On our family vacation to Charleston, South Carolina, my youngest daughter suggested that we sample sweet treats every day. She helped me do the research, we created a large list that was approved by her with kid-friendly options, and I checked hours and timelines to make sure we could visit at least one each day. The resulting effort is the delectable list of culinary delights that you see in the post below. Look no further for the best sweet treats in Charleston, SC!
I should mention that we wandered quite a bit around Charleston’s surrounding areas, so this list is not *just* in the city proper. A couple have multiple locations, and I’ll mention that in case you don’t have access to a car or you want to know which option is closest to where you are staying.
I did a little bit of parenting (*tiny bit*) and limited our options to one per day (except for once). But then gave up on parenting once and embraced the idea of a massive dessert before dinner. All-in-all, a well-balanced effort (parenting and sweet-treating).
There are other sweet treat spots, but these 6 are amazing and kid-approved!
In the end, our sweet treats in Charleston list featured four ice-cream/sweet treat shops and one specialty cupcake spot and one specialty doughnut place.
Let’s start with the ice cream!
Kaminsky’s Dessert Café
Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe caters to an urban, non-family crowd in décor and design. The music and ambiance are definitely for a more sophisticated crowd than our motley crew, but we did not regret eating dessert before dinner for this one (not that we would ever regret taking that opportunity)! We weren’t uncomfortable or disappointed!
We visited the location on 2 Magnolia Street and arrived around when they open (4 PM). There are a few parking spots, but the location isn’t big and flashy on the outside so pay attention to your GPS while you’re driving.
They also have a site in the city (78 North Market St.), which I can imagine gets pretty busy.
My eldest daughter ordered a birthday milkshake which she crushed! My youngest daughter and I opted to split an enormous brownie hot fudge sundae which was AH-MAZING!
This was probably my favorite dessert stop of our entire trip. The sundae was sooooo good, and it was definitely the right call to share it. I also ordered a mocha coffee which was delicious, too.
Beardcat Sweet Shop
Changing directions, if you decide to visit the beach at Sullivan’s Island, then consider stopping for something sweet at Beardcat Sweet Shop.
It is located on the bottom floor of a house that hosts a restaurant on the top level. If you’re looking for lunch, maybe check out The Obstinate Daughter and then head downstairs for dessert. (We did not eat lunch there, but it looks convenient so if the cuisine is right for your crew, then try it out.)
Bearcat serves a lot of gelato flavors. I wasn’t sure if our girls would like it since their last experience with the creamy treat wasn’t positive, but Beardcat changed that around!
My youngest demolished her gelato-sandwich (gelato between two cookies), and my other daughter and I delighted in small gelato cups.
I use the phrase “delighted” carefully. I actually tried a flavor that was unusual, and on a tiny spoon it seemed good enough to venture into a full purchase. After a couple bites though I was done. It was still good, but it was good in small doses.
What flavor did I choose, you might ask? Sea salt and olive oil!
I loved that I had a chance to try it and was surprised to find that it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be. So “delighted” is the right word for my choice. My eldest daughter ate all of hers so I’m assuming that means it was good!
Ye Ole Fashioned Ice Cream
This was our arrival day dinner option. Ye Ole Fashioned has diner vibes, a diner/cook-out menu, and an extensive selection of ice cream (32 flavors!).
We came for ice cream, but first we had dinner.
For families, this is a great spot to eat dinner with a host of options that are typical kid-friendly fare. My eldest daughter loved her triple-decker grilled cheese sandwich, and we almost didn’t have room for ice cream when we finished eating our generous portions.
I said almost!
The line was winding through tables in the sitting area as my girls and I changed our minds at least twelve times about what we would order. In the end we tried a cup of Superman, a cup of Birthday Cake, and a cup of whatever I ordered (forgot – oops!). I actually tried two other requests first, but they were already out of those choices so I picked something fast.
There are multiple locations for this local favorite. We visited the West Ashley location, but check out their website for the most convenient option for you and for menus.
This was definitely a great choice for the day that we arrived. After a day of driving, we all wanted something easy to order and with options for everyone. Plus, ice cream!
Luckhaus & Brubaker
We almost drove right past this unassuming shop, and we would’ve missed out big-time!
