Travel

Actually Cool Things To Do in Charleston During Quarantine

There are still so many options.

Normally, we share all the cool events and attractions you can take out-of-town guests to experience an unforgettable visit to Charleston. However, since the coronavirus pandemic has kept most of us housebound (for the time being), we’ve decided to put a list together of all the cool ways you can experience the best of what the Holy City has to offer while staying safe. From Zoom workouts to virtual art gallery tours, to all the different restaurants still doing takeout and delivery, here are some great ways to practice social distancing while still connecting with the outside world.

Take a tour of Charleston with us

In this episode of Gatekeepers, a local food editor shows Thrillist what Charleston’s all about and some of the best things to do in her city. We tuck into blue crab at Nana’s and catch live music at Mini Bar, sample Charleston’s cocktail scene at Proof and get into a high-speed boat chase (OK, not in that order), slurp down fresh South Carolina oysters, and more.

Take a virtual swim with local wildlife from home

Free
The SC Aquarium is home to over 5,000 animals, and every week on their Facebook page, SCA is taking you on a tour of South Carolina’s wildlife population. From the Piedmont to the salt marshes to the Sea Turtle Recovery center to the two-story Great Ocean Tank, there’s always something new to discover. 

Explore the local art scene with a virtual museum tour

Free
If you haven’t had a chance to visit the recently remodeled Gibbes Museum of Art, there’s no better time than quarantine to take a virtual stroll through the museum’s many exhibits. While getting lost in the artwork is a calming distraction in and of itself, you can also learn more about the art you’re seeing by pairing your walkthrough with audio from the Gibbes’ mobile app.

Go for a walk on the beach

Free
There’s no denying that one of Charleston’s major attractions, especially during the warmer months, are its many area beaches only a short drive away. Plan to practice safety while at the beach -- both by applying sunscreen and maintaining at least six feet of distance between yourself and other beachgoers. Try less crowded beaches like Morris Island at the mouth of Charleston harbor or Edisto Island about an hour south of the city.

Scope out the cool murals around town

Free
Between the Shepard Fairey murals, David Boatwright’s restorations, and Patch Whiskey’s many colorful acid monsters, there are a ton of street artists who’ve left their mark in Charleston. You can find colorful street art everywhere from downtown to West Ashley to Mount Pleasant (and even on the trains that run through the port). Taking a drive to explore the various murals is a great excuse to get out of the house for a couple of hours, and the unique artistry makes for a great backdrop for an Instagram post. 

Stroll along The Battery

Free
The Battery is the edge of Charleston’s peninsula downtown, and includes a sidewalk (which used to be the walls of the city) that stretches roughly from Tradd Street to Water Street. You’ll get fabulous views of the harbor (if you squint, you can even see Fort Sumter), and the area’s also adjacent to White Point Gardens, a city park with a gazebo and old cannons throughout. The sidewalk is wide enough that you should be able to enjoy the view while still keeping a safe distance from other people out for some fresh air, but maybe wear a mask during your walk, just in case.

Walk "The Bridge"

Free
One of Charleston’s most iconic sites is the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge (aka the Cooper River Bridge), which connects downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The spires adorn everything from clothing to local business logos, and are the star of the Cooper River Bridge Run every year. Make sure you bring some good walking shoes and set aside an hour or so to trek across the bridge. While the walkway is wide enough at most places to social distance, it can get kind of crowded up at the top of the bridge, so be sure to exercise caution and wear a mask. Going early in the morning is one strategy for ensuring social distance.

Tour some VERY old cemeteries

Free
Sure, the idea of touring a cemetery might seem a little macabre, but Charleston’s cemeteries date back to before the U.S. was a thing, and feature the final resting place of prominent American figures -- so it’s actually pretty cool, in addition to being creepy. Plus, The Unitarian Church graveyard features a relaxing, tree-lined path between King Street and Archdale that’s super picturesque. With lots of winding walkways, you should be able to get out and explore while still maintaining proper distancing.

Order from some of Charleston's best restaurants

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While Governor McMaster has declared restaurant dining rooms and patios officially open, not all restaurants are opening their doors as normal, and a lot of us might not feel comfortable heading back out into the real world yet. You can still order takeout and delivery from many of Charleston's favorite restaurants, like breakfast from Baguette Magic, lunch from Zero Restaurant, or dinner from Jackrabbit Filly

Wander through the Old Village and take photos at the Pitt Street Bridge

Free
If you’re sick of walking around your neighborhood for the hundredth time, consider going out to explore different areas of town for a little fresh air exercise. The Old Village in Mount Pleasant is somewhat off the beaten path -- in that you might not even know it was there if you weren’t looking for it -- and was recently featured in Netflix’s series The Outer Banks. See some of the iconic filming locations, and then take a walk down the Pitt Street Bridge, a fun hidden gem that’s just as picturesque as Cooper River.

Explore the city by bike

Free-$
Charleston isn’t necessarily the most bike-friendly city in the world, but we’re working on it! Going for a bike ride is a classic way to see some of the city’s iconic architecture, while giving you a chance to stretch your legs and enjoy some of the early summer weather. This is a totally free adventure if you’ve got enough two-wheelers for your group, but if not, don’t fret: you can rent bikes from Holy Spokes for only $20 a day, just be sure to BYOCW (bring your own Clorox wipes) and use plenty of hand sanitizer before and after riding.

Appreciate some local craft beer

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With over 25 local breweries in the county, Charleston is serious about its craft beer culture. While a majority of the city’s breweries are closed for hanging out, you can still get growlers and cans of your favorite local brews to go or out on the patio at many of the breweries around town, like Holy City Brewing, Frothy Beard, or Revelry Brewing. After all, you wouldn’t want them to have to pour all that unsold beer down the drain, now would you?

