I first visited Charleston, SC a year ago in the spring with my husband for two days while we were visiting a friend in Charlotte, NC. I immediately knew I would need to return someday, so when one of my friends picked Charleston for her bachelorette party destination, I was beyond excited to see the city for more then a couple days. It’s the perfect place for a girls weekend, but there’s also more then enough to do if you plan to stay for a week. I’m sharing everywhere we went, ate, and drank. Take notes and start dreaming of palm trees.
Where To Stay
We stayed in a house we found on VRBO.com called La Cosa Bella. You can find it here. It was perfect for 9 girls and was the perfect location for easy rides to downtown, King Street, as well as a quick walk to coffee shops and restaurants nearby. It also comes with a parking spot, which we didn’t use but would be perfect if you had a rental car while visiting.
What To Pack
According to Charleston natives, May through September is insanely hot and humid, so be prepared. The first time I was in Charleston was during the spring in March and the weather was perfect – warm, but not hot and definitely not humid at all. The middle of July was a very different experience – very hot and very humid. However, the gorgeous homes, ocean front views, cold drinks, and delicious seafood made up for the sweat.
If you plan to do a lot of sight seeing, I would recommend good walking shoes – I’ve always been a flip flop girl so I wore sandals almost every where we went, but walking on some of the cobblestone streets made me wish I had worn flats. Dresses, shorts, and tanks are all good options during the summer, too.
What To See
Charleston City Market
The Charleston city market is a must. It’s a long stretch of shopping in the heart of downtown Charleston. I got some of my favorite glasses from Old World Glass Studio, a vendor at the market. The hot ticket item here is the handwoven Sweetgrass baskets made locally from sweet grass and palmetto leaves.
Waterfront Park + Fountain
A gorgeous park right along the harbor and of course you must stop to see the pineapple fountain. It’s picture perfect with the palm trees and ocean in the background. I love that it’s literally a block away from the craziness of downtown and yet seems to take you to a completely different time and atmosphere. It’s breathtaking as you walk down the cobble stone lined path under the canopy of trees. A must go in my book!
Just st a short walk down from the fountain at Waterfront Park. The gorgeous mansions as you walk along the ocean front are stunning. This park gives you gorgeous views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse as well as a short history lesson!
We spent an entire afternoon frolicking in the ocean and it took me back to the memories of my childhood vacations spent on the beach. Not even the rain could keep us away. Folly Beach was busy but not crowded and was the perfect dose of Vitamin-Sea I needed! You can rent chairs on the beach, too for just $30/day. We walked the pier and just stared out at the ocean. It was one of my favorite days!
This is one of the most beautiful scenes in Charleston and one of the most visited streets in all of Charleston. All of the homes in Charleston with their two story porches and beautifully painted homes are gorgeous but this row of brightly painted houses are a must see. The history behind the brightly painted homes is mostly attributed to a trend started by a famous Charleton dweller that painted her homes bright pink but has also ranged to being “beacons” for the drunken sailors as they would stumble home. The most likely reason they say is that brightly painted homes are known for keeping the interior of the home cooler in the hot temperatures. Either way they’re vibrant and one of the most photographed locations in the city.
Not only are the grounds of the Magnolia Plantation like scenes from a Nicholas Sparks novel – they’re full of rich history, too. There are multiple options for tours including a boat tour, a garden tour, and a house tour. I love touring old houses so the plantation home was right up my alley and probably one of my favorite things we did in Charleston.
Sullivans Island is just North of the Charleston harbor and a little farther than Folly Beach. We enjoyed walking up and down the ocean front and admiring the beautiful houses along the beach. All of the beachfront lands are owned by the town and protected under easements, keeping intact the beautiful beaches and allowing visitors a stunning view of the ocean.
Where To Eat + Drink
This was our first meal in Charleston and it didn’t disappoint. When you visit you must get seafood. It’s unbelievably fresh and is usually local. I got the shrimp tacos and they did not disappoint. The atmosphere is laid back and there’s open seating both inside and outside.
When there’s a walk up bar while you wait, I’m not leaving. We had brunch here and I had to get some true southern food so I ordered the Charleston Nasty Biscuit…friend chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and sausage gravy over a biscuit…I mean, does it get any more southern then that? I couldn’t even eat the entire thing, it was SO good.
This place was gorgeous. From the wall of wine to the menus everything was so effortless. Drink of choice? And It Stoned Me and Tiki My Fancy. Both were nothing short of delicious. I loved this restaurant because you could do shared plates or entrees. The Roasted Peaches with spiced pecans and goat cheese was the perfect mix of sweet and savory. For dinner I got the Pork Bolognese ‘Bianco’ – a herb cavatelli. So good. One of my friends got the King Salmon Tartare – also delicious.
Five words: Braised Beef Short Rib Risotto. When a restaurant claims to be award winning, there is usually a reason. This upscale restaurant was definitely that without being stuffy. I have never had a better plate of food. It was mouth watering and literally melted in my mouth. I kid you not, my friend was basically in tears when she tried it. We also ordered the Fresh Berry Salad, the Housemade Pimento Chese, the Cedar Plank Salmon, and the Pan Roasted Duck Breast. Al of the dishes get 5 stars. Make sure you have reservations if this is on your list!
We stopped here for appetizers before dinner and if the guacamole and quest are any indication of their food – literally the best I’ve ever had! The restaurant is very laid back and is literally in an old Charleston home. I was obsessed. They make the perfect Pima colada, too!
Named Charlston’s best waterfront dining in the harbor, we stopped here for drinks before we had to leave town and I got the Pomegranate Mojito – it was everything you’d expect from a mojito and the view? Absolutely the best.
When I had been in town with my husband we came here for drinks with friends, and the roof top was so much fun. When I came here with the girls we ate brunch and it was delicious – everything from appetizers to breakfast to dessert.
Another must stop if you’re in town – and I would recommend stopping by during the day to see the gorgeous hotel. I wouldn’t mind staying there on my next visit!
This is a popular bar in Charleston so we of course had to stop here for a drink. Let me tell you, the bartenders in suspenders and the best drink I’ve ever tasted: Strawberry Smash. Watching them make it made me not even want to drink it – it was so pretty !
Carmella’s Gourmet Dessert Bar
This place was the cutest bar ever, I mean the lighting, the ice cream, the drinks. Perfect stop on a night out with your girlfriends.
I am a sucker for fish tacos or shrimp tacos and this place had some of the best! They basically have an a la carte menu for different types of tacos – I got the Baja Fish and Tempura Shrimp…both were SO yummy!
When we visited in the Spring not only did I eat the most amazing baja tacos, and the best coconut shrimp EVER, we got to see dolphins (insert girly screams) that were just hanging out, swimming next to our table at dinner…definitely one of my favorite memories of South Carolina.
After two visits to Charleston. I still feel like there’s so many places I would love to still see. It’s definitely a foodie town and for good reason, so take advantage of it. The only restaurant I wish we had gotten to is Husk – if you’re thinking of going you’ll definitely want to get reservations up to 3 months in advance. I know, right?! Overall, Charleston has to be one of my favorite vacation locations. Next on my travel bucket list: Boston, Savannah, Napa Valley, and Seattle. Until my next vacation,