Now I know there have been one million travel guides for Charleston created in the last year alone (this little city seems to be the talk of the town these days), but folks always tend to ask me about my personal favorites. So I figured this would be as good of a place as any to share my Charleston musts with y'all. And there are SO many musts.
EXPLORE: I know this seems like sort of a copt our for a "must do" list (because I suppose I am technically supposed to tell you what to explore), but my all time favorite thing to do in Charleston is get lost in all its gorgeous neighborhoods. I swear I find a new favorite street every time I go. Rainbow Row and South of Broad are obviously favorites, but even hopping over the bridge to the Old Village of Mount Pleasant is worth the trip. I could spend hours just finding new gorgeous houses to swoon over. It's literally my favorite travel pastime. We actually found Patricia's house from Southern Charm during our last trip (not that I watch that show religiously or anything), and if you are creepy like me, you can find it here. The gorgeous house above is one of my very favorites - you can find it on Bull Street.
Some of my other favorite spots to explore are:
LEARN: Charleston is a city with LOADS of really important history. Not all of it is as pretty as the city itself. I find is super important when traveling to a city like Charleston to learn all the details I can soak up to really understand how far it's come. There are so many walking tours available, but I just did a carriage ride this past trip to Charleston (a local recommended it, and said he goes at least twice a year because there is just so much to know about the city), and I highly recommend it. The horses were well loved (super important to me), our driver was SO knowledgeable, and he didn't stop filling our heads with interesting facts until the ride stopped one hour later.
Because there are so many carriage drivers and traffic can be an issue, you won't know what "loop" you'll be going on until you pull up to a little hut for the "lottery" - which is an old school system that literally still has a little ball select your route. Although you can't really go wrong with any of them in picture perfect Charleston. There are loads of carriage companies, but here are two that we looked into that are clean and have great reputations:
BEACH: As a beach lover, I can't go to Charleston without a trip to Sullivan's Island. With miles of gorgeous (dog-friendly) coastline, gorgeous views (with perhaps a dolphin sighting or two), and amazing restaurants (more to come on that later) - this is definitely a must on any of my personal Charleston itineraries. Folly Beach and Isle of Palms are also great options - I just tend to like the vibe over at Sullivan's (probably has something to do with the dog thing...).
I'm overly excited about this portion of the post, because there is nothing I love to do in Charleston more than eat. Seriously, the food is just so good here - I've never had a bad meal. Thank goodness for the miles of walking I always do while visiting, or else I would always come home with some extra pounds as my souvenir (which I think I do anyway, but who's counting?).
FIG: This restaurant is so darn good, it shouldn't even be legal. We didn't have a reservation when we went this past trip, so we just hung out in the bar area (passing the time drinking bubbly is never a bad idea) until they had a spot for us at their communal table (which was actually really fun - we met so many new friends!). I can't even go into how much I loved the food here, because it will get embarrassing, but trust me when I say, you won't have a bad meal here.
Obstinate Daughter: I think this might be one of my favorite restaurants just based on decor alone - but the food is equally delicious - making it a must-stop every time we are in Charleston. With fun cocktails and an amazing menu (not to mention the oysters are always top notch), I'm drooling at my desk just thinking about this gem of a place (such a pretty visual, right?).
Poe's Tavern: Across the street from Obstinate Daughter, Poe's Tavern is a happy little beach spot with a laid back vibe perfect for some yummy food after a sun-soaked day. I don't think I've ever passed this place without seeing it filled to the brim with happy folks.
Husk: This seems to be the go-to recommendation for everyone visiting Charleston. I grew up down south, so the menu here definitely made me a bit nostalgic. And it's famous for a reason, they pay such special attention to pairings and ingredients. If you want a good old fashioned (but also interesting) southern meal, Husk is your place.
167 Raw: These Nantucket boys know a thing or two about seafood, and their sweet little spot is my FAVORITE for their lobster roll. It competes against some of the best I've had in New England, and trust me, I've done some serious research in that department.
Edmund's Oast: I've never been to Charleston with my hubby (which is absolutely crazy now that I think of it, and something we must remedy ASAP), but when we do finally go together, Edmund's Oast will be one of the first places I take him. A stylish beer hall with a cocktail list and menu worth writing home about - this place has him written all over it.
Chez Nous: This quaint little gem tucked away off a quiet street is special in so many ways. From the cozy and chic decor to the hand-written menus, I absolutely adore Chez Nous. Their daily-changing menu never disappoints.
Here are some spots I'm dying to try on my next trip:
Black Tap: A cozy neighborhood spot with great coffee and baked goods. Wonderful spot to curl up by a window and work the day away.
Butcher & Bee: This place is just begging to be instagrammed, and their coffee and menu back up their gorgeous facade.
Leon's: This will be another spot on every travel guide out there, and there is a reason it's such a staple - it's darn good.
The Park Cafe: I love this pretty little spot. It's off the beaten path a bit (just meaning it's not right in down-town Charleston), but it's worth the trip. If you are a tea drinker like myself, get the Charleston Fog. It's ridiculous.
Charleston is the capital of southern hospitality (in my humble opinion), so it's no surprise that there are so many wonderful places to stay. Here are some of my top picks of places I've stayed, and places I'm dying to stay one day.
86 Cannon Street: A newcomer on the Charleston scene, 86 Cannon Street is about as charming as they come. The owners, Marion and Lori, are just as sweet as they are stylish, and their boutique inn is filled to the brim with moments of pure southern hospitality. From their sweet pups, Sully & Gus, to the gorgeous rooms, to the perfect piazza - we fell head over heels in love with this darling inn.
Cottages on Charleston Harbor: A great option if you are with a group, the cottages provide a homey feel right on the ocean. With gorgeous screened porches overlooking the harbor, full kitchens and large bedrooms, you almost feel like you have your own little piece of Charleston when staying here.
Zero George: I have been dying to stay at this stylish inn since the moment it came on the scene. From what I hear, there isn't a single detail missed in this perfect little spot. It's the place to go for a good cocktail and one-of-a kind hospitality.
Planters Inn: File under another place I'm dying to stay, Planters Inn is a perfectly located Relais & Chateau property with loads of history. Beautifully renovated with so many picture perfect moments, I'm determined to stay here one day!
*There are also some AMAZING Air BnBs, VRBO and Homeaway options if you are looking that route. We've stayed at this beauty, and I highly recommend the owner, Stevenson, and all his properties.
Writing me made me miss this pretty city so much. I'm always looking for an excuse to go back. But I want to know - what did I miss? I want to hear all your thoughts so I can head down there again in the not so distance future to test them all out! All in the name of research, of course. xoxo, Abby