Drive through a farmers market

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While most of the Charleston area farmers markets are closed for the time being, the Sunday Brunch Farmers Market is offering locavores a chance to drive-thru shop with some of its most popular vendors. Order your wares ahead of time, and stop by on Sunday to pick up your goods without having to get out of your car. 

Groove to an online live jazz show

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Enjoy the calming sounds of live jazz and support local musicians and Forte Jazz Lounge by buying tickets to a virtual show. Plus, once things finally get back to normal, everyone who donated will be invited to a special big blow out party with the Joe Clarke Big Band.

Have a photoshoot in front of the pineapple fountain

Free
The pineapple fountain is iconic of Charleston for a reason: it’s a gorgeous symbol of southern hospitality, and a must-see for those who’ve never been. Waterfront Park in general is a fun place to visit (as long as the weather is nice), and with the green marsh grass and brilliant blue of the harbor as that fountain’s backdrop, it’s a scene that’s practically begging to be used for a photoshoot. Just be sure to socially distance from others who are ready for their close-up.

Texture Design Co.
Texture Design Co.

Let out some stress with some Charleston-themed coloring pages

Free
It’s been scientifically proven that coloring can reduce stress and boost creativity, and what better image to color than scenes from our very own city? Texture Design Co. is temporarily offering their 5-page illustrated coloring book, “inspired by the architecture and floral designs of Charleston, South Carolina” for free! Download the PDF here

Take an online art class

Free-$
If you’re not one to strictly color inside the lines, there are lots of art classes you can take to start honing your inner Van Gogh. Use supplies you already have at home, or order them from a small or local retailer (Artist & Craftsman Supply is a good one). Redux Studios does online drawing, painting, and collaging workshops. There are also a few local companies on Facebook doing live painting classes (similar to those sip and paint classes you went to back when we were allowed to go places). Whatever you choose, let your creativity fly free 

Alleviate some stress with a virtual meditation

Free-$
Right now is a very stressful time for all of us, and it’s important to take some time to calm our minds and try to relax. Guided meditation is a great way to do that, there are a few local companies and instructors who are leading virtual meditations every week. Classes tend to be very affordable (from free to about $10 per class), and it’s a great way to recenter yourself and alleviate some anxiety.

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Get off the couch with a virtual workout

Free-$
While getting out for a walk around the neighborhood is an easy way to get your blood flowing, it’s always nice to switch up the kind of exercise you’re getting, in order to keep things fresh and exciting. Local companies are offering virtual classes in everything from yoga to barre to sweat therapy to aerial fitness to personal training to going on a virtual jog. If you’ve been interested in trying new fitness trends, this is a great time to start exploring classes.

Sharpen your home bartending skills

Free
Don’t get us a wrong, grabbing an ice-cold White Claw out of the fridge is great, but if you’re missing going to some of Charleston’s best cocktail bars, maybe it’s time to learn how to mix a couple fancy cocktails at home. Every week, Bottles in Mount Pleasant is going live with some of the Holy City’s best bartenders as they show you how to craft a signature cocktail to sip on until your favorite bar opens back up for business. Just be sure to leave a virtual tip after your free class. 

Take a virtual tour of Charleston

Free
Voted as one of the best tour companies in Charleston, Bulldog Tours is giving locals and Chuckophiles (a word we just made up) a taste of the Holy City with virtual tours on its Facebook page. They post live videos with their tour guides telling stories of the city, as well as pre-recorded videos covering topics like the “history of alcohol in Charleston,” “Gullah ghost stories,” and “The legend of the Lizard Man” among many others.

Attend a virtual concert at the Pour House

Free
The Pour House is kicking off the first virtual concert of their “PO HOUSE IN YO HOUSE” series, a two-night streaming event, with Doom Flamingo. Saturday night will be a traditional concert format, while Sunday will be a more lighthearted dance party. The best part is, you can dance like nobody's watching, because no one will be watching, so feel free to really let loose. While the stream is free, donations are accepted and will be split between the band and the Pour House staff. 

Take in a drive-in movie

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Drive-in movies were once all the rage, and thanks to coronavirus, they’re now making a comeback in the Lowcountry. Terrace Theaters is showing double features every night for just $28 per car. Purchase tickets and concessions online ahead of time, and then set your car’s FM radio to the station to have the movie’s sound pumped in through your car’s speakers. You’ll have to stay in your car the whole time (except for restroom use), but it’s a fun way to at least get out of the house for a few hours. Spaces are limited, so be sure to purchase your tickets in advance! 

Show off your trivia knowledge

Free
The Charleston County Public Library brings a virtual trivia night to your Facebook screens every Thursday at 8pm. Gather a group of friends via text, Zoom, Facetime, or whatever application suits your fancy, and elect a scorekeeper for your group. There are three rounds, with questions getting increasingly difficult each round. Come up with a fun team name and pinky promise not to use Google (you are after all only playing for bragging rights) and have some fun using your brain for a bit. 

Take a virtual improv class

Free
The very funny people at Theatre 99 are partnering with Yelp for a Zoom-based Intro to Improv class. Whether you’ve been intimidated by the idea of improv in the past, or just too busy to fit one of their intro classes into your normal schedule, this class is a low stakes way to introduce yourself to the basics. Owner Greg Tavares will introduce those with zero experience to the basics during this one-hour class. Improv techniques are applicable to lots of different parts of your life, and it’s a fun way to add a little levity to this dark time.

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Sydney Gallimore is a food writer from Charleston, SC whose favorite thing to do in Charleston is eat. Follow along with her nom-ventures on her Instagram @QueenOfTheFoodAge.