Southern charm is a real thing, not just a Bravo TV show, and lots of it can be found in Charleston, South Carolina, which yes, is where the Bravo TV show is filmed. Guess they landed on that name for a good reason! The charm is in the old architecture, the cobblestone streets, the colorful homes, the horse drawn carriages and the swaying palm trees, to name a few. Charleston feels like a step back in time, to an era that’s long gone in most of the country – the pace of life feels slower, the people are nicer, and the skies are bluer. One of my oldest friends now calls Charleston home, and thanks to her wonderful hosting, I have gotten to see and experience a lot of this southern charm and hospitality firsthand, and I want to share it with you too. A weekend in this city will give you plenty of time to immerse yourself and walk away happy that you visited, and looking forward to coming back! Here are 5 things you must do during your weekend in charming Charleston.
- Take A Tour: There are a lot of fun and unique tours in Charleston – truly something for any interest. If you’re only in town for a weekend, you may only be able to squeeze in one or two, but know you’ll have plenty of options and more to see later. A must on the list of tours, and a great way to get a lay of the the land is a classic carriage tour. It’s a charming and carefree way to see the city. I booked my tour through Palmetto Carriage tours, but there are several options. I did learn that each tour may vary, as there are certain zones they can go to, and only so many carriages allowed in each zone at a time. Some may take you to more iconic places than others. Charleston is one of the oldest cities in America which means it’s cemeteries are full of graves that are hundreds of years old – they’re beautiful too. A cemetery walking tour with BULLDOG Tours is a fun way to explore the city, learn about those buried here, and maybe, if you’re lucky (or not, depeding how you view it) you’ll spy a ghost. They also offere a jail tour, which I hear is very eerie. Charleston is on the water, so why not take advantage and get out on it, with a catamaran tour. The Palmetto Breeze is a great way to see the sunset and the city from another point of view. If you’ve ever been intrigued by naval ships, a visit to the USS Yorktown is a fantastic way to spend a day. You can tour the aircraft carrier, as well as a submarine, a destroyer ship and a Vietnam river camp come to life. For nature lovers, a visit to Cypress Gardens will allow you to see southern swampland at it’s finest. If that doesn’t sound appealing, once you know it’s where the row boat and swan scene was filmed in The Notebook, maybe it’ll change your mind.
- Go On A Bar Crawl: I mentioned Charleston’s slower pace of living and with that means more time to linger and just enjoy yourself. A yummy cocktail or mocktail is a great way to do that, and across the city there are plenty of cool bars to sip on something of your liking and just relax and take in everything around you. If you’re on vacation, that’s a good goal to have anyway, right?! Here are 5 bars in downtown Charleston that are bound to serve you something refreshing, while giving you an abundance of ambiance. Wandering from one to the next will also give you ample time to take in the beautiful scenery, and all that charm that is Charleston. First up, The Loutrel, which is a boutique hotel with a small lobby bar. The bartenders are experts and can mix you up whatever your heart (or tastebuds) desire. Stop 2 will take you to Little Palm, a tucked away poolside bar. This spot has the cutest decor and will make you happy from the moment you walk in, no matter what you’re drinking. Next up, you’ll head to the Citrus Club atop the Dewberry Hotel. Here you’ll enjoy great views of downtown Charleston in a crisp, clean atmosphere. Then you’ll be onto a bar that Barbie would adore! Camellia’s is an all pink palace inside the Hotel Bennett that features a wide array of champagne, but also makes incredible cocktails. I don’t recall the name of the drink I had, but it was similar to a pina colada and one of the best drinks I have ever had! Last stop of this bar crawl will be Zero Restaurant + Bar at the Zero George inn. It’s a lovely spot inside an old southern manor with a very romantic vibe and very strong cocktails. Follow this map to help get you from bar to bar.
- Eat Your Way Across Town: Charleston is definitely a foodie town. From what I have heard, it sounds like this is a newer occurence for this southern hotspot, but if this is just the beginning, they are off to a great, and very yummy start! During my visits, I am happy to say I never once had a bad meal. That’s a big accomplishment for any city and any foodie! A few recommendations… Absolutely incredible sushi at 167 Sushi Bar – if you don’t have a reservation, go early, and in a small group and you might be lucky to get a spot at the bar. A festive ambience and a good brunch (gluten free options too) at Church and Union, which you maye have guessed is in an old church. Sullivan’s Island gem, with a divine dirty martini and fresh seafood, and really cute decor at The Obstinate Daughter. Fine dining take on Southern favorites at Husk, housed in a beautiful old home. Healthy options galore, truly delicious food and a great selection of lattes at Basic Kitchen. Tiki drinks and beachy bar food in Folly Beach at The Bounty Bar.
- Shop on King Street: Shopping on vacation is always fun for me, as I seek out the local boutiques where I can find unique fashions that won’t worn by everyone everywhere else. King Street is a great place to do this since it’s blocks upon blocks of shopping, right in one of the most historic parts of Charleston. Mixed in you’ll find plenty of dining and hotel options too, so you really can enjoy all the best of Charleston on just one street. King Street is divided into three parts of, Lower King – the antique district , Middle King – the fashion district, and Upper King – the design and dining distrct.
- Visit A Plantation: Plantations have a sordid history, but nonetheless, they are a part of history and should not be forgotten, but rather used as a learning tool for the future, and a chance to enjoy the beauty of the low country. My visit to Middleton Place was just as I imagined a real life Gone with the Wind moment would be. There were whispy willow trees lining the property, rolling hills and perfectly manicured lawns, a large stately home and beautiful views of the marsh as far as the eye could see (and lots of gators!). It was breathtaking! While visiting this National Historic Landmark, I learned how the plantation was run and about the lives of those who lived and worked there. The Middleton Place Foundation has conducted a 10 year research project to help tell the stories of the 2,800+ enslaved people who were owned by the Middleton family from 1738 to 1865. Their stories live on, and the plantations around Charleston will hopefully teach us how not to repeat this part of our history.
Whether you’re visiting Charleston for a weeknd, an extended stay, or you call it home, you will have plenty to keep you as busy as you like, or as laid back as you like. You’ll have a belly full of yummy food and a heart full of warmth. You’ll have visions of colorful buildings, and maybe you’ll even adopt some local lingo, y’all!
Signed with Style,
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