Ultimate Guide to Charleston in 2023: Explore, Eat & Enjoy!

Guide to Charleston in 2023

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to Charleston in 2023! If you’re planning a trip to this charming Southern city, you’re in for a treat. Charleston offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern amenities that appeal to travelers of all ages and interests.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your Charleston experience. From exploring the city’s neighborhoods and iconic attractions, to savoring the renowned cuisine and enjoying outdoor activities, we’ve got you covered. We’ll also provide tips on where to stay, how to get around, and even suggest day trips to nearby destinations.

So sit back, relax, and let us be your ultimate guide to Charleston in 2023!

Key Takeaways:

  • Charleston in 2023 offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern amenities.
  • Our comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to make the most of your Charleston experience.
  • We’ll provide tips on exploring neighborhoods, savoring the cuisine, enjoying outdoor activities, and more.
  • We’ll also suggest where to stay, how to get around, and nearby day trips to consider.
  • Let us be your ultimate guide to Charleston in 2023!

Getting to Know Charleston

Welcome to Charleston, a city steeped in history and renowned for its Southern charm. With its picturesque architecture and vibrant atmosphere, this coastal city has become a top destination for travelers from all over the world.

Charleston’s history dates back to the 17th century, when it was first settled by English colonists. Over time, the city grew to become a major hub for trade and a center for agriculture, with rice and indigo plantations dominating the surrounding countryside.

Today, Charleston is known for its rich cultural heritage and unique blend of old and new. The city boasts a thriving arts scene, world-class dining, and a host of outdoor adventures.

What Makes Charleston Unique

“Charleston has a flavor that makes it one of the most intriguing cities in the world. It’s a city of genteel manners but also of deep and fascinating mysteries.”

-Pat Conroy, American Author

Charleston’s distinctive architecture, including colorful row houses and stately mansions, sets the city apart from other destinations. The city is also home to a number of historic sites, such as Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired.

Charleston’s world-renowned cuisine is another hallmark of the city. With its emphasis on fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients, Charleston’s dining scene has earned a reputation for excellence. Visitors can enjoy everything from classic Southern fare to international cuisine.

Whether you’re strolling along the cobblestone streets of the historic district, taking in a show at the Dock Street Theatre, or simply relaxing on one of the city’s beautiful beaches, Charleston is a city that is sure to captivate and inspire.

Exploring Charleston’s Neighborhoods

Charleston is a city of diverse and distinct neighborhoods, each with its own charm and character. Exploring these neighborhoods is a must for any visitor looking to get a true taste of what Charleston has to offer.

Downtown Charleston

Downtown Charleston is the heart of the city’s historic district, with its cobblestone streets, pastel-colored buildings, and horse-drawn carriages. Here, visitors can stroll through iconic landmarks like Waterfront Park and The Battery, and experience the city’s rich history at sites like the Charleston Museum and the Nathaniel Russell House. The area also boasts a thriving restaurant and bar scene, with plenty of options for casual and upscale dining.

West Ashley

West Ashley is a more residential neighborhood located just across the Ashley River from downtown. It has a more laid-back, artistic vibe, with numerous galleries, boutiques, and street art. The area also boasts ample parklands, such as the West Ashley Greenway, a 10-mile paved trail that winds through marshes and woodlands. West Ashley is also home to the historic Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, which celebrates the founding of Charleston in 1670.

Folly Beach

If you’re looking for sun, sand, and sea, head to Folly Beach. This seaside community is located just a short drive from downtown and boasts miles of pristine coastline. Visitors can enjoy fishing, surfing, kayaking, and other water sports, as well as a lively bar and restaurant scene. Folly Beach is also home to the iconic Morris Island Lighthouse, which dates back to the early 1800s.

Mount Pleasant

Located just across the Cooper River from downtown, Mount Pleasant is a more affluent neighborhood that offers a mix of historic sites and modern amenities. Visitors can explore iconic landmarks like Boone Hall Plantation and the USS Yorktown, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a museum. The area is also home to numerous upscale shopping and dining options, as well as some of the city’s best golf courses.

No matter which neighborhood you choose to explore, Charleston has something for everyone. Be sure to take your time and soak up the city’s unique blend of history, culture, and Southern charm.

Unmissable Attractions in Charleston

If you’re planning a trip to Charleston in 2023, there are certain attractions you simply can’t miss. From historic sites to natural beauty, we’ve rounded up the top spots to visit during your stay.

Attraction Description Recommended Time to Visit
The Battery A historic defensive seawall and promenade that offers stunning views of Charleston Harbor. Early morning or late afternoon to avoid crowds
Rainbow Row A row of brightly colored historic houses that are a must-see for any photographer or admirer of architecture. Morning or afternoon to capture the best lighting
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens A beautiful plantation with stunning gardens and a rich history dating back to the 17th century. Anytime, but spring is an especially beautiful time to visit

“The Battery offers breathtaking views of Charleston Harbor and is a quintessential spot for a photo op.”

