Charleston is arguably one of the most romantic cities in the US... after all, there have been no less than TWO Nicholas Sparks movies filmed here, and it’s also where Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively tied the knot. So, when it comes to fun and creative date night ideas, you’ve got lots of options in town. Here are the best of the best.
Attention All Wine Drinkers: This Is the Pasta You've Been Waiting For
Various locations Since brunch is definitely the best meal of the week, it stands to reason that it’d also be the best meal to share. Consider a themed option like Puppies & Pints Brunch at Bay Street Biergarten or “This Brunch is B-A-N-A-N-A-S” at Cannon Green (themes change monthly) -- or, if you don’t want to wait until Sunday, head over to Millers All Day or Daps Breakfast Imbibe to get your brunch on at any time during the week. Mimosas are optional, but not really.
Charleston Harbor You’re not in high school anymore, so your date ideas shouldn’t be either -- trade in those go-karts for a speedboat! Charleston Speedboat Adventures is a great way to get your adrenaline pumping and bond together out on the water; you’ll take turns driving a two-person speedboat in the harbor and learn more about Charleston’s history along the way.
Various locations Summertime means that local farms are harvesting their produce like crazy. As such, Charleston’s Farmers Markets are in full swing, offering everything from fresh produce and local handmade pastas to artisan crafts and wares. Most of the farmers markets around the city have live music, food trucks, and entertainment, so even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll still have a great time!
Westside The Charleston Riverdogs have officially kicked off their 2018 season in the Holy City, and since it’s also their 75th birthday, they’re celebrating with a ton of promotions that practically scream date night. Stop by on Tuesdays for Live & Local Pop Up Dinners, featuring local chefs, or turn up on Thursday during $1 beer night. Either way, with tickets starting at just $8, it’s an inexpensive way to spend a summer night.
Grab a paddle and get out on the water
Various locations With all the rivers, oceans, and boat launches in the city, there’s no denying that Charleston is a dream location for couples who like being out on the water together. Take your beach day one step further by renting (or buying) a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or canoe, and get paddling out on the water.
Take in a summer festival
Various locations Because it gets so hot during the summer, a number of festivals held throughout the city thankfully migrate indoors so you don’t melt. Regardless of whether their inside or outside, though, a few festivals you’ll definitely want to keep on your radar are Rumfest on June 23, Charleston Margarita Festival on July 20, and Charleston Beer Week September 8-15.
James Island The couple that climbs together, stays together... or something like that. Either way, tackling the rock climbing wall at James Island County Park is a fun activity that’s perfect for every experience level, whether you’ve hiked Everest or can barely make it up the stairs. The endorphins your brain releases after you reach the top of the 50-foot wall will put you both in a good mood for whatever comes next.
North Charleston We don’t have to tell you that Charleston gets hot during the summer. On days when the heat feels like it’s too much to bear and you long for the chill of winter, you can take a mini-winter getaway to the Carolina Ice Palace. You can rent skates for just $3, or bring your own during public skating hours for a much-needed respite when it feels like Hades outside.
Various If you wanted to, you could pretty much find a trivia night every night of the week around town (what can we say, Charleston’s really into trivia). Mellow downtown does trivia on Sundays, Ms. Rose’s on Mondays, Tin Roof on Tuesdays, Famulari’s Brewpub on Wednesdays, and Frothy Beard on Thursdays. And don’t forget about themed trivia at Bay Street Biergarten, for something a little different!
Reenact The Notebook together
Various locations One of the two Nicholas Sparks flicks mentioned above, this quintessential chick flick filmed many of its key scenes in Charleston. Watch the movie to refresh your memory and then head out to see some of its key scenes IRL. See the full list here.
Downtown Charleston Whether you’re cuddling up in the dark watching the sea life in the Great Ocean Tank, mimicking the otters holding hands, or attending an after-hours event, visiting the aquarium can be the most fun you have with ocean creatures without actually getting in the water yourself (not to mention, there’s plenty of AC).
Various locations With over 20 different performing arts companies and theatres throughout Charleston, you can add a touch of culture to your date nights with a little live theatre. Everything from independently-produced plays to Broadway touring shows are represented, making it easier than ever to start that Playbill collection.
Ansonborough If you can think of anything more romantic than cooking a three-course dinner (with wine pairings) with your sweetheart in a 200-year-old historic house taught by a two-time winner of Chopped, (or special visiting celebrity chef) then let us know.
Various locations A trip to the spa is a luxurious and indulgent experience on your own, but getting a couple’s massage is the best way to practice self-care with a special someone. There are many different spas around the Holy City that offer everything from basic massages to the ultimate couples spa package, so do your research to find the perfect treatment for you.
West Ashley Featuring 110 acres of greenery, gardens, and free-roaming farm animals, Middleton Place is worth a visit for tourists and locals alike. You’ll have fun getting lost with your date in the many flower-lined paths and waterfront trails, and during the offseason you’ll feel like you have the entire grounds to yourself.
Mount Pleasant The USS Yorktown is one of Charleston’s most famous attractions, and for good reason. In addition to its rich history, your tour also affords you some of the most picturesque views of the Charleston Harbor, Arthur Ravenel Bridge, and downtown Charleston. Plan to bring a jacket in the winter months, as it does get a bit breezy on the flight deck (or use this as an opportunity to snuggle in public).
Various locations Walking tours are fun, but there’s something very French about taking a bike tour to explore the city with your significant other. Rent a couple of bikes from Holy Spokes bike share and follow one of these bike trail suggestions, or create your own for a one-of-a-kind afternoon.
