Charleston is a seaport city in the state of South Carolina in the United States of America. Its historic downtown is on a peninsula formed by two rivers, Ashley and Cooper, flowing into the Atlantic, and protected from the open ocean by surrounding islands. Charleston was captured in the Civil War without much property damage, so the historic part of town has buildings that are hundreds of years old. The current downtown skyline, with practically no tall buildings due to the city's height restriction ordinance, is dominated by church steeples and the stunning Arthur Ravenel cable-stay bridge completed in 2005 over the Cooper River. The city is a major port on the eastern seaboard of the US and a popular destination for domestic and international tourists.
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Charles Towne, as it was first called, was established in 1670 by Anthony Ashley Cooper on the west bank of the Ashley River, Charles Towne Landing, a few miles northwest of the present downtown. By 1680, the settlement had grown and moved to its present peninsular location.
Around 1690, the English colonists erected a fortification wall around the small settlement to aid in its defense. The wall sheltered the area, in the present French Quarter, from Cumberland St. south to Water St., from Meeting St. east to East Bay St. The wall was destroyed around 1720. Cobblestone lanes and one building remain from this colonial English Walled Town: the Powder Magazine, where the town's supply of gunpowder was stored. Remnants of the colonial wall were found beneath the Old Exchange Building.
Luckily, Charleston was re-captured in the Civil War without much property damaged, and it was the first city in the U.S. to pass a historical preservation ordinance. Thus, much of the beautiful architecture, from early Colonial, Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Italianate to Victorian, remains for future generations to see and enjoy.
Charleston is also known as The Holy City due to the numerous church steeples, which dot the city's low-rise skyline, and the fact that it was one of the few places in the original thirteen colonies to provide religious tolerance to the French Huguenots as well as to Jews.
Charleston is in general a laid-back, but sophisticated, city and has an old-South feel, just like its neighbor, Savannah. Most people in Charleston are helpful when approached in a polite manner. If a traveler speaks little English, Charlestonians are still generally willing to help as best they can. It is advisable, however, to at least learn a few key English phrases, and perhaps carry a traveler's phrasebook.
The dialect here varies from standard American English, having a "Southern Coastal Accent" that contains British influences. For those who learned Standard English, some speech may be difficult to comprehend here. Generally speaking, one can easily get by with Standard American or British English, though. The inhabitants of Charleston are, to a large degree, transient (due to several military installations, port labor, rail labor, and other factors), and therefore many other languages are inherent in a minority role.
A minority dialect spoken here is Gullah, a dialect of English almost incomprehensible to most English Speakers. If you are familiar with "Porgy and Bess", you are familiar with Gullah. Gullah has West-African influences mixed with pidjin French and English. The dialect originated around John's Island. If you travel south of the city (to the islands, or towards Ravenel), the dialect becomes somewhat more prevalent (although still in a minority context).
Alternate languages include Spanish and Portuguese, brought to the city and its outskirts by its large Latin American population. One may encounter "Spanglish" here, which is an odd combination of Spanish and English.
Place names in and around Charleston are often very Americanized versions of French (Legare Street, for example, is pronounced luh-GREE) or other languages.
Charleston is served by Charleston International Airport (IATA: CHS) , which is located about 12 miles northwest of historic downtown, and has a terminal with 2 concourses.. Taxis to downtown cost about $25; shuttles arranged by Airport Ground Transportation cost about $14/person to downtown. CARTA operates an express bus route 4 every hour nonstop from the airport to the downtown Visitors Center seven days a week, with a fare of $3. In addition, CARTA also operates local bus 11 to downtown hourly on weekdays. Rental cars are available at the airport terminal; Interstate 526 connects the airport with Interstate 26, which in turn terminates just north of historic downtown at U.S. 17.
Charleston is located nearly at the midpoint of South Carolina's Atlantic coastline. It can be easily reached by car, from the north or south, via U.S. Highway 17, which cuts across the Charleston peninsula, or from the west, via Interstate 26, which terminates just northwest of the historic downtown at U.S. 17. The outer beltway Interstate 526 forms a loop from U.S. 17 to the Charleston International Airport.
Amtrak has a station located 10 miles north of downtown.
The Greyhound station is in North Charleston. To get to Charleston/Downtown, cross the street from the Greyhound station and take the #11 Airport Bus (away from the airport). The last stop for this bus is one of Charleston's four visitor's centers, this one located downtown.
The ACE Basin Express provides non-stop service between downtown Charleston and downtown Savannah, with departures on most days from the Charleston Visitor Center bus shed on Meeting Street. It also offers optional pick-ups and drop-offs at area hotels.
Charleston is a city that is best explored by car or on foot. Several rental car services are available at the Charleston International Airport. Some area hotels also provide transportation to and from the airport.
By public transportation
The public transportation system in Charleston consists primarily of a fleet of buses run by the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) and privately run taxi services. The bus system is not widely used by the vast majority of city residents, and the system would be rated only as fair by the standards of similar size or larger American cities. Express Bus Route 4 runs from the airport to the downtown Visitors Center every hour, with a fare of $3. CARTA also operates three Downtown Area Shuttles (DASH 210, 211, and 213), which are useful for the visitor who does not wish to walk the historic downtown. Regular fares are $1.75, but downtown DASH services are free of charge.
