The Historic City Market in Charleston is the most visited attraction in the city. There is a Day Market and Night Market Offered seasonally showcasing local artists and craftspeople, shops, collectibles, and galleries. The land where the City Market rests was established as a public market for perpetuity in 1788 by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney when he ceded his land to the City of Charleston.
Structures were built from Market Hall to the waterfront from 1804 to 1830 that housed edible goods and market vendors who paid daily rent for their booths to the city.
After a fire destroyed the Masonic Hall in 1838, a new Market Hall was developed by Edward Brickwell White. This new design was inspired by the Temple of the Wingless Victory in Athens and was used for administrative and social purposes with the vendors housed underneath. The Charleston City Market is one of the oldest in the Country and is a part of the American History Museum of the Smithsonian Institute. The Market was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and became the city’s number one attraction in 1986 and has held that spot since.
In 2010 $5.5 Million was invested into renovating the City Market with modern amenities such as air conditioning being added to the Great Hall and 20 merchants being added. The new City Market was open to the public on June 27, 2011. There are more than 300 businesses and shops in the City Market which is spread out over three open air sheds and the Great Hall. The City Market is open from 9:30am to 6pm daily, but features a Night market from 6:30pm to 1030pm outdoors on Fridays and Saturdays from April through December. Other seasonal hours are listed online.
The Day Market operates under open air structures referred to as sheds and the Great Hall. The Day Market is the most visited public attraction in Charleston and has held the title for decades. There are shopping options for everyone with over 300 small business owners setting up booths daily for visitors to shop from. If visitors see a green “certified authentic” label, this means that the vendor sells a product that is 100% produced in Charleston.
Sweetgrass Baskets- Sweetgrass Baskets are a Charleston tradition and a highly sought-after souvenir. These baskets are one of the oldest handicrafts of African origin in America and more than 50 Gullah artisans take part in the City Market. This basket weaving tradition has been alive in Charleston for over 300 years.
The Great Hall- At the intersection of Meeting and Market Street is the Great Hall. The Hall is a one-story structure that sits above the rusticated arcade that visitors use to access the Market. The building was renovated in 2011 that transformed the Hall into 18,300 square feet of brand new boutique shops with a natural skylight and Historic Charleston Foundation as its anchor. The Great Hall has been a recipient of the Phoenix Award for travel industry journalism, the Carolopolis Award and the Whitelaw Award. Some of the shops featured in the Great Hall include art galleries, hand crafted jewelry, cafes, shoe shops, home stores, furniture, hat shops, and more.
The Night Market is open on Friday and Saturday Nights from April through December and features local Charleston artisans. Over 100 vendors set up their booths for this nighttime market that feature live music, food and handmade, local items such as soaps, candles, essential oils, clothing, headbands, art, pottery, carvings, dolls, glass art, home décor, ceramics, jewelry, metalwork, photography, stoneware, and sweetgrass baskets.
Eating at The City Market
There are many options for food at the City Market. There are several vendors that sell handmade, local edibles, but there are also a few established cafes, and restaurants for visitors to choose from as well.
Caviar and Bananas- This upscale deli in the Great Hall features gourmet foods that are prepared in a laid-back atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy an expresso or a glass of wine at this boutique eatery that is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. There are tables for dining in after ordering and grabbing your meal at the counter.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit- Open for Breakfast and Lunch, Callie’s is found in the Great Hall and is perfect for a grab and go quick bite to eat. They are known for their biscuits and pimento cheese sandwiches. These bite size sandwiches can be taken to the outdoor seating areas in the market to be enjoyed.
73 North Market Street, Suite A, Charleston, South Carolina, 29401