Ah, it’s that wonderful time of the year again. Good ol’ summertime. For one reason or another, you’re staying in Charleston for a majority of this magical season. If it’s your first time, you may be wondering what there is to do, and if it’s your second or third time, you may be looking for new places, faces, and events to attend. Learning how to navigate a summer in this city to where it’s full of different faces and places is essential to having fun and creating unforgettable memories despite the campus being a ghost town. Here’s a handy dandy guide on surviving summer time in Charleston.
First things First: Beating the Heat
Charleston isn’t called Hell in the summer for any old reason. Temperatures can peak up to 102 degrees, along with high humidity which can feel like you’re vacationing in Satan’s fortress. Luckily, Charleston is surrounded by beaches. If you’re looking for sand, water, chip and dip restaurants, and typical beach bum shops that are only a 15 to 20 minute drive, Folly Beach is for you. If you’re looking for a more upscale beach scene and don’t mind a longer drive (24-44 minutes), Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island are recommended.
Where the Party at? Places to Mingle
If you’re an average student, you’ll spend a majority of your summer working, sleeping and partying. Late night in the Holy City can be extremely fun if you know where to go. Location, location, location is the name of the game. So if you’re one of those people who stay in the downtown area the entire summer and wonder why it’s boring, it’s time to get a clue. If you’re devoted to staying in the historic area of Charleston, or if you don’t have a car (or a friend who has one), and aren’t willing to pay for a cab or ride CARTA, there are hot spots in the area to get yo’ groove on. King Street is one of the best places to party during the summer as tourists, coming home from college natives, and others crowd the streets at places such as Torch, Silver Dollar, Music Farm and King Street Grille. Market Street is another hot spot for summertime madness at clubs like Market Street Saloon where women are advocated to dance on top of the bar, Henry’s and Club NV, which is located above Henry’s.
However, if you’re not 21 and over, 97 percent of the downtown party scene is out of the question for you. So what do you do? Why, you simply head over the bridge to West Ashley to Seven Cafe or Voodoo Tiki bar and lounge, where they’re more lenient, but may charge you a heavy cover. Be aware that there is a dress code at Seven Café, meaning leave the jeans and flip flops at home.
If you’re under 21, don’t want pay more than a $10 cover, and don’t want to dress up, hop on Interstate 526 and head to North Charleston. Clubs in North Charleston are geared toward the hip-hop and R&B lovers. Club Crucial is free before midnight and doesn’t close until 5 a.m, making it one of the top places for partying. Rehab Bar and Grill is another club in the area serving food suited for all budgets until midnight.
If you’re a member of the LGBT community, Charleston hasn’t forgotten about you despite the overall conservativeness of the city. Club Pantheon, voted Charleston’s best gay club of 2012, is located off of King Street and offers some of the best party music and drag shows in the city. Not to mention it’s 18 and up to enter. Pantheon’s “sister bar” Dudley’s is right next door, and is a good place for drinks and chatter for the 21 and up gays. Déjà Vu II, located in North Charleston, offers a camp drag competition every Friday night and country music night every Saturday (for now).
Where to Eat
Being a student at the College, you’ve probably tried the downtown favorites- Five Loaves, Fuel, Juanita’s, etc. This summer, try to step outside the box. For starters, take a 10 minute drive over the bridge to Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream and Sandwich Café where you can get sandwiches, burgers, soups and ice cream by the tons tons (and by tons I mean fries spill out of their container, often filling the bag) for a good $7-$8. Ye Ole Fashioned is the only ice cream you need for this season. If you’re in the mood for some New Orleans favor, try The Glass Onion located in West Ashley where you can get a po’ boy, a side and a drink for $10. Not to mention you can pop champagne during their daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eager for international cuisine? Try Señor Tequila, one of Charleston’s top authentic Mexican restaurants, or Miyabi Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar where they cook your food right in front of you.
As the old saying goes for life and college, summer is what you make it in Charleston. You can create lasting memories in the Holy City or spend 93 days on a couch browsing Netflix. It’s up to you.