Taxis are generally safe and inexpensive in Charleston but are sometimes difficult to find unless they are prearranged by calling one of the taxi services in advance or you are in the downtown area, where it is easy to flag one down. If your stay in Charleston does not regulate you to one given area, then renting a car will be the best option.
By tour bus or carriage
Historic Charleston City Tours is the newest addition to the tour bus choices. Using 2015 Sprinter Style vehicles allows for a personal approach to the Holy City. This is the ONLY ON/OFF tour. 5 small guided walking tours are included during the fully narrated city tour. Sprinter vans are available for private tours and occasions. Booking available on website- historiccharlestoncitytours.com or by phone (843) 732-4577
Gray Line of Charleston offers a choice of guided mini-bus tours of the historic, charming city of Charleston, designed to give you a fun and informative look into the city’s well-preserved past.
The best way to tour the city is by carriage drawn by horses or mules (many vendors available at the Market in downtown Charleston), although one might prepare oneself for some derisive comment and exasperation from locals inconvenienced by such quaint methods of transit.
Luckily for visitors to Charleston's peninsula, the historic district is accessible on foot. If staying in one of the many hotels on the peninsula of Charleston, a visitor could easily explore most of the city's major historical sites without benefit of a car, either by foot or also with the help of the three DASH trolley lines. Unfortunately, the plantations--a significant part of Charleston's history--are not located within walking distance of the peninsula. If you are driving into the historic downtown, the first thing to do is to find someplace to park. Garage parking is available at the Visitor Center for $1/hr.
The streets in the historic downtown in peninsular Charleston are more or less parallel and perpendicular to the Cooper River waterfront, forming a warp grid pattern, with a major shift in the angle of the grid at the east-west "fault line" of Beaufain/Hasell Street, just north of the old Market Area near the waterfront. The major east-west street, Calhoun Street, was once known as the Boundary Street, separating the then-suburbs north of it from the urban area south of it. The major north-south street, King Street, is the main shopping street in downtown, from the Upper King area north of Calhoun around the Visitor Center south to the upscale anchor, Charleston Place, at Beaufain/Hasell.
Several blocks south is a major east-west street, Broad Street, which divides two areas in historic downtown, aptly named North of Broad and South of Broad. Those South of Broad were nicknamed SOBs, and those Slightly North of Broad were SNOBs. The French Quarter, founded by the French Huguenots, is just south of the Market Area along the waterfront. The area near the southern tip of the peninsula, where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet, is known as The Battery. Take a French Quarter walk with a 12th generation Charlestonian of Huguenot descent (843-609-4479).
There are many walking tours, which give you the opportunity to see more than just driving past in a bus or carriage. There is a walking tour for virtually every interest. You will find Pub Tours, Civil War tours, culinary tours, ghost tours, Gulla tours, architecture tours, art tour, and even pirate tours. Some of the walking tour companies offer tours with guides in period costume. Charleston Pirate Tours even has a costumed guide whose parrot, a blue and gold macaw, accompanies the tour.
Join the merrier side of Charleston (843-345-PUBS) and hop on an Original Pub Tour, Upper King Pub Crawl, or see what's brewing in your local breweries, distilleries, brewpubs, and historic taverns around town. Culinary and craft beer dinner pairings have become popular along with Charleston's breweries and distilleries. Nothing beats a good old fashioned original pub crawl to get your bearings and celebrate the culture of charming Charleston.
A good place to start a tour of Charleston is the Visitor Reception and Transportation Center (tel: 1-800-774-0006), located at 375 Meeting St. (and Ann St.), not far from the terminus of I-26 northwest of downtown. At the Visitor Center, a traveller can find maps and guides, tour a small museum dedicated to the history of Charleston, book sightseeing tours, and view an introductory film to Charleston ($2).
- Charleston History Tours, Washington Park (96 Meeting St.), ☎ 843.901.9283, . All Year. Experience Charleston’s incomparable beauty, unique history and flourishing preservation with your guide whose knowledge of Charleston heritage, culture, and architecture is unmatched. Your 2 hour walking tour can be customized to what interests you most, which may include magnificent mansions, mysterious graveyards, graceful gardens, Revolutionary and Civil War sites, secret passageways, cobblestone streets, slave history, various locations to capture unique photographs, and photographic tips on how to compose the perfect shot. $23.50.
Charleston's primary attraction to visitors is its historical setting and landmarks. A list of some sites to visit includes:
- The Battery and White Point Gardens. A park located at the southern tip of the Charleston peninsula with beautiful views, especially along the Battery Promenade by the Cooper River. Don't miss the elegant historic mansions along the Promenade, some of which have sold for nearly $20M.
- Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St., across the street from the Visitor Center. Start with this museum to learn of Charleston's history. Open daily. Adults $10.
- Fort Sumter, the island site of the start of the Civil War, is a National Monument. One must board a ferry for an additional fee at either Liberty Square in downtown or Patriot's Point in Mt. Pleasant. The ferry ride is about 30 minutes. Fort Sumter is in ruins, but there are markers telling you where things used to be, as well as a museum.
