City, Food + Drink, Lifestyle

Downtown Charleston, SC neighborhood guide

Downtown Charleston | Photo via @francismarionhotel

Table of Contents

To help you navigate Charleston’s downtown streets, we’ve created a list of some cool restaurants, bars, parks + museums, so that next time you take a night or day out on the town, you will be ready to explore, eat and learn.

Explore


Waterfront Park | Photo via @hue_and_eye_photography Doug Hickok

⛲️ Joe Riley Waterfront Park | Vendue Range, Concord St.
Home of the famous Pineapple Fountain, this park offers the perfect setting for romantic picnics, scenic walks or family photos.

⛵️ The Battery | E. Bay St. + Murray Blvd.
This historic spot dates back to the 1700s and was a significant location in both the Revolutionary + Civil Wars. It also includes stunning views of the Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse and Fort Sumter

🌳 Marion Square | 329 Meeting St.
Located in the heart of the city, this plot of land hosts the Charleston Farmers Market as well as other festivals + events. On days when it’s not the life of the downtown party, Marion Square provides a place for locals and tourists to exercise, study + enjoy the outdoors.

🌈 Rainbow Row | 83-107 E. Bay St.
Grab a coffee + a camera before taking a walk down this section of East Bay Street to experience the historical beauty of the city’s most notable colored houses.

Liberty Square | 340 Concord St.
From here you can purchase a ticket + board a ferry boat for Fort Sumter, enjoying fresh air and rich history.

Learn

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon | 122 E. Bay St.
Since the Revolutionary War, the Exchange has been the site of several atrocities, including the British imprisonment of American soldiers + pre-Civil War slave auctions. 

🐢 South Carolina Aquarium | 100 Aquarium Wharf
With stingray feedings, touch tanks + various animal exhibits, the aquarium is certainly one of the city’s best, most interactive destinations – perfect for people of any age.

🛍 Historic Charleston City Market | 188 Meeting St.
Since the early 1800s, these buildings have rented out booths to local artisans, farmers, butchers + fishermen to set up shop and sell goods to visitors.

🖼 The Charleston Museum | 360 Meeting St.
Typically considered America’s First Museum, The Charleston Museum contains an ever-evolving collection of exhibits dedicated to South Carolina culture + history.

🗞 Powder Magazine | 79 Cumberland St.
Discover Charleston’s extensive military history in the state’s first government building + former Revolutionary War arsenal.

🎨 Gibbes Museum of Art | 135 Meeting St.
Since 1905, the Gibbes Museum has been home to the city’s premier display of artwork, including pieces native to the state of South Carolina and pieces from abroad.

✊🏾 Old Slave Mart Museum | 6 Chalmers St.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this is widely considered the first African-American slave museum + contains the state’s only remaining building once used as a slave auction site.

🐎 Old South Carriage Co. | 14 Anson St.
For those newer to the city, there’s no better way to see it all than by hopping on a tour led by professional + highly informed guides.

Eat

Seafood

🦀 Charleston Crab House | 41 S. Market St.
Known around town for its shrimp + crab steampot boils, fried seafood and traditional hushpuppies, this is a Lowcountry staple when in need of a good, family atmosphere and phenomenal comfort food.

🦞 Hank’s Seafood Restaurant | 10 Hayne St.
Listed as one of Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s “10 Best Seafood Restaurants in Charleston”, Hank’s never ceases to dazzle diners with its fresh, local ingredients + extensive menus.

🐟 Magnolias | 185 E. Bay St.
For 30 years, Downtown Charleston has revered this upscale eatery for its southern, coastal tastes + superb service.

🍤 167 Raw | 193 King St.
While the menu includes must-try items such as lobster rolls + shrimp po’ boys, you can’t visit 167 Raw without ordering from the daily oyster selection.

Steak

🥩 Oak Steakhouse | 17 Broad St.
Near Charleston’s French Quarter, this steakhouse takes up residence in a former bank building dating back to the 1840s + boasts some of the best cuts of steak in the city. 

🥩 Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill | 14 N. Market St.
Marketed as a “modern twist on an old school steakhouse,” Burwell’s offers exciting + unique options like the Signature Hot Rocks dish – your choice of wagyu or a filet cooked (and served) over 700 degree black lava stones.

🥩 Halls Chophouse | 434 King St.
Ranked again + again as TripAdvisor’s #1 Restaurant in Charleston, Halls needs no introduction, but it certainly deserves a spot on our neighborhood guide for its impeccable selection of steak, seafood and wine.

Asian

🍣 O-Ku | 463 King St.
In search of high quality sushi + Asian cuisine? Look no further. O-Ku’s authentic Japanese menu features countless nigiri and sushi rolls as well as poke, wagyu tartare, harumaki and much more.

🥟 Basil | 460 King St.
Perched on the corner of King + Ann Streets, Basil brings traditional Thai food to the Lowcountry, serving to-die-for dishes like pad see-eu, tom kha gai and barramundi.

