Especially in recent years, Charleston has been quickly transforming into one of the top destinations to visit in the United States, drawing in families, couples, friends, and young solo travelers with its horse-drawn carriages, cobblestone streets, and award-winning restaurants. Here are the best tips from Charleston natives, true pros of knowing the ins and outs of the charming historic district.
First Thing’s First, Uber Everywhere
Unless you like waiting forever and spending a fortune, take an Uber instead of a taxi. They are all around the city. There is an app called HOBA that is basically a taxi service on the water, which is a great option as well. If you’re downtown, however, take advantage of CARTA, the regional transportation free trolley. There are green CARTA signs around town so keep your eyes out for them. There are three routes, with meeting points at the Visitor Center, Marion Park, and the Charleston Museum.
Make sure you don’t miss all of the free entertainment this historic city has to offer. Take a complimentary tour at the Charleston Tea Plantation, check out the floral display at Hampton Park, cool off in the splash fountain at Waterfront Park, and roam the lands at The Angel Oak. Much like Savannah, Charleston offers free walking tours. Book through Free Tours by Foot and choose between four different themes: the Civil War, haunted Charleston, city history, or architecture.
Bridge to Nowhere
This is an unfinished platform that stretches from Herlot Street into the open marshland of the Ashley River. It’s an abandoned plot of waterfront property, so you are free to watch the sunset in the most secluded part of town. The chances of you catching a glimpse of a dolphin or two are pretty high.
Every Saturday from April 8 to November 25, the Charleston Farmers Market is held downtown at Marion Square from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Farmers, artisans, and food truck owners line up to let you sample their finest goods. Look for the breakdancers by the fountain on King and Calhoun, but be careful, they sometimes force the audience to participate in one of their performances! This isn’t the only market worth visiting, though. Deanna Hunt, a nurse and Charleston native, claims Queen Street Grocery is the best sandwich shop and corners market in town. It’s known for its old-fashioned groceries, hot breakfast, pressed sandwiches, crêpes, and smoothies.
There is half-off sushi at Locals Bar in Mt. Pleasant on Mondays after 3 p.m., $5 Moscow Mules at The Rarebit any weekday between 4 and 7 p.m., cheap beers and a beautiful view at Water’s Edge on Shem Creek, and paella specials at Barsa Lounge and Bar on upper King Street (go on Thursday after 7 p.m. for live jazz!)