Charleston is the ideal place to escape in the summer, if even for just a weekend. There is always something new to experience, and you can’t beat the salty sea breeze on a summer night. To have the perfect itinerary for your visit we created a list of our 10 favorite parts of summertime Charleston.
The Sandy Beaches
Soaking in some sun on the beach is a popular summer day activity in Charleston, but first, you have to choose where to go. We have five sandy beaches, each boasting their own wonderful qualities. Learn more here about our two favorite beaches: Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island. Pack a lunch, some sunscreen, and a boogie board and you’ll be all set for the day.
Time on the sea
Some days you need to relax on the sand and others are more suited to take to the sea. If you’re looking for a breeze on a hot sunny day you just might want to take a sail around the Charleston harbor. The Schooner Pride is a great vessel for an adventure with a choice of an afternoon dolphin sail, sunset sail or a moonlight sail. If you’re looking for something a bit more active, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards to take out on your own or go on a guided tour. Whatever way you want to enjoy the sea, Charleston has you covered.
A Food Scene you won’t forget
As you probably already know, the restaurant scene in Charleston is always growing and the options are seemingly endless. The chefs in our city take creativity to a new level and will serve you meals that you won’t soon forget. Visit Circa 1886 to enjoy a fine dining experience that is perfect for a special occasion or just a fancy night out on the town. For some other top notch Charleston cuisine, try Xiao Bao Biscuit, Rodney Scott BBQ, and Leon’s Oyster Shop.
Artists of all kinds are taking up residence in Charleston left and right and art galleries are all over town. Most noteworthy is the Robert Lange Studios which was voted Best Art Gallery in Charleston for the last four years by the Charleston City Paper. There are also personal artist studios a lot of which are housed at Redux Contemporary Art Center. It’s worth stopping by and taking a peak at what is being created by numerous artists such as College of Charleston graduate, Kate Waddell.
History at every turn
Charleston is a dream locale for history buffs. First of all, Fort Sumter is loaded with history and is just a boat ride away. This site, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, is a must-see. If its plantations you’re interested in, we recommend visiting Middleton Place. Middleton Place is only a 15-minute drive from downtown, yet feels about a thousand miles away from reality. Built by the wealthy Middleton family, this was once a rice plantation and one of the grandest estates on the east coast. Charleston also boasts an incredible naval museum, Patriots Point, located at the mouth of the Cooper River. This landmark, housed in an aircraft carrier, includes a Vietnam Experience Exhibit and a Medal of Honor museum. While you are there, make sure to ask plenty of questions. The guides at Patriot’s Point are passionate and eager to educate guests
Shopping you won’t find anywhere else
King Street shopping is endless fun. As one of the South’s premier shopping destinations, Charleston has put itself on the map with family-owned boutiques and luxury retailers. Here in Charleston, good shopping is not hard to find. For women, we recommend Out of Hand, Two Cumberland, Copper Penny and V2V. For men, the best finds are sure to be at M. Dumas and Sons and Grady Ervin. If you are looking for accessories and office goodies look no further than Candlefish and Mac and Murphy. Whatever it is you may be shopping for, we have plenty of stylish options.
Museums full of Charleston history
Set against the backdrop of the Charleston Harbor, the South Carolina Aquarium features creatures of all kinds. Aquarium exhibits include local sea life, exotic reptiles and mammals, and fish from the great ocean beyond. You can easily spend the day here, drifting from one captivating exhibit to the next. Commonly regarded as “Americas First Museum” the Charleston Museum was built in 1773. The Museum’s collections represent a comprehensive look at the history of South Carolina. If you are hoping to dive into the Lowcountry’s past you won’t find a better place. The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is a space where kids and their families can play and learn through interactive exhibits. One room houses a giant pirate ship while another is an art center where creativity can flow. This is a great place for kids to get out their energy while learning this museum is a must!
The locally crafted libations
After a full day walking the sunny streets of Charleston, its time for a refreshing hand-crafted cocktail or locally brewed beer. We recommend visiting The Gin Joint where you can order a drink based on adjectives that describe you. There is also The Belmont with its sophisticated atmosphere and highly knowledgeable bartenders. For local beers, our go-to is Revelry Brewing specifically their rooftop bar where you can enjoy the sunset and a lively scene of Charleston locals.
Catching a show or two
Charleston has several options for enjoying live theater or the newest blockbuster. If you’re looking for laughs and improv, Theater 99 is the spot for some of the best comedy in the city. If you’re wanting to see the Ballet or a touring Broadway production we have the Gaillard Center or the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. Both boast an impressive schedule of shows. For something a bit simpler on an unexpected rainy day, we suggest going to the Terrace Theater. In this retro cinema, you can enjoy a movie with a refreshing glass of wine.
The Lack of Traffic
Charleston in the summer offers so many wonderful options, and one important perk is the lighter traffic. With college students at home and families off on vacation, so does the stress of finding a parking spot. Getting a dinner reservation in October should happen weeks in advance, but summer brings an ease to planning.
Now that you’ve learned about what summertime in Charleston has to offer, its time to start planning your trip. We can’t wait to welcome you to the number 1 city in the United States!