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6 Top Shopping Spots in Charleston
With world-class antiquing and edgy designer boutiques, Charleston is a shopper's dream.
With about 300 daily vendors, the Charleston City Market is a popular attraction for tourists.(Getty Images)
Charleston, South Carolina, offers plenty of eye candy for lovers of architecture, gardens and history, but those enticed by window displays won’t be disappointed either. Widely regarded as one of the Southeast’s best shopping destinations, Charleston’s cosmopolitan side shines along King Street and in other notable places where an array of unique boutiques, eclectic gift shops and brand-name stores beckons buyers. U.S. News asked in-the-know local experts for tips on where to find the best places to shop.
Since Charleston’s earliest days, King Street has served as the peninsula’s main commercial thoroughfare. Today, along its bluestone sidewalks lined with 18th- and 19th-century storefronts, you’ll find everything from Apple King Street and the Gap to antique dealers, jewelers, swanky home decor studios, bridal boutiques and custom designer menswear stores.
“The King Street corridor is for sure the best shopping in Charleston,” says Elliott Wright, assistant innkeeper and concierge at the Wentworth Mansion, noting its robust mix of stores. An added bonus: On the second Sunday of every month, King Street is blocked to traffic so that locals and visitors of all ages can enjoy live music, alfresco dining and shopping galore.
[Read: The Best Charleston Tours.]
At the southern end toward the Battery, Lower King (located between Broad Street and Market Street) is home to many of Charleston’s celebrated antique shops, locally owned clothing boutiques and art galleries. George C. Birlant and Co., a King Street stalwart since 1922, is a don’t-miss emporium of silver, estate finery, old clocks and antiques of all sorts. Ibu Movement, while locally owned, features global textiles and garments handcrafted by women artisans around the world, and RTW Charleston, another local boutique, caters to style-conscious women.
Middle King (between Market Street and Calhoun Street) is referred to as the fashion district. There, you’ll find more national apparel and accessory stores, like H&M and Banana Republic, with some local retailers in the mix as well. Worthwhile and Hampden are two fashion-forward spots unique to Charleston. And stop by Charleston mainstay M. Dumas & Sons for excellent menswear, and the century-old Croghan’s Jewel Box for fine jewelry and gifts.
Upper King (between Calhoun Street and Spring Street) is known for its design and decor shops, from the national brand West Elm to lighting specialists Ro Sham Beaux and Circa Lighting. But it's fun to wander through the surprising mix of other stores, including local favorite Blue Bicycle Books, and numerous restaurants and bars.
The Shops at Belmond Charleston Place
Although parts of it are officially on King Street, The Shops at Belmond Charleston Place is a self-enclosed upscale mini-mall tucked into the lobby level of the luxury Belmond Charleston Place complex. Its more than two dozen high-end stores include Gucci, Louis Vuitton, L’Occitane and Calypso St. Barth.
Charleston City Market
Callie's Hot Little Biscuit(Jason Stemple)
With about 300 daily vendors in its historic Great Hall and open-air sheds, the Charleston City Market is a shopping smorgasbord.
[Read: The Best Charleston Walking Tours.]
Mount Pleasant’s Old Village and Pitt Street
Out of Hand(Charlotte Elizabeth)
Across the Cooper River in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village, shoppers will find a quaint hub of fun clothing and home decor shops. Pitt Street, Old Village’s tiny commercial core and home to hand-spun milkshakes from Pitt Street Pharmacy’s classic soda fountain, is a postcardworthy streetscape, but you’ll want to do more than stroll and window-shop.
[Read: The Best Charleston Ghost Tours.]
At Out of Hand, you’ll find a line of designer womenswear and artful accessories and gifts. Next door, you'll find a flower shop and an organic cosmetics store that are owned by the same company. The Green Shutter just a few doors down offers antiques, art, jewelry and gifts; the nearby Charleston Artist Collective showcases original local art at reasonable prices; and Elizabeth Stuart Design carries a delightful mix of curated furniture, decor, designer jewelry and specialty gift items.
Mount Pleasant Towne Centre
Mount Pleasant Towne Centre(Courtesy of Mount Pleasant Towne Centre)
For those looking for more of a one-stop shopping experience, Mount Pleasant Towne Centre is about a 25-minute drive from downtown. It offers a wide selection of local and national retail stores, including Belk, Old Navy, Barnes & Noble, Rack Room Shoes and Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as restaurants and a movie theater.
Tanger Outlets(Courtesy of Tanger Outlets)
What Tanger Outlets lacks in local character it makes up for in savings. Located in North Charleston near the airport, about a half-hour drive from downtown Charleston, the shopping mall has more than 100 outlet and factory stores of name-brand apparel, accessory, footwear and specialty retailers.
"Guests often detour to Tanger Outlets, right by the airport, on their way in or out of town," says Devon Brusseau, concierge at The Restoration.
To experience more of what Charleston has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.
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