Old naval bases, 19th-century architecture, and more museums than you can even count. These are just a few things that you might run into if you’re looking up where to stay in Charleston SC.
If you couldn’t find any particularly good spots on your own, then we can help you by taking you through the best parts of Charleston SC and the coolest hotels and accommodation options that you can book.
Why You Should Visit Charleston in 2023
Charleston has a historical heritage like few other cities in the US. This is pretty obvious when you look at all the museums spread throughout the city.
Although you can find segments from some of the darkest moments in American history in this city, you can also very easily come across a wonderful art exhibit or grandiose parks. The numerous cafes and restaurants come that much better after a full day of exploring all of the beautiful sights that this city has to offer.
Charleston also has its fair share of vibrant nightlife in the downtown area of the city, a few baseball and football stadiums where you can go watch a game, a fair number of fishing spots for enthusiasts, and even a few adventure and water parks that can be fun, regardless if you’re alone or with a whole group of people..
In essence, this city pretty much has it all, and we can tell you exactly where to stay in Charleston, SC depending on what you want to get out of the trip and which sights you want to go and see while you’re there.
The Best Areas & Hotels in Charleson, SC
Charleston is not a metropolis by any means, but it’s the largest city in South Carolina, so it’s pretty easy to find some interesting attractions to visit or a fascinating historic location that you can tour and get lost in for hours.
If we had to narrow down all of the locations in the city to the most notable ones, the list would look something like this:
- Sullivan’s Island: Full of beautiful beaches
- West Side: The place to go if you want to catch a game of football or baseball
- French Quarter: One of the more significant places in the history of Charleston
- West Ashley: This is where the nightclub scene is the most pronounced
- Mt. Pleasant: Has great parks and historical naval museums
1. Sullivan’s Island
The first stop in our trip around Charleston would definitely be Sullivan’s Island, which is just the absolute best place in town to lounge on the beach and maybe catch a few rays and get a tan.
The many beaches littered all around this area are an obvious draw, and regardless if you’re alone or with your family, you can have hours of fun in the sun and swim to your heart’s content. Sullivan’s Island is not without its fair share of interesting historical buildings and fascinating sites either.
Mugdock Castle, the Edgar Alan Poe Library, or even the Historic District are all worth the attention. That being said, while you might even find the occasional bar and nightclub, it’s not really the place to visit if you want to go for a drink at night or find someplace where you can party until the morning.
Things to Do
- Take a hike down the Sullivan’s Island Nature Trail and breathe in some fresh air while you take in all of the beautiful sights that it has to offer.
- Go to Sealand Adventure Sports and get all of the equipment and learn all of the skills that you need to try to do a bit of kiteboarding.
- History buffs might really like to take a trip to Fort Moultrie and check out all of the massive canons that are littered all around the place.
- VIsit Thompson Park and learn about the battles that were raged here as part of the American revolution of 1776.
Where to Eat
- The Obstinate Daughter is a great place to eat if you want to try some local seafood delicacies.
- Poe’s Tavern is ideal if you want to grab a quick drink and get something to eat.
- Home Team BBQ offers exactly what you might expect for any grilled food lovers.
Sullivan’s Island Budget Hotels
- TownePlace Suites provides you with a fitness center, an indoor pool, and free wifi access for a very reasonable price.
- The Palms Oceanfront Hotel is located right next to the beach for anyone that wants to be out of the door and on a lounge chair as quickly as possible.
Sullivan’s Island Mid-Range Hotels
- Bees Knees is a great villa rental that provides you with everything you need in order to fit a large number of people at a reasonable price, although it’s a bit of a walk from this location to the beach.
- Seaside Inn offers rooms that are fully equipped with a microwave, coffee maker, and a refrigerator, while the more cost-effective rooms will still offer you free wifi and a front desk that’s on call 24 hours of the day.
Sullivan’s Island Luxury Hotels
- Sunny Side Up gives you a full holiday home with access to an outdoor pool and free wifi, as well as rooms that provide you with a full-sized kitchen and dining area, a TV, AC unit, and even a dishwasher.
- Flag Street 1851 offers a fully decked-out villa that you can rent and enjoy if you’re on vacation with your family or a large party and need the extra room to sleep in, as well as a garden and a lounge terrace.
2. West Side
This portion of town holds the Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park stadium that’s the home of the RiverDogs minor league baseball team as well as the Johnson Hagood Stadium where football fans can go and maybe catch a few touchdowns if there’s a game on that day.
There are also plenty of open courts that you can reserve or visit where you can play anything from a friendly game of basketball to a tennis match if you want to work out a bit or just get the blood flowing a little.
If you’re with your family, you can visit some of the playgrounds that found all around. Or just visit Brittlebank Park or Harmon Field, where you can either take a walk with your kids or just watch and coach them as they try their hand at playing a bit of baseball.
There really aren’t many restaurants, bars, or significant historical locations in this section of the city, so your only reason to be here would be if you’re a sports buff or to wind down with some quality family time.
Things to Do
- Catch a game at one of the many stadiums that are found around this place.
