The Coolest Neighborhoods in Charleston, South Carolina

Downtown Charleston
Downtown Charleston | Courtesy of Samantha Connors
Samantha Connors

Covering 916 square miles of land, Charleston County stretches from the sandy shores of Edisto Beach to the thick woodlands of McClellanville. At the county’s center, there are dozens of eclectic little neighborhoods. Quaint sections of the downtown peninsula offer unique bars and hidden gardens, while areas just outside the city provide funky new restaurants and breweries. Here’s our guide to the coolest neighborhoods in Charleston. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Park Circle

This trendy North Charleston community has undergone extensive restoration over the past several years. The heart of Park Circle is East Montague Ave., a street lined with notable restaurants, wine bars, and even a brewery. This area is the place to go for anyone seeking out an authentic taste of the local community, making it one of the coolest neighborhoods in Charleston. Within walking distance from the main strip is a large, circular park surrounded by a traffic circle—the spot from which the area got its name. Surrounding the traffic circle is the city’s only disc course, which is free to the public.

If you’re planning to explore this neighborhood in Charleston, you should visit the Hunley submarine, a mysterious ship that disappeared in 1864 and wasn’t re-discovered until 2000. For dinner, share a salad and a pizza or two from EVO Pizzeria, and then head to Commonhouse Aleworks for some draft beers brewed on-site. If you have extra time in the afternoon, bring a frisbee along and play a few rounds of disc golf in the park.

Cannonborough/Elliotborough

Eclectic Cafe in Charleston

On the westside middle section of the downtown Charleston peninsula, there are two neighborhoods so close it can be difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Cannonborough and Elliotborough are home to a mixture of college students, families, and young professionals. In this hip, partially residential area, you’ll find unusual restaurants, bars, and cafés, including the Vietnamese joint Bon Banh Mi and the coffee shop-slash-record store Eclectic Cafe.

Harleston Village

Harleston Village is a coveted place to live for College of Charleston students as it’s so close to the campus. However, this swanky part of downtown is also home to many affluent residents. When visiting this neighborhood, stroll through the campus to admire the hauntingly beautiful Spanish moss dangling from live oaks planted in front of antebellum-era houses-turned-campus buildings. From the college, walk to Colonial Lake where you can rent bicycles from an app-automated service. The app automatically charges $8 per hour, and you can cruise through the surrounding neighborhoods to explore the rest of the area.

Wagener Terrace & Hampton Park Terrace

Though Wagner Terrance and Hampton Park Terrace are two separate neighborhoods on the downtown peninsula, they both possess a similar vibe. Head to the upper end of the peninsula to explore this hip part of town, which is mainly residential but boasts several cool bars, restaurants, and beautiful parks.
Harold’s Cabin, occupying a former corner store from the ’20s and ’30s, is a favorite neighborhood spot to grab a coffee or cocktail. The restaurant serves up an ever-changing daily menu of small plates, sandwiches, and salads. Rutledge Cab Co. is another eatery in this cool Charleston neighborhood, owned by local celebrity Bill Murray. He’s been known on occasion to sit at the bar and mess with patrons, so keep an eye out for him if you decide to dine here. After sampling the neighborhood’s offerings, walk to nearby Hampton Park to play frisbee or wander through the trails. While this part of town is quieter than the party districts of the lower peninsula, the charming homes and eclectic establishments still make this one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city.

Avondale

Situated in the West Ashley area of Charleston, which sits to the west of the downtown peninsula, Avondale is made up of popular bars and restaurants. Triangle Char and Bar is a well-loved place for Sunday brunch with mimosa specials and a mouthwatering brunch menu. If you go during the week, try one of the burgers made from 100% grass-fed beef. While this area is not part of downtown, it’s still one of the coolest neighborhoods in Charleston as it’s also home to other funky watering holes like Voodoo Tiki Bar & Lounge.

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