Things to do in Charleston SC 2020 | Food & Fun


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Charleston, the South Carolina port city founded in 1670, is defined by its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and pastel antebellum houses, particularly in the elegant French Quarter and Battery districts. The Battery promenade and Waterfront Park both overlook Charleston Harbor, while Fort Sumter, a federal stronghold where the first shots of the Civil War rang out, lies across the water.

Our all-around favorite port city founded in 1670, is Charleston South Carolina. This sweet city defined by its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriage and pastel antebellum houses is a flashback into history.

If this is your first visit or your hundredth, we’ve got the food scene covered for you. In this article, I’m going to share some of our all-time favorites.

We’ve highlighted family dining, rooftop flare, and other unique features if a restaurant includes them. We’ve also included fun things to do and check out while you’re visiting.

Charleston, SC
Image by Mark Hemmings from Pixabay 

Downtown Charleston | Dining

  • FIG
    Eat a FIG! Southern classics with seasonal ingredients served in an upscale bistro setting. Pure flavor, quality ingredients, and creating an atmosphere that is friendly, approachable, and a haven for people who simply love food.
    • 232 Meeting Street Charleston, SC 29401
    • Phone: (843) 805-5900
    • Reservations
  • Halls Chophouse: Sizable cuts of beef & seafood served in elegant surrounds, also known for its Sunday gospel brunch.
    • Address: 434 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 727-0090
    • Reservations
    • Christina recommended this from her experience.
  • Magnolia’s Charleston: A refined take on traditional Southern cooking, served in a warm, sophisticated environment.
    • Address: 185 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • Phone: (843) 321-9333
    • Reservations
  • The Ordinary: This 1920s bank now houses an upscale seafood restaurant with high ceilings, large windows & a bar.
    • Address: 544 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 414-7060
    • Reservations
  • Edmunds Oast: Brewery
    • Address: 1505 King Street, Charleston, SC in the Pacific Box & Crate development.
    • *Outdoor area
  • Tattooed Moose: Upbeat watering hole serving elevated bar food & craft beer in unfussy digs late-night.
    • Address: 1137 Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 277-2990
    • Christina’s take: (bar + good food — only hit it for lunch!) — Roasted garlic duck Fat Fries 🙂
  • Gaulart & Maliclet: Bustling cafe offers all-day eats plus coffee, beer & French wines to guests at communal tables.
    • Address: 98 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • Phone: (843) 577-9797
    • Christina’s take: French hidden treasure
  • Stars Rooftop & Grill: American eatery with a seasonal menu & mid-1930s vibe boasts a rooftop bar (360° view of Charleston) & wood-fired oven.
    • Address: 495 King St, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 577-0100
    • Brunch/dinner/late night
    • Reservations via OpenTable
    • *Rooftop bar
  • Uncork: A wine bar for the curious explorer. They offer 1 ounce, half glass, and full glass wine tastings, so you can try lots of new wines (they have over 40 different, continuously changing wines, or by the bottle bottle. Self-serve. Uncork also has a custom craft cocktail menu, as well.
    • Address: 476 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: 854.222.3939
    • *Date night
    • Closed on Mondays
    • Reservations on website (via Resy)
    • Note: Located across the street from STARS, mentioned above.
    • Tuesdays – Sundays, “Power Hour” from 6-7pm & 9-10pm with a few $5 apps and half off craft cocktails
  • Élevé at the Grand Bohemian: Rooftop garden setting, where French dishes have taken on a gypsy twist. Begin each dish with fresh herbs/seasonings and finish each one artfully. Refresh your mind, nourish your soul and explore the story that started it all.

