If you look at any list of top international and U.S. travel destinations, you’ll almost certainly see Charleston, South Carolina listed among amazing cities like Rome and Barcelona! In Travel + Leisure’s 2017 list of the world’s best cities, Charleston was ranked as #2 in the world (and #1 in the U.S.)! There are so many reasons to visit Charleston, but this international travel destination is also a great place to call home. I lived in Charleston, South Carolina for about 5 years during my teenage years, and I absolutely fell in love with this historic city.
Downtown Charleston is a vibrant city center with beautiful colonial architecture, great shopping, and a dynamic food scene. King Street is the most popular shopping street, and it features a mix of local stores and international chains like Louis Vuitton and Urban Outfitters. Walk down to Market Street and pass through the historic Charleston City Market, where local vendors sell goods like sweetgrass baskets and southern grits. The famous Battery is just a short walk away. Once the site of a civil war defense, this area is home to some of the most iconic Charleston architecture.
If you love history, Charleston is the perfect place for you. Nearby sites like Fort Sumter, the USS Yorktown, and numerous preserved historic homes are available for visits year round. Living in Charleston will give you the luxury of seeing these popular sites during the off season, avoiding the crowds that come in the summer. Some of these attractions even give locals discounts during certain months of the year, so be sure to check those out!
Visiting Charleston with kids? Check out this guide featuring the top 5 things to do in Charleston for families!
If you would rather spend your time going to fun events or eating great food, Charleston has you covered. Spoleto Festival is an arts festival that takes place over 2 weeks in May and June in locations throughout the city, and it offers ballet, opera, theater and orchestra performances! I personally love Charleston Fashion Week, a weeklong fashion event that features a number of runway shows from well-known brands.
Only have a weekend in Charleston? Here’s a guide to 36 hours in Charleston!
The food scene in Charleston has really taken off in the past decade, and it’s getting better every year. Fine dining can be found at restaurants throughout downtown Charleston. Hall Chophouse is my personal favorite. The service is phenomenal, the steaks are unreal, and the bread pudding is heavenly. Other great fine dining options including Grill 225 and Charleston Grill. These restaurants have met national acclaim and the chefs are highly praised. There are also great options for international food in the area, like Basil (for Thai food) and Taco Boy (for Mexican food). It’s impossible to talk about Charleston food without talking about fresh, local seafood. There are countless seafood restaurants in the Charleston area, but if you live in Charleston, I recommend visiting local seafood vendors and picking up something fresh to cook for dinner! When I lived in Charleston, I would go get fresh fish, oysters, and more whenever I could! Other less expensive options include popular spots like Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit and Brown Dog Deli!
Living in Charleston and the surrounding areas (including Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashely, and North Charleston) gives you access to the excitement of Charleston and the beautiful nearby beaches within an hour drive or less! The most popular beaches are Folly Beach (near James Island), Isle of Palms, and Sullivan’s Island (which are both close to Mount Pleasant). Each beach has its own vibe. Folly Beach is lively and fun, Sullivan’s Island is quiet, and Isle of Palms is somewhere in the middle, attracting big crowds in the summer. It only takes about 15 minutes to drive from James Island to Folly Beach, depending where you are, so you could hop down to the beach whenever you want if you live here!
Want to explore more of the Lowcountry? Visit Hilton Head Island Beach, two hours from Charleston!
I LOVED living in Charleston when I was younger, and I love visiting whenever I have time. Even though Charleston is a growing city, you can still enjoy laid-back, low country living while enjoying all this area has to offer. Can you picture yourself in Charleston SC?