We all know Charleston is a food city with world-class cuisine. The downtown restaurants are remarkable; their chefs are celebrities, and for good reason! There’s no shortage of great spots for dates on the peninsula.
But sometimes it’s nice to stay close to home. We live on one of the Sea Islands and have gathered a list of our favorite local spots for dates.
Date Ideas on the Sea Islands
The 8:00 p.m. Dinner Reservation
If you’re fortunate enough to find a babysitter for an evening, you won’t need to venture off the islands to find exceptional dining options.
- Wild Olive, Johns Island
This favorite has been serving elevated Italian cuisine in an energetic, cozy setting for nearly 15 years. It opened its doors when Johns Island was still primarily a farming community. Its menu still reflects the bounty of the Lowcountry, with local ingredients and freshly caught seafood. You can’t go wrong with any of their handmade pasta dishes.
- The Royal Tern, Johns Island
Serving beautifully prepared seafood dishes and steak with casual elegance (and excellently paired wines), this restaurant is a local eatery with a coastal flair. Make sure you order dessert. It will be as delicious as it is Instagram-worthy.
- Minero, Johns Island
This lively Mexican restaurant with a lovely open-air space is perfect for a meal with your family, but it’s also fun (and more relaxing) to enjoy one of their agave-based cocktails with your sweetheart, sans kiddos. You can’t go wrong with any order served on or with their house-made (made fresh daily) flour or corn tortillas.
- Lost Isle, Johns Island
Unique small plates, shareable sides (Elbows out!), and meticulously prepared main dishes are cooked on open fires and served under a pecan tree. This is an entirely outdoor, new spot off Maybank Highway. The soft glow from café lights and small fire pits dotted throughout the patio provide both light and warmth. If you’re still chilly, the restaurant offers warm blankets — the perfect place to get cozy with your sweetheart. It’s also a great option for fine dining with toddlers — no worries if the focaccia bread served with the whipped ricotta is thrown on the ground. But you’ll want to savor every bite!
- Hege’s Restaurant, Johns Island
This inviting bistro located in Freshfields Village between Kiawah and Seabrook islands offers traditional French cuisine. Meals are prepared with local ingredients accompanied by classical sauces, all in a casual atmosphere.
- Colectivo, Johns Island
This lively, open restaurant features traditional Mexican dishes that are meant to be shared family-style. The concept works for date night, though, because the food is so delicious, you’ll likely finish a dish with just two people. Their house-made tortillas are excellent and nicely complement the complex flavors of their dishes and sauces.
Wine Bars on Johns Island
- Somm, Johns Island
My boss knows good wine. When he recommended Somm, Johns Island’s newest wine bar, I knew it was a must-try. They offer an excellent assortment of wines by the glass and bottle, appealing wine flights, and amazing charcuterie and dessert options. This warm, inviting space is a delightful place to spend an evening alone with your sweetheart or in lively conversation at the bar with their knowledgeable staff and other patrons.
- The Woodruff, Johns Island
This is a cozy wine bar offering wines by the glass, wine flights, cocktails, delectable small plates, charcuterie boards, and enticing entrees. Its intimate setting makes for a romantic and sweet evening.
Day Dates on the Sea Islands
- Deep Water Vineyard, Wadmalaw Island
Spend an afternoon on 48 acres, blanketed by live oaks. Deep Water offers walking trails, access to the vineyards and farm animals, a garden, a large pond, a tasting room, and a gift shop. This is a great place to spend a few relaxed hours.
Weekend Wine Down, held on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., is our favorite time to visit. Families or couples can enjoy live music, vendors, and rotating food trucks (or pack their own picnic).
The vineyard also offers self-guided tours and tastings, private tastings, and hosts several festivals throughout the year. Grab a lawn chair and your sweetie, and enjoy authentic Muscadine wine, grown and bottled onsite from four varieties of grapes. They also bottle their own wine made from California grapes.
- Tattooed Moose, Johns Island
Offering live music every Wednesday from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., and every Saturday and Sunday from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., this is a perfect place to relax, get some great food (You have to try to the Duck Club; it was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives!), and enjoy a drink under the shade of live oaks.
- Beach, Shops, and Sushi on Kiawah Island
Head down toward the beach and enjoy a walk at Kiawah Beachwalker Park, or explore the shops at Freshfields Village — we love to make candles at Palmetto Scent Studio. On your way home, pick up some of Charleston’s best sushi at Fuji and enjoy a night in together.
- Goats and Local Market on Johns Island
Visit The Goatery at Kiawah River to pick up some artisanal cheeses, see adorable farm animals, and take a goat yoga class together. On your way home, stop by the Storey Farms Market to pick up a delicious take-and-bake meal made from local ingredients.
Drives and Picnics
- Picnic on Wadmalaw Island
Cross over Church Creek onto Wadmalaw Island and take the ride down Maybank Highway until the road nearly runs into Bohicket Creek. On your right, just as you enter the charming fishing village of Rockville, you’ll see The Hum Grocery.
Hum supplies the island with fresh produce, non-perishable essentials, and convenience items as well as products from local farmers and vendors. It’s owned by Andrew and Natalie Humphrey. Andrew, a trained chef, creates impeccable sandwiches and take-and-bake items. Pick up some of their famous chicken salad and a loaf of imported French bread, and browse their selection of specialty sodas, wines, and beers.
Paired with their delicious baked goods, you have the making of a perfect picnic which can be enjoyed on a wooden table outside or venture down to Cherry Point boat landing for lunch by the water.
Make sure you take a stroll through historic Rockville’s dirt roads framed by Spanish moss-draped live oaks before leaving the island.
- Picnic on Johns Island
A Johns Island staple, the Blackbird Market serves southern comfort food to-go, made with locally sourced ingredients. They also have a small retail space offering scratch-made take-and-bake items, local produce, and other treats and fun finds from the Lowcountry. They offer specials each evening — Wednesday Chicken Parm Night is our favorite. Pick up a lunch to-go, and then venture around the corner to visit Charleston’s iconic Angel Oak.