King Street, Charleston's longtime retail haven, has competition. Savvy shoppers are trekking a few blocks north to the city's first design district—nicknamed ChoHo—where more than two dozen boutiques have opened in Civil War—era buildings.

Clothing: Magar Hatworks (557 1/2 King St.; 843/577-7740) carries innovative creations: how about a felt cheetah cocktail chapeau?Snap up a wide, hip-hugging belt at Weezie & Louis (440 King St.; 843/958-0120), which has a lounge-like interior.

Jewelry: For hippie necklaces from Hollywood's favorite label, Sage, hit ESD (517 King St.; 843/577-6272), a 4,000-square-foot warehouse that stocks modern accessories and vintage furnishings. At Filigree (47 John St.; 843/722-6189), Charleston designer Heather Key Tiller fashions such singular pieces as gemstone lariats.

Shelter: Dwelling (474 King St.; 843/723-9699) displays mohair throws and curvaceous lidded vases. At Y Design (507 King St.; 843/937-9100), Ann Yancy lights up the area with her "baseless" lamps. Neighborhood pioneer Robert Hines produces stained-glass windows and mosaic panels at Hines Studios (579 King St.; 843/722-0207).

Where to Eat: With its tin ceiling and smoky mirrors, 39 Rue de Jean (39 John St.; 843/722-8881; lunch for two $30) is straight out of Paris. Savor pepper-seared diver scallops at Fish (442 King St.; 843/722-3474; dinner for two $65), on a porch with red lanterns.