There’s no beating around the bush: Charleston, South Carolina, has a strong connection to alcohol and dining. Most lists of fun things to do in Charleston, SC, at night often feature food and booze at the top of the list.
But there are lot more options for evening activities in Charleston. Sometimes you just need to do a little extra brainstorming.
Table of Contents
The other option is to come back to this list (ie: bookmark it). This list started when brainstorming an evening when no one involved felt like spending money on an expensive night on the town. And everyone’s livers needed a break.
Charleston Evening Activities
While drinking is the first thing on this list, there actually are a lot of other evening activities in Charleston.
Downtown Charleston Bars and Nightlife
Yes, there is a lot of drinking that goes on here. Day drinking is a regional pastime. But the number of options for just bars in downtown Charleston, SC, feel almost limitless. A few personal favorites are mostly great dive bars in downtown Charleston, strung along King Street:
I am a big fan of movies, especially in theatres. A few of my personal favorite movie theatres in the Charleston area include (ordered by uniqueness):
The Terrace Theatre
This place is one of those old-fashioned feeling movie theatres. It’s small, but kind of quaint. When I mean small, it really is: the hallways to theatres are so narrow, you have to wait to be called into the actual theatre so as not to block the way. But you can see pretty standard movies at the Terrace Theatre, while still feeling quaint.
This other chain movie theatre is out in Mount Pleasant. Located in Mount Pleasant Town Centre, I prefer Regal Palmetto Grand over the other movie theaters in Mount Pleasant.
God, I can’t stand Cinebarre. And it’s for the very thing that makes them unique. Servers travel around during the movies serving food and drinks. While some people love it for how convenient it is, I find it horribly distracting. And all that food makes for a messier movie theatre. I don’t blame them for having a harder time keeping it all clean. Although they have a pretty sweet movie deal on Tuesdays ($5 tickets).
Bowling in Charleston
Bowling is one of those things people don’t think of immediately. But it can be fun, with or without food. The bowling alley in Mount Pleasant closed and was replaced by an Aldi. But there are still two options for bowling in Charleston, South Carolina:
A bar, arcade, and bowling alley all rolled into one. The bowling isn’t cheap, but when you’re the only game in town, you make your own rules. It’s still fun, and the Alley is within an easy walk of all that Upper King Street has to offer.
Ashley Lanes Tavern
I have never been to this bowling alley in West Ashley, only driven-by. As far as I’m aware, though, these are your two options now. So, I’d be remiss in not mentioning them both. That said, I’m told this one is a little run-down.
Charleston Sporting Events
RiverDogs Baseball Game
A minor league baseball game at the Joseph P Riley, Jr. Park can be a pleasant afternoon or evening activity in the warmer months. While certain levels are more suitable for an outing with friends, seats closer to the field are better for a romantic date. Be sure to see one of the fireworks displays after a Friday night home game.
Charleston Battery Soccer Game
For such a small city, Charleston, South Carolina, has a great soccer team. Their stadium on Daniel Island is quite nice (though a little buggy in the evenings, close to the swamp). And the Charleston Battery has an ardent group of supporters that belch yellow smoke out at the end of the game. Whether you’re a soccer fan or no, this is a fun evening activity.
Mini-golf at Blackbeard’s Cove
Speaking of buggy, be sure to bring bugspray during warm months if you head out to Mount Pleasant to play mini-golf. Blackbeard’s Cove is now called Charleston Fun Park. But it’s the same thing. While this is more targeted towards children, mini-golf is fun for all ages. The course is a little run-down though. But come on, you’re not looking to play the Masters! Also, you can get a bucket of beer to cart along with you through the courses. Not bad, no?
Hipster Charleston Concert Venues
No list of hipster things to do at night anywhere would be complete without a list of places for live music. I’m not a huge fan of live music at bars and restaurants. I come to eat, drink, and socialize. I prefer to go to an actual concert venue for live music. The exceptions are when I go to a bar for the music (like Royal American or Pour House, below).
Music Farm is a concert venue downtown between the Charleston Visitors Center and King Street. Some big names perform here, check out their events calendar to see who’s performing soon.
This place on North Morrison Drive is the epitome of hipster cool in Charleston. And they get awesome bands and performers from throughout the States (especially the South) that perform on the little stage next to the bar. Royal American has a decor someone once described to me as a “New Orleans bar at Christmas-time”. But this bar has a lot going for it:
The beer’s great
The food’s even better
The atmosphere is relaxed
And this is usually the place to go to see some pretty good bands before they start performing at Music Farm. Some of those bands continue to perform here even after they get bigger.
This is a bar and restaurant with outdoor seating on James Island. The Pour House is also an awesome concert venue, with great bands and artists coming regularly. Plus tickets and covers are never too expensive, regardless of who’s performing.
Charleston Night Tours
Night is the appropriate time to take a Charleston ghost tour, of course. But you can also take evening carriage rides or historic Charleston walking tours. The plus is that it’s usually cooler at night in the summer months.
Charleston Ghost Tours
Another personal evening favorite of mine is taking one of the best ghost tours in Charleston. Bulldog Tours from Anson Street near the Charleston City Market is a top tour provider in Charleston. Their Graveyard Tours or Old City Jail Tours are worth the time and money to get to spook your kids a bit.
Evening Carriage Rides
Though limited in number, there are some night carriage ride opportunities. Old South Carriage Company offers romantic evening carriage rides through downtown Charleston. They also offer less intimate evening carriage rides through historic Charleston for larger groups.
Charleston Sites and Attractions to Visit at Night
A lot of Charleston tourist attractions are best experienced at night: cooler temperatures, lighting isn’t as harsh, and you usually have the place to yourself.
As I’ve mentioned before, I wouldn’t list Rainbow Row as my absolute favorite downtown Charleston attraction. But the street lamps along Rainbow Row and the interplaying shadows are quite pretty on the walls at night. You can head down from either Waterfront Park or Broad Street to Rainbow Row, then continue on to the Battery.
The Battery and White Point Gardens
The Battery and White Point Gardens are also gorgeous at night. Visitors can stand where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers meet and look back at the city to see Charleston at night. To quote late Pat Conroy in his novel, South of Broad, all Charleston is “the Mansion on the River”. The city and its bejeweled mansions are lit up along the Battery and Murray Boulevard. Meanwhile street lamps light up the live oaks and promenades of White Point Gardens.
This is an even better place to see the lit up city spread out before you. The only drawback is that the portion of the peninsula closest to the view from the Ravenel Bridge is the port. Which isn’t gorgeous, but neither is the line of luxury high-rise condos on the Mount Pleasant side. But the harbor is lovely, and historic downtown Charleston is laid-out beyond the port. And the highway that crosses the bridge is usually much quieter at night.
Fun Things to Do at Night in Charleston, SC, for Couples
The historic Dock Street Theatre has existed for four centuries in the French Quarter neighborhood. Built on the corner of Church and Dock Streets (now Queen Street), the first performance at the Dock Street Theatre opened on February 12, 1736. Take your date out to dinner at one of the fantastic nearby restaurants, then meander through the French Quarter. Bring your date up to the romantic ironwork of the Dock Street theatre with your pre-ordered tickets, and your night will be set.
Charleston Waterfront Park
While a fantastic free attraction during the day, Charleston’s Waterfront Park takes on a distinctly romantic tone at night. Wander under the live oaks, or sit on a swinging bench on the pier. You can also sit or lie on a bench next to the water and stare at the moon. Unless the mosquitos are out in full force, of course.
College of Charleston Campus
The central and oldest part of the College of Charleston campus has been beautifully restored and worth exploring. The lights and Spanish moss dripping from the limbs of the giant live oaks make nighttime at the Cistern a magical experience.
60 acres large, Hampton Park is the prettiest and most relaxing park in Charleston, in this writer’s humble opinion. The circular drive around the park is well-lit at night. The major thoroughfares have old-fashioned lamps, and the central pond’s fountains run all night. That said, don’t tempt fate and wander in here after about 11 pm. Central Park’s not safe that late at night, either.
Romantic Places to Eat in Charleston, SC
Seriously, a list of things to do at night in Charleston, South Carolina, would be embarrassingly lacking if it didn’t mention the food here. There are a ton of options:
The French Quarter Art Walk is the first Friday of every month. Art galleries in the French Quarter stay open later and offer refreshments to those wandering through. Wine is offered in many of the art galleries, fair warning.
Spoleto Spoleto Festival Events
Spoleto is the free version of Charleston’s world renowned arts festival, Piccolo. Free events to the public are scattered all over Charleston. Be sure to check the Piccolo Spoleto calendar of events for free evening activities.
All of the Best Fun Things to Do in Charleston SC at Night
An avid traveler, Colin Pearson loves to settle in an area and discover every little bit of that spot. And having lived on various places on three continents, Charleston, South Carolina, is one of his favorite places he's ever lived.