Charleston Splurge Vs Save
Charleston is home to some of the most decadent high-end experiences in the South and it also boasts plenty of experiences that won’t empty out your wallet, either.
The best part? These experiences aren’t mutually exclusive of each other. You’ll find that some of the best restaurants, hotels, and experiences in the Holy City are also the most affordable.
Our Charleston splurge versus save list will help you discover how to budget your time and money on your trip to the Holy City.
If you’re dying to splurge on a Charleston Hotel, there are plenty of super-soft pillows to rest your head at night.
But if you’re trying to strike a balance between high-brow and affordable? We recommend staying at one of these hotels for a night or two and saving your hard-earned dollars by rounding out your trip at one of the hotels on our “save” list.
If you have money to burn on your Charleston vacation, there are plenty of high-end hotels in the city.
From five-star hotels, like Charleston Place and the Dewberry, to high-end hotels that offer amenities like spa packages and fine dining experiences, you’ll find it all in Charleston.
But if you really want to get a great experience that embraces Charleston’s history, we recommend staying at the Wentworth Mansion or the Planters Inn for the night.
The Planters Inn is has been in business since 1803 and is the spot where Planter’s punch (a rum cocktail) was invented. The Wentworth Mansion was built in 1886 and was once home to the cotton merchant, Francis Silas Rodgers.
Of course, you don’t need to spend $500-plus a night to get a great experience in Charleston. There aren’t many budget hotels in Charleston, but we do have a few moderately priced ones that are located close to Downtown and feature beautiful designs.
Some of our favorite moderately priced hotels include:
The Ryder Hotel is a posh boutique hotel that’s situated in the heart of historic Downtown Charleston. Rooms start at around $200 a night.
The Inn at Middleton Place is a three-star hotel with views of the Ashley River and minimalist rooms that were designed to embrace the surrounding natural setting. Rooms start at a little over $100 a night.
If you’re planning a solo Charleston trip, you can always book a bed at the Not So Hostel, where you may just meet some other travelers going it alone. Rooms start at $90 a night.
Some of the best restaurants in Charleston are also the ones that won’t break your budget. Charleston is truly a city that proves, “VIP isn’t always better.”
Even if you’re in the city to spend some cash, you’ll want to add a few of the restaurants on our save list to your itinerary.
We recommend booking one big splurge meal during your trip. Some of the most high-end dining experiences can be found at Halls Chophouse and Zero Restaurant + Bar (the latter is found in the Zero George Hotel, another accommodations splurge!).
No matter whether you’re trying to save a few dollars or not, the following restaurants must make their way onto your must-try list:
One of the best parts about visiting Charleston is that you can get an equally amazing experience at both our high-end eateries and our budget restaurants.
The good news about Charleston is that most of our activities are at least somewhat affordable. Of course, you could hire a private sailboat for a day or book a VIP tour of the city, but you’ll still want to enjoy Charleston (during part of your trip at least) the way the locals do: on foot.
You can’t visit this city without wandering its cobblestone streets, enjoying a carriage ride, or stopping at the local historic market.
Charleston Boat Rides
Charleston is a city surrounded by water. To the east, we have the Charleston Harbor and to the west, we have the Ashley River.
What better way to enjoy Charleston than to see the city by boat? Luckily, there are several ways to get out on the water. The best Charleston boat rides range from high-end to DIY experiences.
A great way to see Charleston from the water while still staying within your budget is the Charleston Water Taxi. While the water taxi is primarily a way to get around Charleston, you can also expect to see all of the sights you’d expect on many of these other tours. It’s even common to spot dolphins and other wildlife while on the water taxi. Though the boat ride isn’t narrated by a guide, you’ll still see all of the main highlights from these smaller vessels.
If you’re looking for a VIP boat ride, you can always book a private tour aboard a sailboat or schooner. Are you more of a scrappy boater? There are several companies that offer kayak, paddleboat, and canoe rentals.
You can even book a paddleboat sip and spin beer boat tour!
If you’re planning a budget trip to Charleston, we’ve got good some news for you. There’s no need to rent a car if you’re planning on staying in the city’s historic downtown district.
Charleston is a very walkable and bikeable city. Explore downtown on foot, and take a rideshare or taxi to get to the beach or Sullivan’s Island. Or, bike across the Ravenel Bridge to get across the Cooper River to Mt. Pleasant and Patriot’s Point.
There are also plenty of high-end ways to explore Charleston, like a private horse-and-carriage ride or a private tour.
Yes, we’re definitely biased, but we happen to believe that our Charleston Walking tours are both a splurge and a save.
Our public tours will show you the best Charleston has to offer and are worth the price of admission. Also, our ticket prices won’t take up too much of your budget.
Learn about Charleston’s storied history on our Charleston History Tour or visit some of the prettiest streets in the city on our Alleys and Hidden Passages Tour. Both tell the stories of some of the city’s most elite residents (both past and present) as well as our unsung heroes.
But if you’re just dying to spend some cash while you’re here, we recommend booking a private tour of the Holy City — and possibly a day trip to one of the other beautiful nearby destinations, such as Savannah.
What are your favorite activities to splurge on in Charleston? Which budget activities are on your “must-do” list? Let us know on Facebook!