Where to Stay in Charleston

June 7, 2024

Charleston is one of the best cities in America to visit. With its rich history, extensive culinary scene, and proximity to water and beaches, Charleston is somewhere you’ll want to visit time and time again. Before you can enjoy all the things Charleston has to offer, you must figure out where to stay. There are several incredible areas to stay in Charleston, but in this article we’ll focus on our three favorite areas including Downtown, Folly Beach, and Sullivan’s Island. Each of them has something unique to offer.

This Where to Stay in Charleston Guide Features:

  • Neighborhood / Area Recommendations with Photos
  • Hotel Recommendations
  • Vacation Rental Recommendations
  • Restaurant & Bar Recommendations

Downtown Charleston

Most visitors stay in the heart of the city in Downtown Charleston. The amount of culinary experiences, shopping destinations, and sightseeing in just the downtown area could keep you busy for months. You’ve probably heard of King Street, which is the road that runs down the center of downtown. King Street has a lot to offer, from some of the best restaurants in the city to antique shops and high-end retailers.

Downtown Charleston has many other gorgeous destinations as well, including The Battery, Waterfront Park, and Rainbow Row. Bulldog Tours offers ghost, food, and history tours that are really fun and informative. We’d also recommend checking out the Historic Charleston City Market and the South Carolina Aquarium. There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, but we’ve listed our very favorite ones below.

Our favorite restaurants and bars in downtown Charleston: Rancho Lewis, Babas on Cannon and Babas on Meeting, Edmund’s Oast, Melfi’s,  Le Farfalle, Halls Chophouse,The Gin Joint, The Ordinary, Husk, Leon’s Oyster House, Revelry Brewing, Kudu, and The Citrus Club.

See all businesses in Downtown Charleston.

Best Hotels in Downtown Charleston:

Best Vacation Rentals in Downtown Charleston:

Best Bed & Breakfasts in Downtown Charleston:

Photos of Downtown Charleston:

Folly Beach

Folly Beach is a laid back beach down about 25 minutes from downtown Charleston. The area is a popular destination for beach vacationers and locals alike. With over 20 restaurants and bars, several shops, and the beach, it’s a guaranteed good time. Just remember, there is no alcohol allowed on the beaches at Folly Beach, so make sure you imbibe before or after your beach day. If you decide you want to paddleboard, Charleston SUP Safaris offers paddleboard rentals, lessons, and tours. Also, Isla Surf School offers surf lessons, if you’re feeling adventurous.

Our favorite restaurants and bars in Folly Beach: Taco Boy, Rita’s, Woody’s Pizzaand St. James Gate (Irish Pub)

See all businesses in Folly Beach.

Best Hotels in Folly Beach:

Best Vacation Rentals in Folly Beach:

Photos of Folly Beach:

Sullivan’s Island

Sullivan’s Island is about 20 minutes from downtown Charleston and is another great destination for a beach vacation. This area only allows a limited number of vacation rentals, so you’ll see way more locals than tourists. Sullivan’s Island is also laid back, but definitely has an upscale vibe. There are about a dozen restaurants as well as a few boutiques along Middle Street, the main road on the island. Sealand Adventure Sports is a spot where you can rent bikes, golf carts, paddleboards, surfboards, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, and more. This definitely isn’t a place for big, rowdy groups, and be warned—they have a very strict noise ordinance to protect the permanent residents.

Our favorite restaurants and bars on Sullivan’s Island: The Obstinate Daughter, Home Team BBQ, Poe’s Tavern, The Co-Op, and Sullivan’s Fish Camp.

See all businesses on Sullivan’s Island.

Best Hotels on Sullivan’s Island:

There are no hotels on Sullivan’s Island, which maintains the small, beach town charm. Check out the top vacation rentals below.

Best Vacation Rentals on Sullivan’s Island:

Photos of Sullivan’s Island:

Other great areas to stay near downtown Charleston are Isle of Palms, Seabrook Island, and Kiawah Island. 

Also See: