Living in Charlotte, NC, Charleston is just a skip and a hop away. Whenever I’m getting restless, my (incredibly gracious and patient) hubby and I load up the car with Isabella and Penelope, our bags packed for a quick overnight trip, and hit the road!
If you’ve never been to Charleston, SC, let me paint you a quick picture. Historic colonial buildings, the smell of salty ocean air, huge angel oak trees and luscious green parks, delectable eats, quaint shops, beautiful old churches, hidden gardens, southern charm, horse-drawn carriages, and A WHOLE LOTTA PUPPIES!
Charleston is an incredibly dog-friendly town. And by dog-friendly town, I don’t mean there are a couple restaurants and dog parks listed on BringFido.com. I mean you can have a full-blown trip with your pup by your side the whole time.
I love that when we visit Charleston, I get to have Isabella and Penelope during everything. There are so many dog-friendly activities, restaurants, shops, tours, beaches, and accommodations within Historic Charleston, SC.
So, without further ado, I give you The Pup’s Travel Guide to Charleston. I’m about to unleash (ha, get it?) all of mine - and Bella and Penny’s - favorite hot spots on you. Here we go!
There are so many delicious dog-friendly restaurants and bars in Historic Downtown Charleston, you just have to know where to look. While King Street and Meeting Street have tons of great restaurants, East Bay Street and Market Street are where you should plan to dine with your pup.
Boasting some of the most delicious gems Charleston has to offer, East Bay Street and Market Street are packed with restaurants and bars with front patio dining where you and your dog can sit and people watch.
A few of our favorites are:
Charleston is known for its beautiful parks stretching along the bay. We love to start our day at The Battery and White Point Garden. This park is full of wartime monuments and beautiful, old angel oak trees. Surrounding the park on one side are some of the biggest mansions in Historic Charleston, and on the other is the ocean.
As we move on from White Point Garden, East Bay Dog Park and Hazel Parker Playground are always our next stop with Isabella and Penelope. East Bay Dog Park is a fenced off-leash dog park off of East Bay Street and it connects to fenced baseball fields that are a part of Hazel Parker Playground.
Because the baseball fields are considered part of the off-leash dog park before noon each day, we make this one of our first stops. It’s so much fun watching Bella and Penny take off chasing each other and other pups across the baseball fields! It’s a great opportunity to let them stretch their legs after being in the car for three hours, and it gets out some pent up energy so they behave better walking the streets of Charleston and hanging out at restaurants with us the rest of the day.
After we let Isabella and Penelope play in the dog park, we walk up to Waterfront Park. Waterfront Park has fountains the dogs can splash around in to cool off when the weather’s warm. This park is also a great place to watch for dolphins - we almost always see them - and there’s a long pier with swinging benches you can walk out on. It’s super relaxing, and it’s a great place to visit before getting into all the hustle and bustle of Charleston.
On Saturday mornings most months of the year, Charleston has their Farmer’s Market in Marion Square off of King Street. And while there is produce here, there are also tons of little pop-up shops with locally made gifts and goodies. The market in the center of Market Street that is open daily is not dog-friendly, so if you’re looking for a taste of local Charleston charm, the Farmer's Market is your opportunity to see it with your pup.
While you’re shopping in the many boutiques and shops along King Street, keep in mind many of them are dog-friendly. Some stores have stickers on the window letting you know your pooch can accompany you inside, and if you ask prior to entering, most stores will inform you that your pup can join you.
Be sure to check out Woof Gang Bakery off of King Street while you’re out and about. This boutique is full of cute collars and leads (we love the UpCountry merchandise!), homemade treats, unique toys, and much more!
There are many dog-friendly hotels around the Charleston area, but there is a limited amount within Historic Downtown Charleston. We’ve listed them below, including our favorite, and keep in mind that Airbnb usually has some good options as well.
If you haven’t gathered by now, Charleston is very historic and there are many different tours around the city. Within Historic Charleston, your pup is welcome to accompany you on any walking tour that doesn’t go into buildings. Small dogs are even welcome to accompany you on carriage tours.
If you’re looking to get out on the water and see Charleston from the bay, I recommend taking a ride on the Charleston Water Taxi. You almost always see dolphins and it’s a unique experience to have with your pup.
What’s a visit to Charleston without a visit to the South Carolina coast? While there isn’t a beach off of Historic Charleston, there are beaches within a 20-30 minute drive.
Folly Beach is one of the cutest little small beach towns you’ll ever see but keep in mind dogs are only allowed to be on the beach here during the offseason and during certain hours of the day during peak season.
James Island actually has an off-leash dog park on the beach that is open year-round. If you’re making the trip to Charleston during peak season, this is a great place to go to let your pup experience the ocean at all hours of the day… and make some friends!
I hope you found The Pup’s Travel Guide to Charleston, SC helpful. Our pups love going to Charleston and I hope yours do too! If you have any questions about any of the places or activities mentioned above or have any questions in general, ask away in the comments below.