Charleston’s nightlife is dominated by bars and restaurants, so if you’re looking for something different to do while visiting the city, try exploring the underground music scene. Dive bars and cafes often host pop-up performances while more spacious venues welcome higher profile musicians from Charleston and beyond. In recent years, several Charleston natives have gained national attention, including Shovels and Rope, Susto and NEEDTOBREATHE, among others. Whether you’re lucky enough to catch one of these beloved artists in their hometown or you’re interested in hearing something fresh, you won’t be disappointed by the unique music scene.
Hosting shows and events that encompass everything from electronic dance and hip-hop to alternative and reggae, Music Farm is one of the most popular venues in Charleston. If a well-known artist is coming to the city, it’s likely that they’ll be playing at this unassuming establishment. The inside is relatively small but roomy enough for dancing. During certain shows, patrons are permitted to stand on a second-story platform for a unique vantage point overlooking the stage and crowd below.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
The Royal American
This bar/music venue located north of the city’s center welcomes weekly acts by local and visiting artists. Eclectic decor hangs from the walls and mismatched chairs are scattered throughout the bar. The stage itself is uniquely elevated to bar-level allowing the bands to look out over the crowd. If you need a break from the live music, take your beer out to the large patio, which offers plenty of seating room. The bar’s biggest claim to fame? Their boozy 32-ounce signature punches made with rum, bourbon or vodka, served in a souvenir stadium cup.
Fans of jam bands should venture off the downtown peninsula to experience James Island’s Pour House. With live music every night and a free Wednesday-night tribute to the Grateful Dead on the back deck each week, this venue tends to welcome more experimental musicians. Some nights, the Pour House will host one show inside the venue and another on the funky back deck, which bears a resemblance to an oversize tree house.
Boasting its own house band, this refurbished jazz club also hosts other musicians several times a month. On weekend nights, the bar’s band performs funky renditions of modern hits, while Tuesdays welcome the talented soul group The Black Diamond Band. Check The Commodore’s schedule for a list of upcoming performances by visiting and local musicians.
Bars with Live Music
While there are plenty of venues specifically designed for live performances, many other bars make room for musicians on a weekly and monthly basis. Downtown you can catch live music at Big Gun Burger Shop, Republic Garden & Lounge, Prohibition and JohnKing Grill + Bar. If you head off the peninsula to West Ashley, you can hear local bands like Youngster and Dumb Doctors at Tin Roof and 3 Matadors. Head to North Charleston for live performances at The Purple Buffalo and The Sparrow. If you’re looking for beachy vibes, check out the live music at The Windjammer on Isle of Palms.
The place where many Charleston bands got their start, Awendaw Green is an outdoor venue best known for a weekly series called the Barn Jam. Taking place in a repurposed barn, the shows host performances by local and traveling musicians from around the country, and audience members are encouraged to BYOB, build small campfires and shop the local vendors’ booths. Boasting a very communal vibe, this weekly event is a vital part of the town of Awendaw and an intriguing snippet of the music scene.
A handful of notable music festivals crop up in Charleston annually, along with several art festivals that incorporate musical elements. The week-long PBR Dirty Southeast Music Festival hosts free and $10 shows at venues throughout the city during the spring. Summer ushers in the popular High Water Fest, which takes place at North Charleston’s beautiful Riverfront Park and has welcomed big-name acts like The Shins and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.
To learn more about local bands and upcoming shows, check out Charleston music blog Extra Chill.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.