1. A Cheeseburger at Husk
The cheeseburgers at Husk are world-renowned. Chef Sean Brock might be a mega celebrity chef to most, but to Charleston, he is known for his amazing burgers. Some of the things that make this burger one of the best, include the benne-seed buttermilk bun, the two Benton’s bacon infused patties, and the “special” sauce that features ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, and jalapeños.
2. A Trip to The Griffon
By far the best dive bar in the city, The Griffon offers a place for anyone to feel at home. Its unpretentious décor (about $10,000 worth of dollar bills stapled to any piece of wall in sight), dart board and walls of TVs featuring the top sports of the day make it a place anyone feels comfortable at. The menu offers a great selection of sandwiches, burgers, and appetizers that goes nicely with their selection of cold beer and liquor drinks.
3. Boiled Peanuts
Boiled peanuts are the official snack food of the state and when in season from May to November, make for some of the best treats to eat during a day on the boat or at a tailgating event. Matt Lee and Ted Lee have a company that sells boiled peanuts to anyone no matter where they live, and if lucky enough to find Tony the Peanut Man at a local event singing and selling a bag, be sure to grab some.
4. The Charleston Nasty at Hominy Grill
The Charleston Nasty is so popular it already had to change its original name due to an unknown trademark infringement by a well-known chain. The restaurant — Hominy Grill — is so popular that chances are you will wait in line to even order one. But the wait is worth this breakfast favorite—two fluffy biscuits, filled with crispy fried chicken and cheese-sausage gravy on top.
5. The City Market
Locals often forget about The City Market, but it is one of the best place to purchase a memento that represents the city. Anchored by the Historic Charleston Foundation’s gift shop, The Market is filled with vendors who mostly sell a trinket that says “Charleston.” Some of the items are questionable, but there are several vendors with a Certificated Authentic Made designation that designate the item is made 100 percent locally. Some items to consider purchasing include a sweetgrass basket, benne seed cookies, and Carolina gold rice.
6. Day or Night Drinking
Charleston is a social place. Everyone here loves a good party and any excuse to celebrate. Day or night drinking is a common thing, and luckily there are a lot of great places to drink. The city is now home to several local breweries like Westbrook Brewery and Coast Brewery, and a few distilleries making local spirits like High Wire Distilling and Charleston Distilling. These local beer and spirits can be found in most reputable bars and be sure to ask for it in places like Edmund’s Oast and The Cocktail Club.
7. FIG and The Ordinary
The city is filled with amazing food options, but the two best places are owned by chef Mike Lata and Adam Nemirow. FIG is one of the best restaurants in the US and both Mike and current executive chef Jason Stanhope have received the prestigious James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: Southeast. The Ordinary is mecca for local and fresh seafood where one can get their fill from the seafood towers featuring Clammer Dave’s finest crustaceans, lobster rolls, tartare, crab claws and more.
8. Fresh Seafood
Charleston is fortunate to be surrounded by waterways in almost any direction. In the waters are some of the tastiest seafood around. Thanks to dedicated fisherman like Mark Marhefka and shrimperman Wayne Magwood, the local restaurants often feature what is fresh and available. Marhefka offers a Community Supported Fishery program that allows customers to purchase a season of seafood for their home enjoyment. Two must-do seafood dining experiences are an oyster roast at Bowen’s Island, where they shovel fresh, stemmed clusters on newspaper covered picnic tables, and a traditional Lowcountry boil where the shrimp, corn, and sausage are cooked in a big pot and then served in a long table for everyone to grab what they want to eat.
9. Gullah food from Martha Lou’s or Bertha’s
There may be award-winning restaurants on most every block in downtown Charleston, but some of the best local food can be found on the outskirts of the city. This includes soul food mavens Martha Lou’s and Bertha’s, both long-standing operations run by famously known African American cooks that serve up some of the best Lowcountry food found. Fried chicken, pork chops, lima beans, chitterlings, collard greens, and more, these places offer a variety of Gullah influenced dishes, often at a reasonable price.
10. King Street
Home to stores like West Elm, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, J. Crew, and Apple, King Street is one of the best streets to shop in the country. Peppered in between the major chains are locally owned favorites like Copper Penny, Croghan’s Jewel Box, and Bob Ellis’ Shoes. Once the shopping has commenced, the bars and restaurants open their doors. And not just any generic establishments, but places like The Ordinary, Proof, The Macintosh, Butcher & Bee, and Charleston Grill.
11. The Views
Charleston provides some of the best places to look out onto some amazing views. The drive over the Ravenel Bridge showcases several bodies of waters — the Cooper and Ashley rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean often filled with boats along with nearby attractions like the South Carolina Aquarium and Patriot’s Point naval museum. There are several rooftop bars that give you a chance to see the city from above such as the new bar at Eleve at the Grand Bohemian Hotel or the Rooftop Bar at the Vendue Inn. Wherever it may be, the city provides an amazing backdrop to sit outside at most times of the year and enjoy the beauty of Charleston.
12. Visit to Middleton Place
The city is known for history and has done a great job preserving its architecture, public spaces and historical monuments. On the outlying areas, there are a slew of old plantations and gardens that once served as rice plantations back in the 1700s. Middleton Place is one of the best as it is America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens and has a farm where food is grown for the on-property Restaurant.