Travel

30 Perfect Charleston Dates to Go On Right Now

Since celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, Alton Brown, and Tara Lipinski keep flocking to Charleston to get married, it is clear that Charleston is one of the most romantic cities in the US. And even though it’s too chilly to go for a swim in the ocean, there are still plenty of ways to heat up your love life during Charleston’s winter months. Whether you’re married, in an LDR, or looking for a fun first date idea, Charleston has plenty of options to make date night an activity to look forward to.

Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room
Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room | Stars Restaurant - Rooftop Bar & Grill Room

Shout your love from a rooftop bar

Multiple locations
If you’re the kind of couple whose love can’t be contained indoors, you should head right on up to one of the many rooftop bars and restaurants around the city to let yourself shine. An afternoon in the open air is the stuff fairy tales are made of, and with views of downtown, the Charleston harbor, Shem Creek, or the beach, the rooftops in Charleston are the perfect place to mix up your traditional date night.

Millers All Day
Millers All Day | Millers All Day

Grab brunch together

Multiple locations
Since brunch is definitely the best meal of the week, it stands to reason that it would also be the best meal to share. Consider a themed option at Bay Street Biergarten -- 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.

Throw some axes

Various locations
If you’re looking for a date night ax-perience unlike any other, you should definitely give axe throwing a shot. It’s a fun, unique activity that requires a bit of hand-eye-coordination and doubles as a fun workout, too. Charleston has two different axe-throwing companies to choose from, but the mechanics of the event are relatively similar at both places: throw axe, hit target, have fun.

Snuggle under the lights

Various locations
With the holidays comes holiday light displays throughout the lowcountry, and few things are more romantic than snuggling up under twinkling lights with your sweetie. Whether you choose to battle the crowds at the James Island County Park Lights, enjoy a little something different at Magnolia’s Chinese Lantern holiday display, or just twirl around under the Francis Marion tree, there are plenty of festive opportunities to enjoy the holiday season. 

BYOS (bring your own shucker) to an oyster roast

Various locations
Winter is prime oyster time, and since oysters are aphrodisiacs, you’ll definitely want to grab some gloves and get to shuckin’ (if you know what we mean). Popular events include the Charleston Oyster Social at Bowens Island on November 24, the Deck The Hall Oyster Roast at Drayton Hall on December 7th, and Lowcountry Oyster Festival on January 26. Keep your eyes peeled, because during the winter months, there’s practically an oyster roast every weekend!

Reenact The Notebook together

Various locations
One of the two Nicholas Sparks flicks filmed in Charleston, this quintessential chick flick features many of Charleston’s landmarks throughout the film. Watch the movie to refresh your memory and then head out to see some of its key scenes IRL. See the full list here.

Go for dinner and a movie (at the same time)

Mount Pleasant
Dinner followed by a movie has always been the go-to date activity, but Cinebarre in Mount Pleasant mixes things up a bit by letting you enjoy your dinner and movie simultaneously. Watch a new release -- get started on your Oscar checklist, maybe? -- and dig into some burgers, pizzas, and cocktails (all with movie-themed names, of course) during your movie.

Take in a winter festival

Various locations
Just because the temperatures have dipped below 80 degrees doesn’t mean Charleston will stop partying! Festival season is in full swing, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy food, drink, and entertainment in the Holy City. Popular events include the Shrimp and Grits Festival on November 9, the Taste of Hutson Alley on November 14, the Lowcountry Hoedown on December 7, and the Charleston Jazz Festival starting January 23. And tickets to spring festivals are on sale and selling out, so get your Charleston Wine + Food Festival tickets ASAP!

Shop local at a farmers’ market

Various locations
The summer harvest might be over, but that won’t stop the farmers markets in Charleston from bringing you local produce, meats, pasta, and artisan goods! While the West Ashley, North Charleston, and Mount Pleasant markets are on hiatus until the spring, the downtown farmers market stays open through the end of December for their holiday market. The Johns Island farmers market is open year-round, with plenty of goodies and entertainment for all to enjoy, and the Sunday Brunch Farmers’ Market on James Island is also a great year-round option.

The Climbing Wall at James Island County Park
The Climbing Wall at James Island County Park | The Climbing Wall at James Island County Park

Defeat the climbing wall at James Island County Park

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.

Battle for trivia night glory around town

Various locations
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!

Wander with the fishes at the South Carolina Aquarium

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).

Experience the magic of live theater

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.

Take a cooking class taught by nationally-recognized chefs

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.

Get a couple’s massage

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.

Get lost among the flowers at Middleton Place

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.

Enjoy the views atop the USS Yorktown

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).

Holy Spokes Charleston Bike Share
Holy Spokes Charleston Bike Share | Holy Spokes Charleston Bike Share

Take a DIY Bike Tour

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.

AR Workshop Mt. Pleasant
AR Workshop Mt. Pleasant | AR Workshop Mt. Pleasant

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.

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.

Go on a speedboat adventure

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.

Sign up here for our daily Charleston email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

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.