Planning a Charleston SC romantic getaway with your plus one? Rooftop cocktails, scenic strolls, luxury hotel stays, sunset sails...the Holy City offers plenty to see and do for a romantic getaway.
When it comes to romantic cities in the USA, it’s hard to beat Charleston, SC. Cobblestone streets, luxury hotels, rooftop cocktails paired with stunning views, pristine beaches, and award-winning restaurants make this the perfect place for a romantic getaway.
In fact, Charleston has been ranked as a top romantic destination by several travel websites and magazines. In 2015 it won the top spot for most romantic cities in America by Travel and Leisure. CNN Travel included Charleston among the most romantic cities in the world, competing with places like Tuscany and The Maldives.
There are plenty of romantic things to do in Charleston, SC. Whether you’re planning a Charleston, SC honeymoon or just visiting for a weekend getaway, this list will make sure you get the most out of your trip.
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1. Rooftop cocktails
Charleston has an incredible rooftop scene. Easily one of the best in the United States. From ultra-casual to glamorous and trendy, you’ll have no problem finding a memorable rooftop bar to sip cocktails while viewing the steeple-dotted skyline.
Did you know Charleston has over 400 church steeples? Pair those majestic steeples with ocean views and rainbow-hued colonial buildings and you’ll see why it’s a must to include rooftop cocktails for your Charleston, SC romantic getaway.
My two favorite spots are Ritual Rooftop, Citrus Club at the Dewberry, and The Vendue.
Need some indoor options? Check out Camellias at Hotel Bennett (might be too girly for some...it's very pink), Vintage Lounge, and The Gin Joint.
2. Stroll Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park was made for strolling. Its location along the water offers scenic views of the Charleston harbor and Ravenel Bridge. Walk along the pier and take a seat at one of the porch swings while enjoying the ocean breeze. You might even spot a dolphin or two!
In the center of Waterfront Park is the much-photographed Pineapple Fountain. Snap a picture and then continue along the tree-shaded walking paths.
There always seems to be a mix of locals and tourists and you can almost always find a quiet moment to yourself if you visit in the morning.
For my active vacationers, this is the perfect place to start a scenic morning jog. Jake and I make a point to jog Waterfront Park every time we’re in Charleston. We usually start near the Pineapple Fountain and head south along the water.
Stick to the waterfront path (with the water on your left) and you’ll eventually wind up at Tradd Street, which just happens to be one of the most adorable streets with beautiful homes.
Continue down Tradd Street and zig-zag your way around one of the most picturesque areas in Charleston.
3. Relax at the Beach
If you’re visiting during the warmer months, a visit to the beach is a must for a Charleston, SC romantic getaway. This is a great opportunity to get out of the city and see another side of South Carolina.
Two of the most popular beaches are Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island. Both are just twenty to thirty minutes from downtown Charleston. Traffic can be quite heavy in the summer months. The earlier you leave the better. Parking can become almost impossible after 10:00 am.
Folly Beach, referred to as the “Edge of America” by locals, is a charming beach town. You’ll find a number of small inns, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals, and one hotel.
The number of accommodations tends to offer a livelier feel to this island compared to the others. Boutique shops and restaurants line Center Street. Be sure to stop by the Lost Dog Café for brunch or lunch. Folly Beach is also popular for surfing.
Sullivan’s Island is a great choice if you’re looking for something a bit more laid back. The lack of hotels and inns provides more seclusion than Folly Beach. However, if you’re visiting in summer, there will be crowds on both islands. The Obstinate Daughter is THE place to go for brunch.
I can’t talk about a Charleston, South Carolina romantic getaway and not list Kiawah Island. After all, it was voted the “Second Most Romantic Beach in America” by National Geographic Traveler. It’s not as popular as Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island because there’s only one public beach. Kiawah Beachwalker Park.
The remaining beachfront/beach access points are owned by private residences and resorts. Kiawah Island is known for its natural beauty, 10 miles of walkable beach line, and abundant wildlife.