    Start your evening with a glass or bottle of Kessler blend. Taste a little something new. Enjoy an artful ambiance and storied setting.
    • Address: 55 Wentworth St., Charleston, SC
    • Phone: (843) 724-4144
    • Reservations via OpenTable
    • *Rooftop lounge
    • Signature dessert is highly recommended
  • The Cocktail Club: An upscale lounge dedicated to the art of the craft cocktail. An extensive selection of house-made infusions, rare liquors, and farm-to-shaker beverages features fresh-squeezed juices and modern ingredients alongside a menu of light fare.
    • Address: 479 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 724-9411
  • Charleston Grill: Opulent hotel destination for upscale Southern-French dishes plus wine pairings.
    • Address: 224 King St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • Phone: (843) 577-4522
    • Reservations: OpenTable or on the website
  • Brown Dog Deli: Popular lunch place serving deli sandwiches in a funky space with ’80s memorabilia & a courtyard.
    • Address: 40 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • Phone: (843) 853-8081
    • *Family friendly
  • Five Loaves Cafe: Busy American eatery serving soups, salads, sandwiches & brunch with vegan & gluten-free options.
    • Address: 43 Cannon St, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 937-4303
    • *Family friendly
  • Sugar Bakeshop: This snug, playful bakery whips up a selection of desserts from unique cupcakes to fruit tarts.
    • Address: 59 1/2 Cannon St, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 579-2891
    • Keep seeing this one mentioned on “must do” lists for Charleston
    • *Family friendly
  • Swig & Swine: House-smoked meats & creative sides served in a funky BBQ spot with outdoor seating, beer & bourbon.
    • Address: 1217 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407
    • Phone: (843) 225-3805
    • *Family friendly
  • Fleet Landing: Southern seafood staples served in sleek, light-filled quarters, with a patio overlooking the water.
    • Address: 186 Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401
    • Phone: (843) 722-8100
    • *Family friendly
    • *Outdoor dining option
  • Graft Wine Shop: Visit sommelier Femi Oyediran at this uptown Charleston wine bar/shop with a focus on celebrating good wine, community, great times and the best music.
    • Address: 700b King St, Charleston, SC 29403
    • Phone: (843) 718-3359
    • Champagne happy hour: Monday-Friday 5-7pm.
      • $5 Glasses of Cava and $12 glasses of grower Champagne. No corkage on bottles of Champagne.
  • Husk Centrally located in Charleston’s historic downtown area. Executive Chef is Lowcountry native, Travie Grimes. Menu changes based on regional produce.
    • 76 Queen Street, Charleston, SC
    • Phone: (843) 577-2500
    • Made Best Restaurant in America List

Isle of Palms | Dining

  • Sea Biscuit Cafe: A bright, cozy cafe with nautical touches serving a simple menu of homestyle breakfast & lunch
    • Address: 21 J C Long Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
    • Phone: (843) 886-4079
    • *Family friendly
  • Coconut Joe’s: Quintessential beach bar on the IOP strip.
    • Address: 1120 Ocean Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
    • Phone: (843) 886-0046
    • *Family friendly – They offer a separate menu catering to kids.
    • *Outdoor dining option
  • Poe’s Tavern: Relaxed watering hole with a menu of America grub & decor devoted to author Edgar Allan Poe. 3 locations in the south.
    • Address: 2210 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
    • Phone: (843) 883-0083
    • Christina’s take – American grub and fun atmosphere – visited Atlantic beach location.
  • Long Island Cafe: Quaint bistro with full bar has a seafood-centric menu plus beef, chicken & handmade pasta options.
    • Address: 1515 Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
    • Phone: (843) 886-8809
  • High Thyme: Cool restaurant offering American grub & drinks plus weekend brunch & live music in a comfy setting. Come for happy hour, Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 7pm, for discounted beer, wine, cocktails and appetizers at this beachside bistro.
    • Address: 2213 Middle St C, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
    • Phone: 843) 883-3536
  • Obstinate Daughter: Inventive New American fare, plus local craft beers & brunch, in an elegant, country-chic space.
    • Address: 2063 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
    • Phone: (843) 416-5020
  • The Boathouse: A local favorite, with both residents and visitors, for fresh seafood. The casual ambience and food have withstood the test of time.
    • Address: 101 Palm Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
    • Phone: (843) 886-8000
  • Coda Del Pesce: Housemade pasta & Italian seafood dishes served in a light-filled eatery with a patio & ocean views.
    • Address: 1130 Ocean Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
    • Phone: (843) 242-8570
    • *Date night
    • Tip: For a romantic meal, reserve one of the prized tables by the window wall for the best views of the Atlantic Ocean and the beach at Isle of Palms.

