We’re probably not telling you anything you don’t already know when we tell you that “going to the airport” isn’t exactly on everyone’s bucket list. But just like every destination is different, so is every airport. And just as navigating a new city is challenging in and of itself, so is navigating a new airport. How do I get from one terminal to the next? What are the best airport restaurants? Is there anything to do if I have a long layover?
If you’re anything like us, then these are probably the types of questions you have that perhaps you don’t get push notifications for. But never fear, because we have answers to your airport questions with our series of guides to the world’s top airports. Today we bring you the TripIt airport guide to Charleston International Airport (CHS).
While Charleston International Airport is South Carolina’s busiest airport, serving more than four million passengers last year, it’s a much smaller and less busy airport by most standards. Nearby ATL, for example, is one of the busiest, seeing more than 100 million annual passengers. CHS has one main terminal, where flights depart from two main concourses, Concourse A and Concourse B. Concourse A is primarily served by Delta, while most other airlines use Concourse B.
Charleston International Airport is located 12 miles north of the city of Charleston, with most people traveling to and from the airport by taxi, rideshare or car rental. Several rental car companies are located within the Charleston International Airport's Rental Car Pavilion, which is located near baggage claim. The Charleston Area Regional Authority (CARTA) is the city's public bus service, and it picks up and drops off passengers at a covered shelter just outside of baggage claim. Travelers can use CARTA’s Airport Express route, which is a direct link between Downtown Charleston, Tanger Outlet Center and the Charleston International Airport.
As a small international airport, Charleston International Airport has fewer restaurant selections than your typical international airport, yet many of them are locally influenced. Among those is Harvest & Grounds, which serves coffee from Charleston’s King Bean Coffee Roasters, and baked items from local bakeries. Additionally, there’s Caviar & Bananas, which is a downtown Charleston café and gourmet market, and Charleston Beer Works, which is a longtime Charleston sports bar. Other options include Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill, Burger King, Samuel Adams Brewhouse, Dunkin' Donuts, and DeSano Pizza Bakery, which is a counter-service pizzeria with several different locations across the U.S. Lastly, travelers can stop by a couple of the airport's food kiosks to support smaller local businesses, like King Street Cookies and Mama Chef Cuban Cafe.
Many of the restaurants mentioned above are also your best bet for grabbing a drink. Charleston Beer Works, as the name suggests, specializes in a selection of beer, many of which are local. Samuel Adams Brewhouse serves many of the Boston brewery’s wide selection of beers on draft. Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill has a full menu of beer, cocktails and wine by the glass, and DeSano Pizza Bakery has a wide selection of local beer, wines and cocktails. Otherwise, Dunkin' Donuts and Harvest & Grounds are your two best options for getting your caffeine fix.
Charleston International Airport has several airport shops, including Hudson Stores, Low Country Harley-Davidson and Eddie Bauer. Otherwise, Charleston is just a 20- to 30-minute drive away if you have a few hours available on a layover to explore.
Use TripIt’s interactive airport maps in the app to discover shop, restaurant, and bar locations. You’ll also have everything you need to navigate your way with estimated walk times and step-by-step directions.
Spencer is a seasoned food, drink, and travel writer who has written for publications from Outside Magazine to Travel + Leisure and Los Angeles Times. When he's not traveling, he's perfecting his favorite cocktails in his home bar. He chronicles his adventures (and cocktails) on his travel site, Whiskey Tango Globetrot.