- French Quarter between S. Market and Tradd, Meeting and the waterfront, where the English colonial Walled Town once stood. Known for its art galleries, St. Philips Church, French Huguenot Church, and historic architecture.
- The Market. An old shopping district at the foot of Market St. where vendors still sell wares. Contrary to popular legend, the Market was never a slave exchange. However, the remnants of an old slave market are located a few blocks away.
- Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, . Located right off the Ravenel bridge in Mt. Pleasant, this side of Charleston houses an impressive display of warfare including the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the submarine USS Clagamore, the destroyer USS Laffey and the Coast Guard cutter USCG Ingham. There are also an aircraft and a reconstructed Vietnam era camp.
- Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, . Off US 171 on the west bank of the Ashley River, about 3 miles northwest of downtown.
- The Citadel, . Historic military college founded in 1842. Full dress parades generally occur every Friday afternoon while school is in session and are free to the public. The campus is typically open to visitors and tours can be arranged by calling the school or stopping by the Admissions Office located in Bond Hall.
- The College of Charleston, . Founded in 1770, the College of Charleston is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of South Carolina and the thirteenth oldest in the United States.
- Randolph Hall, at the College of Charleston, . Built in 1828. Popular civil war movie-making site.
- Longitude Lane (Longitude Lane), off E Bay St. Colonial cobblestone lane built on a longitude line.
- Fort Moultrie, Revolutionary and Civil War fort on nearby Sullivan's Island.
- Gibbes Museum of Art, Since 1905, this striking Beaux Arts building has housed a premier collection of over 10,000 works of fine art, principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection.
Historic Places of Worship
Charleston is known as the Holy City because it provided religious tolerance to many who fled persecution, including the French Huguenots, Church of England dissenters, and others. The first places of worship organized in the late 17th and early 18th century were located around the old walled town, the present French Quarter . As the town grew outward, later places of worship were mainly located towards the upper wards north of Boundary Street, the present Calhoun St. Colonial Charleston was the wealthiest English town in America, which is reflected in the sophisticated religious architecture dotting the historic peninsula.
- Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St. Congregationalists, Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, and French Huguenots of the original settlement of Charles Town founded this dissenting congregation, known as the Independent Church, around 1681. They met at the White Meeting House, for which Meeting Street is named.
- French Huguenot Church, 44 Queen St. (at Church St.)  Organized around 1681 by Huguenot refugees from the Protestant persecutions in France; first church at present site built in 1687.
- St. Philip's Episcopal Church, 146 Church St. . Organized around 1681 at site now occupied by St. Michael's.
- First Baptist Church, 61 Church St. Organized around 1683; present site donated in 1699. Oldest Baptist church in the South, and often refered to as the "mother church of Southern Baptists".
- First (Scots) Presbyterian Church, 53 Meeting St. Organized in 1731.
- Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, 90 Hasell St. (near the Old Market), . Organized in 1749. The oldest surviving Reform synagogue in the world.
- St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 71 Broad St, . Organized in 1751.
- St. Mary's Catholic Church, 89 Hasell St. Organized in 1789. Oldest Catholic church in the Carolinas.
- Trinity United Methodist Church, 273 Meeting St. Organized in 1791.
- Second Presbyterian Church, 342 Meeting St. Organized in 1809.
- Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, 120 Broad St. Organized in 1821.
- St. Matthews Lutheran Church, 405 King St. Organized in 1840.
- Citadel Square Baptist Church, 328 Meeting St. (at Calhoun St.) Organized in 1854.
- St. John's Lutheran Church, 5 Clifford St.  Organized 1742.
- Arthur Ravenel Bridge, . The longest cable-stay bridge in North America was completed in 2005 over the Cooper River.
- Liberty Square, at the east end of Calhoun St. fronting the Cooper River. Has the South Carolina Aquarium and the Fort Sumter National Monument Visitor Center, both offers views of the Ravenel Bridge. This is also where you may take a boat tour to Fort Sumter.
- Waterfront Park, from Vendue Range south to Water St. along the Cooper River. The Wharf at Vendue Range offers views of the cruise ship terminal and the Ravenel Bridge.
Soccer fans may want to take in a Charleston Battery match at Blackbaud Stadium on Daniel Island. It's a 5,000 seat stadium with a nice little English-styled pub.
Baseball can be seen at Riley Park where the Charleston Riverdogs, an affiliate of the New York Yankees, play ball.
- Gray Line of Charleston, PO Box 219 , Charleston, SC, . Gray Line of Charleston offers a choice of guided mini-bus tours of the historic, charming city of Charleston, designed to give you a fun and informative look into the city’s well-preserved past.
- Fireproof Building (South Carolina Historical Society), 100 Meeting Street, ☎ 843-723-3225, . M-F 9AM-4PM. A National Historic Landmark constructed in 1827 and believed to be the oldest building of fireproof construction in the United States. The work of Robert Mills, the first native-born American to be trained as an architect, and a Charleston native who worked with other important early American architects such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Latrobe. Mills was responsible for the Washington Monument and many other public buildings. The building consists primarily of solid masonry in a simple Greek Doric style. An oval hall contains a cantilevered stone staircase lit by a cupola. The building serves as the headquarters for the South Carolina Historical Society, a private non-profit organization founded in 1856.
