What You Need to Know for Your First Time Visiting Charleston, SC

downtown during first time visiting Charleston, SC

Is it your first time visiting Charleston, SC? Welcome to the Holy City! You picked a great place to vacation. From beautiful beaches to an incredible history, the Charleston Coast is a very special place. We have activities that are fun for all ages, and many families and groups come back year after year. Here’s what you need to know if it’s your first time visiting!

Get help planning your vacation when you use our complimentary Vacation Guide! Inside, you’ll find a list of our favorite things to do and see in the area. It’s perfect for your first time visiting Charleston, SC, and is mobile-friendly so you can pull it up on your phone. 

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Must-Dos During Your First Time Visiting Charleston, SC

Hit the Beach

Our South Carolina beaches bring thousands of visitors to the coast every year. Whether you’re a surfer or want to teach your kids how to build their first sandcastle, the Charleston Coast is the perfect place to vacation. 

When you rent a property with Charleston Coast Vacations, you’ll be close to the beach! Of course, we recommend an oceanfront home if you’re planning on spending most of your time at the shore. Our beaches are expansive, clean, and fun for the whole family. Many of our vacation rentals come with credit for beach gear, too!

Try Our Local Cuisine

Charleston has become known as a culinary mecca. From fresh seafood to luxurious steakhouses, we have it all! You’ll have to try some Charleston staples while you’re here such as she-crab soup, shrimp and grits, oysters, and collard greens. Here are some of our favorite restaurants downtown. If you’re craving something specific, just ask us and we will give you a recommendation! 

Visit Shem Creek

Waterfront dining is a must during your first time visiting Charleston, SC, and there’s no better place to do so than at Shem Creek. The restaurants and bars line the water, and you can even see dolphins while you dine from time to time. After you eat, head to the walkway that stretches out over the water to see more views! You’ll even learn a little about our local wildlife as you read the plaques along the way. 

Walk Through the Historic Charleston City Market

The Historic Charleston City Market is a must-see if it’s your first time visiting Charleston, SC. Local vendors set up in an open-air market every day to sell their wares. You’ll find everything from Southern cookbooks and spices to handmade trinkets. It’s a great place to pick up a souvenir or a gift for someone back home! 

Go on a Plantation Tour

The plantations in the Charleston area are steeped in history. Many of them survived the Civil War, and you can tour them today! Learn all about the families and slaves that lived there when you take a guided tour. Many of them, like Magnolia Plantation, have stunning gardens you can stroll through. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera along! If you’re a fan of The Notebook, Boone Hall Plantation is a must-see. Many of the iconic scenes were filmed here. 

Take a Tour Downtown 

With its cobblestone streets and colorful homes, Downtown Charleston is stunning. However, you’ll never know how much history it holds until you take a tour! You’ll be amazed by some of the things that have happened here, and your tour guide will tell you all about it. There are many walking tours you can choose from, and we are happy to recommend our favorites! If you’re looking for a spook, you can even take a ghost tour

Go Shopping on King Street

Shop ‘til you drop! King Street is one of the best places to go shopping in the Lowcountry. Here, you’ll find everything from designer labels to local boutiques. It’s the perfect place to pick out a new outfit or find a unique gift for someone back home! Plus, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes along the street to keep you occupied for hours. 

Visit the Spot Where the Civil War Began

We told you Charleston has history! Fort Sumter played a huge part in the Civil War– it is actually where the Civil War began. The Confederate army opened fire on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. They were able to hold the fort for just 34 hours. Learn all about the battle and its historical significance when you take a tour! Fort Sumter Tours are an excellent option, but we are happy to recommend others to you. 

See a 500-Year-Old Oak Tree

Visiting the Angel Oak is an awe-inspiring experience. This massive oak tree is estimated to be about 500 years old, although no one knows for sure. Some even think it’s more than 1,500 years old! The tree stands 66.5 feet tall, measures 28 feet in circumference, and produces shade that covers 17,200 square feet.

Dine on Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island is known for its beach vibes, and you’ll love visiting the main strip for a bite to eat and a drink (or two). Middle Street is the main drag on the island, and it’s always bustling with people. If you’re looking for good food and good vibes, you can’t go wrong! Here are some of our favorite Sullivan’s Island restaurants

Book Your First Charleston Vacation Today! 

Whether it’s your first time visiting Charleston, SC, of your tenth time, your accommodations matter. Don’t settle for a drab hotel– get a vacation rental with Charleston Coast Vacations. Fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves when you get a beachfront home! Your family and friends will love having their own rooms, and having a kitchen to visit in makes a huge difference. You’ll love the memories you make as you sit around the dinner table together. Browse our vacation rentals to start planning your stay today. Don’t be afraid to reach out– we’re here to help you have the vacation of a lifetime! 

5 of the Best Shem Creek, SC, Restaurants

Shem Creek, SC, Restaurants

Who doesn’t love waterfront dining? If you’re looking for a meal or a drink on the water, head to Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. A handful of restaurants line both sides of the of this wide creek, and there’s even a scenic dock you can use to walk off the meal you just ate and see some gorgeous views! Here are some of our favorite Shem Creek, SC, restaurants

Start planning your Charleston Coast getaway today when you access our complimentary Destination Guide! Inside, you’ll find a list of our favorite things to do and see in the area. 

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5 of the Best Shem Creek, SC, Restaurants

1. Tavern & Table

Directions to Tavern & Table

Not only does Tavern & Table have great views, but this restaurant also has great food and drinks! The rustic-chic decor inside is stunning, and the menu has a wide variety of locally sourced new American cuisine. You can enjoy everything from house-made charcuterie to seafood towers to steak frites. There’s truly something for everyone! Local tip: In our opinion, Tavern & Table has some of the best pimento cheese in the city. We highly recommend ordering some for your table!

2. Saltwater Cowboys

Directions to Saltwater Cowboys

Saltwater Cowboys arguably has the best view on Shem Creek! Because they are situated at the mouth of the creek, your view isn’t blocked by any other restaurants. They have a large, outdoor deck as well as a small rooftop you are allowed to bring your drinks to for an even better view. Their cuisine is best described as Southern, and the portions are big. Enjoy plates of barbecue, pork rinds, fish tacos, and more. 

3. Red’s Ice House

Directions to Red’s Ice House

Red’s Ice House may seem like a bit of a dive, but it’s where countless locals go to drink and enjoy pub fare year-round. The no-frills atmosphere gives it a unique allure, and you’ll love the energy the crowds bring. The menu consists of fresh seafood and bar eats– if you don’t like seafood, don’t worry! There are other options, too.

4. Shem Creek Bar & Grill

Directions to Shem Creek Bar & Grill

Shem Creek Bar & Grill offers your quintessential Southern seafood fare. Countless oysters are served every day, and seafood is prepared nearly every way possible. Whether you prefer your seafood fried, grilled, or boiled, you can get it here!

5. Water’s Edge

Directions to Water’s Edge

Water’s Edge has both an indoor dining area and an outdoor cabana bar. This restaurant is known for being one of the most sophisticated spots on Shem Creek. Guests can enjoy a variety of freshly caught seafood and steak. If you want surf and turf, consider coming here! 

Book Your Charleston Getaway Today

coastal property

The Charleston Coast has so much to offer! From dining at these Shem Creek, SC, restaurants to plenty of fun in the sun, you’ll never run out of things to do here. Start planning your stay! Charleston Coast Vacations offers a variety of homes all over the coast. Whether you’re looking for a beachfront property big enough for the whole family or a small villa perfect for you and your sweetheart, we have you covered. Browse our properties and start planning your getaway today.