Charleston Nightlife: Upper King, Market Street vibrant bar scenes

In order to really get to know a city and its unique personality, you have to explore its daytime charm and after-hours nightlife. After touring the city streets and sights of Charleston, and dining at its famous Southern restaurants, get out on the town and experience the vibrant bar and club scene the Holy City has to offer. Charleston’s nightlife is concentrated in two main areas of downtown: Upper King Street in the Design District, and North and South Market streets near the Old Historic City Market on the further south on peninsula.

Within recent years, Charleston’s bars and clubs have grown more unique, with many becoming must-see destinations within the city. Bars like Tsunamis near the City Market, are especially known for their weekly specials, club style music and DJ, while Upper King’s Closed For Business is the perfect rustic watering hole for any craft beer lovers. Dance clubs like Club NV and Trio Club bring big city music and dancing to this Southern town.

Join a Charleston pub crawl to get experience Charleston’s more historic bars and pubs. Enjoy the close proximity of bars and clubs in Charleston, all within walking distance of each other, or call a cab for or opt for a more environmentally friendly ride on a local rickshaw bike taxi for a quick ride instead.

10 King Street Grille
With over 36 flat-screens and over 100 varieties of beer to choose from, this impressive two-level bar and grill was voted the "Best Sports Bar" in Charleston in 2011. In addition to the standard pub menu, King Street offers some more upscale choices like the Meatball Sliders and Black 'N Blues Tenderloin. Entertainment ranges from billiards to live music and trivia nights. (843-723-5464)

9 Market Street Saloon & Bar
Market Street Salon on North Market Street is the only place country rock and roll spot in Charleston, and the only place where ladies can dance on the bar! Smokehouse and grill by night, and high energy saloon and bar, by night, Market Street Saloon is popular with bachelor and birthday parties. The all female bar staff dresses in a "wild west" style that leaves nothing to the imagination. (843-577-2474)

8 Henry's on the Market
Henry's, conveniently located on North Market Street, is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. The large, dark wood bar takes center stage, serving an extensive menu of beer, wine, and spirits. A simple pub-grub bar menu is offered. Tall tables by the windows are great for people watching, or head upstairs to enjoy the multilevel rooftop decks with great Charleston views. The NV Dance Lounge is connected to Henry's, bringing big city DJ music and dancing to Charleston's nightlife scene. (843-723-4363)

7 Tsunami
Tsunami, located on East Bay Street, is an authentic Japanese sushi restaurant and bar in the Historic District. An extensive menu offers a wide variety of Hibatchi style entrees ans sushi items for lunch and dinner, with daily happy hour specials. On Mondays, bring in your Food Industry pay stub for half off your meal! At night, the restaurant turns to dance club, with lines for entry forming early on weekend nights. The DJ spins house and club music, and drink specials are featured nightly. (843-965-5281)

6 Torch Lounge
This impressive European style lounge — with its velvet curtains, red pendant lights, and wing-back leather couches — comes together for an intimate bar and club atmosphere. Velvet's sultry, sexy vibe appeals to Charleston's young and trendy crowd with impressive selections of cocktails, martinis, champagnes and sparkling wines. Until 10pm, new age lounge music is played at low volume; afterwards, DJ MooMo spins the latest house and club music. (843-723-9333)

5 Club Pantheon
DJs, drag shows and dancing are what it's all about at Club Pantheon. Known to have some of the best dance music in town, this bar welcomes anyone and everyone 18 & up, and serves both cheap house and premium liquor drinks and beer. (843-577-2582)

4 Blind Tiger Pub
The Historic District's Blind Tiger Pub, built in 1803, is a safe bet when you're in the mood to enjoy good drinks in a cozy atmosphere. A historic shady brick courtyard is the perfect outdoor drink setting off of busy Broad Street. This pub is a local favorite with live music and a generous lunch and dinner menu. (843-577-0088)

3 The Belmont Lounge
The Belmont, one of Upper King's newest upscale bar and lounge, is filled nightly with local regulars and cocktail lovers. Decorated in a simplistic style that features an old movie screen on the back wall playing prohibition scenes, the Belmont creates an elegant relaxed feel. Recently named the "Best New Bar in 2011" by the Charleston City Paper, The Belmont offers one of a kind artisan cocktails, and handcrafted beer and wines. (800-774-0006)

2 Closed for Business
Recently voted as having "The Best Beer Selection on Tap," Closed For Business is one of Upper King's most popular hangouts. This local's bar offers 42 beers on tap, roughly 50 bottled beers, a seasonal beer menu, monthly beer specials and even local Charleston brewery flights. CFB, as it is called by locals, also offers premium liquor and wine choices. A faux fireplace, wood-lined walls and community tables in the rustic lodge interior give this neighborhood bar a unique feel. The menu features upscale pub food and creative daily desserts. (843-853-8466)

1 Trio Club-Lounge
Fun and high-energy live music venue offering Latin, blues, folk, jazz and rock acts. Trio Club can get crowded at times, but you can escape to the outdoor patio if it gets to be too much. Trio Club was recently voted "Best Pickup Joint" and "Best Dance Club" in Charleston in 2011. (843-965-5333)

A South Carolina native and avid locavore, Clare also ventured abroad to Spain and North to Boston, MA before returning to Charleston and her beloved Lowcountry. 

Clare works and plays in downtown Charleston, spending her days enjoying the city’s perpetually sunny weather, nearby beaches, and ever-growing food and craft beer scene. Follow Clare on Twitter @LocalExpertCHS for the latest in local happenings! 

Read more about Clare Sweeney here.

Connect with Clare via: Twitter

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Maps and Directions

King Street Grille 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Sports Bar
Neighborhood: Downtown
Henry's on the Market 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Nightlife District
Neighborhood: Downtown
Tsunami 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Late Night / After Hours
Neighborhood: Downtown
Torch Lounge 10Best List Arrow
Type: Hookah Lounge, Lounge
Neighborhood: Downtown
Club Pantheon 10Best List Arrow
Type: Dance Club, Gay and Lesbian, Live Entertainment
Neighborhood: Downtown
Blind Tiger Pub 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar, Live Music
Neighborhood: The French Quarter
The Belmont Lounge 10Best List Arrow
Type: Bar
Neighborhood: North Downtown
Trio Club-Lounge 10Best List Arrow
Type: Live Music
Neighborhood: Downtown