- Carriage Tours. , consider taking a carriage tour of the city. Several groups operate horse-drawn carriage tours of the historical sites in the city. Most of these tours leave from stands on Market street, next to the Market itself. While reservations are not required for these tours, they are run on a first-come-first-served basis, so plan to wait during peak tourist season. Luckily, most of the tour services assign a departure time, rather than making customers wait in line, so tourists waiting for a carriage can take the opportunity to visit the Market shops. Discount coupons are available in free tourist maps and guides.
- Walking Tours. Equally fun walking tours include guided history tours and scary ghost tours through the streets of Charleston. Because the historic downtown is relatively compact, self-guided walking tours can be found in many guidebooks. An interesting DIY walk is to do the Charleston Museum Mile along the Meeting Street corridor, which includes historic sites, historic places of worship, and related points of interest; a brochure can be found at the Visitor Center.
- Beaches. Outside downtown, there are numerous beach towns that are considered part of the Charleston area. Folly Beach is certainly the most casual, with many tourists returning every year for the laid-back fun. Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms are more upscale. The warm waters and gentle surf make for a delightful swimming experience particularly during late spring and early fall when lower temperatures allow for a prolonged beach experience.
- Others. For lovers of nature, Angel Oak  ,a magical and sprawling Live Oak purported to be over 1000 years old provides a great place for a picnic and a visit off the beaten path (John's Island). If you are looking for a laid back younger (surfer) crowd, check out events at the Daily Dose (see Eat).
- Knot Stressed Charters, ☎ 843-847-1614, . Enjoy inshore fishing in the historic flats of Charleston, SC with longtime resident and Mount Pleasant police officer Captain Danny Neese. $200+.
- Hydrofly Watersports, 145 Lockwood Blvd, ☎ 843-284-6290, . Hydrofly Watersports is located in downtown Charleston providing kayaking, paddleboarding, boat charters, fishing charters and a unique flyboarding experience for all visitors.
- Lowcountry Oyster Festival (January)
- Charleston Marathon  (January)
- Southeastern Wildlife Exhibition (February)
- Walking Garden and House Tours (mid-March to mid-April) Sponsored by the Garden Club and the Historic house group. Many related activities.
- Spoleto Festival USA (Memorial Day to mid-June). One of the best arts festivals in the U.S., which is a counterpart to the festival held in Spoleto, Italy, founded by composer Gian Carlo Menotti.
- Piccolo Spoleto Festival (Memorial Day to mid-June). The little brother to the Spoleto Festival USA.
- Taste of Charleston (October).
- Christmas in Charleston (December).
The Market and the shops lining Market street are a popular shopping destination for tourists. The Market itself is a large gathering of small vendors that sell everything from blankets to candy. Baskets and other sweetgrass crafts can also be bought at the Market. While the Market is full of the usual kitschy knick-knacks, if you look closely you will find some nice things. Gel candles filled with seashells make for a nice souvenir. Reptile and eel skin wallets are another nice item that you will have a hard time finding in other places. More traditional shops line Market street, and most of these sell merchandise that is aimed at tourists. There are a string of candy and confectionery shops along Market street where you can buy fudge, saltwater taffy and pralines.
Upscale shopping in downtown Charleston can be found at the shops lining King Street. These shops are known for selling high-quality merchandise, but are not known for bargain prices.
- St. James Pumpkin Patch for Charity and Autumn Festival, 512 St. James Ave., Goose Creek, SC (Take I-26W from Charleston to the Ashely-Phosphate Road exit in North Charleston. Take a right onto Ashley-Phosphate to Rivers Avenue. Take a left onto Rivers Avenue/Hwy 52. Take Hwy 52 to Goose Creek. Take a left onto St. James Avenue. The Pumpkin Patch is on the right at 512 St. James Ave. in October.), ☎ 843-553-3117, . 9AM-8PM daily. The St. James Pumpkin Patch for Charity and Autumn Festival is an annual event in Goose Creek. There is daily pumpkin sale for charity with festival events on the weekend. The patch is an autumn tradition with live music and food on Saturdays and family friendly events. Free admission.
- Charleston real estate guide (Mac ridgeway), 207 east bay st (1 block south of the market on east bay st), ☎ 8887046494, . 9-7PM. See what charleston and the surrounding areas have to offer through a free guided tour of local neighborhoods (32.780363,79.927299)
- Sweetgrass Crafts, Market St. or Highway 17 North of IOP Connector (Market Street or Take the Cooper River Bridge to Mt. Pleasant and take 17 North. Stalls will be located along the road once you pass the connector). 8 am - 5 pm. Sweetgrass weaving is a Gullah specialty and done by hand to produce a wide range of crafts from coasters to child-sized baskets. It's interesting to see the weaving process and it can be viewed for free wherever sweetgrass crafts are sold. The seller will typically be working on a craft wherever he or she is selling them. For the larger baskets, they will sit inside of it while weaving. Sweetgrass crafts are quite expensive. A small basket to hold coins or keys will cost between $70 and $150 depending on the intricacy and features such as handles. Larger baskets can cost upwards of $500. The Market is the most convenient place to buy baskets as there will typically be several weavers there on any given day. If you want more of a bargain or a little more selection, go to the roadside stalls on Highway 17 in between The Isle of Palms Connector and Park West in Mt. Pleasant. If you'd like an affordable sweetgrass souvenir, look for young children downtown selling sweetgrass roses that they've woven. These will typically cost a few dollars and make for a nice gift, but may be hard to find because police chase the children away if they're seen selling them. $1-$1000.
