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Charleston Neighborhoods

Most of the sights of interest we recommend are in the charming Historic District, which covers most of the peninsula south of Spring Street (though the borders are debatable). To the north of the peninsula you'll find Mount Pleasant, which is a residential and resort community with several nice beaches. North Charleston, home to the airport, is largely residential and industrial. Though Charleston has become a sight-seeing mecca, it's still a living, breathing, rough-around-the-edges city, so take care when straying away from the main historic center at night.

French Quarter

Technically part of the historic district, the French Quarter is generally considered to be the area bordered by Market Street to the north, Broad Street to the south, Meeting Street to the west and the Cooper River to the east. French merchants once ran their business along this stretch of harbor, and their influence is still visible in the ornate architecture. Today, the French Quarter is home to some of Charleston's prettiest hotels and restaurants. It's an especially pleasant place to stroll in the evening, as it's somewhat removed from the louder, more densely trafficked parts of the historic district.

Historic District

The lower part of the Charleston peninsula is a living museum of Antebellum mansions, cobblestone streets and shady, jasmine-scented parks. It's by far the most photogenic part of the city, with an awe-inspiring church or painted row houses on nearly every block. It's also, in high season, jam-packed with photo-snapping visitors and draft horses pulling carriage tours. The vast majority of the sights, restaurants and interesting hotels are in the historic district, so, if your wallet can handle it, stay here.

Mount Pleasant

West of Charleston on the other side of the impressive Arthur Ravenel, Jr., bridge, Mount Pleasant is largely residential. The stretch of Highway 17 that runs through the area is lined with chain motels and restaurants, though there are a few hidden gems. Good seafood restaurants cluster around the fisherman's hamlet of Shem Creek. Nearby, Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms are home to some of the city's best beaches. Bikers will enjoy peddling across the bridge to Mount Pleasant just for the soaring views over Charleston Harbor.

Upper King

Downtown Charleston's trendiest area, Upper King is a rapidly gentrifying stretch of boutiques, bars and coffee shops. The street passes through the College of Charleston campus, so the average age skews significantly lower than it does further south. If twin sets and pearls aren't your thing, you'll have a blast. It's an especially fun place to go for after-dinner drinks, when dressed-up twenty- and thirty-something professionals come out to play. The further north you go, the grittier the street becomes. Take care, especially at night.   

North Charleston

Most visitors to Charleston have little reason to spend much time in North Charleston. Chances are you'll at least pass through here, however, as this is where the airport is, the convention center and some of the city's better midrange hotels. As real estate in the Historic District has shot through the roof in recent decades, North Charleston has become more popular with young professionals and families. To that end, it has an increasing number of decent restaurants. Technically, North Charleston is a separate city from Charleston proper, though most locals view them as two parts of the same town.