Bay Street and Market Street: Not recommended
We went on a Saturday. Almost every bar charges a cover so bar hopping gets expensive really fast. The covers don't stop even after midnight, nor get reduced, and rarely will you find a place that lets even women in for free. Some of the bars are misleading, advertising a rooftop bar except after you've paid and entered, you discover you have to be on a special guest list or pay an extra fee to go on the roof or sit down.
All the bars are overpacked, with little walking room. Very college feel to the bars. While the south is famed for it's friendly people you will not find them here in the bar district. Mostly belligerent college aged young people.
Dress Code: Many require dressy attire.
downtown: Bar Hop
Wow! I haven't had so much fun out on the town in a long time. Downtown Charleston is a watering-hole wonderland. Every kind of Bar or club you can imagine, live music, good people. Dress codes vary-I didn't see anywhere that required a jacket, but at the same time I think people tended to "dress up" a little more here than other areas. Everyone was very nice and polite, and I didnt see any "punkism" or attitude. A very good experience. There are lots and lots of bars! For a list of the places I visited this trip check my travelogue
Dress Code: varies
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
Chai's: Upscale and Classy
Chai's is an upscale Bar that also offers Tapas. I would rate the dress as casual elegant although I'm sure you could get in with a T-Shirt and Jeans. They server excellent drinks and light fare.
For a full menu visit their restaurant Basil's next door. We didn't but after hitting Chai's I wish I had.
If you are celebrating a special event, say, a bachelorette party or a female birthday, request the p*nis cake. You will find no other more authentic. Pictures upon request (and positive feedback for the tip!)
The Martini's were Excellent as was the Beer Selection. The Tapa's were also good. Anything with Lump Crab is not to be missed.
Dress Code: Again, this is more of an upscale spot, casual elegant should suffice.
Charleston has much to offer when it comes to night life. Locals find it hard to recommend places because our city has so much to offer. This is a favorite itinerary for visiting friends.
Start with a sunset drink at the Market Pavillion Hotel Rooftop Pool Bar. The hotel sits on the corner of Market and East Bay, go through the lobby and take the elevator to the top. Don't let the "pool" part fool you. This is an upscale, well dressed crowd and the view is awesome.
Have supper along East Bay: High Cotton, Cypress, or Blossom to name a few choices. Be sure to make a reservation regardless of what you choose.
After your remarkable meal, take a walk to Waterfront Park. Head to Squeeze on East Bay for after dinner cocktails. This narrow bar (hence the name) is non smoking and always has a lively crowd.
If you want dancing later climb the stairs to Light or for a live band Wild Wing Cafe.
Charlestonians are very proud of this up and coming part of the city. Located north of Calhoun Street along King Street and side streets off of King; this area is loaded with great restaurants and shops.
Start with a drink at Chai's Lounge and Tapas on King Street. If you need a pre dinner snack this is great place to have one. They also have a nice patio.
Choices for supper are overwhelming. Pane e Vino, Coast, Rue de Jean, and Fish, to name a few favorites. All have outdooor seating and reservations are recommended.
Window shop after supper along the Upper King Design District then head to Raval for cocktails. This bar is non smoking and is always filled with an attractive group of people. The back room is dark and cozy.
If you want late night dancing, walk over to Tonik where there is always a band or a DJ.
Club Habana: Fine Wine, Cigars, and Martinis
Club Habana is a relaxed bar for those that like fine wine and fine drinks period. It's above a tobacco shop, so smoking cigars and cigarettes is allowed. You can smoke in nightclubs, bars, and certain areas of restaurants in Charleston. They have a great ventilation system, so it doesn't get too smoky.
They have fine wines, unique martinis, single-malt scotches, small batch bourbons, liqueurs, sherries, ports, madieras, and imported beers. They also have some gourmet desserts and appetizers.
Dress Code: relaxed, but nice.
- Business Travel
- Luxury Travel
- Wine Tasting
Cumberland's: Live Music & Good Food
Lots of bands play here. Almost every night there's a show. Great food too. They have everything from burgers to chicken cordon bleu, salads to buffalo wings. Also, they have choices for vegetarians as well.
Their Metal karaoke on Mondays is always a good time.
Dress Code: Casual.
AC's Bar and Grill: Cheap Beer and Rock N' Roll
Great spot voted best cheap local bar in the city many times over. If your in your 20's or early 30's and your more of a college kid, rocker, indie, hippie, alternative, etc. (or if you just like dive bars) this is your place. Cheap, cheap beer and lots of varieties. Has a pool table and blaring rock music.
Dress Code: Whatever.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
CityBar: A touch of Miami
I loved CityBar from the minute I walked in. I know, I know- the girls of Charleston SC certainly do not compare with the Exotic, party driven Miami girls- but this club has an unmistakeable touch of Miami in it. Someones been doing their homework here. A huge Reef fishtank, incredibly affordable drinks, a great girl to guy ratio (like 10-1!!), and the unique jacuzzi bar in the rear of the club make this place my favorite Charleston party spot. I loved the service here, they definately recognize the out-of-towner partiers here (there are probably alot of regular college guys here) and gave me and my friends great service. The drinks were very good and extremely cheap in price- about 20% of what something in Miami or Vegas would cost.
Dress Code: Dressing nice wouldn't hurt, it will make you stand out in a good way- as most of these college kids dress so cookie-cutter (jeans and button up dress shirt) you'd probably want to stand out. Sorry I don't have pictures of this place- I was having so much fun I forgot to get the camera out!
- Road Trip
Club Habana: Cigar Room with Class
My friends took me into this cigar shop, then up a staircase, and voila! We began our Saturday night of drinking in this wonderful little upstairs lounge at Club Habana. The waitress was very attantive (not to mention gorgeous!) and though I was in a Martini mood, this is your classic Scotch on the Rocks atmosphere. The ambiance of this place is very, very comfortable and classy, I'd start the night out in a place like this on a night out with the guys, but could see myself ending a night on a date here at the Club Habana.
Dress Code: Classy casual
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
Wet Willies: Yum-O
We love Wet Willies... This is a frozen drink chain where you can get food and good drinks. There are many Wet Willies around the country.
We happen to be the only ones in the place since it was about 40 degrees outside. Frozen drinks aren't the most sought after in that temperature
I drank: Purple Haze
Hubby drank: Call a Cab
Dress Code: Very Casual
- Road Trip
Tsunami Japanese Restaurant: If you want to dance..... and you're young....
This is kind of surprising that it was fun to dance here..... it gets pretty packed on a weekend night.... and the drinks are great. The music is loud, the crowd is young, and I had a good time more than once.
Dress Code: jeans and a nice shirt would do just fine........
Wild Wing Cafe: Live Loud MUSIC and great food
This was a happening place after every other restaurant closed around 9 p.m. I had a blast here! They had an awesome cover band doing current day music, and the place was so packed and energetic. The food was great, too, as well as the mixed drinks.
Dress Code: casual clothes
The Riviera: Always some thing different going on
The first night we came in to town the Riviera was having a Convention here for the Cigar Association of Americas Gala World Premer. So you never know what may be going on here for a night life, but give them a call at the numbers below for more information so see what's going on while your in town.
- Business Travel
- Luxury Travel
Quiet long walks: Window Shopping
If you don't drink or like to go to movies you can always go window shopping! There are some great antiques\ stores all along Kings Street to peak in the windows, plue they have Sacks 5Th Avenue and many more big name clothing stores for your viewing pleasure. Take a walk with you significant other and have some fun quiet time together.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Luxury Travel
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