- Visit and get a tour of one of the more notable military colleges in the entirety of the US that’s only known as The Citadel.
- Rent or buy a rod and try to catch some fish in the peace and silence of the many fishing spots that you can find along the coast.
- Go to Brittlebank Park and either enjoy a walk down the many walking paths that are available or go to the recreational area that’s located here.
Where to Eat
- Aqua Terrace Roof-Top Bar is a great place to grab a drink and a bite while enjoying the view.
- Harold’s Cabin is a quaint little place with meals made out of homegrown veggies.
- Little Jack’s Tavern looks like a classic bar and it has a menu full of comfort food and cocktails.
West Side Budget Hotels
- The Quarters on Spring is a small comfy vacation home that provides you with free parking and it’s located near a few points of interest like Harmon Field, Cannon Park, and The Citadel Archives and Museum.
- Courtyard has an outside pool and a court deck where you can just sit and lounge around, and it also comes with an on-site restaurant.
West Side Mid-Range Hotels
- Comfort Inn is located within walking distance of historic Downtown Charleston and the Citadel, and the hotel provides you with a launderette and a continental breakfast each morning.
- Charleston Marriott Comes with a seasonal outside pool, a fitness center, and a rooftop lounge with a lovely view at night.
West Side Luxury Hotels
- The Charlestonian provides you with a holiday home with all of the necessary amenities from a flat-screen TV with cable to a microwave and a fully-equipped kitchen with a coffee machine.
- Murphy on St. Philip is a bit pricey, but it gives you an awesome holiday home, with a giant garden, all of the necessary luxuries, and it’s located right in the middle of Charleston for easy access to all of the interesting tourist spots nearby.
3. French Quarter
The French Quarter is a pretty small section of Charleston, but this doesn’t stop it from being one of the most historically significant locations that you can visit in the whole city.
Here you’ll find the famous Charleston city market that was established at some point in the 19th century and all sorts of stalls with everything from designer clothes to homemade craft creations.
While Charleston as a whole is rich in historically significant locations and buildings, the French Quarter is especially significant for recounting the more significant portions of the plight of African-Americans and what they had to go through in the early stages of the 19th century.
This is the best place for history buffs that really want to learn everything they can about the long and storied history of this city, but naturally, this section of town also sees a large number of visitors every day. Expect steeper hotel prices and premium restaurant menus.
Things to Do
- Visit the district that’s known for the 13 differently colored historic row houses called the rainbow row and learn a bit about the history of this place.
- Go down King Street and visit some of the galleries that can be found here and that display some pretty interesting works.
- You can also visit the Old Slave Mart Museum to learn a lot more about the bloodier and more cruel parts of Charleston’s history.
- Go on a walking tour and go through several relevant locations with someone that can tell you everything that you might want to know about this city and more.
Where to Eat
- Poogan’s Smokehouse has a large menu for BBQ lovers.
- Eli’s Table is a great place to go if you wanna try some fresh local food.
- Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar provides you with a fine selection of seafood.
French Quarter Budget Hotels
- Fulton Lane Inn delivers a complimentary breakfast to your room each morning, and you can get a free mug of coffee in the lobby.
- Indigo Inn has a free breakfast each morning, and it provides you with a room that has a flat-screen TV and free wifi.
French Quarter Mid-Range Hotels
- The Saint Hotel Charleston has a bar where you can sit down and have a drink, as well as free parking that comes with the room.
- The Vendue provides you with a complimentary morning coffee and pastries while you enjoy the view from the on-site cocktail bar on the roof each morning.
French Quarter Luxury Hotels
- Market Pavilion Hotel is located right next to both the Charleston City Market and Waterfront Park, and it comes with an outdoor pool and a steakhouse located in the hotel.
- Hotel Emeline will provide you with an in-house hotel with a pretty impressive menu, a fitness center that you can visit at any time, and it even allows you to keep a pet in your room if you want to take your cat or dog along with you on your trip.
4. West Ashley
West Ashley has a little bit of everything, and you really can’t go a few steps without finding a trendy boutique or a small café. However, the most prominent attraction of West Ashley would probably have to be its nightlife.
There are whole clusters of nightclubs and bars that are all over the place in this part of the city, and you can easily find three or four that are right next to each other. If you don’t like the vibe in one—onto the next one! Or why not just tour them all?
If you’re in the mood for a bit of souvenir shopping, you’ll also be able to find some small shops that sell everything from homemade knick-knacks to jewelry. If you’re more serious in your shopping endeavours, though, West Ashley is not without its large malls if you prefer large retailers.
There are also quite a lot of spas that you can visit, restaurants with interesting menus to offer, and even hiking and biking trails if you want to get a bit of exercise during your stay.
This section of the city is also a residential area, so the hotel that you book might be pretty far away from any nightclubs and attractions and you might need to drive or walk for quite a bit to get to a more interesting area of town from your hotel.
Things to Do
- Rent a scooter and drive around this whole area to see the sights and maybe just have a bit of fun with the air blowing through your hair.
