Charleston City Market
There's no reason to sit around playing online games when you're in Charleston. This vibrant city offers a wide range of opportunities that allow you to explore the various facets of this fun-filled South Carolina locale.
The Charleston City market is one of the nation's oldest public markets. The land for the market was given to the city by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.
Pinckney stipulated that the land must remain in use as a market for perpetuity so the city erected low buildings—sheds—that stretch from Market Hall to the waterfront. Originally the sheds housed vegetables, fish and meat. Over the years they were destroyed by fires, tornatos, hurricanes, war and earthquakes but were always rebuilt.
Today's market was designed by architect Edward Brickwell and includes a large structure that was originally used for meetings and social functions while the vendors occupied the space beneath the hall. In the 1970s the sheds area was turned into a venue for shops including the famous sweetgrass basket weavers who weave these unique baskets in a special Charleston tradition.
The Charleston City Market offers a wide range of opportunities so you can enjoy a few hours or an entire day wandering, sampling and buying.
There's lots of parking in the neighborhood that surrounds the market so you can come and stay for as long as you want. If you want to tour the entire market it's a good idea to start at Market Hall, located at the junction of Market and Meeting Streets. Market Hall was built in 1841 by architect Edward Brickwell who envisioned it as the market's center. Market Hall was built in the style of the Greek Revivalists with one raised story that rested atop a rusticated open ground-level arcade. The building's frontal portico and high base were inspired by Greek and Roman structures with Doric columns, a double flight of stair, an ashlar floor and cement triglyphs.
Nearby you'll see three open air sheds which have been offering space for vendors to sell their wares for more than 2 centuries. These sheds have been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times but continue to serve as an important central market area for city residents and visitors.
Market visitors can find many different types of wares in these sheds. There are bags of stone ground grits, hand-woven sweetgrass baskets, ceramics, foodstuffs, antiques, furniture items and all sorts of iconic and rare items.
If you come on Friday or Saturday evening you can watch artists and craftspeople showcase their pieces and performances. Every Friday and Saturday evening from April through December the Night Market stays open from 6:30 - 10:30 p.m. All of the live entertainment is free so visitors can enjoy the action while they peruse the shops and munch on some of Charleston's best cuisine.
The Charleston Market eateries focus on down-home Southern cuisine. There are low country dishes like shrimp & grits, sophisticated Southern fare such as bourbon-glazed shrimp with lobster hushpuppies and everything in-between. Some of the best of the Market restaurants include the following:
Callie's Hot Little Biscuit
Callie's Hot Little Biscuit is located inside the Great Hall where the staff keeps the tradition of southern biscuits alive. The bakery is a take-out spot where visitors can buy a variety of biscuits and sandwiches including pimento cheese biscuits, blueberry biscuits, cheese and chive biscuits, buttermilk biscuits, shortcakes and more.
Caviar and Bananas
Visitors looking for a fine dining experience will enjoy the Caviar and Bananas restaurant which is located in the Great Hall. The restaurant offers a wide range of foods, salads, sandwiches, gourmet coffees and more. It's open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.
The Peninsula Grill serves dinner every night at 5:30p.m. and offers a romantic dining experience with southern treats like collard greens, hushpuppies, black-eyed peas and grits plus gourmet meals with lobster, foie gras, caviar, oysters and duck pâté. The champagne bar makes it a must-go for couples exploring the Market.
Hank's Seafood Restaurant
Hank's Seafood Restaurant, located on the corner of Church and Hayne streets, is a cozy, friendly spot where couples, singles and families will feel at home. In addition to a wide range of seafood entrees the restaurant serves beloved Low Country recipes like Slow Cooker Carolina BBQ and Key Lime pie. There's an exhibition raw bar and a community table where people can sit together and get to know each other.
From its early days as a center for Charleston's foods, produce, fish and meats the Charleston market has evolved to provide visitors with a chance to see Charleston's best artists and artisans.
Some of the best shops include:
Island Handcrafts is located in the Open Air Building. The shop features jewelry with bright colors and simple designs that use a variety of glass, pearl and crystal beads. The designer, Lesley, displays her jewelry at the City Market where she's open throughout the day and evening.
Whimsies by Marsha
Whimsies by Marsha is nestled in a corner niche in the Open Air Building. The jewelry, made by Marsha, includes necklaces and earrings that are made with pearls, stones and crystals. Marsha also sells her wire-wrapped sea glass and agate stone designs we well as her colorful eyeglass holder pins, fabric crocheted necklaces and vintage pieces.
Geechee is a term that describes the culture of Low Country blacks – African Americans from rural or seacoast areas. The term originated in relation to West Africa/Sierra Leone and signifies a combination of cultures, traditions and languages. Geechee Originals brings that expression to life in organic, freestyle tropical bags, clothing, totes and accessories. All of the Geechee designs are inspired by the vibrant colors of the Bahamas, Africa and the lifestyle trends of the Geechee/Gullah Sea Island of South Carolina. The Geechee Studio is located in the Charleston Market's Open Air Building.
Le Treasures, also located in the Open Air Building, brings style and pizazz to otherwise staid jewelry boxes. Le Treasures takes jewelry boxes, small and large, and upcycles them with colorful and whimsical designs that makes each box unique.