Charleston is considered a great restaurant town in the Southeast U.S., especially for seafood.
Enjoy the 'complete' tourist experience, and a very long wait, at Hyman's Seafood on South Market Street. Locals prefer Bowen's Island, near Folly Beach, or The Wreck, in Mount Pleasant. For those not wishing to dine on defrosted cuisine. I recommend making reservations at Husk, FIG, The Atlantic Room on Kiawah Island, or explore one of the many other fantastic fine dining experiences this city has to offer.
- Persimmon Cafe, 226 Calhoun St.
- Juanita Greenberg's Nacho Royale, 439 King St.
- Melvin's Barbeque, Folly Rd.
- Shuang Xi, McCall Center, 5070 International Blvd, North Charleston, (843) 747-3355. Excellent freshly cooked Chinese food. Eat in or take out.
- Sticky Fingers, 235 Meeting St. Memphis styled BBQ chain restaurant.
- Wild Wing, 36 N. Market St. Chain restaurant.
- Moe's Downtown Tavern, 5 Cumberland Street. Incredible bar food and great venue to watch your favorite sports team. There is also Moe's Crosstown Tavern, which is on Rutledge Ave. and has the same menu but offer an incredible Sunday Brunch.
- The Kickin Chicken, Many locations around the Charleston Area. Great sandwiches and wraps and great atmosphere.
By far the most successful restauranter in the Charleston area is the owner of the Mustard Seed (3 locations), Sette VI, Uno Mas, Long Point Grill, and Boulevard Diner. The dining experience at each of the locations (owned by the same company) features homemade bread or chips while pondering the daily special board as well as the menu. Meals at range from $8-$22 but average about $12.
- 39 Rue de Jean, 39 John St. Refined French cafe in Upper King. Lunch and dinner served daily.
- Basil Thai Restaurant, 460 King St. Elegant Upper King alternative to lowcountry cuisine. First come, first serve; no reservations. Lunch, M-F only. Dinner nightly after 5PM.
- Coast Bar & Grill , 39-D John St. Good seafood in Upper King. Dinner nightly.
- Cru Café, 18 Pinckney St. Small cafe in the Market Area serving upscale comfort food. Lunch and dinner, Tu-Sa; closed Sundays and Mondays.
- FIG , 232 Meeting St. Local contemporary bistro in the Market Area. Dinner served after 6PM, M-Sa.
- Gaulart & Maliclet French Cafe, 98 Broad St. (near King St.). Breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and take out). Closed Sundays.
- Hank's Seafood Restaurant, 10 Hayne St. (and Church St.) Good seafood in the Market Area. Dinner nightly
- Hyman's Seafood Restaurant, 215 Meeeting St. Excellent seafood, casual atmosphere, reasonable prices, very popular, near the Charleston Place. Lunch and dinner, daily.
- Jestine's Kitchen, 251 Meeting Street. Offers some of the best lowcountry food for the money. Very popular. It has been featured in many national food publications. A must have is the "table wine" (sweet tea), fried okra, and a slice of homemade pie (choose from over 10 kinds).
- La Fourchette, 432 King St. Small bistro with classic French cooking. Dinner only; closed Sundays.
- The Barbadoes Room, 115 Meeting St. 843.577.2400 Has a stunning atmosphere and offers a great dinner date setting. Don't forget to come by after Church for their superb Sunday brunch.
- Virginia's on King, 412 King St. (at Hutson St.), ☎ 843.735.5800, . upscale lowcountry southern cuisine
- Charleston Grill, in the Charleston Place Hotel.
- Magnolia's, 185 East Bay St. Southern Infusion Cuisine.
- McCrady's, 2 Unity Alley, ☎ 843.577.0025, .
- Peninsula Grill, North Market Street.
- Robert's of Charleston, 182 East Bay St. Fine dining and entertainment, for a special celebration.
- Slightly North of Broad (SNOB), East Bay street (slightly north of Broad Street). The restaurant serves traditional southern cuisine, and its menu selection varies with the seasons.
- Oak Steakhouse, located on Broad Street
- Carolina's, Behind the Old Exchange Building.
- Cypress, Located on East Bay and Queen Street.
- 82 Queen, Located on Queen Street (best She-Crab Soup in town).
- Poogans Porch, Located on Queen Street
- The Macintosh , 479 King St
Be sure to head to Isle of Palms (South Carolina) to eat breakfast at the Sea Biscuit. The place is quaint and while the lines are long, the food is delicious. Be sure to try the Crab Cakes Benedict or Caprese Omelet. Also good for breakfast in Mt. Pleasant is Charleston's Cafe. Downtown features Hominy Grill (also on Rachel Ray's "$40 a Day" and Joseph's  .
