Charleston Travel Guide

Louis Vuitton clutch, buy pre-owned HERE // Michele watch // David Yurman bracelet
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 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!

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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  1. This dress is so adorable on you! And I've been wanting to plan another Charleston trip soon, so I love these recommendations!

    By Lauren M

  2. Thank you for sharing this! This is what I needed to prepare me for my (hopefully) Charleston trip!

  3. What a great way to start my morning and read such an interesting editorial on SC! I'll be checking these out on my visit for sure. Great read & pretty outfits!

  4. Such a good Charleston guide! I've only been there once but I'm so excited to go back one day soon and I'll definitely have to bookmark this list <3

    Xo, Nina
    Law of Fashion Blog

  5. Such a cute outfit! I can't wait to visit Charleston!
    xo, Caitlin

  6. thanks for sharing all these amazing places in Charleston, it was so beautiful when we went, I can't wait to visit again!!
    Areli's April
    Areli's April on Bloglovin

  7. LOVE this outfit! And thanks for the travel guide!

    xo, Carey

  8. I absolutely love this travel guide! I can't wait to one day visit Charleston! It sounds like such a wonderful place!

    Also, your dress is absolutely beautiful!

    I hope you have a magnificent Monday,

  9. I was in Charleston for the first time last year, and i'd love to go back to explore it a little more. it's a beautiful southern city.

    i also had my first taste of hush puppies with wildflower honey butter (INCREDIBLE) but I cannot remember where it was. Inside there was an upstairs that you could access through an elevator, and it may have had a brewery in it? Regardless, I loved it. I'll jot down your suggestions!

  10. Love your off shoulder dress! Great guide! I would love to visit too:P

    Shall We Sasa

  11. I have gone to Charleston quite a bit as well but the last trip I took with my now husband for our "engagement moon" was probably my favorite trip we've taken! I love the culture and small town feel Charleston has & the food! Oh my food is so good!

    C's Collection |

  12. If you haven't been to Charleston, GO! It's so beautiful and charming. We go every year since we live close by. I agree that Poogan's Porch and Magnolias are a must. We really enjoy Coast Bar & Grill, Fleet Landing, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar, Prohibition, Minero (best spicy Margarita EVAH), Slightly North of Broad, the Rooftop Bar at Vendue. Gosh, I could go on and on. You should def do a walking tour, visit the Market, Rainbow Row, the Battery, and any of the historic homes. It's amazing to see how opulent some of them are and how well they've been maintained.

  13. Charlestown sounds so lovely, it's definitely on my list of places I want to travel to! I live in a small tourist town that has ghost tours, but have never been on one either lol.

  14. This a great travel guide, Caitlin! I love how you included different price ranges with the hotels and various things to do aside from shopping. One of my besties isn't too keen on shopping, she's more of the exploring type. I'm definitely going to refer to this for a future trip because I've always wanted to visit SC (and NC too)! Thanks, Caitlin!

    She Sweats Diamonds

  15. Such an adorable dress! Love the color!!

  16. Seabrook Island is my favorite place in the Charleston area. Super close to the Angel Oak, tea plantation, and Firefly distillery. Also close to the small town of Rockville which is historic and cute. And the best place to eat is Chez Fish which is on the main drive in!

  17. Great guide! If you love Charleston this much, I highly recommend a visit to New Orleans!

  18. This outfit is so perfect for Charleston! It's one of my fave places– you listed some perfect spots. I highly recommend you take a ghost tour next time you are there, it's so fun and you learn some great things about the city! Loved this post!

  19. Such a beautiful dress! 🙂

  20. You look so cute, I have the same clutch and love it <3

    'Share' by August Harvest

  21. Summery, cute and girly outfit! Lovely post!

  22. Stunning outfit as always! And thanks for the tips! xxx

  23. I want to visit Charleston so bad now! Thanks for all the great info, definitely adding it to my list!

    xo, Miranda

  24. Charleston is one of my favorite places to visit! Also, I love your shoes!
    Lauren |

  25. Lovely review about Charleston and also really complete one, I am sure I am not going to get lost or bored if I ever go there!


  26. That dress is so pretty and you can pull off any hat! Jealous!! Thank you so much for the Charleston guide! Been dying to visit and now I have places I can go thanks to you!

  27. My husband and I visited Charleston while on our honeymoon & we loved the city so much! We cannot wait to go back…I'm definitely bookmarking this post so that we can add your restaurants to our list!

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

  28. Love that dress!


  29. Your dress is so pretty! Charleston seems like a lovely place to visit!


  30. The hubby, baby and I are dashing off to family vacation in Charleston next week and I'm hoping to score some southern inspiration for some new York Design Co products. Thanks for the recs!

  31. Gorgeous dress! You look stunning! Love your travel guides!


  32. Such a sweet look! Can't wait for my southern vaca this summer for all the pretty pastels!

  33. I'm going to Charleston for the first time in a month! Thank you for sharing your travel guide – will definitely put it to use!


  34. Totally saving this post for future trip plans! 🙂

  35. Will you move to Charleston someday? This is a place I want to live in a few years! I'm from Washington state but my husband and I lived in Savannah for a few years while he was in the army. I miss it so so so much!!!!!!

  36. Will you move to Charlestown someday? I'm from Washington state but my husband and I lived in Savannah for a few years while he was in the army. I miss it so so so much! I would love to move there someday! Btw, I love you blog!!


  37. this dress is so pretty on you!

  38. So wonderful! Definitely used this guide on my trip to Charleston!

  39. Love this! I visited Charleston last spring but I definitely want to visit again soon!


  40. Some great tips.. we are head there next week. Can't wait!

  41. Ah, you're so beautiful! Love your outfit!



  42. This look is so pretty and gets me instantly into summer mood!
    Best, Eva

  43. Super excited to be heading to Charleston for the first time next week. Thanks for the tips! Anything additional we shouldn't see/eat? Thanks!

  44. Heading to Charleston for the first time for my birthday, using your guide! �� one question , have you ever taken a dinner cruise and if so would you recommend it? (Husband wants to go, I want to use your restaurant suggestions). Thanks! Angie

  45. Riaa

    When do you think is the best time to do to Charleston for a bachelorette party? Wedding is in March and we were hoping to go sometime in late February or November.

    • Well that depends on if you want to go to the beach or not! I think late February would be better beach weather but you also run the risk of it still being cold! It is usually warmer in Charleston than the rest of the country, though!

  46. Sydney Simmons

    Have you ever been to Charleston for New Year’s Eve? If so, recommendations on what to do? Thank you! I love your insight on Charleston and found this blog SO helpful.

  47. This is such a helpful guide, but it seems like these are all such lovely places to visit during the summer. Does this guide hold true through the fall and winter months? We are going this weekend and looking forward to checking out some of these recommendations. Anything you would do differently for the cooler months? Just love your sense of style!

  48. Morgan Arnold

    Thank you for the recs!! I just booked our anniversary weekend and at the Meeting Street Inn, can’t wait!

  49. Anissa

    Hi! My fiancé and I are eloping to Charleston in June! We are so excited and I was wondering if you have any more recommendations?! What plantation is your favorite?! We are coming from Minnesota and I’ve only been there once and he has never been there, so any recommendations for newbies would be great!!
    Thank you so much! I love following you on Instagram!