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4 Jun 2018
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Activities & Events

Downtown Charleston’s southern charm, rich culture, and mouthwatering cuisine are just a few of the appealing qualities drawing travelers in. But, with so many attractions, Charleston can be a bit overwhelming when planning a day trip. That’s where this guide comes in. Let us help you sort through all the Charleston must-dos and plan your perfect day!

Stop #1: Coffee Shop

Rise and shine! First stop, coffee. Charleston has an abundance of coffee shops guaranteed to satisfy any caffeine craving. Whether you’re popping in to grab a cup of joe or sitting down to enjoy a delicious pastry you won’t want to miss the local cafes. Some tried-and-true options include The Daily, Bakehouse Charleston, or The Palmetto Café.

Stop #2: Attractions & Sightseeing

Charleston is home to countless historic sites and iconic landmarks. Its revitalized historic district allows visitors to step back in time and get lost amongst the polished architecture, hidden alleyways, and gorgeous green spaces.

Taking a historic city tour is highly recommended as a first stop when visiting Charleston. The city offers several carriage, walking and bus tours. Not only will these fascinating tours educate you about Charleston’s past and present, they will also allow you to get your bearings and become more familiar with the peninsula. After the tour, venture over to the “must-see” landmarks, Rainbow Row, The Battery and The Pineapple Fountain. Strolling through the Charleston City Market is the perfect place to pick up a Charleston sweetgrass basket, the essential southern souvenir. Shopaholic? The bustling King Street offers a healthy dose of local and designer shops, fine dining and a vibrant nightlife.

If you’re traveling with children and need to escape the sweltering South Carolina sun, stop by the Children’s Museum or South Carolina Aquarium for a cooler option conveniently located on the lower peninsula. If you are more of an architecture buff, head over to one of the many Charleston homes for an information-packed tour. Some favorites are the Nathaniel Russell House or Aiken-Rhett House. Art enthusiast? You’ll want to make a beeline to Broad Street, hedged by numerous art galleries, or head over to the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Stop #3: Happy Hour

You’ve had a full day; now it’s time to kick back and relax. What better place to do so than one of Charleston’s famous rooftop bars? The phenomenal views and cool breeze make the rooftops a popular meeting spot to retreat to. Explore the Vendue, Market Place Pavilion or The Watch to find out why locals are so enamored with these spots. These rooftops boast panoramic views of the historic district, deliciously creative cocktails, and appetizers that rival even the most exceptional entrees. If you are looking for something a little closer to the ground, the Gin Joint or the Cocktail Club are equally great options. Concocted by expert Charleston mixologists, these drinks are sure to please.

Stop #4: Food

If you aren’t starving at this point, we suggest repeating stops 1-3. If you are starving, you’re in luck. Travelers come from all over the world for a taste of Charleston’s famous Lowcountry cuisine. Shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes and she crab soup are some must-eat southern staples, just to name a few. From oyster platters to pimento cheese, you’ll likely witness the diverse spectrum of food the Holy City has to offer.

If you’re visiting with the whole family, Hymans Seafood, Jestine’s Kitchen or Hominy Grill provide cozy, family-friendly atmospheres without breaking the bank. If you’re looking for more of a fine dining option, give Cannon Green, 82 Queen, Husk or Halls Chophouse a try.

Stop #5: Night Life

If you are heading out for a night on the town, make your way to upper King Street. A few spots to hit include Stars, Prohibition or Vintage Lounge. The buzzing social atmosphere, taste-bud-pleasing cocktails, and lively music make for an unforgettable experience. If you are looking for a quieter, more laid-back atmosphere, check out The Bay Street Biergarten. Located on East Bay Street, this bar offers a wide selection of craft beers, German-inspired food, and live music.


If a day trip to Charleston sounds like something you would enjoy, browse our collection of Kiawah Island vacation rentals and start planning now. We are the perfect distance away from the hustle and bustle of the city, so you can truly get some rest and relaxation, but close enough where a trip to downtown makes for a great day. 

Continue Planning Your Charleston Area Getaway