If you want a truly local experience for lunch stop by any of the Piggly Wiggly grocery locations and order a fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Additionally, Workmen's Cafe  or JB's Smokeshack  are delightful for their Low Country cuisine as well as the friendly proprietors.
- Daily Dose off Folly Rd. at 1622 Highland Ave(843) 795-1010. For natural and organic foods.
- Earth Fare (2 Charleston locations), . The local choice for fresh, natural, organic grocery goods. Whole Foods Market can also be found.
- Sunflower Cafe, 2366 Ashley River Rd Charleston, SC 29414, ☎ (843) 571-1773, . This is a new addition to West Ashley’s dining scene. $10-$20.
- 167 Raw, 289 E. Bay St., ☎ (843) 579-4997, . Mon-Sat 11AM-10PM. Casual seafood eatery serving oysters, lobster rolls, fish tacos, ceviche & more. $$.
Bars are not difficult to find in Charleston. For a cruise ship crowd and fruity, daiquiri-style drinks, try Wet Willies. Located on East Bay street, as well, is Tsunami, your place for an uptempo atmosphere and good sushi. For great live music try The Brick, which has a haunting bar from London and awesome staff on East Bay Street. For a more sedate atmosphere and great microbrewed beer with dinner, try the South End Brewery, also located on East Bay Street. Henry's on N. Market St. has a lively 40's crowd. The Blind Tiger (an old speakeasy from the Prohibition era) is a local's favorite, as is Burn's Alley Neighborhood Bar, which is tucked amongst all the college bars on King Street. The First Shot bar Courtyard (at the Mills House Hotel) and the Rooftop bar (at The Vendue Inn) are excellent places to enjoy a drink outdoors.
·Original Pub & Brewery Tours of Charleston 843-577-5535 (PubTourCharleston.com). Indulge in Charleston beer, culinary and history tours on foot or by bus. "Eat, drink, and be merry." -King Charles II
Mt Pleasant features Shem Creek and several bar and grills side by side. Red's Icehouse, RB's, and Vickery's are the most popular.
Charleston has two favorite liquors of choice FireFly Sweet Tea Vodka (produced from locally grown tea) and Grand Marnier (a French orange liquor).
All Downtown Bars & Clubs have to close by 2:00AM and Charleston has an enforced open container law.
- Folly Beach Brew Pub, 34 Center St., Folly Beach, SC (Next to Drop-In, on left after 1st light on Folly), . Open Every Day; 1pm-1am Sun-Thurs; 1pm-2am Fri & Sat. Cozy craft beer bar, right on Center Street. Perfect for grabbing a nice cold, strong brew after hitting the waves. On the menu: craft beer tour with a small selection of wines, in-house craft brews, as well as traditional firkin kegs on weekends. Tourists as well as locals frequent this spot, with tourists loving the Brew Pub for not being touristy; a calm place to relax, have a good, strong brew, and meet good people. Welcoming, friendly staff who like to introduce everyone and help with "what to do next" (if you ever care to leave!). Pet-friendly and menu book available to eat-in. Growlers for sale, 25% off brews to go, wide selection, and happy hour from 4-7 M-F. $3 & up.
Charleston is serviced by many local hotels and virtually all of the major U.S. hotel chains.
Expect to pay a premium for a room on Charleston's downtown peninsula, especially in the historic hotels. A vehicle is not needed to explore historic downtown Charleston.
- 1843 Battery Carriage House Inn, 20 S. Battery, 1-800-775-5575 (fax: +1 843 727-3130), . The historic bed and breakfast mansion is on The Battery Park overlooking Charleston Harbor. The inn is a wonderful location for long weekend getaways in South Carolina.
- Andrew Pinckney Inn, 40 Pinckney St, 1-800-505-8983, . The Andrew Pinckney Inn is widely considered Charleston's favorite boutique inn and is located one block off of historic Market Street. Room rates include; wireless internet access, continental breakfast, afternoon cookies, and all day lemonade and teas.
- Barksdale House Inn, 27 George St, 1-888-577-4980, . Wonderfully close to the College of Charleston and the King Street shopping district, this quiet, low-key bed and breakfast offers privacy and comfort to its guests. Call for last-minute rates, and you may get a substantial discount, but don't count on that during busy times.
- Belvedere Bed and Breakfast, 40 Rutledge Ave, 1-800-816-1664 (fax: +1 412-683-3934), .
- Charleston Place Hotel, 205 Meeting St, 1-800-611-5545, . The Charleston Place is downtown Charleston's finest full-service four-diamond hotel. The hotel offers the Michelin rated "Charleston Grill", the Spa at the Charleston Place, 24-hour room service, the Palmetto Cafe for breakfast and lunch, and the Thoroughbred Club. It is in the heart of downown Charleston.
- Charleston's NotSo Hostel, 156 Spring St, +1 843 722-8383, . Dorms beds at $26 per night, private rooms at $70 per night depending on season.
