Where to stay when visiting Charleston?

It is generally recommended that on your first visit - especially a short one - it is best to try to stay in the Historic District of Charleston. This is the heart of Chareston and you will feel immersed in the culture.  Years ago, some might say that the "optimal" Historic District was below Calhoun Street, whereas the official Historic district includes a larger portion of the peninsula than that one area. Especially in the last several years there is a lot happening North of Calhoun and you will be missing some great opportunities if you do not include Mazyck-Wraggsboro in and around upper King Street in your search for lodging and fine dining. 

 Here is a comparison - with pros and cons - of the various lodging choices in and near Charleston.

CHARLESTON - The Historic District - the area of downtown Charleston roughly below Morris Street.

Types of Lodging - Hotels, Bed and Breakfast, Inns, Owner Rentals

Prices - will vary but one can expect the Historic District to be the most expensive type of lodging in the area, due to the convenience and quality of the lodging.

Parking - a car is not necessary for a quick trip to Charleston.  For 3 or more days, guests may want to visit some of the local plantations, beaches, and other sites, and bus tours are available.  Overnight parking in local garages is relatively expensive - $10 to $30 - visitors should ask about parking fees when making room reservations.

Safety - Though crime on visitors is uncommon, visitors should be aware of their environment at all times as you would in any city.  Walk in well-lit areas at night, ask the concierge which areas to avoid; there are few.

PROS: overall beauty, convenience to city, to historic sites, to restaurants.   CONS: Parking is expensive, not as convenient to beaches, must drive or take tour of plantations

MT. PLEASANT - Suburb just north of the Ravenel Bridge (the large "twin diamond" suspension bridge over the Cooper River)

Types of Lodging - Hotels, Motels, Inns

Prices - range from about $80/nt in a motel to around $250/nt at more modern, well-situated hotels during busy holidays

Parking - free

Safety - Usually not an issue but do not leave valuables in view in your car or you are likely to get a police citation.  Cars do sometimes get broken into, as they do in any city.

PROS: proximity to Charleston; proximity to beaches and public parks; proximity to upscale suburban restaurants; proximitiy to Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre (the area's largest upscale shopping center);   Convenient public transportation b/w Mt. Pleasant and the Visitor's Center in Charleston;  CONS: "Rush hour" traffic can be slow; construction on local roads can create delays.

WEST ASHLEY - Suburb just south of Charleston along Hwy 17

Types of Lodging - Motels

Prices - range from about $80/nt to around $200/nt

Parking - free

Safety - Generally not an issue but care should be taken at night.  Not advisable to cross Hwy 17 on foot.

PROS: proximity to Charleston;  CONS: numerous traffic lights and some traffic slows travel through West Ashley.  Heavy traffic on Hwy 17 during rush hours or if there is an accident.

NORTH CHARLESTON - Area near the airport and the convention center.  Note: other areas are not recommended and will not be covered on this page. Not all areas of N. Charleston are safe.

Types of Lodging - Hotels and Motels

Prices - range from about $70/nt to around $250/nt

Parking - free

Safety - Generally not ann issue but care should be taken at night. Not advisable to go outside of the Tanger Outlet or Convention Center area.

PROS: proximity to the Convention Center; can be cost-effective.  Convenient to airport for very early or late flights.  CONS: Very heavy traffic during rush hours (morning & evening),  such as sitting in traffic for an hour or more.  Inconvenient to drive in to the city or out to the beaches; nothing recommended in the area at night.  Traffic into the city from N. Charleston can be slow-going for about an hour in the morning and about 2 hours in the evening for the ride home. North Charleston does allow smoking in area restaurants at this writing and is the only local area to do so.

BEACHES - there are basically 5 area beaches - Folly, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island.

Types of Lodging - Folly and IOP have limited short-term rentals. The other beach areas have generally 1-week minimums though owners can be contacted for exceptions.

Prices - range from $80/nt to $$$

Safety - Folly, Sullivan's, IOP, Kiawah and Seabrook are all considered safe, areas.

FOR MORE INFORMATION - see the Trip Advisor page on "Which beach is best?"