- Visit one of the many nightclubs and trendy bars that are littered all over the place for a fun night out on the town.
- Go to the beach and learn how to surf with one of the many training courses that are on offer.
- Charter a boat and go out on the water to try your hand at fishing and try to catch something that you can take a picture of for the mantle
Where to Eat
- Sunflower Cafe is a quaint little place where you can grab a quick meal and maybe a coffee.
- Ms. Rose’s Fine Food & Cocktails offers exactly what the name suggests and they have quite a large menu of choices as well.
- Southern Roots Smokehouse is the place to go if you’re craving a nice steak.
West Ashley Budget Hotels
- Creekside Lands Inn offers very modest accommodations, but the price is incredibly cheap, and the hotel is really close to the Splash Zone water park.
- La Quinta offers you a fitness center, as well as a flat-screen TV and free wifi in every room.
West Ashley Mid-Range Hotels
- Comfort Suites provides you with a tea and coffee maker in every room, as well as a fitness center and a swimming pool on the premises.
- Hampton Inn & Suites provides all of the guests with a free buffet breakfast each morning with a wide selection of different food and drinks.
West Ashley Luxury Hotels
- Holiday Inn Charleston has a restaurant on the roof where you can enjoy your meals with a view, as well as a fitness center, outdoor pool, and free wifi in every room.
- SpringHill Suites come with a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, as well as a full fitness center with all the equipment that a gym rat might want, and a business center with everything that a workaholic might need while on vacation.
5. Mt. Pleasant
Mt. Pleasant is the largest area that we’ve covered in this article, and it’s without a doubt one of the more significant parts of Charleston that you can visit. There are plenty of hotels to choose from, so finding accommodations in this area won’t be a problem at all.
And you also have the Historic Charleston City Market nearby which is one of the most visited sites in Charleston. As with the rest of Charleston, Mt. Pleasant has a long and storied history.
As such, most of the notable naval and army related history museums can be found in this area, as well as a few historically significant locations like the home of Charles Pinckney, or certain plantations that come with fully narrated tractor tours around the premises.
A large part of this section of town is also dedicated to some of the largest and most scenic parks that you’ll find anywhere, and you can simply spend hours just walking around or enjoying the sights and sitting down for a nice cup ‘a joe at one of the many cafes that are all over the place.
Nature lovers and history buffs will really like this location, but there really aren’t any bars or nightclubs, or that many restaurants where you can go and enjoy your evening.
Things to Do
- Go to the Splash island waterpark and spend a fun day just going down all of the rides and having some good old-fashioned fun in the pool.
- Spend a day kayaking, walking around, or just snapping some pictures in the scenic sights of Shem Creek Park.
- Visit the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum for an in-depth look at some impressive aircraft and ships that you couldn’t see anywhere else.
- Enjoy a picnic or a sit down at one of the many cafes around the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park, located right next to the cultural arts pavilion.
Where to Eat
- Langdon’s Restaurant and Wine Bar offers a large selection of drinks to go along with your meal.
- Grace & Grit is a great place for some traditional southern food.
- The Pickled Palate is the restaurant for you if you’re looking for a vegan option.
Pleasant Budget Hotels
- Cambria Hotel comes with an outdoor swimming pool, a sun terrace, and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels in every room.
- DoubleTree provides all of the guests with a complimentary breakfast, an outdoor seasonal pool, and a free parking spot.
Pleasant Mid-Range Hotels
- Hampton Inn & Suites provides you with a 24 hour on duty concierge desk, as well as a daily complimentary breakfast.
- Hotel Indigo provides you with a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and even a bar where you can grab a drink.
Pleasant Luxury Hotels
- Hilton Garden Inn comes with an outdoor pool and a restaurant, and it’s located near USS Yorktown State Park, Patriots Point, and the Historic Charleston City Market
- Hyatt Place allows you to keep pets in your room, provides you with a daily buffet breakfast, and provides each guest with a room that has an AC unit, a TV, refrigerator, a kettle, and a lot of other amenities as well.
So, Where Should You Stay in Charleston, SC?
Honestly? – anywhere you like. Try to stay away from the hotels that are in the more densely packed residential areas since they’re usually too far from any interesting attraction to be a viable option unless you want to wear out your shoes from walking every day at least.
If you’re looking for a hotel in the center of the city that’s reasonably priced while also providing you with all of the amenities that you might need, then we’d probably go for the La Quinta located in the middle of West Ashley.
If you want to be close to the beach and not have to break the bank on a hotel room, then the TowneSuites on Sulivan’s Island are your best choice. And if you’re traveling with a lot of people or if you just want to spend your vacation in luxury, then Charleston is known for the many villas that are dotted all around the place.
So decide which area of the city you want to stay in, and pick out one of the houses that we mentioned just above. They’re all a good choice so you won’t be disappointed regardless of which one you go for.
Figure out what you want to see most when you’re in Charleston and go from there. You might not be able to get to all the sights that you want, but you should still come away from your trip a happy camper if you go through the ones that you had at the top of your list.