Strike love into each other's hearts
Cannonborough The retro vibes at The Alley offer a twist to the traditional “meet for drinks” first date. For a little extra pizazz, stop by on Tuesday nights for $2 Tuesday and “light up the lanes” (basically Cosmic Bowling on acid). Just remember to BYOS (bring your own socks).
Drink some wine at a cat cafe
Ansonborough Pounce Cafe is the ideal place for couples to pair their love of animals with their love of wine. Book your visit ahead of time for a normal visit or one of their many events (like drag bingo, yoga, and more), and prepare for an overwhelming amount of cuteness. As a bonus, if you fall in love with one of the kitties on your visit, you can totally bring them home with you.
Channel your inner Sherlock & Watson
French Quarter Escape in 60 invites you and your date to take your armchair sleuthing off the couch and into the real world. Solving puzzles to get the clues you need to escape from your themed room -- a prison break, Davy Jones’ locker, or solving a kidnapping -- will keep you on your toes (and amaze you with how quickly an hour passes).
Find out if you share a sense of humor
Ansonborough It’s been proven that humor is one of the sexiest traits we seek in our partners, and there’s no surer way to keep your date laughing than with an improv show at Theatre 99. They offer shows every Wednesday (when tickets are just $5), Friday, and Saturday and even have improv classes if you want to take your humor skills up a notch.
Take a brewery tour
Various locations With over 25 craft breweries (with more on the way) in the Holy City, taking a brewery tour can be a unique way to explore the city. Pick a handful of breweries and do a DIY tour (don’t forget the DD!) or take a Booze & Cruise tour to see the best of what the city has to offer.
Sing along to Dueling Pianos
Mount Pleasant If you love singing along to ‘80s hits but find karaoke to be a little too intimidating, then Fill Piano Bar is the place for you. The songs in the Dueling Pianos show are crowdsourced from the audience every night, and the entire crowd sings along, which means nobody (including your date) will be able to tell that you’re tone deaf. Plan to stop by on Tuesdays for “Burger and Brewsday” where you can enjoy a burger and a pint for just $14.
Show your love through DIY crafts
Mount Pleasant AR Workshop in Mount Pleasant believes that the couple that crafts together stays together, and offers plenty of workshops throughout the winter months to keep you busy. Work together to create a project for your home (like wooden signs, trays, and lazy susans) that’ll give Pinterest a run for its money.
Learn how tea gets made
Wadmalaw Island Fun fact: Charleston is home to the only place in North America where tea is grown. A visit to the Charleston Tea Plantation starts with a drive beneath the Spanish-moss-draped oak trees out to Wadmalaw, and can include a trolley tour of the plantation, a lesson on how tea is made, and tea sampling in the gift shop.
West Ashley Voodoo Tiki Bar hosts drag bingo on the second Thursday of every month, and for a more open-minded and adventurous couple, it’s one of the most uproarious times you can have in the Holy City. There’s also a $5 special drink, the aptly named “Yaasss Queen” made with pineapple and rum, that’ll definitely get you in the mood... for bingo.
Do a wine and cheese tasting
Mount Pleasant Although there are a few different options for wine & cheese tasting in Charleston, Ardoa is arguably the most fun, as you get to pour your own wine from self-serving dispensers (like an adult soda fountain). Pair it with a build-your-own cheese and charcuterie board and authentic French desserts, and you’ve got a night worth talking about the next day.
Go park hopping
Various locations Charleston is home to a number of fantastic parks and gardens, so why not make a day of it by visiting different parks throughout the city? Start off at Charles Towne Landing in West Ashley, enjoy a late picnic lunch in Hampton Park, and finish the day with a sunset stroll along the Pitt Street bridge in Mount Pleasant to get in touch with nature.
Fall head over heels (through the air)
North Charleston Technically we should probably say “flip head over heels,” since Velocity Air Sports is packed with every kind of trampoline, ninja warrior obstacle, and foam pit you’ve ever dreamed of. You’ll be flipping and jumping and bouncing the night away with each other -- just maybe not the way you expected.
Take a distillery tour
North Charleston Charleston’s liquor scene has started to boom in recent years, and date night is the perfect time to take advantage of that. For starters, you can take a tour of Striped Pig’s distillery for a paltry $5 -- $10 if you’re paying for your date -- and try some of its signature brands, which range from spiced rum to vodka to moonshine.
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Sydney Gallimore is a food writer from Charleston who frequently takes herself on dates around Charleston to places like Bar Mash and Terrace Theatre. Follow her on Instagram @QueenOfTheFoodAge
Myrtle Beach is known for being a tourist’s paradise, complete with water parks, neon lights, and enough chain restaurants to make a mall food court blush. But just because you’re visiting the tourist capital of South Carolina doesn’t mean there aren’t hidden, local gems to visit while you’re in town -- here’s a rundown of things in Myrtle Beach that are actually worth doing.
From Los Angeles to San Diego: Every Pit Stop You Need To Make Along The Way
With zero humidity and palm trees in the rearview mirror, cruising down the Pacific coast to San Diego from Los Angeles is summer. Of course, LA traffic can make it less cruiseworthy and more bumper-to-bumper. But with authentic taquerias, whale watching, and iconic surf breaks, there’s a quintessential SoCal pit stop just about every mile of the ride to distract you. Here’s seven summer getaways you can easily hit on the way to San Diego -- just don’t forget the sunscreen and a swimsuit.
Everything You Absolutely Must Do in Hilton Head This Summer
Located just 98 miles (or two hours) from Charleston, Hilton Head is a quiet, quaint beach town beloved by families and retirees alike. Named after Captain William Hilton, who founded the island in 1663, it’s been a national vacation destination since the late 1960s, and still retains much of its original, small-town charm -- you just need to know where to look for it. So, here’s where to look for it: