US Travel | 20 Charleston, SC Places to Fit Every Budget + Beaches, History & Shopping


The Battery: Charleston, SC (image: Reellady)

My friend, Rebecca, knows Charleston, SC like the back of her hand. She loves discovering new hot spots, and celebrating old haunts as only locals can. With her 20 recommendations of places to fit every budget + beaches, history and shopping, you may have to visit Charleston for a week. Trust me, you’ll love every minute of it!

20 Charleston, SC Places to Fit Every Budget + Beaches, History & Shopping

by: Rebecca Brown DeTreville

Low Price Range ($3-$10 per person)

KUDU-African Coffee Shop: located behind The Francis Marion Hotel on the corner of Broad Street and King Street. Has some pastries and sandwiches.

Earth Fare: Organic market and Deli. Not downtown but 10 minutes away in West Ashley area on Folly Road. They have a salad and organic lunch buffet.

Kennedy’s Market and Bakery: They have sandwiches and will make you a salad too. 60 Calhoun Street. Opens at 11 am. Closes at 5/6.

Doe’s Pita: Great hummus and wonderful salads (all homemade). 334 East Bay Street.

Mid Price Range ($8-$20 per person)

Jestine’s: Southern food, Meeting Street. Expect to wait for an hour in line for lunch. A tad over rated but I eat southern food every week; so I think I’m just spoiled.

Joseph’s: DELICIOUS! Only open for lunch and it is usually packed, but worth it. Meeting Street next to a small local, traditional Museum called The Gibbes.

Chai’s Lounge & Tapas: Thai food. King Street. Modern and trendy. Good place for a cocktail too.

Basil: True Thai cuisine. next to Chai’s.

The Hominy Grill: Small intimate place. Southern food and my personal favorite. Not swarming with tourists so you can get a feel for the local food here. If you go, you have got to get the chocolate pudding. I know you are probably like “chocolate pudding?” but trust me, it’s like sex in a bowl, honey! Located on Rutledge Ave.

High Price Range ($20+ per person)

Peninsula Grill: Very expensive but honestly some of the best cuisine I have ever tasted. You could go to the bar area and have a glass of champagne and oysters if you don’t want to drop $200-300 on your meal, or have a slice of the world renowned coconut cake and coffee. The interior is lush and “southern mod”. It does have a dress code of dressy-casual. Located on the corner of Meeting Street and the Market. WARNING!!!! This AREA is the TOURIST Trap from Hell. Note from Grayson: it is touristy, but the Market is really cool for tourists! You can find local arts and crafts, and other great souvenirs of your visit to Charleston.

Pane E Vino: Best kept secret in Charleston and my FAVORITE. Real Italian food and small (reservations recommended), cozy setting. Romantic and wonderful. Plan on a leisurely evening because perfection cannot be hurried. Very reasonably priced. Warren Street 843-853-5955.

39 Rue de Jean: Casual French food, but also some of the best Sushi in town. You can spend 10 dollars to 100 dollars here, depends on what you get. Also, fun bar to have a good single malt Scotch. The bartender will be more than happy to let you taste a few.

FIG: Modern rustic food that is “hip and trendy” but not over the top. Interesting cuisine but small restaurant. Located on Meeting Street.

Magnolias: Old-school southern. This restaurant has been here forever. “Ladies who lunch” lunch here. Serves a mean martini, fried green tomatoes, Shrimp and Grits and crème brulee.


Blind Tiger: Very relaxed but becoming more and more collegy. Go early if you want to avoid that aspect. Located on Broad Street.

The Mills House Lounge: They have a great southern blue grass singer in the lounge area on Friday/Saturday nights. They serve cigars and great scotch along with everything else. Can be a bit stuffy and quiet.

TRIO Lounge: If you want “cheesy dance club for fun” this is your joint, but expect to see TONS of college kids. Calhoun Street.

Pavilion Bar (rooftop bar of Market Pavilion Hotel): A lot of locals AND tourists go here. Expensive drinks but beautiful view, LA-style lounge seating with personal cocktail waitresses and heaters so you are “outside” but not freezing when it’s chilly. Great rooftop view. Flip flops are prohibited unless you’re an attractive lady. So gentlemen, expect to be turned away if you are wearing the flops. I’m serious, it’s a “Southern Respect” thing I guess…

VooDoo Lounge (A little bit out of downtown but usually the place I hang) Local Tapas bar. $3 blackened steak tacos with blue cheese sauce, Poo Poo Platters etc… Also inexpensive Proseco champagne by the glass and exotic Tahitian drinks. American “kitsch” meets European simplicity. Call them for specific directions b/c I am terrible at street names. But it is located across the street from another good hangout called…

Gene’s Haufbrau (on Highway 17): Gene’s has fantastic “bar food” like burgers, nachos etc… Lots of imported beers and good pool tables. CASUAL. Both of these bars are only a 5-10 minute drive from downtown but are all locals. Cool, authentic scene.

Just walk around downtown and you will get a vibe for things. But beware, we do have the College of Charleston here, and there are plenty of cheesy meat market joints popping up. Avoid uber tourist traps like Market Street in the evenings. You won’t run into a single local over 19 years of age there.


We also have several beaches here. They are all wonderful and each have their own unique personality. Folly is laid back and “salty”. Very 1970’s. Sullivan’s Island is reminiscent of the 60’s but manages to still be the most expensive real estate per square inch in America only after The Hamptons, and the Isle of Palms is overdeveloped with new money and tourists, very 1980’s in an over the top 5 story house kind of way and lots of golf courses. But it really only seems that way in comparison to the other two beaches. If you’re from the Jersey Shore or have ever visited Myrtle Beach, IOP will still seem quaint and sleepy.


If you want to see the Old South with it’s cannons, mansions and moss covered live oaks you have to visit The Battery. Many of these homes have been featured in movies and are truly breathtaking. All of downtown is part of the Historic district and history buffs can’t get enough.


On the shopping tip what can I tell you…we have some FABULOUS boutiques! All the way from Louis Vitton to Urban Outfitters to local artistic venues like Worthwhile. Just hit King Street and expect to drop some cash. If there is bargain shopping here I’ve never found it. The women here look good and that costs money. Lower King is the fashion side and Upper King is the Design district (for the home). The farther down King the more expensive the clothes.

Have a wonderful, wonderful time. Charleston has been voted the most polite city in the nation 9 years in a row…I hope you get to see that side! Y’all enjoy!

Rebecca Brown DeTreville is a Charleston resident, artist, teacher, and proud new mom.

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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