Charleston, South Carolina is one of the most idyllic and charming cities that I’ve had the privilege of visiting many times over the course of my life. It still feels very unspoiled and true to its origins, which is a rarity among places that attract as many visitors as Charleston does. Read on for some of my favorite places and spaces in this lovely city.
Check out my Instagram photo journey through Charleston via my hashtag #Caro_in_Charleston !
Where To Stay
Having experienced Charleston a number of ways, you can’t go wrong whether you decide to stay at a hotel or book an Air BnB. I’ve stayed at the Francis Marion Hotel, which is in the heart of town and could not be more convenient. I’ve also booked a quiet Air BnB on a little street off of King and it felt a bit more quaint and local.
Where To Eat
Two Boroughs Larder – My all-time favorite brunch spot in Charleston. The house-baked bread is absolutely unreal (don’t skip it, you have to order it), and every menu item is unique, seasonal, and insanely fresh.
Hominy Grill – For down-home Southern cooking, look no further than Hominy Grill. You could make a meal from the sides alone (think fried grits and collard greens), but don’t miss the fried chicken, shrimp n’ grits, and ribs. And save room for dessert (buttermilk pie anyone?).
Brown’s Court Bakery – Perfect for a quick breakfast, or you can linger on the front porch. Brown’s boasts a delectable selection of pastries, but my go-to is the coconut iced coffee and sriracha croissant. Go early for the best selection.
The Ordinary – One of my favorite seafood places of all time. Period. Think local oysters, ceviche, crab toast, and grilled fish. Oh, and she-crab paella. Add a glass of rose and you are good to go.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream – Because no vacation is complete without ice cream. This spot is not native to Charleston, but it is delicious nonetheless. Go for the seasonal flavors for the freshest selection.
Husk – Sean Brock’s classic Charleston spot, Husk is a gem to stumble upon on a quiet block off of King Street. It looks like a quaint residential home and has a two-story front porch that’s perfect for sipping on a cocktail prior to your feast.
Sugar Bakeshop – For an afternoon pick-me-up, nothing beats the grapefruit cupcake filled with raspberry jam from Sugar. Pair it with an iced coffee and you’re golden.
FIG – The sister restaurant to The Ordinary, but another one that cannot be missed. I recommend ordering a ton of plates for the table and sharing. Everything is simple but absolutely delicious.
Leon’s Oyster Shop – Don’t be deterred by the fact that Leon’s resides on the upper portion of King St; it is KILLER. Order every variation of oysters that they offer (think: raw, char-grilled, and fried), and do not even think about skipping the fried brussels sprouts on the side.
The Belmont – For artisan cocktails and excellent people watching, look no further than Belmont on King St. It’s perfect for a nightcap after dinner (before or after you hit up Jeni’s for ice cream).
What To Do
The Battery – Take a stroll down King Street to the tip of the city, and you will hit what is known as the Battery. Filled with some of the oldest homes in the city, this area is centered around a beautiful waterfront park, and exploring it is the perfect way to get to know the city.
Rainbow Row – This charming residential stretch filled with pastel-colored homes is quintessential Charleston. Not to mention incredibly photo op-worthy.
Sullivan’s Island Beach – Catch a quick Uber out to Sullivan’s Island, and get ready for a gorgeous beach day. This public beach is easily accessible and boasts white sand as far as the eye can see. Make a day of it and hit up Poe’s Tavern for a gut-busting burger, or The Obstinate Daughter for oysters and more polished cuisine.
Deep Water Vineyard & Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island – In lieu of a traditional winery scene, Charleston has corned the market on sweet tea vodka and moonshine. Deep Water (Formerly Irvin House) is a two-for-one – sample sweet tea vodkas and house-made moonshine at Firefly, and enjoy a wine slushy (yes, that’s a real thing) and BBQ lunch among the vines. Perfect for a casual afternoon with the girls.
Side Trip – Kiawah Island
If you have a few extra days, I could not recommend renting a little beach house on Kiawah Island more highly. Spend your days on the soft sand beaches, biking around the island, kayaking at sunset (you can and will see dolphins), sipping cocktails on the golf course at the Kiawah Island Golf Club, and lounging by the pool at The Sanctuary. It is the perfect summer retreat to complement a few days in the hustle and bustle of Charleston downtown.