When it comes to discovering the least-well-known (but most locally beloved) places a city has to offer, you need to go straight to the source. We went to the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel in downtown Charleston and asked its team of Navigators — their on-site experts for all things in the historic downtown neighborhood — to give us their best-kept secrets about where to eat, drink, shop, and play, and what we found is a smattering of Southern hospitality around every corner. Here’s where you can find Charleston’s neighborhood gems when you’re in town.Read More
Charleston’s Hidden Gems
Neighborhood locals have been going to The Grocery for almost a decade, and this spacious restaurant has been known for its use of regional ingredients and its house-made charcuterie. Their canning program allows produce to be integrated across seasons, and you’ll find favorites like fried oysters mixed with unconventional takes, like a green tomato carpaccio topped with local crab.
Children's Museum of the Lowcountry
In a city that can often be brutally hot, you need a spot to take children in the afternoon (since the option of having an afternoon cocktail won’t quite work with little ones in tow). The Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry is centrally located and has hours of fun for kids. It even has Charleston-specific activities like a Lowcountry pirate ship and ship racing in a miniature version of the city.
Coast Bar and Grill
A relaxed, beach-like setting in a former warehouse in the Historic District, Coast is a seafood lover’s dream with an extensive menu comprised of mostly local ingredients. Highlights include a crab soup and a cashew-encrusted grouper. You can also enjoy live music every Sunday night.
Christophe Artisan Chocolatier
Tucked away on a side street off of the main thoroughfare of King Street, it’s easy to miss Christophe’s entirely as you wander the city. But make sure to detour to this shop that highlights incredible hand-made chocolates, as well as pastries, macarons, and coffee. Christophe Paume is a third-generation French chocolatier who married an American and decamped to Charleston where the couple opened their whimsical shop full of afternoon snacks and gifts to bring home.
Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel
Deluxe amenities meet Southern charm at the Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel, which was renovated in 2017. With a prime location in the heart of the historic district, the hotel is close to the the shops and restaurants on King Street, across the street from chocolatier Christophe, and a stone’s throw from picturesque Marion Square. Walking into the lobby, you’re greeted by quirky artwork by local artists, midcentury touches, and a library tucked away with a fireplace (perfect for a happy hour or late-night libation). And after exploring Charleston for the day, you won’t be able to resist the hotel’s outdoor saltwater pool, a refreshing way to end out your night.
Cane Rhum Bar
Charleston was founded by settlers who came by way of Barbados in the 17th century so it is only fitting to have a Caribbean-inspired bar to go along with the city’s Caribbean-inspired architecture. More importantly — who can say no to rum? Cane Rhum Bar is a bright oasis in a sea of more traditional bars and their happy hour is the perfect antidote to a long day seeing the sights. $7 frozen drinks and rum punches will hit the spot, along with $8 snacks like cod fritters and jerk chicken.
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The Gin Joint
Tucked away in the heart of the historic center, at the Gin Joint you can find seasonal cocktails as well as the Bartender’s Choice: Pick two adjectives from a list and they’ll make a drink based off your choices. If you’re hungry, they have snacks like house-made pretzels and ice cream. And if you’re budget conscious, during the week from 5 to 7 p.m. you can get $5 cocktails.
Gibbes Museum of Art
After a lot of walking, heat, and attention-seeking attractions, there are few places in Charleston more relaxing than the Gibbes Museum of Art. This historic small art museum has an extensive and impressive collection of Southern and American art that spans back to the colonial era. But the added bonus is that there is an offshoot of one of the city’s best coffee shops, The Daily, and a beautiful garden hidden in the back. Come for the culture and stay for the break from the hustle of the city.
Blind Tiger Pub
If you want to mingle with the locals from nearby offices and historic homes head to the Blind Tiger, a classic pub in a building dating from 1803. Located on Broad Street, you can catch a drink at the bar after doing a walking tour or have dinner in their incredible brick-walled garden. Get local beers to go along with your local dishes like chargrilled oysters or fried chicken. But if you want to order like a true Charleston patron, you’ll get their popular pub burger.
Brown Dog Deli
A deli might not sound Southern, but this Charleston staple takes soups and sandwiches up a notch with fresh, local ingredients and delectable twists on classics. Get the French Dip sandwich, which features roast beef and an exceptionally flavorful dipping sauce, or the Pig & Fig, a unique take on the Southern staple of pulled pork with a fig-rosemary preserve, bacon jam, cheddar cheese, and Granny Smith apples.
You might think the best boutiques line King Street, but away from the main shopping lane on historic Broad Street is one of Charleston’s funkiest and most reliable staples. Utopia features clothes from an array of global designers, along with local jewelry. The store also showcases art from the shop’s owner Beki, who has cultivated quite a following. If you want a unique gift that is miles away from the typical tourist souvenir, you’ll certainly find something at Utopia.