Charleston, a gem of the South, is renowned for its Southern charm, historical sites, and beautiful waterfront views. But when the sun dips below the horizon, the city reveals another facet of its rich culture: a lively and diverse nightlife scene.
From lively bars in the vibrant Upper King Street area to the laid-back cocktail lounges in the historic French Quarter, Charleston presents an exciting mix of evening entertainment for night owls. A blend of locally loved spots and off-the-beaten-path gems, Charleston’s nightlife offers something for everyone, promising unforgettable memories for locals and travelers alike.
Whether you’re keen on enjoying a relaxed drink in an artisan brewery, moving to the beat of live music, or experiencing the unique ambiance of a rooftop bar with breathtaking views, Charleston has it all. The city’s nightlife landscape continues to evolve, ensuring there’s always a fresh experience waiting to be discovered.
In this guide, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the top places to experience Charleston nightlife, tips for a fun and safe night out, and an overview of the cost of an evening in Charleston. So, gather your friends, put on your dancing shoes, and get ready to dive into the vibrant and enticing world of Charleston nightlife.
Where to Party in Charleston
The Charleston nightlife scene is mostly concentrated in a few key areas, making it easy to explore multiple venues in a single night. Here are some of the most popular districts to explore during your night out in Charleston:
Upper King Street: Known for its energetic vibe, this area is teeming with trendy bars, clubs, and restaurants. Perfect for those who love a lively atmosphere.
French Quarter: If you’re looking for a more relaxed and historical atmosphere, the French Quarter offers a selection of cocktail lounges and wine bars set among beautiful 18th-century buildings.
Market Street: This area offers a mix of pubs, clubs, and bars that cater to all tastes, perfect for a pub crawl.
The Battery: Offering beautiful waterfront views, this neighborhood is home to several upscale bars and lounges, perfect for a more sophisticated night out.
Charleston Nightlife Tips and Advice
Charleston is generally a safe city, but like any urban area, it’s essential to remain aware of your surroundings and take common precautions. Secure your belongings and never leave your drink unattended.
The legal drinking age in the US is 21, so be ready to show ID if you appear under age.
While tipping is not compulsory, it’s customary in the US to tip your server or bartender. A 15-20% tip is usually expected for good service.
Public transportation options in Charleston are reliable, including buses and taxis. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are also available.
Most venues in Charleston have a casual dress code, but some upscale venues may require a more polished look. Opt for smart-casual attire to be safe.
Cost of Partying in Charleston
Here’s what you can expect to pay to enjoy the Charleston nightlife”
Drinks: Expect to pay around $5-7 for a beer, $8-12 for a glass of wine, and $10-15 for a cocktail at most bars and clubs in Charleston. Prices may be higher at more upscale venues.
Cover charges: Some nightclubs in Charleston may charge a cover fee, typically between $5-10.
Taxis and rideshares: Fares vary based on distance and time, but a short ride within the city center will typically cost around $10-15.
Best Bars in Charleston
Located on the popular King Street, Proof is a small yet sophisticated cocktail bar favored by locals and tourists alike. Known for its carefully curated cocktail menu and cozy ambiance, this bar exudes warmth and elegance. The friendly and knowledgeable bartenders at Proof can craft anything from classic cocktails to modern creations, guaranteeing an unforgettable experience with each visit.
2. The Rooftop Bar at Vendue
Offering unparalleled views of the Charleston skyline and harbor, The Vendue Rooftop Bar is the perfect place to enjoy a drink while watching the sunset. Their extensive drink menu features an array of wines, cocktails, and local beers, while their light bites menu offers a selection of delicacies perfect for sharing. The stunning views coupled with a relaxed and friendly atmosphere make this a must-visit venue when in Charleston.
3. The Rarebit
This vibrant spot on King Street is renowned for its famous Moscow Mules and classic American comfort food. The Rarebit provides a lively and welcoming atmosphere where you can enjoy a relaxed meal and drinks with friends. From the classic decor to the friendly service, everything about The Rarebit will make you want to stay all night.
4. The Belmont
Step into the stylish world of The Belmont, a film-noir-inspired bar that oozes sophistication. Here you can expect to find an extensive menu of creative cocktails, an array of fine wines, and a selection of small bites designed to complement your drinks perfectly. The ambiance is intimate and chic, making it the ideal spot for a romantic date night or a sophisticated evening out.
5. The Gin Joint
Nestled in the heart of Charleston’s historic district, The Gin Joint is a must-visit for cocktail enthusiasts. This cozy, speakeasy-style bar is known for its ‘Bartender’s Choice’ menu – simply pick two adjectives from their list, and the bartenders will craft a unique cocktail based on your preferences.
Best Nightclubs in Charleston
1. Republic Garden & Lounge
This upscale venue is well known for offering a unique nightlife experience. Early in the evening, Republic Garden has the atmosphere of a relaxed lounge, but as the night progresses, it transforms into a pulsating nightclub with live music and DJ sets. With its stunning decor, VIP areas, and top-notch service, it’s the go-to place for those seeking a luxurious night out.
Offering a versatile nightlife experience, Trio Club has three distinct levels – a lively dance floor, a chilled-out lounge, and a beautiful rooftop terrace. Each level offers a unique atmosphere, allowing you to choose your preferred vibe. From high-energy music to relaxing lounge tunes, Trio Club caters to everyone’s taste, ensuring an unforgettable evening of fun and dancing.
3. INK Rooftop & Lounge
Perched atop the luxurious Hotel Bennett, INK Rooftop & Lounge offers a sophisticated and upscale nightlife experience. With stunning panoramic views of Charleston’s historic skyline, this rooftop venue provides a glamorous setting for enjoying handcrafted cocktails and socializing. The chic and modern decor, coupled with live DJ sets, creates an elegant ambiance that attracts both locals and tourists looking to indulge in a luxurious rooftop experience. INK Rooftop & Lounge is the perfect spot to unwind, sip on expertly crafted drinks, and take in the breathtaking views of the city below.
If you’re a fan of live music, you’ll love the Commodore. This jazz and funk-inspired club is the perfect place to move and groove to the sounds of local and touring bands. With its vintage decor and intimate setting, the Commodore offers a unique and unforgettable nightlife experience.
5. Deco Nightclub
As Charleston’s largest dance club, Deco promises a night of fun and non-stop dancing. The club features a spacious dance floor and a state-of-the-art sound system, providing the perfect backdrop for their guest DJs to keep the crowd moving until the early hours.
Charleston Nightlife Conclusion
The Charleston nightlife scene mirrors the city itself: a mix of historic charm and modern vibrancy, with a distinctive southern touch. There’s no shortage of fun to be had once the sun sets. From cozy local pubs to high-energy dance clubs, this dynamic city has something for every taste.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, don’t miss the chance to explore the very best of Charleston’s nightlife. Armed with this comprehensive guide, you’re ready to navigate the city’s lively evening scene and create lasting memories in the heart of the Lowcountry. So, get ready to sip, savor, and dance your way through the enchanting city of Charleston.