- Church Street Inn, 177 Church St. Located at the corner of Church and Market Streets where Charleston's famed market area hums with activity, Church Street Inn and its plush rooms are elegantly designed in a style reminiscent of a time gone by. Charleston holds a magical place in history and the city's diverse character stems from three centuries of American-European-Caribbean traditions.
- Francis Marion Hotel, 387 King St, ☎ +1 843 722-0600, . checkin: 4PM; checkout: noon. The Francis Marion Hotel, located near upper King St, was the largest and grandest in the Carolinas when it opened in 1924. Named for General Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of the American Revolution, the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston re-opened in 1996 after a $12 million National Trust award-winning restoration, and is once again Charleston's Grand Hotel. Classic Southern cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar, cocktails and jazz piano in the Swamp Fox bar, and complete spa services at Spa Adagio. Grand hotel services: a doorman and bell service, concierge, valet parking, room service, wireless internet services, business center, newsstand and gift shop and a well equipped fitness center.
- Embassy Suites Charleston Historic District, 337 Meeting St. phone="+1 843 723-6900" Located in the heart of Charleston's Historic District adjacent to Lower King Street. Our hotel was the South Carolina State Arsenal in addition to being the home of the original Citadel Military College built before the Civil War and was restored in the original architecture. We are listed as a National Historic Landmark. The Building is shaped like an old fort and is often referred to as the Big Pink Castle. The hotel is adjacent to Marion Square which has been a military marching ground since before the Revolutionary War. The hotel features British West Colonial Plantation decor. The lobby features warm hardwood floors, potted palms, ceiling fans and mahogany furniture. A lush 5-story atrium with a 12 foot fountain, exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and plenty of furnished nooks for quiet conversations. Frederick Wesner originally designed the building as a two story Romanesque structure, incorporated an interior courtyard with Doric columns and Roman arches. It is speculated that Wesner's design was inspired by the Jacques-Louis David painting, The Oath of the Horati. Much of the original design is still in place. Complimentary Cooked to Order Breakfast is served each morning along with a reception each evening featuring free cocktails and light snacks. The hotel offers complimentary wireless internet access, pool, Jacuzzi, Fitness Room and two room suites with microwaves and refrigerators. The free DASH shuttle pick up is just around the corner.
- French Quarter Inn, 166 Church St, 1-866-812-1900, . The French Quarter Inn is a AAA 4 Diamond award winning hotel located on Market St. in the heart of the historic district. The superb location only serves as an accent to the hotel's luxurious accommodations and incredible amenities. 4 Diamond restaurant Tristan, , is on property and provides room service.
- Hampton Inn Historic District, 345 Meeting St. (and John St.) phone="+1 843 723-4600" Located across the street from the Visitor Center and all of the DASH trolleys. Features antebellum decor in a restored warehouse with original hardwood floors. Complimentary hot breakfast and high speed wireless internet connection are incldued in the rate.
- Harbourview Inn, 2 Vendue Range, 1-888-853-8439, . This 4 Diamond inn overlooks historic Charleston Harbor and offers complimentary to guests cookies and milk every evening, a wine and cheese reception, over-sized accommodations with historical interiors.
- King Charles Inn, 237 Meeting St, 1-866-546-4700, . Located on Historic Meeting St. This 3 Diamond hotel features an outdoor heated pool, wireless internet access, manager's reception, fitness center, and an affordable gourmet buffet breakfast.
- Mills House Hotel, 115 Meeting St, 1-800-874-9600, . In the heart of downtown Charleston's historic district. This hotel has lots of history (it was saved from a fire by Robert E. Lee himself), the rooms are very comfortable, an attentive staff, and you never know which celebrity you might be riding in the elevator with.
- Renaissance Charleston Historic Downtown Hotel, 68 Wentworth Street, 1-843-534-0300,  Located in historic downtown Charleston, the Renaissance Hotel features historic decor with a modern twist and boutique accommodations with luxury amenities.
- Vendue Inn, Charleston, South Carolina, 19 Vendue Range,Charleston, SC 29401, ☎ Phone: 843-577-7970 Fax: 843-577-7346 Toll Free: 800-845-7900, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, . Daily Southern Breakfast, fireplaces, and marble whirlpool baths. Has two highly rated on-site restaurants and is pet friendly.
If a vehicle is accessible during the trip, one may want want to hop across the rivers to West Ashley or Mount Pleasant where hotels are less expensive. Both West Ashley and Mount Pleasant are less than a five to ten minute drive to the downtown peninsula.
- Seaside Inn, 1004 Ocean Blvd., Isle of Palms, 1-888-999-6516, . This beachfront hotel on the Isle of Palms features a complimentary continental breakfast, wireless internet access, 2 large sundecks, outdoor pool, and beach access.
- Shem Creek Inn, 1401 Shrimp Boat Lane, Mt. Pleasant, 1-800-523-4951, . Breathtaking views of Shem Creek highlight this boutique hotel. Located within 4 miles of historic Charleston the Shem Creek Inn has a style and pace that is unmatched in the lowcountry. The hotel features an outdoor pool, complimentary continental breakfast, meeting rooms, restaurant, and wireless internet access. Sit back and watch life pass you by as the shrimp boats roll in.
