Charleston, SC: The ULTIMATE Holy City Travel Guide
HAPPY FRI-YAY, fam! I’ve been so excited for this post to go live for over a week now. Today is the recap + travel guide for Charleston, SC! I was able to go and spend four days with my bff, her mama and my mama for an amazing mother-daughter getaway. My mom and dad actually did part of their honeymoon in Charleston, so it was like a walk down memory lane for my mama. I loved being able to see the things they did and enjoy the same activities my parents did as newlyweds 25 years ago (before I was even a thought!!). I have never been to Charleston, but I just had a feeling I would fall in love with it and boy was I right. I am pretty certain I was born in the wrong part of the country because I swear I was meant to be a classic southern belle. Never too late right? … RIGHT? Anyways. We had the BEST time and I built this itinerary with first-time South Caroliners in mind. I took lots of recommendations from you guys, and good ol’ Google and my parents from back in the day. I think we did everything we possibly could and fit in so much while we were there. Let’s dive into this.
Charleston, SC: The ULTIMATE Holy City Travel Guide
Arrive at 3:00pm – check in at The Inns.
This was the CUTEST bed and breakfast. FUNNY STORY: so, there are two different “Inns” in Charleston. One is this quaint B&B. The other is on an Airforce base. Guess which one we accidentally put into our GPS from the airport…#whoops. So be sure you type in “The Inns, Charleston” when you are GPSing your way to this location because you will end up on the Airforce base and the will have to escort you out and it will be super uncomfortable. Womp.
Once you DO get to The Inns, however, it’s the most darling little place. It is set up like a little apartment so you definitely feel right at home and you don’t have to share space with other people. Our little section had a wrap around porch (SO picturesque), a fun wet bar with snacks, a beautiful newly-renovated bathroom and two bedrooms. My mama and I got one, and Erica and her mama got the other. Each room has a wood burning fireplace, a super comfortable bed with more pillows than you know what to do with, and each room has a door leading out to the porch.
The best part is you don’t have to use a key to get in. Each section of the house has a padlock you use a special code with. It’s so easy because you never feel like you are going to lose a key and not be able to get back in (because the owners aren’t on site).
Late lunch/early dinner at The Darling Oyster Bar
This restaurant was SO … well .. darling. 😉 It’s very appropriately named. It’s located right on King Street (the main strip of downtown), and just a short 3 minute drive from The Inns. There is plenty of parking on the street so you can easily park and walk. The inside aesthetic is bright and open with pops of teal. They were so sweet and accommodating and the waiter was so happy to give suggestions on the best food they have on the menu. Because me, my mom and Erica (for the moment) don’t drink, but still wanted some yummy drinks with our dinner, our waiter was more than happy to offer some DELICIOUS mocktail suggestions.
Explore King Street
King Street was really just a lot of shopping + restaurants, so definitely worth a look if you are into that sort of thing! If you need a drugstore for any reason, they also have big Walgreens that we used to grab bug spray (because apparently Erica was emitting 21% more CO2 than the rest of us and mosquitos LOVED IT). Lots of the restaurants we ate at were also on this street, so we kind of used this as our central location.
Dessert at Republic of Ice Cream
This ice cream was SO delicious. I opted to get their chocolate soft serve in a waffle cone and it was so creamy and delicious. It was the PERFECT way to end our long day of travel. We took our ice cream back to the B&B and ended up just eating it and talking on the wrap around porch watching the city of Charleston wind down! There were lots of things we wanted to do before ended the night – but we quickly realized that most businesses close around 5-6pm. SO when you plan your day, be sure to pay close attention to closing times so you don’t miss out on things you want to do.
Breakfast at Eastside Bagels
This was a really hole-in-the-wall kind of place but I am SO glad we ate here for breakfast. We all went with the “Wendall” bagel which is a plain bagel with cinnamon sugar cream cheese and it was INCREDIBLE. It was a big bagel toasted and they definitely used a generous amount of cream cheese. 10/10 from all of us. *ps they also had a Nutella + strawberry bagel we didn’t try that looked MOUTH-WATERING. If you test this one out – let me know how it is.
Old South Carriage Company for a historical carriage tour of downtown Charleston
Carriage companies are dime-a-dozen in Charleston so you are bound to find one that you want to do a tour with! We went with Old South and they did a fabulous job. The tour guide was soft spoken so sometimes it was al little hard to hear her, but overall she was very knowledgable and had a lot of fun facts about the history of Charleston. Any one of them would do a great job, I’m sure! The neat part about these carriage tours are they are run on a lottery system – so you never know where you are going to end up! You may get a whole new tour you’ve never done before and learn new things every time you take one.
Lunch at Miller’s All Day Diner
This little diner was SO CUTE. I would absolutely go back. Not only was the aesthetic old fashioned and sweet, the food was delicious. I ordered their waffles and they came topped with bananas, sorghum, caramel, and meringue and they actually tasted like a banana cream pie which is my favorite kind of pie. We also got the biscuits and gravy and O.M.G. I am STILL dreaming about them. The food was not disappointing this trip.