🍚 Mama Kims | 349 King St.
A longtime local favorite, beloved cook + restaurant owner Mama Kim works hard to prepare some of the city’s most delicious and affordable Korean food at her namesake.

Mexican

🌮 Taco Boy | 217 Huger St.
This is the perfect, lowkey + casual spot to sip on a marg and consume copious amounts of Mexican food. Check out the many, many taco options here.

🌯 RuRu’s | 159 E. Bay St.
Tacos, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas – you name it, RuRu’s has it (as long as it’s Mexican, that is). 

🌶 Pink Cactus | 100 Spring St.
Stop by for traditional Oaxacan food and ambience between 3-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat. and enjoy Tequila + Taco Hour, where tacos are only $4 and margaritas are only $5.

Some of this, some of that

🥪 Groucho’s Deli | 364-A King St.
Groucho’s has been serving the state of South Carolina since 1941, and its wide selection of salads + sandwiches is just as timeless as the shop itself.

🍕 Monza Pizza Bar | 451 King St.
Sometimes the sheer volume of restaurants + eateries downtown can become overwhelming, but you can never go wrong with wood-fired pizza and freshly tossed salads.

🍖 Home Team BBQ | 126 Williman St.
This is a great spot for a comfort food feast complete with pulled pork sandwiches, brisket, mac ‘n cheese + barbecue nachos.

🍝 5Church | 32B N. Market St.
Aptly named, 5Church sits within a former chapel, complete with high, exposed ceilings + traditional stained glass windows. Its menu has a little bit of everything, from a gourmet lamb burger to handmade braided ravioli.

🍔 Moe’s Crosstown Tavern | 714 Rutledge Ave.
Sometimes you just need some good old fashioned bar food, + Moe’s Crosstown Tavern has you covered. Choose from over 20 sandwiches + burgers as well as tenders, fish ‘n chips, onion rings and wraps.

Dessert

🍰 Carmella’s | 198 E. Bay St.
For those with a sweet tooth, look no further. Carmella’s offers gelato, miniature cakes, boozy milkshakes + an assortment of freshly baked pastries.

🥧 Kaminsky’s Dessert Café | 78 N. Market St.
Pies, cakes, ice cream sundaes, dessert martinis – this café truly has something for everyone.

🍪 King Street Cookies | 370 King St.
Whether you’re craving a simple chocolate chip cookie or something more adventurous like a strawberry pink lemonade cookie, this King St. shop is the place to go.

🍨 Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams | 501-A King St.
It’s not uncommon to walk past Jeni’s to the scent of fresh waffle cones + the sight of block-long lines: its ice cream flavors are bold and undeniably delicious, and time and again, Charleston tourists and locals return for more.

🧁 Sugar Bakeshop | 59 ½ Cannon St.
While cupcakes are their specialty, this adorable, little shop goes above + beyond by also offering pies, tarts, cookies and even, sometimes, dog treats.

Drink

🥂 The Rooftop Bar at The Vendue | 19 Vendue Range
High up above the streets, this bar overlooks both the city + the water, allowing guests the perfect Charleston experience: good drinks and even better views.

🍸 The Gin Joint | 182 E. Bay St.
Contrary to its name, The Gin Joint does not serve only gin – in fact, that’s only a small portion of the spirits included on its vast cocktail menu.

🍹 Uptown Social | 587 King St.
Beware: Uptown knows how to party. Not for the faint of heart, Uptown Social’s three stories boast four separate bars + any concoction you could possibly desire, from draft beer to frozen rosé to signature cocktails.

🍾 Stars Rooftop Bar | 495 King St.
Don’t be deterred by the cooler weather; this rooftop bar comes equipped with 10 space heaters, cozy wicker chairs + a wide selection of beverages that are sure to warm you right up.

🍺 Munkle Brewing Co. | 1513 Meeting St. Rd.
Calling all beer enthusiasts. This brewery, influenced by the styles of Germany + Belgium, is the perfect place to gather the boys (+ girls, of course) and imbibe.

🍷 Uncork Charleston | 476 King St.
Discover the finer things in life by stopping in to sample several wines from self-pour stations + made-to-order charcuterie boards.

🥃 The Living Room at The Dewberry | 334 Meeting St.
Situated within one of Charleston’s favorite luxury hotels, this quiet, quaint spot invites guests to take a seat, stay awhile + perhaps even peruse their very own curated library.

🥂 Camellias | 404 King St.
Known affectionately by locals as “The Pink Bar,” this elegant lounge within the Hotel Bennett specializes in bubbly – sparkling champagnes + rosés to match the pink + cream interior.

🍸 The Cocktail Club | 479 King St.
An upscale bar situated in a historic building dating back to the late 1800s, The Cocktail Club offers craft cocktails, live music + a “rustic ambience.”