- Comfort Suites West of the Ashley, 2080 Savannah Hwy (Hwy 17 at I -526), ☎ 843-769-9850, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11PM. The Charleston International airport is just 6 miles away. Area beaches, universities, hospitals, restuarants and shopping are in close proximity. Included in your stay is a deluxe continental breakfast and unlimited use of Wi-Fi, indoor pool, fitness center and business center. This all suite property supports green practices and is 100% non smoking.
- Creekside Lands Inn, 2545 Savannah Hwy (off Savannah Highway (US 17) in West Ashley), ☎ (843)763-8885, . Rooms located along the peaceful Long Branch Creek, a tidal saltwater creek, teeming with shrimp and fish. Ideally situated for business and leisure travelers alike, in close proximity to historic downtown, beautiful plantations, pristine beaches and other point of interests. The hotel features include a private dock reaching into the creek, outdoor pool with barbecue grill, complimentary continental breakfast and free Wi-Fi for guests. Rooms start from $49.99. (32° 47' 36.6,-80° 3' 19.3644)
Also less expensive are hotels in North Charleston, which is convenient for the Charleston Airport. the Coliseum, and the Convention Center.
- Courtyard North Charleston Airport/Coliseum, 2415 Mall Drive, North Charleston, South Carolina 29406, ☎ 843-747-9122, . The Courtyard Charleston North is centrally located between Interstates 26 & 526, allowing for easy access to the Charleston Air Force Base and International Airport (CHS), which are located just three miles from the hotel. This North Charleston hotel is also located less than two miles from the Charleston Area Convention Center, Centre Pointe - home of Tanger Outlet Shopping Center, and ten minutes from the shopping, dining and entertainment attractions of historic downtown Charleston. Free WiFi, but only in the lobby & large business center. (32.874684,-80.011172)
- Staybridge Suites North Charleston, 2465 Prospect Dr. (North Charleston, SC 29418), ☎ 843-207-1115, . The newly built Staybridge Suites North Charleston offers a superb array of amenities and residential-style accommodations with full kitchens. At our all-suite hotel, enjoy free hot breakfast, indoor swimming pool, and complimentary wi-fi.
- Suburban Extended Stay Airport Hotel, 7582 Stafford Road, North Charleston, 843-414-6800 , . The Suburban Extended Stay Airport is located off Interstate 26, just four miles from the Charleston International Airport. A new hotel that has rooms that cater to extended-stay guests with coffee-makers, refrigerators, microwaves and stovetops.
Hampton Inn Charleston Airport Coliseum
4701 Saul White Boulevard
North Charleston, SC 29418
Phone: (843) 554-7154
Fax: (843) 566-9299
Hampton Inn Charleston Airport Coliseum hotel, located less than a mile from the Charleston Coliseum, 2.5 miles from the Charleston International Airport and just minutes from downtown historic Charleston. Charleston offers an array of cultural activities, attractions and historic sites, and you can enjoy it all when staying for your next leisure or business trip hotel accommodations.Complimentary 24-Hour Coffee Service in Lobby Complimentary 24-Hour Airport Shuttle Service Complimentary Area Shuttle Service (within 3 mile radius) Complimentary Hampton On the House® Hot Breakfast Complimentary Hampton On the RunTM Breakfast (offered Monday through Friday)Complimentary Local calls Complimentary Wireless High-Speed Internet Access Cribs (available upon request)Valet Dry Cleaning Service On-Site Business Center On-Site Fitness Center Outdoor Pool USA Today Newspaper (Monday through Friday)
Campgrounds and RV parks
- Charleston County Park and Campground 871 Riverland Drive, 843-795-7275 or 843-795-4386, . This park has over 600 acres, walking and biking trails, a dog park with a lake, kayak and canoe rentals, a waterpark and a 124 site RV park that is first class. There is also an area for primitive parking. It is on James Island, but is approximately 6 miles from downtown Charleston and approximately 7 miles from Folly Beach.
Although Charleston is not a huge city, it does have its share of crime. Meeting Street between Interstate 26 and the visitor center should be avoided after dark as this area is frequented by transients and thugs. They will likely stop you and ask for money or a ride and if you refuse, they'll give you a sob story or worse, they may pull a gun or knife on you. Nassau Street and America Street are especially bad and you'll want to stay away at any time of the day or night. It is well known as a hangout for drug dealers and violent criminals. Murders, muggings, and rapes are all very common. Fortunately, there is nothing around there that would be of interest to a tourist. Many parts of North Charleston are also quite dangerous especially around the former Navy base.
When departing Charleston, here are a few things to remember:
If a taxi to the airport is required, it must generally be arranged in advance. Expect at least a half-hour wait for a taxi to arrive. The hotel staff can help arrange for a taxi. Another option is to take a shuttle van from the airport - this may be cheaper. However, upon noting that one is leaving the city for the airport, transport will generally arrive with undue haste.
In the U.S., it is important to arrive at the airport at least one hour before the flight is scheduled to leave. This allows time for security screening.
|Routes through Charleston
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