8 Ways to Have Fun in Charleston Under $30

Just because living in the Holy City comes with a holy price tag, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find budget friendly tips and tricks to fully enjoy all that Charleston has to offer. Charleston’s charm and unique qualities have made it a must-see tourist destination and a hot spot for young working professionals. The result of such an influx has in turn made enjoying Charleston quite pricey for us locals - and especially college students. Maybe this year your resolution to save money has already been forgotten, so kick-start your new budget friendly lifestyle with these fun ideas. Your wallet will thank you!

1. Plan a trip to the beachImage courtesy of Pinterest.

Whether you live close to Folly, Kiawah or Isle of Palms, plan a beach day and get really involved. Pack your favorite snacks in a tricked-out beach bag with huge towels, sunscreen, and a good book. Bring a cooler with bevvies (I recommend the alcoholic variety). Personally, I like to bring a soccer ball to kick around and speakers to get my favorite music playing nice and loud. We’ve all left on an impromptu beach trip, and when we arrived, realized that we forgot something vital to our day. Then our spirits fizzle out and die, and we end up leaving after an hour or so. Don’t let this be you! Plan, pack, and come prepared. You can’t be cranky if you have snacks. If you bring a few friends, parking ends up around $5 a person. Everyone has Venmo, right? My must-do recommendation is making sure to pack the right things, and always remember The Three H’s will keep you -happy, hydrated and (not) hungry.

2. Bike rentalImage courtesy of Charleston City Paper.

Rent bikes and see downtown in a new way. Pedal around downtown on cute, retro bikes, and do a bit of exploring. There are many locations to pick up and return them. Renting a bike is unique because you can see the Holy City in a whole new light compared to walking or driving around. Discover little hidden cafes. See streets with gorgeous houses. Stop for a coffee. The world is your oyster, and you don’t have to worry about parking. Yippee! Just try your best not to face plant on the cobblestone roads. Holy Spokes has bike corrals located all over downtown with 24/7 access and just $8 an hour to pay as you go.

3. BoulderingImage courtesy of Charleston City Paper.

Bouldering is not a scary, high climbing wall under the beating sun. Rather, it is a type of rock climbing that focuses on a way more technical form of climbing by mastering complicated and strategic footholds without the use of any harnesses or equipment. All you need is chalk and some rock climbing shoes. Thankfully, you can rent a pair for $4 at Coastal Climbing located right on Upper King Street. It’s $14 for a day pass, and you can be there for as long as you want. Bouldering is a rewarding workout, truly an adventure of sorts, and something off the beaten path. Bouldering makes for great Saturday afternoon plans or even a super unique date.

4. BreweriesImage courtesy of Charleston Ale Trail.

Breweries are the craze of the moment. More and more breweries are popping up all over Charleston, and I love it. Whether you're a craft beer snob or someone who occasionally likes to dabble with some triple hopped IPAs, pick out a few breweries and go check ‘em out. Most breweries here in Charleston have a homey and rustic atmosphere, which is different from the typical bar scene where it’s loud and you spend $16 on a specialty cocktail. My favorite spot is Low Tide Brewing on John's Island because it always has delicious and different craft beer on rotation. My favorite is Rock the Boat Dry Hopped Sour, a non-traditional sour beer due to its slight hoppiness. Rock the Boat joins classic sour notes mixed with lemon peel, grapefruit, and papaya flavors. Low Tide offers flights, so you can try them all for only $7.  

5. Yoga classImage courtesy of Soul Circus.

If you’re like me, you sway between being fitness-obsessed, but also obsessed with taco Tuesdays and tequila. So maybe consider doing a yoga class, something a bit more health-conscious. Bring friends if you’re too intimidated to go alone or just want to share the experience. If you’re a student, Soul Yoga and Wellness in West Ashley offers drop in classes on Fridays for only $10 and $15 for non-students. Get ready to sweat and feel a total body workout like no other. It’s good for the body and good for the soul. Try it. You won’t regret it.

6. Indoor shooting rangeImage courtesy of Pinterest.​

Have you ever shot a gun? Well, it’s a thrilling experience to say the least. Whether you’re an experienced shooter or have never touched a gun before, this can be a great activity for a group of friends. You’ll need at least one other buddy to join you for safety and liability reasons. Quick Shot Shooting Range has a great package deal on Groupon for about $30 dollars. This is an awesome way to spend an afternoon if you’re tired of the same old brunch spot your group frequents.

7. Farmers marketsImage courtesy of Charleston Farmers Market.

There are marvelous farmers markets all over Charleston every week! Who knew? Charleston Farmers Market, located in Marion Square, is every Saturday beginning in April through November from 8 a.m. through 2 p.m. You can find local produce and handmade products, like soaps and candles, flowers, herbs, and spices. There are yummy free samples and friendly vendors who are happy to tell you about what they’re offering. The Mount Pleasant Farmers Market is open every Tuesday at 3:30 p.m., also beginning in April, at Moultrie Middle School on Highway 17. This is one of my favorite farmers markets in the area because there is such an abundant selection of the freshest local produce and fun things to see and taste. You need to go and get a funnel cake. Tell ‘em I sent you. You can buy seafood, plants, and even baked goods, like EVO’s scrumptious baked bread. There are weekly events and live music if you're still not convinced. Also, farmers markets are all dog-friendly. Make this your go-to grocery stop, and support local farms and businesses. It’s better for Charleston’s economy, greener, and way more fun than standing in line at the self-checkout.

8. Firefly DistilleryImage courtesy of BourbonBlog.

Tucked away on Wadmalaw Island is Firefly Distillery, the birthplace of Firefly Spirits. Here you can tour the grounds and see the distillation process firsthand, then visit the tasting room where you can try all of the Firefly products. This is home of the world’s first sweet tea vodka. That’s pretty awesome. You can also taste moonshine straight out of a mason jar for only $6 a tasting.  

The Holy City offers a lot of budget friendly ways to have fun, and all you have to do is be open to trying new things and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Whatever activity you try, enjoy your next budget-friendly weekend!

Victoria is a Communications major at College of Charleston. She has a strong desire to travel the world and discover its mysterious beauty. While at home, she enjoys writing, reading, and cooking new things. She says spicy food is the best food and red wine wins over white any day of the year. She is an advocate of reading from paper back books, testifying that they will never lose their magic. Fitness is very important to her. That being said, she is a nationally ranked powerlifter, and has been competing for over two years. You can follow her on Instagram at @tory_vanderbeck

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