Charleston, South Carolina
Clearly you can eat your way thru Charleston..
- More about your oliver guide: Boo Morton
- Trip type: Adult, Family, City
- Activity level: easy
- Ideal length of trip: Long Weekend
to & from
The airport is newly renovated with a fair amount of flights offered by all major airlines. If you are mainly going to be downtown I do not recommend renting a car as parking is a pain and driving is not always easy with a lot of oneway streets and horse carriage tours, etc. It is better to take a cab, Uber or pedicab! Yes – pedicabs are an easy and fun way to go to dinner or as an open air tour through the old neighborhoods on a warm Spring, Summer or Fall night.
Where to Stay
There are loads of places to stay and lot of NEW great hotels:
- Zero George: Boutique hotel downtown.
- The Dewberry Hotel : A new small hotel.
- The Spectator : Another new hotel downtown.
- 86 Cannon : A new boutique inn – looks great!
- The Charleston Place Hotel: Family friendly, centrally located downtown.
- The Mills House / The Wentworth Mansion
- Planter’s Inn : If you want a more historic place to stay.
- Andrew Pinckney Inn: Centrally located, clean and nice.
If you are looking for a few nights slightly outside the downtown area or at the beach…
- One of the old Plantations with beautiful gardens like the Inn at Middleton Place.
- Beat the heat with the ocean waves at The Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah.
Where to Eat and Drink
- Second State Coffee
- Kudu: Nice outdoor space
- The Daily: Quick and good
- Hominy Grill : Good old southern food – definitely get the grits!
- Marina Variety Store: Good with kids – nothing fancy.
- Queen Street Grocery: Crepes
- Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit: Best southern biscuits sandwiches – line out the door – on King Street.
- Park Cafe: Good with kids.
- The Grocery
- Edmund’s Oast
- Virginia’s: Southern on King Street.
- Henrietta’s in the Dewberry Hotel
- Monza : Good with kids. Pizzas and fresh salads on King Street.
- Butcher & Bee Seasonal Fresh Middle Eastern: SO good! Mezze plates to share are a must (also good for dinner) Don’t want to miss this place!
- Goat, Sheep, Cow: Small French cheese shop on Church Street. You can grab a sandwich if you get there early or try new cafe location too. Great cheeses, salads, soup and wine!
- Xiao Boa Biscuit: Asian Soul Food – again a must – for lunch or dinner.
- Leon’s: Oyster’s & fried Chicken (kid friendly) good for lunch or dinner.
- 176 Raw: Good for dinner as well. Not good for big groups. wonderful seafood/ oysters. (A must!)
- The Artisan Meat Share: If you like meat!
- Le Farfalle: Italian – really good and works for bigger groups.
- Little Jacks Tavern: Pub like – really good burger.
- The Ordinary: High-end oysters & seafood.
- FIG: Same owner chef as The Ordinary, Mike Latta. Really good, fresh cuisine. Eating at the bar and community table are good options if you cannot get a table. Great cocktails too!
- Chez Nous: Really amazing French food. You will feel like you are in France. The small menu changes daily. Good for brunch too!
- The Rarebit
BBQ: (there a lot of new a good BBQ places!)
- The Belmont
- Bin 152: Wine bar (same owners as Chez Nous). Good place to stop after shopping on King & good cheese!
- The Cocktail Club
- The Dewberry Hotel
What to Do
- Renting Bikes is fun (a lot of hotels have them or easy to rent). Bike thru old neighborhoods--South of Broad Street is the best area to see old big houses and neighborhoods.
- Carriage Ride Tours
- Shop: There are great shops all the way up King Street with wonderful clothing and furniture/ home items.
- Clothing - Billy Reid IBU Hampden RTW
- Kids Clothing - Pink Chicken, Sugar Snap Pea, Roberta Roller Rabbit
- Home Stores: Alexandra AD (beautiful antiques) SOM (South of Market) Fritz Porter, AIM, Workshop
- Visit the plantations and gardens a little outside of town: Middleton Place, Magnolia
- Beaches: Sullivan's Island is an easy ride from downtown.
- Paddle Board or kayak in Shem Creek
- The Farmer's Market is fun for breakfast and with kids - Saturday morning (April thru Nov.)
- The Children's Museum & The Aquarium both great for kids though would avoid on weekend.
- Yorktown, Fort Sumter, house tours and the Old Jail are all great stops for history buffs.
- Before planning your trip to Charleston, I would suggest checking the city website to see if there are any major events going on during your planned visit. Charleston is a small city, so when you get an already busy tourist town on an extra busy weekend it can be a little crowded or harder to get into that "must go" restaurant.
- If you hate the really hot humid heat avoid coming in the summer months. June is still okay, but typically July, August and September are hot and humid. The Spring and Fall are ideal October, November, December - March, April and May.
Charleston, South Carolina - Suggestions from the Oliver Community
Tommy Dew’s walking tour is not any old touristy walking tour. He is a wealth of knowledge and he is passionate about the South and Charleston’s significance in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It was completely intriguing listening to his explanations of the city’s history and its rise and fall in context of the wars, as well as into the 20th century. He is highly recommended by many travel magazines.
The Belmond Charleston Place is an amazing hotel to stay at with kids as there is an incredible rooftop pool with retractable roof, in case it is sunny or rainy. The rooms are big and the service is terrific. It is super central too.
Drayton Hall Plantation– about 20 minutes outside of city– is absolutely exquisite. It is the earliest example of preserved Georgian antebellum architecture dating back to 1738. Everything has been left in its original state (read: no electricity, or replicated pieces). The grounds are simply stunning and you get a real flavor for the way plantation life worked as well as its significance within Charleston and South Carolina’s history.
Where do I begin? I haven’t been to Charleston in 20 years… and now back with my 16 year old daughter on a road trip to check out colleges. Fortunately Serena loves to eat and shop as much as I do…. so we managed to see (eat, shop) a lot in our 48 hours!
STAY- My favorite travel agent, Polly Bade recoomdned The Planters Inn. Location is perfection, old school and charming. We LOVED our dinner at The Peninsula Grill (in the hotel) as well.
EAT- Very college-friendly, Caviar and Bananas, (on CofC campus) reasonable and delicious!
EAT: FIG, a few blocks from our hotel, we happened upon it, sat at the bar and had an incredible dinner. Our plan had been to go to Leon’s, but wanted to walk to dinner. Friend and local, Claudia says this is her favorite restaurant in Charleston. Need I say more? Exactly.
DO: Mts girls needed the beach, so after 2 days of intense driving and college tours we escaped to the beach. YES, Sullivan’s Island is only 15 minute drive. So easy and worth it. After 2 hours soaking up the beach we treated ourselves to Co-Op Froze (TIP, get a Froze bottle BEFORE the beach) and then had the MOST AMAZING APRÉS beach bite at Obstinate Daughter, sophisticated cool scene, delicious food.
SHOP: In Sullivan Island we found ourselves at GOLDBUG, accessible, unique jewelry, gifts and clothes; owner, Ashley Martin designs really cool jewelry and has a great eye. Also had good sunscreen! Beanie & Coco, fun clothes impressive brands (Farm Rio, Love Shack Fancy, Aviator Nation) great vibe. In Charleston we loved Julep, Beau & Ro, Maddison Matthew and Pink Chicken were our favorite spots! Charleston, you remind of us of Georgetown, but with Palm Trees and beaches and we like you (a lot)!
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