Charleston: A quick look
Drinking Age: 21
Public Transportation: 2 free trolleys, and a paid bus service
Passport: No (for US citizens)
Before you leave
- Stay with Airbnb! Charleston has many cheap Airbnb options. I am in no way affiliated with Airbnb; I am such a satisfied customer that I’m encouraging you to give them a try simply because they are that great.
- Charleston is pretty far south–if you’re going during the warm months (that’s April-October down here, y’all) be prepared to sweat, and pack appropriate clothing and sunscreen.
Once you get there:
You will likely have to drive to get around Charleston. If you’re flying in I would recommend renting a car. However they do have a bus service (CARTA) which offers bus rides for a fee, but their trolley, which operates through parts of historic Charleston, is free. Another service, DASH, also offers free trolley rides.
Be prepared to walk. Even with cars and buses and trolleys, to get around downtown you simply have to walk. There are plenty of paid lots and garages where you can park your car.
- Charleston City Market
The Charleston City Market was established in 1788 by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and has been a public marketplace ever since. While it was once primarily a meat market, it has evolved into an artisan’s haven. You can find everything from hand-woven baskets, to paintings, to souvenirs, to cheesy hand-painted wine glasses.
- Hunley Submarine (civil war history)
The Hunley is fun for any history buff. Scientists are working to restore a Civil War era submarine that’s open for tours on the weekends. The tours to the submarine itself are led by a guide, while the museum tours are self-guided. It’s a good introduction to the wealth of Civil War related history in the Charleston area. Tickets are $16/adult and $8/child.
- Fort Sumter (civil war history)
Fort Sumter National Monument is probably best known as the place where the American Civil War erupted. Nowadays, it’s another must see for anyone interested in American history. Getting there requires taking a tour boat to the fort, and taking an approximately two hour tour. Information on tours and facilities can be found on their website.
- Folly Beach
A 20 minute drive from central Charleston, Folly Beach is a cute Carolina beach town. It is home to many tourist-y beach stores and hipster-y cafes.
- Kickin’ Chicken
A local chain restaurant, the Kickin’ Chicken has great food and a relaxed atmosphere. With tons of big screen TVs, wings, and a bunch of beers on tap, it reminded me of Buffalo Wild Wings (with better service). The food was fantastic, and the service was excellent. I subbed in a barbecue sauce for the buffalo sauce on the menu for my sandwich and the server didn’t bat an eye.
- Black Magic Cafe
The original Black Magic Cafe is located in Folly Beach with a new location in James Island. The Folly Beach location is in a tiny old house, with seating outside and in, including on the enclosed screened-in porch. It’s packed on a Sunday morning with plenty of 20 and 30-somethings enjoying coffee, muffins, eggs, and many breakfast combos.
- Aqua Terrace Rooftop Bar
Located on top of the Charleston Marriott, the Aqua Terrace Rooftop bar has good views of the city, and a gorgeous view of the Ashley River. The drink prices are a little higher than the college bars we usually frequent ($10-15 for a mixed drink) but the cocktails are good.
- The Gin Joint
Located right downtown (and near a parking deck, bonus!) the Gin Joint is hopping with 30-something hipsters on a Saturday night. It has a speakeasy theme and a variety of gin drinks, whiskey drinks, and cheeses.
- Fudgery Inc
Located across the street from the Charleston City Market, the Fudgery is conveniently located when you’re out on the town. They offer gourmet homemade fudge, hand-squeezed lemonade, and a variety of ice cream flavors. We picked up some chocolate caramel fudge to take home and a strawberry lemonade to sip on while we walked around. The staff is very friendly and offer free fudge and ice cream samples!
Charleston is a cool city, and I would love to see more of it in the future. I’ve heard great things about their murder mystery parties, ghost tours, and other historic Charleston spooky attractions.
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Hunley submarine site: https://hunley.org
Kickin’ Chicken photo: https://www.thedailymeal.com/kickin-chicken-2
City Market photo: http://www.visit-historic-charleston.com/things-to-do-in-charleston-sc.html
Charleston City Market: http://www.thecharlestoncitymarket.com/main/history
Rainbow Row photo: https://www.sciway.net/sc-photos/charleston-county/rainbow-row.html
Fort Sumter photo: https://www.civilwar.org/
Hunley Submarine photo: http://cdn.history.com/