4. Stay at a Luxury Hotel
You’ll have your pick of luxurious hotels for a Charleston, SC romantic getaway. There are a number of four and five-star hotels that offer gorgeous rooms, outstanding service, and an ideal (walkable) location. Some of the top options include:
- Wentworth Mansion
- Planters Inn
- The Restoration
- The Dewberry
- The Spectator Hotel
- Hotel Bennett
- Zero George Street
- The Loutrel
For a more affordable option, check out Emeline.
5. Join an Evening Ghost Tour
Bet you didn't think you'd be seeing a ghost tour on a list of romantic things to do in Charleston, SC! Hang tight to your plus one as you hear dark stories and tales of Charleston's past.
There are several types of ghost tours, from history-focused to bone-chilling. So, whether you’re looking for something PG or a tour so creepy you might not sleep that night, you’ll be able to find something that fits the ticket.
The Pleasing Terrors Night Ghost Tour will take you around Charleston’s haunted streets and graveyards. You’ll learn about Charleston’s past, folklore, and ghost tales without the annoying theatrics that many ghost tours now employ.
My more daring readers should consider the Old Charleston Jailhouse. The second scariest ghost tour (after the Edinburgh Vaults) I have ever joined. If you're like me, you'll be glued to your plus-one the entire time.
Those interested in exploring the paranormal with ghost-hunting tools like thermal imaging cameras should book Paranormal Investigation: YOU are the Ghost Hunter.
6. Dine at Quintessential Charleston Restaurants
Charleston is a foodie’s paradise. Be sure to do your research beforehand because it will be hard to decide which restaurants to include on this trip and which to save for next time.
My absolute favorite restaurants with an atmosphere perfect for a Charleston SC romantic getaway are Husk, Fig, Vern's, The Grocery, and The Ordinary.
7. Bike Along Rainbow Row
Many of the luxury hotels offer complimentary bikes for hotel guests. Charleston is the perfect city to bike around, even for those with rusty bike skills.
The streets around Rainbow Row are gorgeous and fun to see by bike. The car traffic is minimal in the mornings and the cars that are driving around this area usually drive pretty darn slow.
If this is something you see yourself doing on your Charleston romantic getaway, be sure to choose a hotel that does offer bikes and ask how many bikes they have. You don’t want to get there and find out the hotel only has four bikes for the entire hotel!
8. Sail Around Charleston
A private sunset cruise around the harbor is easily one of the most romantic things to do in Charleston, SC. If you’re going to splurge on one activity, this should be it.
Several companies offer both group and private cruises. Whether you do a group tour or go all out and book a private cruise, I recommend choosing the sunset option. You’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views as the sun dips below the Charleston peninsula.
Most companies allow passengers to bring their own beverages. So pop the Dom or your favorite bubbly and enjoy the ocean breeze with your plus one!
9. Charleston's Alleys & Hidden Passages Walking Tour
I absolutely love walking tours. It’s a great way to become acquainted with the city and learn its history. Regular walking tours are wonderful, but ones that take you off the beaten path are even better.
Charleston's Alleys & Hidden Passages Walking Tour will show you a side of Charleston that most tourists never experience. You’ll discover areas you never would have visited on your own. Be sure to bring your camera to capture these charming alleyways and streets!
10. Learn and Taste the Culinary History of Charleston
Looking to go beyond eating your way through this foodie mecca and maybe learn a thing or two along the way? Join this tour! The Undiscovered Charleston: Food, Wine & History Tour with Cooking Class will give you a taste of it all…literally.
You and your plus one will learn the culinary history of Charleston and might even pick up a few tips and tricks during the cooking class. Take notes and try and recreate what you learned when you get home from your trip! Future at-home date night perhaps?
I hope this post gave you some ideas on romantic things to do in Charleston, SC. Once you arrive in this charming colonial city, it won’t take long to see why it’s been named one of the most romantic cities in the USA and the world.
Don’t worry if you don’t get to everything on this list on your first trip. I’m sure you’ll have such a great time you’ll be planning another Charleston SC romantic getaway before you know it!