Folly Beach | Dining

  • Chico Feo: Funky outdoor cafe with live music, beer & a festive vibe serving diverse eats, from tacos to pho.
    • Address: 122 E Ashley Ave, Folly Beach, SC 29439
    • Phone: (843) 906-2710
    • *Outdoor dining
  • Jack of Cups Saloon: Global pub grub, housemade sangria & lots of beer offered in a cozy, no-nonsense space with a patio.
    • Address: 34 Center St, Charleston, SC 29412
    • Phone: (843) 633-0042
    • Note: Closed Tuesdays
    • *Outdoor patio
  • Lost Dog Cafe: Cozy cafe serving all-day breakfast & coffee plus sandwiches, salads & wraps.
    • Address: 106 W Huron Ave, Folly Beach, SC 29439
    • Phone: (843) 588-9669
  • Hen & The Goat: Cheery, upscale counter serve for breakfast items, sandwiches & salads, plus patio seating.
    • Address: 869 Folly Rd, Charleston, SC 29412
    • Phone: (843) 410-1385
    • Breakfast & lunch
    • *Family friendly
    • *Outdoor dining
  • Black Magic Cafe: Quirky, casual cafe offering hearty breakfasts along with creative burgers, salads & wraps.
    • Address: 103 W Erie Ave, Folly Beach, SC 29439
    • Phone: (843) 633-0025
    • Breakfast & lunch
    • *Family friendly
  • Taco Boy: Tacos, quesadillas & nachos pair with margaritas & beer at this funky taqueria by the beach.
    • Address: 15 Center Street, Folly Beach, SC 29439
    • Phone: (843) 588-9761
    • *Family friendly

Activities

Downtown Charleston | Outdoors Activities

  • Visit White Point Garden: This park provides beautiful views of Fort Sumter and of the Charleston Harbor. The park features lots of grass space, shaded by beautiful old oak trees. The park has a gazebo in the center and features a rich display of history, including an impressive display of Civil War cannons, and several monuments and statues.
  • Visit Charles Towne Landing: Charles Towne Landing introduces visitors to the earliest colonial history of Charleston. Interact with hands-on exhibits in the Visitor Center, talk to knowledgeable staff members, and take an audio tour on the self-guided history trail. Guests can step aboard and tour the Adventure, Charleston’s only 17th-century replica sailing ship, see cannons fired, or take a peek at otters, bears, bison and more at the Animal Forest natural habitat zoo.  The grounds also include 80 acres of gardens, with an elegant live oak alley and the Legare Waring House. Park has hiking/walking/biking trails. Bicycles are available to rent from the park for $5/person/hour or $15/person/day.
  • Sail Charleston Harbor. The most popular time to sail is sunset which provides the perfect atmosphere to get away from the daily grind. Up to at total of six guests can kick back, relax and soak up the last remaining rays of sun or be as active in the sailing of Alliance as they wish. Depending on tides, currents and wind our three-hour harbor tour will take you down the Intercostal waterway off Sullivan’s Island, out to Fort Sumter, the Charleston Battery and waterfront, up to the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, Yorktown and Patriots Point. We will circle the entire harbor while you relax on the bow, amidships or cockpit and breath it all in. It is a rare occasion when we do not see a dolphin riding our bow wake or playing in the harbor waters around Alliance. If interested in learning the finer points of sailing, put yourself to work and  find out what it is like to helm a boat and trim the sails. Instruction can be freely given and you can do as little or as much as you like.
    • From $120/person.
  • Stroll the Battery: Sunrise and sunset are prime times. It stretches along the lower shores of the Charleston peninsula, bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, which meet here to form Charleston harbor.
  • Waterfront Park. Relax on the swings.
  • King Street. Window shop.
  • Visit the city’s cemeteries or churches. Most are open during the day.
  • Enjoy the art galleries of The French Quarter.
  • Take a peaceful stroll through The Gateway Garden Walk that connects The Unitarian Church to St. Philip’s Church.
  • Explore downtown Charleston’s secret alleyways.

