I went to Charleston, South Carolina for the very first time in late October with my dear friend Lisa C. and I am absolutely in love. What a charming town! Not only is it rich in history – the food, people, shopping and site seeing are top notch. Cobblestone roads, gas lanterns, waterfront views and flowering window boxes could be some of the reasons why Charleston ranked as the number one ‘Best Little City’ in Conde Nast Traveler for 2019. Today I am recapping our trip and giving you details about where to eat, stay and what to do. Let’s explore my top 5 reasons Charleston should be on your destinations list.
Whether you are planning a romantic weekend, girls trip, wedding or just simply want to explore a great little town, Charleston should definitely be on your travel list. I have no idea why its taken me so long to get there. Fortunately for me, my friend Lisa C. was kind enough to let me tag along on a trip. She’s been many times and planned our itinerary. I just packed my bags and followed her directions.
Here was my first surprise – Charleston is a small town of about 180,000 residents. I thought I was heading to a large city. It’s on a peninsula surrounded by the Charleston Bay, Ashley River and Cooper River and it’s a walking town so bring your walking shoes! Which is good news because you are going to eat your way through this town. Every single meal we had was delicious and I don’t know how I managed to stay in Keto while there. That was truly a test of my willpower. 🙁
I am listing everything we did and where we ate below. I am also giving you a few suggestions for places to stay. We stayed in a private home while there so my recommendations are not based on personal experience.
We flew Southwest Airlines non-stop from Dallas – Charleston and it’s an easy flight. In fact, everything about this journey is easy. We did not have a rental car while there and I would say you really don’t need one. Uber and Lyft are readily available and like I said, it’s a walking town.
EAT: Oh gosh, this list could go on and on but here is where we ate and I can highly recommend. This is the order in which we experienced these establishments in downtown Charleston. Pop into Blind Tiger Pub for a cocktail and snack. Sit outside if the weather is warm. The Grocery for dinner – delicious, organic fare. We went to Marina Variety Store for breakfast and it’s a true delight. Lots of locals hang out here. Chez Nous is a quaint little house that converted to a lovely restaurant. The food was ok, I think the hype is about the ambiance. It’s really hard to get a reservation and I would say it’s because the restaurant is tiny. Halls Chophouse for Sunday Gospel Brunch. This is a must in my opinion! The food is excellent and the singing is divine. HUSK is a lovely mansion converted to a beautiful restaurant. The bar is in the house next door. Be sure to have a drink over there while waiting for your table. We ate dinner outside on the front balcony and it was beautiful weather. Lunch at 82 Queen. Eat outside if the weather permits. Be sure to order the shrimp and grits – so good! Dinner at F.I.G.(Food Is Good) – this was my favorite meal and dining experience. We did not have reservations so we showed up right when they opened at 5 PM. TIP: Sit at the round community table in the front and make new friends. We had the most delicious meal and fun conversation that evening! On our last day, we had lunch at Fleet Landing which overlooks the water before departing for the airport.
STAY: Hotel Bennet, Wentworth Mansion (be sure to check out the spa), The Belmond Charleston Place, Planters Inn, Two Meeting Street Inn, Zero George, The Vendue Hotel and Francis Marion Hotel.
WEAR: Charleston is very relaxed and casual. It’s surrounded by water so be prepared for humidity. It was warm and around 75 degrees daily. It’s good to have a jacket for dinner/evening. We only wore casual clothing. If we wore heels with an outfit, we did not walk to dinner. We took an Uber.
SHOP: There are lots of great little boutiques in downtown Charleston. Be sure to check out the Charleston Rice Spoon (pictured below) at antique shops. I even included the history behind it. Fascinating! Be sure to check out The Shops at Belmond Place (high end boutiques like Gucci and Louis Vuitton), Croghan’s Jewel Box, Hampden Clothing, Lou Lou, Finicky Filly (this was my favorite shop), Christian Michi and Marine Layer. The Charleston City Market is worth a walk through if you are looking for local stuff like soaps, sweetgrass baskets, artist drawings, tea and much more. The stalls and vendors are there daily.
TO DO: Visit a plantation. We chose to do the Boone Hall Plantation which is about 30 minutes away. UBER will take you and pick you up. There are several plantations within a 30 minute drive. Fort Sumter is rich in history and a must see. The first shot of the Civil War occurred in Charleston and is told at Fort Sumter. TIP: Take the 2:30 ferry (last one of the day) and you will be able to participate in the lowering of the flag ceremony. I’m so glad we got to do this. Your total time will be about 2 1/2 hours including the ferry rides. Tour the Calhoun Mansion and see old Charleston in its glory. Charleston’s largest private home has 35 rooms and is over 24,000 square feet. It was built in 1876. Also, there are a lot of churches, parks and waterfront walkways to explore. You can rent bikes anywhere and explore Charleston!
WHEW! We got a lot done in four days! I highly recommend a trip to Charleston and can’t wait to go back. What should I do next time?
xoxo – Tanya
Travel Style Tip: There was rain in the forecast so I wanted to be sure to have a rain jacket with me. Wear your jacket on the plane.
Top 5 Reasons Charleston Should Be On Your Destinations List
1. Beautiful buildings and charming homes
This stretch of East Bay Street is known as Rainbow Row. I believe it is comprised of 13 homes. It’s a gorgeous stretch to shoot on. Outfit details are linked.
2. Charleston is a culinary oasis
Lunch at 82 Queen is divine. If weather permits, sit outside. The gazebo below is part of the outdoor seating area.
3. From Plantation to Forts – Historic Charleston
Fort Sumter is a sea fort in Charleston, South Carolina, notable for two battles of the American Civil War. The First Battle of Fort Sumter began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery fired on the Union garrison. These were the first shots of the Civil War.
Boone Hall Plantation is one of America’s most photographed plantations. Part of the movie The Notebook was filmed at the main house. Nine of the original twenty seven slave homes still stand and are available for tour. Be sure to stay for the presentation on Gullah Culture. It’s a fascinating education. Charleston red brick was made on the plantation as well as farming for cotton, pecans and more.
The corner of Meeting and Broad Streets in Charleston, has four buildings, which each represent different legal jurisdictions: St. Michael’s Episcopal Church representing God’s law, Charleston City Hall representing city law, the Charleston County Courthouse representing state law, and the Federal Courthouse (and U.S. Post Office) representing federal laws.
5. Locals know it best
Breakfast at Marina Variety Store is a must. It’s where you will find the locals.
Lunch at Fleet Landing – its housed in a 1940s retired naval building on the east side of the Charleston peninsula. Weather permitting, sit outside and enjoy the water view.
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