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Welcome to Charleston, a picturesque city with a wealth of delightful experiences to offer. 

Charleston is a captivating city steeped in history, charm, and southern hospitality. Located in South Carolina, it is known for its well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and vibrant cultural scene. With its rich past as a major port city during the colonial era, Charleston exudes a unique blend of European and American influences. Visitors can explore its historic district, lined with quaint shops, world-class restaurants, and picturesque gardens. From the iconic Rainbow Row to the historic plantations, Charleston offers a glimpse into the past while embracing the present with its thriving arts, music, and culinary scene.

As wedding photographers, we are frequently asked for recommendations and highlights in Charleston.
Whether you're visiting for a weekend getaway or you are hosting a wedding and have been asked for recommendations by your guests yourself. We have curated a handpicked list of restaurants and activities that will add to an unforgettable experience during your time in Charleston.

Our Recommendations for your Time in Charleston

The Guide

For a more casual yet equally delightful experience, Leon's Oyster Shop is a must-visit, offering a laid-back atmosphere and mouthwatering seafood specialties. In addition to its delicious oysters, Leon's Oyster Shop offers a diverse menu that includes other seafood delicacies, such as shrimp, fish, and crab. The dishes are prepared with care and attention to detail, showcasing the natural flavors of the ingredients.
Moreover, the atmosphere at Leon's Oyster Shop is lively and inviting. The restaurant is housed in a charming renovated garage, featuring a casual and relaxed setting with a spacious outdoor patio. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a meal with friends or family while soaking in the vibrant atmosphere of Charleston.

Culinary Excursion Around Charleston

For a taste of innovative Southern cuisine, look no further than FIG (Food Is Good). Dining here is an exceptional culinary experience that showcases the best of the city's farm-to-table cuisine. Located on Meeting Street, FIG is a celebrated restaurant that focuses on seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and fishermen. The ambiance is elegant yet relaxed, with a warm and inviting atmosphere. The menu at FIG is constantly evolving, reflecting the availability of fresh ingredients and the creativity of the talented chefs.

For those seeking a taste of traditional Lowcountry cuisine, a visit to Poogan's Porch is a must. Housed in a charming Victorian townhouse, Poogan's Porch offers classic Southern dishes in a quintessentially Charleston setting. These top-rated restaurants in the historic district promise an unforgettable dining experience that encapsulates the essence of Charleston's culinary prowess.

A Charleston restaurant that you should find on all recommendations. Husk is a renowned restaurant in Charleston. It is known for its commitment to showcasing locally sourced ingredients and promoting Southern cuisine. The restaurant, which opened in 2010, is housed in a historic building and is helmed by award-winning chef Sean Brock. Husk offers a menu that changes daily, highlighting the flavors and traditions of the Lowcountry region. The restaurant has received numerous accolades for its innovative approach to Southern cooking.

Malagón in Charleston is another fantastic restaurant that we highly recommend. The ambiance is warm and inviting, with a charming rustic decor that adds to the overall experience. The menu offers a delightful selection of Spanish-inspired dishes that are bursting with flavor. From the perfectly cooked paella to the mouthwatering tapas, every dish is a culinary delight. The staff is knowledgeable and attentive, providing excellent service throughout the meal.

Fine Dining Experiences in Downtown Charleston

Hall's Chophouse in Charleston is a culinary gem that should be on every food lover's must-visit list. With its elegant ambiance, impeccable service, and mouthwatering steaks, it's no wonder that Hall's Chophouse has become a renowned dining destination in the city.

Charleston is home to a vibrant culinary scene with a host of top-tier restaurants and eateries offering diverse dining experiences. For those seeking an elegant and sophisticated dining experience to celebrate special occasions, Charleston offers a wealth of fine dining establishments that exude luxury and culinary excellence. 


The culinary journey continues with the The Middleton Place Restaurant offers a curated menu with a focus on quality and flavor, allowing guests to indulge in a refined dining experience. The restaurant's ambiance is carefully crafted to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, with soft lighting, elegant decor, and attentive service. The limited menu selection ensures that each dish is prepared to perfection, using the finest ingredients sourced from local farmers and artisans. Ideally the visit is combined with a stroll through addition Middleton Place Plantation which offers a captivating journey through history and nature.