Other attractions worth visiting include the USS Yorktown, a retired aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum, and the Charleston City Market, a bustling hub for local vendors and artisans. When visiting these popular spots, it’s best to arrive early or late to avoid crowds and make the most of your experience.

Charleston’s Culinary Scene

One cannot talk about Charleston without mentioning its delicious food scene. Known for its Southern cuisine and low country specialties, Charleston offers a variety of dining experiences that cater to all tastes and budgets.

Top Restaurants in Charleston

In Charleston, there are numerous restaurants that offer exceptional dining experiences. Whether you’re looking for upscale dining or casual eats, you’ll find it in this city. Some of the noteworthy restaurants include:

Restaurant Name Food Type Price Range
Husk Southern $$$$
The Obstinate Daughter Italian $$$
167 Raw Seafood $$

These are just a few examples of the many great restaurants in Charleston. Be sure to do some research and make reservations in advance!

Must-Try Dishes

No visit to Charleston is complete without trying some of its signature dishes. Some must-try items include:

  • Shrimp and grits
  • Fried chicken and waffles
  • She-crab soup
  • Lowcountry boil

These dishes can be found at many restaurants throughout the city, but be sure to check out some of the local favorites!

Outdoor Activities in Charleston

Charleston’s natural beauty and sunny weather make it an ideal location for outdoor activities. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or an adrenaline-filled adventure, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

  • Wander along the Charleston Waterfront Park and take in the stunning views of Charleston Harbor.
  • Visit one of the many parks and gardens, such as the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens or the Middleton Place.
  • Take a kayak or paddleboard tour to explore the waterways around Charleston.
  • Enjoy a round of golf at one of the many golf courses in the area.
  • Go on a fishing charter to catch some of the local seafood.
  • Take a bike tour of the city to see the sights in a unique way.
  • Relax on the sandy beaches of Folly Beach or Isle of Palms.

With so many outdoor activities available, be sure to plan ahead and make the most of your time in Charleston.

Shopping and Souvenirs in Charleston

Charleston is a haven for shopping enthusiasts, with options ranging from high-end boutiques to quaint local shops.

The city’s most famous shopping district is King Street, where you’ll find a mix of national retail chains and local boutiques. If you’re looking for something unique, visit the Historic City Market, which has been in operation since 1804. This vibrant market offers a variety of goods, including handmade crafts, jewelry, textiles, and souvenirs.

In addition to King Street and the City Market, there are several art galleries in Charleston that offer one-of-a-kind pieces. The Grand Bohemian Gallery features works from local and international artists, while the Mary Martin Gallery showcases contemporary art and sculpture.

For visitors looking to bring home something tasty, Charleston has plenty of options for foodie souvenirs. Indulge in some locally-made hot sauce or a jar of sweet tea jelly from the Charleston Tea Plantation. The city’s many bakeries also offer sweet treats like benne wafers, pralines, and pecan pies.

No matter what you’re looking for, Charleston’s shopping scene is sure to have something to suit your taste.

Charleston’s Festivals and Events

Charleston is a vibrant city that celebrates its heritage and culture through a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. Here are some of the major events that you won’t want to miss:

Spoleto Festival USA

The Spoleto Festival USA is an internationally-acclaimed performing arts festival held annually in Charleston during late spring. It features acclaimed artists and performers from around the world and offers a diverse range of events, including theater, dance, opera, and music.

Charleston Wine + Food Festival

The Charleston Wine + Food Festival is a four-day celebration of Charleston’s culinary scene, held in early spring. It features local and international chefs, wine makers, and beverage experts, as well as a variety of tastings, seminars, and events.

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition

The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition is a three-day event held in February that celebrates the natural beauty and wildlife of the Southeast. It features wildlife art and exhibits, outdoor sporting demonstrations, and educational programs for all ages.

Charleston City Market Night Market

Every Friday and Saturday night, the Charleston City Market transforms into a vibrant night market featuring local artists, artisans, and vendors. Visitors can browse handmade goods, sample local food and drink, and enjoy live music and entertainment.

Charleston Harbor Fest

The Charleston Harbor Fest is an annual event held in early April that celebrates Charleston’s maritime heritage. It features a variety of harbor tours, boat parades, and a seafood festival with live music and entertainment.

These are just a few of the many festivals and events that Charleston has to offer. Check the city’s events calendar to stay up-to-date on all the upcoming celebrations.

Day Trips from Charleston

While there’s plenty to explore in Charleston, it’s also worth taking a day trip to nearby destinations. Here are some options:

Destination Distance from Charleston Highlights
Savannah, GA about 2 hours Historic district, River Street, Savannah College of Art and Design
Beaufort, SC about 1 hour Antebellum homes, Hunting Island State Park, historic downtown area
Myrtle Beach, SC about 2 hours Boardwalk, restaurants, shops, amusement park, golf courses

These destinations offer a variety of experiences, from historic charm to outdoor recreation to family-friendly fun. Just a short drive from Charleston, they make for a great way to spend a day outside the city.