Let’s say you’re tired or ice cream or someone in your family doesn’t like ice cream but everyone wants a dessert. Luckhaus & Brubaker is your place to go.
They had a great ice cream selection, but so many, many options of desserts in other forms, too. My husband got an éclair, and I ordered a chocolate chip blondie. There were cupcakes, pies, tarts, cookies, cake pops, and much more!
I loved their bright colors and creative displays, too. Cheers for the cake-pop-eating-octopus!
If we had stayed an extra day, then this probably would’ve been our first choice for a return trip. There was something for everyone the first time we visited, and we all had something different in mind to try if we visited a second time. Next time!
They are located at 1939 Maybank Hwy, on James Island. Like I said, we passed it the first time and had to turn around. It’s in a small strip mall and their unassuming sign belies their colorful and creative interior! They are closed on Monday so just be sure not to plan a visit on that day.
We’re down to our last two sweet treats in Charleston locations. The first four had ice cream options. These next two specialize in different sweet treats.
Cupcakes Down South
A South Carolina original, Cupcakes Down South has a location in Mt. Pleasant, SC and a location in Columbia, SC. Since we spent a day in Mt. Pleasant, we knew that was our day for a cupcake!
Their menu offers a set of standard and specialty cupcakes every day. The giant poster on their wall keeps an impressive record of their rotating menu. You’re in for a treat whichever day you decide to visit.
My youngest and I opted for a Cake Quake. They popped the top off of the cupcake, put a scoop of ice cream in the middle, and set the top back on. A delicious treat for a warm day!
My eldest daughter chose the Lemon Squeeze. It must’ve been good because it was gone before I could get a picture.
New creative flavors each day plus delicious standards for when you need a flavor you can count on is the perfect balance for a dessert place. Some days you want to try something new and some days you want to savor a familiar sweetness. There’s something for everyone!
This branch is located in a shopping mall next to a McAlister’s. We had lunch and then dessert. It’s another small little spot, but we found it using our GPS and then navigating the parking lot looking for the larger McAlister’s first.
Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
While my husband is not a huge fan of ice cream all the time, I am definitely not a huge fan of doughnuts. My girls are with their dad on this one so when we found a gourmet doughnut place we knew that we needed to include it.
Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts is off of King Street in Charleston (it’s one of the main streets with a lot of shopping and activity). We parked for our carriage tour and then walked to the doughnut-ery (?) for some breakfast goodness.
First tip for Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts: the earlier the better.
We arrived 9 AM-ish. They still had a good supply, but it had obviously been picked through and some were gone entirely.
Still! We ordered six and decided to split them among ourselves so we could all get a taste of various options. That would’ve worked except that my youngest daughter landed on her favorite at first bite (the Cinnamon and Sugar twist) and decided that was what she was going to eat.
The biggest surprise was that I really liked their The Purple Goat. This doughnut is a “berry goat cheese filling with a lavender glaze.” I don’t usually like foods that have flower-flavors. This flavor was a delicious exception. Just the right touch of lavender on a yummy doughnut.
It was a great breakfast treat, and I’m glad that my youngest insisted that we include it on our list!
Best Sweet Treats in Charleston: Top Pick?
But what if I had to pick just one?
There’s a reason I made the title plural! Sweet treatS!
But for me, in all honesty, two stand out.
My first pick, if it was just me without kids (though maybe my kids would agree with me here, too), I would go with Kaminsky’s. It had a small parking lot but other than that it had everything I would want in a dessert experience. Kaminsky’s had good atmosphere, great selection, delicious desserts, and a place to sit down and enjoy it without feeling cramped.
My next pick would be for entirely different reasons. Luckhaus & Brubaker is a great family-friendly spot. I love the bright displays, and the variety was perfect for a family with different preferences. Like I mentioned, we would’ve gone back, and we probably would have all tried something different. So yummy!
Sweet Treats in Charleston Recommendations
What about you? Have you visited any delicious spots in or around Charleston, SC that should be added to this list?
Do you have any sweet treat vacation traditions? I’m not sure we’ll be able to include this one for every trip that we take, but I have a feeling that it’ll be a tough option to wiggle out of for us.
If you’re looking for ideas of what to do while you’re in the city, and when you’re not eating, check out this post on a Book-Lover’s Guide to Charleston!