Wild Olive Restaurant, located just off the Charleston peninsula and about 20min away from downtown, offers a remarkable culinary experience with its warm ambiance, exceptional service, and delectable Italian cuisine. The rustic yet modern decor creates an inviting atmosphere, while the attentive staff ensures a seamless dining experience. The menu features authentic Italian dishes, including perfectly cooked pasta and wood-fired pizzas with high-quality ingredients. Standout dishes like the homemade gnocchi and wood-fired margherita pizza leave a lasting impression.

There are so many more we would like to recommend, but this guide would miss its purpose if we overwhelm you with options over options. If you havent seen what your were looking for or just want to see more options, have a look here.

Outside the downtown Peninsula

Hidden Gem Restaurants Off the Beaten Path

While Charleston's historic district is teeming with renowned dining establishments, the city also harbors hidden gem restaurants off the beaten path, waiting to be discovered by adventurous food enthusiasts. One such hidden gem is Xiao Bao Biscuit, a cozy eatery serving up inventive Asian-inspired dishes in a laid-back setting. The Establishment, tucked away in an intimate courtyard, offers a refined dining experience with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and creative flavor combinations.

For those seeking a taste of the Mediterranean, charming Chez Nous presents a rotating daily menu of French, Italian, and Spanish-inspired dishes, showcasing the freshest seasonal ingredients. These hidden gem restaurants provide a delightful departure from the bustling historic district, offering a more intimate and off-the-beaten-path dining experience.

As a coastal city, Charleston is renowned for its abundance of fresh seafood, and several restaurants offer stunning waterfront views to complement the delectable seafood fare. One such establishment is Fleet Landing, situated on the historic Charleston waterfront and offering panoramic views of the harbor. Specializing in classic seafood dishes with a Lowcountry twist, Fleet Landing provides a quintessential Charleston dining experience.

Housed in a beautifully restored historic building, The Ordinary offers a unique dining experience that combines a vibrant atmosphere with exquisite seafood cuisine. The restaurant is known for its emphasis on fresh, sustainable seafood sourced from local fishermen. With a menu that features a variety of raw bar selections, oysters, crudos, and seafood platters, The Ordinary ensures that guests can indulge in the finest flavors of the sea. The restaurant's commitment to quality, creativity, and a welcoming ambiance has made it a beloved culinary destination in Charleston.

Another standout seafood restaurant right on King Street is The Darling Oyster Bar, a stylish eatery that evokes a vintage coastal vibe and serves up an array of freshly shucked oysters and seafood delights. These seafood restaurants not only offer impeccable culinary offerings but also breathtaking views of Charleston's picturesque waterfront.Paragraph

Seafood Restaurants 

Charleston's culinary tapestry also boasts the classic Lowcountry Boil, a communal feast featuring a delectable medley of shrimp, crab, corn, and sausage, seasoned to perfection and best enjoyed with a side of tangy cocktail sauce. The Gullah influence is evident in dishes like Hoppin' John, a soulful blend of rice, black-eyed peas, and smoky ham hock that pays homage to the region's African roots. From the iconic staples to lesser-known delicacies, traditional Lowcountry cuisine offers a symphony of flavors that beckon food enthusiasts to embark on a captivating culinary odyssey.

Sample the iconic Shrimp and Grits, a dish that embodies the essence of Southern comfort food with its creamy grits and succulent shrimp steeped in a savory gravy. For a taste of the quintessential Lowcountry dish, indulge in a hearty bowl of She-Crab Soup, a velvety concoction of crabmeat, cream, and a hint of sherry that captures the essence of coastal living.

If you want to get a taste of the Lowcountry cuisine, defined by its use of fresh seafood, rice, and a medley of spices, Lowcountry fare offers, be on the look for one of the following dishes. Most restaurants in Charleston have at least on their menu.

