Dangers & Annoyances
Charleston is a safe city with a relatively low crime rate.
- Take the same precautions as you would in most cities – be aware of your surroundings at night or when alone, especially in North Charleston.
- The biggest annoyance here is that sidewalks and cobblestone- and brick-paved alleys are often uneven. When people trip over these, they are said to be doing 'the Charleston shuffle.'
ID cards for travel on CARTA are issued at the SC Works Charleston Career Center at 1930 Hanahan Rd, North Charleston, between 8:30am and 5pm (closed for lunch noon to 1pm). There are discounts for seniors (who only need to show proof of age when buying bus tickets), travelers with disabilities and students. For more info call 843-724-7420.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|Police, fire, ambulance||911|
|Emergency preparedness hotline||843-202-7100|
Charlestonians are incredibly genteel people, and they expect visitors to be on their best behavior as well.
- Greetings Don't be surprised or take offense if locals are inquisitive about your last name or probe your political leanings. They live in a small place where everybody knows each other, and these are common ways to become acquainted.
- Open container law One thing locals get angry about (particularly in the South of Broad neighborhood) is people carrying on after dark. Be aware that it's illegal to drink alcohol in the street and rude to make too much noise.
- Sensitivity about race Charleston was a center of the slave trade and places connected with that history should be treated with respect. For instance, when touring the Old Slave Mart Museum, it is not funny or OK to ask where you can get yourself a slave. (People have actually done this.)
Gay & Lesbian Travelers
The city of Charleston is very accepting of people from all different backgrounds and has a large and vibrant LGBTQ community. Beau Magazine (https://beau-magazine.com) is a Charleston-based online resource that offers suggestions for LGBTQ friendly businesses and events and shares stories.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
The City of Charleston offers free public wi-fi access in most city parks. Otherwise, it's easily accessible at most hotels and coffee shops, and the occasional restaurant.
- Newspapers The Charleston City Paper (www.charlestoncitypaper.com) is published each Wednesday; this alt-weekly has good entertainment and restaurant listings. The Post & Courier (www.postandcourier.com) is Charleston's daily newspaper.
ATMs are widespread, and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere. The US dollar ($) is standard currency.
A tip is expected in most cases for a job well done.
- Restaurants 15% is adequate, 18% is standard and 20% will be highly appreciated.
- Hotels A few dollars per night for the housekeeper is a lovely gesture.
- Other staff Between $2 and $5 is the norm for someone who valets your car or carries your bag.
Opening hours vary throughout the year. We provide high-season opening hours; hours will generally decrease in the shoulder and low seasons.
Banks 9am–5pm Monday to Friday
Bars and clubs 5pm–2am
The post office is perfectly reliable in Charleston. The main office is downtown.
New Year's Day January 1
Martin Luther King, Jr Day Third Monday in January
Presidents' Day Third Monday in February
Confederate Memorial Day May 10
Mother's Day May 14
Memorial Day May 29
Father's Day June 18
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day First Monday in September
Veterans' Day November 10
Thanksgiving Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Holiday December 22
Christmas Day December 25
Day after Christmas December 26
- Smoking It's illegal to smoke cigarettes in Charleston's restaurants and bars. Electronic cigarettes are not regulated under state law or smoke-free laws, but municipalities may enact restrictions.
Taxes & Refunds
The hotel tax in Charleston is 14%, restaurant tax is 11% and sales tax is 9%. There are no tax refunds.
|International access code||+1|
To make a domestic call from a cell phone or a landline in Charleston, enter the area code and then the phone number. For an international call, enter the country code, area code and phone number. Toll-free numbers typically begin with 1-800 or 1-888.
Many cellular networks, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, are reliable in Charleston. To avoid crazy roaming fees, it's advisable to get a local, prepaid SIM card that can be used with an unlocked smartphone or a cheap, local cell phone. Find more information and a list of prepaid-plan vendors at http://prepaid-data-sim-card.wikia.com/wiki/USA.
- Toilets are sit-down and you'll never be charged to use one. That said, some businesses only allow paying customers to use their restrooms. The best public bathroom in Charleston is inside Charleston Place.
Travel with Children
Charleston is an imaginative city and as such a great place to bring kiddos of all ages, with plenty of attractions, museums and green spaces to stimulate their rapidly expanding minds and bodies. The visitor center has given a lot of thought to which activities are best for families, and put together a five-day itinerary at www.charlestoncvb.com/itineraries/family-playcation.
- South Carolina Aquarium Kids of all ages will adore sea-creature touch tanks and the turtle rehab center.
- Middleton Place For kids that will like kayaking by the Ashley River and frolicking in America's oldest manicured gardens.
- Old South Carriage Co Young children will enjoy bouncing on your lap, and older ones may have their curiosity about history piqued.
Travellers with Disabilities
The city is generally pretty friendly to travelers with disabilities, as most businesses are in compliance with ADA regulations. But the uneven sidewalks and alleyways aren't great for wheelchairs, and while all taxis can carry a folded wheelchair in the trunk, none offer lifts.
There's free parking for people with disabilities in government-run parking areas, including for garages and meters. Visitors with disabilities can find more info and contact information at www.charlestoncvb.com/travel-support/accessibility.
Accessible Travel Online Resources
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Charleston offers a range of volunteer opportunities. One of the most popular organizations for visitors to get involved with is Charleston Beautiful (www.facebook.com/KCBSC), which works to beautify the city and outlying areas through education, awareness and clean-ups. There are regular events that short-term visitors can attend, and longer-term projects suitable for those planning to stick around a while.