Downtown Charleston | Indoors Activities

  • Private Dinner PartyJoin me in my private kitchen for an evening of exquisite southern/Lowcountry cuisine, lowcountry-style music, and specially prepared beverages. Our time together will start with appetizers and a hand crafted cocktail using fresh & local ingredients. We’ll select our tunes for the evening and head into a 4 course wine dinner. With each course I’ll explain the significance and importance of the ingredients used and how these flavors have evolved over time. I’ll also share some of Charleston’s best kept secrets in how to prepare some of our most noteable foods! After dessert, spontaneous dancing may occur. From $125/person
  • Cooking class with chef Bob Waggoner Join chef bob in his downtown Charleston showcase kitchen, where you will cook and laugh alongside him to prepare and enjoy a seasonal tasting menu inspired by the many farmers, fisherman, and artisans of the lowcountry.
    NOTE: Check reservations.
  • Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry If you have little ones with you this is a great place to check out! Admission to the Museum is FREE for CML Members and children under 12-months-old, $10 for SC Residents and $12 for non-SC Residents. Your admission grants you access in and out of the Museum all day.

Isle of Palms – Outdoors Activities

  • Harvest Hangout: Hosted at Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms. Menu changes each fall. Everyone is invited to hang out at the fire pit on the Village Plaza for bingo, games, and a family-friendly movie. Bingo is $5/card starting at 4:30 followed by the dinner buffet from 6:00-8:00. Enjoy an assortment of activities and games all evening long followed by a movie at sunset.
    • Wednesday November 27, 4:00pm – 8:00pm
    • $40/adults and $15/children. $23 drink package available.

Isle of Palms | Indoor Activities

  • Beach House Spa
    If you’re ready for a break this is your place. The Beach House Spa is a Cozy Cottage tucked away at the end of Carolina Avenue on the Isle of Palms. Beach House Spa offers many great therapies and treatments such as: Hot stone massage, reflexology, facials, microdermabrasion, body wraps and scrubs, and full body waxing. If you feel like spending the better part of your day pampering yourself, this spa is where you need to be. Beach House Spa is within walking distance to the beach and many hotels and eating establishments.
    • 1030 Carolina Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
    • (843) 886-8883

Folly Beach – Outdoors

  • Visit the Morris Island Lighthouse
    • COA offers a well-rated eco boat tour that provides the opportunity to see wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, wading birds, oyster flats, and sea turtles. Once you arrive at the island, you will have around 45 minutes to explore the beach in search of shells and spectacular views of the lighthouse. After beach combing, you will board the boat and enjoy the wind through your hair as we make our way back to the dock. $47/adult, $27/children 2-12 years old, $5/infants under 2
  • Stroll the Folly Beach Pier for one of the best views of the Edge of America
    • 2nd longest pier on the East Coast

Johns Island – Outdoors

Angel Oak on Johns Island

Sullivans Island – Outdoors

Yoga

  • Charleston Power Yoga – We love fitting in Yoga and thought you might too. 🙂
    • Downtown Charleston Location:
      • 557 King St Charleston, SC 29403
      • 843-513-3400 text or call

Shopping

Downtown Charleston Grocery Stores

  • Harris Teeter 290 E Bay St., Ansonborough
  • Whole Foods.
  • Publix.

Transportation

  • DASH TrolleyFREE. One of the most convenient ways to travel across downtown Charleston is aboard a DASH Trolley, the free hop-on, hop-off shuttle that delivers passengers to shops, restaurants, and attractions across the peninsula. (Route information in link.)
  • Uber. ~$16. Downtown Charleston
  • Uber. ~$20 Uber. Downtown Charleston
  • Uber. ~$35 Uber. Folly Beach

Charleston has so much to offer! Everything from dining to history to the beach! It’s one of our favorite cities. We hope you enjoy your visit and travel well!

Have thoughts? Drop us a line!

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