The King of Charleston
King Street is quintessential Charleston. As one of the most historical streets in the city, visitors will enjoy the broad streets and the ever popular shopping. In fact, it was named as a top shopping street by U.S. News and World Report. We like to think the historical roots of this great street also call people to the area. Charleston, first established as Charles Towne and named after King Charles II of England, goes back to the mid-1600’s during Colonial times when the area was settled. King Street is also named after King Charles, known by the settlers who were given this land by the king as the “Lord’s Proprietor.”
The cobblestone streets and beautiful architecture speak of times from the past when King Street served as the main thoroughfare through the town. Plentiful church steeples, which earned Charlestown the nickname “Holy City,” can still be seen thanks to a city ordinance that limits the height of new buildings. This same ordinance also allows a view of the ocean as well as the natural plant life in the area. The road was predominantly used as a means to travel in and out of “Charles Towne” and while it wasn’t originally considered a significant trade route, the arrival of the railroad in the 1800’s changed that. The city quickly emerged as a bustling commercial and retail hot spot, a status that holds true today.
King Street has had its share of hardship over the years, however. The area was affected significantly during the Civil War and underwent several restoration efforts during the 1950s and more significantly in the early 2000s. Power lines were hidden underground and the area was spruced up with additional landscaping, building restoration and other repairs.
Visitors are treated to the easy southern atmosphere of the Lowcountry as the street, lined with palm trees is home to many shops and eateries. Antique shops, book stores, apparel, jewelry and home decor storefronts provide visitors with plenty of unique shopping options. When visitors tire of shopping, they can enjoy the local atmosphere in the beauty of Marion Square, a 10-acre outdoor park and gathering space that often hosts local attractions such as the well-loved City of Charleston Farmer’s Market.
With three divisions, King Street has something for everyone. The lower area is known as the antique district, the middle area is the fashion district and our favorite, the upper area, is known as the dining district. In fact, this is the location of one of our most popular culinary tours. Our Upper King Street Tour is designed to show off some of the best that Charleston has to offer and provide insight into Charleston’s ever-changing culinary scene. The Upper King Street district has emerged as an area with tremendous energy showcasing culinary innovation, experimental design, and boutique shopping. Tours are held daily Monday through Thursday and be sure to book ahead to get the best selection for dates and times. Our tours fill quickly!
While King Street is a must see, there are a few other areas that are equally as beautiful and enjoyable to visit.
Queen Street We couldn’t speak of King Street without mentioning the Queen! Known for traditional Lowcountry cuisine, this area is often a highly-sought after area to visit and for good reason. The food is delicious! In the area of the French Quarter, you can’t beat the food. In fact, we have a Downtown Charleston tour that we often recommend for those who are experiencing our tours for the first time. She Crab soup anyone?
East Bay Street For those who love gardens, this street can’t be missed. Whimsical gardens and gorgeous landscaping line this street, and it also hosts some beautiful architecture. This area is sure to delight those who find their way here.
Church Street St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church is one of the most important landmarks along this street and is home to the oldest congregation in South Carolina. The church itself has gone through three revisions, with the current structure constructed from 1835 to 1838. The original church was built in colonial times by original settlers to the area. In the graveyard of the same church notables such as John C. Calhoun (7th president of the United States), Charles Pinckney (signer of the Constitution), Edward Rutledge (signer of the Declaration of Independence), and Dubose Heyward (a well-known and loved author) are buried. And as if the church wasn’t enough, the street also claims the famous first permanent playhouse in the nation, the Dock Street Theatre.
Whatever brings you to Charleston, you will not leave disappointed. The city has so much to offer from architecture, history, food, culture, flora and fauna as well as a vibrant social scene. You will create memories that will last a lifetime. We would love to have the opportunity to help make your trip the best it can be. See you soon!