According to Catherine Dority of Explore Charleston, no one knows a city as well as a local. Those of us who call Charleston home are lucky enough to sample all the flavors and try all there is to do. That’s why locals provide the best Charleston travel recommendations. A recent gathering at Planters Inn of Charleston Travel and Hospitality Marketing Professionals was the perfect time for marketing experts from the area to share their top advice to give visitors to the city.

The diverse and eager group included representatives from Explore Charleston, Garden & Gun and The Dewberry, as well as PhD candidates and a professor from the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at the College of Charleston, caterers, hotel owners and more. It was a room overflowing with expertise and passion for the Holy City. Read on to discover their favorite things to experience here.

What to Do and See

No visit to historic Charleston is complete without a stroll on the Battery, that’s advice you’ll find in every guide book. But this group suggests you wait for the perfect moment at dusk when the sun is starting to set to walk along the historic Battery. This golden hour of evening makes the experience unforgettable.

While you’re strolling, a walk over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge is a can’t-miss experience for sweeping water views of the Cooper River, the USS Yorktown and peninsula. See if you can spot the Aquarium or Fort Sumter from the top.

Put the area’s beaches at the top of your must-see list too. Sullivan’s Island makes a great all-day adventure, including time in the sand and meals at Poe’s or Home Team Barbeque. Of course, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach and Kiawah are also popular spots all year long.

Johns Island and Wadmalaw offer hidden treasures that are worth exploring as well. The Angel Oak, Tea Plantation and Deep Water Distillery are all popular stops and give a sense of both history and unique island culture only found in the Lowcountry.

From stellar local theater to incredible parks and green spaces, Charleston offers something for every visitor to explore and experience and memories to take away. That is part of the city’s appeal and one of the reasons it is consistently named a top U.S. destination by national media outlets.

Dine Like Royalty

Of course, another large part of the city’s appeal are the incredible dining options. With restaurants to tantalize every taste bud and satisfy every craving, it’s no wonder Charleston has such a stellar reputation with foodies. But where do the locals eat?

Oysters are a Lowcountry staple. We eat them for most any occasion or any way, as long as they’re local and in season. So it’s not a surprise that this group had strong opinions about where to eat the best oysters in the area.

Try Leon’s Oyster Shop on Upper King Street for raw or char-grilled options in a converted garage you won’t soon forget. If you’d like to experience the laid back, fried oysters and seafood, good beer and a memorable sunset over the marsh, then head to Bowen’s Island. Or on Monday’s in the summertime, you can take part in a Lowcountry oyster tradition at the Mingo Point Oyster Roast and BBQ at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. The Ordinary calls itself an “Oyster Hall” and serves their East Coast oysters up with delicious Mai Tais.

Charleston travel recommendations

For brunch, try Daps Breakfast and Imbibe for a casual and delicious breakfast or lunch in a diverse neighborhood setting. Or for an authentically local experience head to Hannibal’s Kitchen that serves grits and crab for brunch or amazing, local fried shark that is not to be missed.

Don’t travel to Charleston without sampling the barbeque. For the best pork, Rodney Scott’s BBQ is not to be missed. Whole hog barbeque is a family tradition for Scott, and it shows. IF you’re craving brisket barbeque, then Lewis Barbeque should be your first stop. Slow cooked in custom-designed smokers, this meat draws enthusiasts from all over the world.

Charleston is overflowing with things to do, see and taste. It’s a delight for visitor’s senses and an incredible place to spend a weekend. But don’t be afraid to ask a local for Charleston travel recommendations. Chances are, they’ll have a long list of places you have to see and flavors you have to try. It’s enough to make you come back again and again.