been transported back in time.
Charleston has managed to preserve much of its history and is bursting with culture. This is a source of pride for residents, many of them actively trying to preserve the many qualities that make the Holy City a unique place to live.
After working hard all day in the kitchen, chefs can unwind on one of stunning barrier islands and beaches that surround Charleston. Whether you are looking to catch some waves on Folly Beach, have fun with the family on Isle of Palms, or take a day trip out to Sullivan’s Island, there is a Charleston beach that will fit your mood.
Thriving Art Scene
One of the biggest reasons why Charleston’s food scene is so remarkable is because of the city’s thriving art scene. Although the city has been making delicious food for centuries, it wasn’t until the rise of the Holy City’s vibrant art scene that foodies began descending upon Charleston.
Spurred by the Spoleto Festival in the 1970s, Charleston’s art scene has been growing steadily ever since, bringing in both international artistic talent and local artists. Today, visitors and residents can catch a performance at the Dock Street Theatre or find a piece of fine art in one of the many art galleries in historic downtown Charleston.
Food and culture have always been intertwined, and this connection has never been more prominent than in Charleston. With over 300 years of culinary history, the Holy City has made the national press in recent years, thanks to its eclectic mix of new and old dishes. From traditional Lowcountry favorites to modern takes on classic dishes, you will delight in every dish.
Charleston is full of culinary opportunities. With its Southern charm, mild temperatures, and historical beauty, it’s not difficult to see why so many chefs are putting down roots in the Holy City.
The temperature is dropping, and you know what that means: oyster season is upon us. It’s time to gather your supplies — shuckers, gloves, towels — and grab your calendar to pencil in a season of oyster roasts. We’re way ahead of you! Can you tell we love oyster season yet? We’ve pinpointed a few spots that have already set a date to dump a steaming pile of delicious shellfish onto tables surrounded by hot sauce-wielding oyster lovers. Here are five spots to get your oyster roast fix this season, from 2017 and into 2018.
McLeod Historic Site
Take in some real history here and get your oyster fix all in one go. The Charleston Horticulture Society started its now-annual oyster roast last year and will return to McLeod Plantation on Sun. Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m. Proceeds support the society’s educational outreach programs and you can feel good about that as you chow down on chili, hotdogs, and endless oysters, all under the oaks. There will also be live music, games, and kids’ activities.
One of the best places (if not THE best) to get oysters all season long, Bowens Island is holding a roast to benefit The Lowcountry Autism Foundation on Nov 12 complete with live tunes, plenty of bevs, and a silent auction. As with most oyster roasts in town, it’s an all-you-can-eat deal, and plan to stick around, because the relaxed vibe here, aided by the water, sunset, and social aspect of any oyster roast, will make you want to stay a while.
Love animals and oysters? Get your ticket for the Charleston Animal Society’s Chili Cook-off and Oyster Roast set for Sun. Nov. 18 at Riverfront Park. Sample the best chili in town from over 100 competitors that draws a crowd annually of nearly 10,000, around 25 of whom go home with a new furry best friend.
Boone Hall Plantation
The Lowcountry Oyster Festival is easily the most popular celebration of the beloved Atlantic delicacy — we’re talking 80,000 pounds of the stuff. We’re talking literally the world’s largest oyster festival, named one of the Top 20 events by the Southern Tourism Society. It comes complete with oyster shucking and oyster eating contests plus live music and a children’s area. The next one is set for Jan. 28, 2018. Knives and gloves will be provided.
Visitor Center Bus Shed
Back to this year, head downtown on Nov. 3 for the 13th Annual Oyster Roast and Silent Auction put on by Friends of the Hunley. Not just an oyster extravaganza, they’ll also be serving up barbecue (all you can eat). The silent action, which includes weekend getaways, Lowcountry arts, gift certificates, and more, is always popular, and its proceeds benefit Friends of the Hunley.
What’s your favorite place for shucking oysters?