Accommodation Options in Charleston

Charleston offers a diverse range of accommodation options to suit any budget or preference. From luxury hotels to cozy bed and breakfast inns, visitors are sure to find a comfortable place to stay during their trip.

Accommodation Type Description
Luxury Hotels Charleston boasts several luxury hotels located in historic buildings, offering top-notch amenities and personalized service.
Boutique Inns For a more intimate and unique experience, boutique inns provide charming accommodations with personalized touches such as gourmet breakfasts and evening wine receptions.
Vacation Rentals For families or friends traveling together, vacation rentals offer spacious and comfortable homes or apartments with all the amenities of home.
Budget-Friendly Options For budget-conscious travelers, there are several affordable hotels and motels located in convenient areas of the city.

When choosing an accommodation, consider the location and proximity to attractions and restaurants. Downtown Charleston is a popular choice for its historic charm and walkability, whereas places like Mount Pleasant and West Ashley offer a quieter retreat outside of the downtown area.

There are also several options for those seeking pet-friendly accommodations or accommodations with accessible features. Be sure to check with the individual property for specific details and availability.

Transportation in Charleston

Getting around Charleston is relatively easy, thanks to the city’s compact size and various transportation options.

One of the most convenient ways to get around Charleston is by car, especially if you plan to visit attractions outside of the downtown area. There are several rental car companies located at the Charleston International Airport and throughout the city. However, parking in downtown Charleston can be challenging and expensive, so it’s often best to park outside of the city center and utilize public transportation or walking.

Another option is to use the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA), which operates a network of buses serving the city and surrounding areas. Fares are affordable, and routes cover many popular destinations.

Cycling is also a viable option in Charleston, with numerous bike rental companies and bike-friendly routes available. The city’s bike-sharing program, Holy Spokes, is a great way to get around without worrying about parking or navigating busy streets.

Lastly, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are available in Charleston, providing convenient and affordable transportation options.


Charleston in 2023 is an experience not to be missed. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and Southern charm, it’s no wonder why it’s a top destination for travelers. This ultimate guide has covered everything you need to know to explore, eat, and enjoy Charleston like a local.

Whether you’re interested in exploring Charleston’s different neighborhoods, visiting its unmissable attractions, indulging in its renowned culinary scene, or enjoying its outdoor activities, Charleston has something for everyone.

Make sure to also check out the city’s festivals and events, and take a day trip to nearby destinations for even more adventure. Don’t forget to consider the various accommodation and transportation options available to make your trip comfortable and convenient.

Start planning your trip to Charleston in 2023 today and use this guide as your go-to resource. We hope you have an unforgettable experience in this charming Southern city!


Q: What is the purpose of this article?

A: The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive guide to Charleston in 2023, covering various aspects such as exploration, dining, and enjoyment.

Q: What will be covered in the section “Getting to Know Charleston”?

A: The section “Getting to Know Charleston” will provide an overview of Charleston’s history, culture, and significance. It will highlight the city’s Southern charm, architectural beauty, and vibrant atmosphere.

Q: Which neighborhoods of Charleston will be discussed in the article?

A: The article will delve into the different neighborhoods of Charleston, including Downtown Charleston, West Ashley, Folly Beach, and more. Each neighborhood’s distinct characteristics will be discussed.

Q: What are some unmissable attractions in Charleston?

A: Some unmissable attractions in Charleston include The Battery, Rainbow Row, and Magnolia Plantation. Each attraction will be briefly described along with tips for visiting.

Q: What will be covered in the section “Charleston’s Culinary Scene”?

A: The section “Charleston’s Culinary Scene” will focus on Charleston’s renowned food scene, including its delicious Southern cuisine and popular restaurants. Must-try dishes and local favorites will be mentioned.

Q: What outdoor activities are available in Charleston?

A: Charleston offers various outdoor activities such as waterfront strolling, exploring parks and gardens, and enjoying recreational activities like kayaking or paddleboarding.

Q: What shopping opportunities are there in Charleston?

A: Charleston offers plenty of shopping opportunities, including local boutiques, art galleries, and specialty stores. Popular shopping districts or streets will be mentioned.

Q: What festivals and events can be enjoyed in Charleston?

A: Charleston hosts vibrant festivals and events throughout the year, including major events like the Spoleto Festival and the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. Cultural celebrations and community gatherings will also be discussed.

Q: What are some recommended day trips from Charleston?

A: Nearby destinations that can be explored as day trips from Charleston include plantations, historic towns, and natural parks. Information on how to get there and what to expect will be provided.

Q: What accommodation options are available in Charleston?

A: Charleston offers various accommodation options, including luxury hotels, boutique inns, vacation rentals, and budget-friendly choices. Tips on choosing the best location and type of accommodation will be provided.

Q: How can visitors get around Charleston?

A: Information on getting around Charleston, including public transportation options, driving tips, and bike-friendly areas, will be provided. Useful apps or services for navigating the city will also be mentioned.