One of my most-emailed topics is (surprisingly) about Charleston, SC! I have been visiting Charleston since I was a young girl, because it's so close to Charlotte where I grew up. Aside from vacations and weekend trips, my boyfriend and I have had TONS of friends get married in Charleston (so if you need Charleston wedding advice, I have that too haha!). Today I'm sharing some of our favorite hotels, restaurants and things to do. Part of the beauty of Charleston is that you literally can't have a bad meal or a bad trip - every restaurant is incredible, the people are so friendly and it's just insanely beautiful.
The Meeting Street Inn: This hotel is one of the most affordable hotels downtown, yet still maintains Charleston charm and is in the PERFECT location. The hotel is old, but that's part of it's charm! There's breakfast daily and every afternoon they put out wine and cheese for the guests. There's a gorgeous little outdoor courtyard where you can sit and eat breakfast or enjoy your wine in the afternoons. It is the perfect location because it's walking distance to the battery and to all the shops and restaurants. You do have to park about a block away from the hotel, but you can unload all your luggage right in front of the hotel and then park.
Market Pavilion Hotel: This next hotel is a splurge but it's my absolute, absolute, absolute favorite hotel in Charleston. It's breathtakingly gorgeous. The rooms are decorated with antiques, comfortable beds, all-marble bathrooms and Hermes toiletry products. The staff here is incredible. Each morning they have fresh coffee out in the hallways - and I kid you not, it's the best coffee I've ever had in my entire life. I DREAM about the coffee at Market Pavilion. It's worth it to book on the Concierge Level because you get breakfast, hors d'oeuvres and wine in the afternoons and dessert at night. Perhaps the coolest part of this hotel is the rooftop - there's a pool on the rooftop, as well as an awesome bar/restaurant that serves some of the best pizza I've ever tasted.
The Belmond Charleston Place: The Belmond is another one of our favorite hotels. We love it mainly because it is dog-friendly, so we can bring Winnie along with us, yet the rooms are beautifully and luxuriously decorated. They do have balcony rooms available with a really cool view of King Street (the main street in Charleston with all the shops), but I actually prefer the Club Level floors (floors 7 and 8) - none of the rooms have balconies, but you do have access to the Club Lounge. They serve an amazing breakfast in the mornings, wine and cheese in the afternoons, and dessert and cocktails at night. I love this hotel for another reason - the shopping! Right downstairs you'll find a lot of high-end stores including Gucci and Louis Vuitton - and you don't even have to step a foot outside.
Eli's Table: Eli's Table is dog-friendly AND serves some of the best food I've ever had in my entire life. They have traditional southern fare, like shrimp and grits, salmon, roasted chicken, duck & waffles, etc., and a really good wine menu. Try the Smoked Gouda Fondue for the appetizer - it's what I imagine Heaven to taste like. And don't skimp on dessert - that's the best part!
Poogan's Porch: This is a favorite brunch/lunch spot, we try to eat here every time we're in Charleston! They have mouthwatering, buttery biscuits served with honey and jam, and delicious entrees. I particularly love the Pimento Cheese Fritters - think of warm, melty, fried pimento cheese balls.
82 Queen: I have had some wonderful lunches out on 82 Queen's patio - if it's a warm, sunny day in Charleston then this restaurant is a MUST. Nestled in Charleston's historic French Quarter, you won't find a cuter outdoor patio with such delicious food. I had the chef's special the last time I was there, a roasted chicken dish with lots of buttery mashed potatoes. Yum.
Magnolia's: Magnolia's is well renowned in Charleston for its iconic southern cuisine. If you like seafood, this place is for you! I had my birthday dinner here last year. I don't like seafood so I had the fried chicken - it was the juiciest fried chicken I've ever had!
Market Pavilion Hotel: I mentioned in the "hotels" section that the Market Pavilion Hotel has an AMAZING rooftop restaurant. I love coming here to order a drink (try the strawberry mojito) and soak in the view of Charleston, and their food is amazing too. The Quattro Formaggi Blanc Pizza is out-of-this-world good.
The Rise Coffee Bar: This coffee shop is one of the most instagrammable places in Charleston (plus the coffee is DELICIOUS). It's pretty small inside, but there's a gorgeous slab of marble that runs next to the windows where you can sit and enjoy your coffee. Try the Vanilla Almond Latte!
City Lights Coffee: If you don't care to take a picture of your latte (like I do, lol) head to City Lights for an amazing cup of coffee and the perfect little hideaway. It's both charming and intimate, and serves some of the best coffee I've ever had!
THINGS TO DO
Nathaniel Russell House: The Nathaniel Russell house is a historic house in Charleston built by wealthy shipping merchant Nathaniel Russell in 1808. The house has been fully restored to it's original splendor and they now offer hour-long guided tours of the house. We toured the house over the summer - it's so interesting to see how a wealthy family of Charleston lived back in the 1800's! Plus, the house is absolutely gorgeous and is one of the few houses in Charleston with the original kitchen, laundry and slave quarters. I recommend this tour 100%!
Take a sunset/dolphin sail - One of my absolute favorite things to do in Charleston is to go sailing out on the harbor. I have been on a few boats but prefer the Schooner Pride. The sunset sail is so much fun - my parents and Chris and I all went on it over the summer and had a blast. They serve beer and wine on board (bring cash!), and you almost always see dolphins!
Shopping: Charleston does NOT disappoint when it comes to shopping! Head to King Street where you'll find chain stores like J.Crew and Forever 21, as well as an assortment of small, interesting boutiques, jewelry shops and antique stores. Definitely stop by the Old Slave Mart - located at 6 Chalmers Street, the Mart once housed an antebellum slave auction gallery. They've now converted it into quaint little shops where you can buy handmade wicker baskets, candles, and more.
Carriage Tour: If it's your first time in Charleston, I highly recommend taking a horse-drawn carriage tour. The price ranges from $20 to $25 per person and lasts about an hour. The carriage follows a scenic route through the historic district, and the guides are always vibrant and knowledgable, sharing stories about the grand Charleston homes and their former owners.
Explore by foot: Charleston is an extremely walkable city (that being said, definitely bring your most comfortable shoes!!). Take a stroll along Rainbow Row, a colorful row of houses along East Bay Street, or along the Battery where you'll see some of the most beautiful antebellum homes you've ever seen in your life.
Ghost Tour: I have (regrettably) never taken a ghost tour in Charleston, but I have heard amazing things. Charleston is supposedly a very haunted city, and you can see for yourself with a tour of graveyards, haunted jail cells and dungeons. Here's a good list of the top ghost tours in Charleston.
Sullivan's Island: If you're craving a beach day, head to Sullivan's Island, a gorgeous beach located minutes from Charleston's downtown. It's very low-key and pristine, with a beautiful wide beach and scenic views. There are also some really great restaurants and beach bars located on Sullivan's - stop by Poe's Tavern for a burger and a Bloody Mary.
I'm sorry that was so much information! That is seriously just a SLICE of what Charleston has to offer. There are SO MANY good restaurants, coffee shops and hotels, these are just the ones I've tried and loved. If you have any questions about Charleston or want to offer your own recommendations, let me know in the comments!
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