Magnolia Plantation tour
I HIGHLY recommend taking a plantation tour – even if it isn’t this one. Magnolia is neat because it’s one of the oldest plantations in South Carolina. Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family (which it is still owned by today), it is home to one of the most beautiful gardens in the United States. It has an amazing story you can read about here. We opted to take the nature tour so we could see the grounds (BEWARE if you do this – you will be so close you can touch the alligators and spiders will try to attack you) and it was BEAUTIFUL. FUN FACT: the swamps here at the Magnolia are the inspiration for Shrek’s swamp and the location looks just like it did in the movie! Next, we chose to do the house tour and got ALL the history of the house and family as well.
Dinner at Poogan’s Smokehouse
This was not our original dinner plan but a follower of Erica’s suggested this place for us to eat and it didn’t disappoint! If you are looking for a place that has a KILLER macaroni and cheese – this is it. It is SO rich, creamy and delicious. My mom and I split the pimento cheese fritters, too, and o.m.g. talk about MOUTHWATERING. We really enjoyed the atmosphere, kind waitstaff and easy location! You’re almost right there on the water which is ideal.
Breakfast at Clean Juice
This was just a quick stop on our way to the city market – they have quite a few of these around and while they’re kind of pricey – they’re definitely delicious.
Morning at the Historic City Market
This was super fun! It opens at 9:30am and it’s a huge long strip of flea market-esque type shops. We enjoyed looking at the local Charleston handmade items (like the incredible handmade baskets). I bought a really pretty opal ring to remember my fun trip by! If you love flea markets or outdoor shops like this, then you will LOVE doing this. We had a great time exploring everything the shop owners of Charleston have to offer.
Brunch at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
If you are looking for the actual best biscuits in town – this is it. We were able to get the bakers dozen so we could try out all of their yummy biscuits AND we got a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. It’s a tiny, tiny little place that actually used to be an alley way. Pro tip – make sure you order butter, honey and gravy at a minimum if you get the baker’s dozen because it doesn’t come automatically and you will find they are too dry to eat on their own.
FUN FACT: some of the buildings in Charleston are 1/2 addresses (and 1/4 and 1/8) because they have added new buildings in between old ones. So Callie’s is 476 1/2 King St. We swore it didn’t exist and then we realized we were just passing the tiny entrance.
Tour Rainbow Row
This is a one and done kind of thing and it’s one of Charleston’s most famous row of houses! It’s a row that is SO brightly colored, you can’t help but take all of the pictures. There isn’t really anything special about it, except to say that you’ve been there and seen it.
The Old Exchange + Provost Dungeon Tour
This was super neat and full of old history. You actually get to walk in the dungeons where they held criminals and pirates – and you can feel how old the brick is. If walls could talk – these would have crazy stories.
Walk Battery Park
This isn’t a very time consuming activity, but if you have a chance, battery park is a beautiful place to walk off your dinner and enjoy the beauty Charleston has to offer. You are surrounded by old houses, the water and the crazy live oak trees South Carolina is known for.
Dinner at Stella’s
This is a greek restaurant that is to DIE.FOR. Everything was wildly delicious but if you want a REAL treat – take my word for it and get the Feta Phylo. It’s more of an appetizer than a full meal but don’t plan on sharing this one. It’s feta wrapped in phylo, baked and then topped with honey, fresh lemon and toasted sesame. MOUTH. WATERING.
Walk Waterfront Park
This is very similar to Battery Park in the fact that it’s really more of a post-dinner activity than a spend-your-day here kind of activity. You can tour the docks and see the sailboats and it’s just really pretty.
Ghost tour with Ashley on the Cooper Walking Tours
THIS WAS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP! So, one of the nights Erica and her mom went back to prop her feet up (#pregnantprobs) and my mom and I just weren’t quite done with the evening. We decided to call around and see who had a ghost tour available and it was SO much fun. This ghost tour was filled with scary stories, rich history and it was so fun to see Charleston light up in the lamp light.
Breakfast at Caviar + Bananas
These seem to be a chain around here and our original breakfast plan was squashed so we ended up here! Our first plan was to go to this amazing looking crepe place but when we got there, they had closed for the day for some unknown reason. So. Down the street was this little place. They had delicious bagels and this to-die-for jam and ricotta toast you HAVE to try.
Checkout at The Inns
PIN THIS FOR LATER:
We had the actual best time and I’m still enjoying reliving my favorites parts of the trip. My main highlights that I would absolutely do again were the Carriage tour, Miller’s All Day Diner, plantation tour and the walking ghost tour. I love the fact that this city is SO rich in history. I have never lived somewhere that’s been around for hundreds and hundreds of years (because in the grand scheme of things, America is still kind of a baby) and the fact that I was walking streets or walking into homes and buildings that have been around since the 1700’s was incredible to me. I went home and did so much research on different people I never learned about in school but had really amazing stories.
I hope you get a chance to visit Charleston sometime soon. The people were so lovely, the weather was fantastic and the history is mind-blowing.
Have you ever been to Charleston, SC? What was your favorite part? Do you have a favorite activity or restaurant I didn’t mention here? Let me know in the comments below!