Traditional Lowcountry Cuisine and Dishes

Saveurs du Monde Cafe in Charleston is a hidden gem that offers a delightful experience. The pastries are fresh and delicious, with a beautiful presentation that adds to the overall experience. The cafe's breakfast and lunch options are particularly noteworthy. Whether you're craving a cafe au lait, baguettes, croissants, or delectable sweets, Saveurs du Monde Cafe is a must-visit spot in Charleston.

Clerks Coffee Company is located in Hotel Emeline at 181 Church St, right next to the Charleston Market. Clerks Coffee Company in Charleston boasts a modern and bright interior. The cafe provides a cozy and inviting atmosphere to enjoy a cup of delicious coffee. The design features a contemporary aesthetic with clean lines and a vibrant ambiance. The space is thoughtfully decorated with modern furnishings, creating a comfortable and stylish setting.

Harbinger is a beautiful cafe with a veggie-heavy menu, Harbinger is known for its delicious coffee. Try their maple latte or cappuccino and pair it with their breakfast sandwich or assortment of baked goods.

Harken Cafe & Bakery is a cozy haven for coffee lovers seeking a warm and inviting atmosphere. The cafe exudes a rustic charm with its cozy interior, complete with comfortable seating, soft lighting, and warm wood accents. We would recommend to visit early, since it is not unusual seeing people lined up outside.

Mercantile & Mash is a spacious breakfast spot located in the historic Cigar Factory on East Bay Street in Charleston. It offers a wide range of culinary experiences, including a grab-and-go menu, coffee bar, butcher shop, pastry destination, chef's counter, wine shop, and an elevated grocery program featuring products from local and regional vendors.

Charleston is a vibrant city known for its rich culinary scene, and when it comes to breakfast and coffee, it certainly doesn't disappoint. The city is dotted with charming cafes and restaurants that offer delicious brunch options and top-notch coffee. From classic Southern dishes like shrimp and grits to creative twists on traditional breakfast fare, there is something to satisfy every palate. Whether you prefer a cozy spot with rustic decor or a trendy cafe with a bustling atmosphere, Charleston has it all. If you're looking for some recommendations for breakfast and coffee places in Charleston, here are a few options you might consider:

The Daily is a hip cafe known for its creative coffee drinks like the black sesame latte. They also serve quick breakfast items like avocado toast and breakfast pita.

The best locations to start your day

These are just a few examples of Charleston's top-rated cocktail bars that consistently deliver exceptional libations and ambiance.

For those of you who are interested in a mixology class, so some education while enjoying a drink or two, we recommend to check Tommy Alchemy's mixology class. We recently had the pleasure of attending Tommy's class, and it was an great experience. Tommy's expertise and passion for mixology shone through as he shared knowledge, history and techniques with us. The class was engaging and interactive, allowing us to learn the art of cocktail creation hands-on. We explored a wide range of spirits and ingredients, in theory and practically…

Staying on King Street The Belmont is another great option. The knowledgeable and friendly staff are skilled in mixology and can provide personalized recommendations based on individual preferences. Its vintage-inspired decor and cozy seating arrangements create an ambiance which is perfect for a casual night out. 

Right across Halls Chophouse lies Proof Bar, an intimate craft cocktail bar located at King Street. a founding father of the Charleston cocktail scene, serves quality classic cocktails and is known for its expertise in mixology. With its wood-paneled interior and subdued lighting, the bar offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Known for their carefully-crafted drinks, Proof serves a variety of creative and intriguing cocktails. The bar tends to get crowded as the night goes on, so it is recommended to arrive early. 

Little Palm, a poolside bar at the Ryder Hotel, offers a tropical ambiance and vibrant cocktails such as the Seven Day Weekend. It offers a lively environment with a breezy poolside cafe atmosphere, creating a vibrant and coastal experience in the center of downtown Charleston. Definitely a unique look.

Dalila's, a 1950s-inspired lounge, stands out for its unique Caribbean-inspired cocktails and intimate atmosphere. The bar is founded by Michael Whiteley and Timur Dmitriyev, who are dedicated to creating seasonal cocktails from scratch with bright flavors. The menu features a variety of creative and flavorful drinks, including the Porch Pounder with vodka and muddled orange, an island-inspired Manhattan, and the intriguing "A White Russian's Panamanian Cousin."

Another notable spot is Ritual Rooftop, a Tulum-themed bar with a stylish aesthetic and a menu featuring specialty cocktails like the Mezcalita and Viva La Paloma. Staying up high, the rooftop bar at The Watch offers breathtaking views paired with meticulously prepared cocktails, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Located on the 7th floor of The Restoration Hotel, this rooftop restaurant combines an industrial-chic interior dining room with two sleek outdoor terraces, providing a breathtaking panorama.

Charleston is a haven for cocktail enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of bars that cater to different tastes. The Gin Joint stands out as a true pioneer in the Charleston cocktail scene, known for its extensive menu and expertly crafted drinks. With its vintage-inspired decor and speakeasy ambiance, The Gin Joint captures the essence of a bygone era. One of The Gin Joint's most beloved cocktails is the "Penicillin." This iconic drink combines the smoky notes of Scotch whisky with the sweetness of honey and the zing of ginger.  

The Best Cocktail Bars in Charleston


Joe Riley Waterfront Park 

Hampton Park

Boone Hall

Cypress Gardens

Middleton Place

One of the oldest trees east of the Mississippi River

Less of a walk, but an impressive piece of nature is the Angel Oak Tree, located on John's Island. It is a majestic live oak that is estimated to be over 400 years old, offering a truly awe-inspiring sight. You will most definitely see some art work of it in stores around Charleston.

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens

Out for a walk - Gardens, Plantations and Parks


Candle making at Candlefish

Christophe's Macaron et Chocolate

Zero George – Cooking school

Advance your skills 


The Schooner Pride Sail Tour

Palmetto Breeze 

Explore with the paddle in your hands

Charleston Sailboat Charters

Explore Charleston's Waterways


Over 17 days from May to June the Spoleto Festival USA, an internationally renowned performing arts festival, takes place. It showcases a diverse range of music, dance, theater, and opera performances by both established and emerging artists from around the world. It attracts art enthusiasts, cultural connoisseurs, and tourists alike, making Charleston a vibrant hub of artistic expression during the festival period.

It’s Summer! Time for Some Art

Charleston Fashion Week is a popular event that has gained recognition as one of the premier fashion weeks in North America since its founding in 2007. It has become a significant platform for showcasing emerging designer and model talent across the East Coast. The October event features more than 30 runway shows, including the Emerging Designer Competition, the Spring Bridal Show, and the Rock the Runway Model Competition. Fashionistas gather for this multi-day event that showcases emerging designers, runway shows, and style-related events. It's a celebration of fashion and creativity in the city.

gather around the table

The colder months is prime oyster roast time, and most events take place from November to March. There are some famous annual roasts like the Low-country Oyster Festival at Boone Hall or the Oysters on the Point with a beautiful few of the Charleston Harbor. However during the winter months, there’s practically an oyster roast every weekend! If that matches with your timeline you definitely want to grab some gloves and a knife.

These are just a few examples of the popular festivals and events that Charleston hosts on a yearly basis. The city's rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts community ensure that there is always something exciting happening throughout the year.

The Charleston Food and Wine Festival is a highly anticipated annual event that celebrates the vibrant culinary scene and rich food culture of Charleston. Food and wine enthusiasts flock to this event held in March. It features top chefs, winemakers, and food experts who offer tastings, cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, and unique dining experiences. During the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, attendees have the opportunity to sample an array of delicious dishes, fine wines, craft beers, and artisanal spirits. Local and visiting chefs showcase their culinary skills through cooking demonstrations and collaborative dinners, offering unique dining experiences. The festival also includes educational seminars, panel discussions, and interactive workshops that delve into various aspects of food and beverage culture.

Twice a year, In January and September, Charleston celebrates Restaurant Week. This is not only for tourists but most locals love Charleston Restaurant Week. You have the opportunity to enjoy the Lowcountry cuisine as participating restaurants offer a set menu for a great deal. This event is executed by Explore Charleston and is one of the most highly anticipated weeks in the Charleston area.
Have a look at Restaurant Week South Carolina for a list of participating restaurants and any updates upon the start of the week.

Starting the year with a deal

Events in Charleston by the Seasons


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