The Ultimate Travel Guide to Charleston, SC! Where to stay, shop, eat, and explore.
For more reasons than one Charleston, South Carolina tops my list when it comes to the most charming cities in the U.S. With its rich history and bustling streets, Charleston has won countless accolades over the years, including the most recent award by Conde Nast Traveler “#1 city in United States.” Whether you are looking to explore the historical landmarks, stroll down the cobblestone alleyways on Tradd or make your way to King Street for shopping, one thing is certain, you won’t leave hungry when you embark and indulge on the thriving foodie-scene that this lively city has to offer! With so much to see and do in one city, I know it can sometimes be overwhelming on where to start. So, pack your bags and follow along as I show you the ultimate guide on where to stay, what to eat and where to explore with 24hrs in Charleston!
How to spend a weekend in Charleston!
Table of contents
Where to Stay
The Restoration Hotel on King
My stay at the Luxury Boutique Hotel, The Restoration on King, was nothing short of breathtaking. The 54-room hotel exceeded my expectations when it came to everything the modern-day traveler is looking for. From the Amethyst Spa, The Watch rooftop restaurant (Hands down the best view of Charleston), The Rise coffee shop, Indigo Pool and Port Mercantile retail store, there is simply nothing that compares. I agree with Southern Living and their recent article, naming The Restoration as “The Best Hotel in South Carolina!” One of my favorite amenities that is available to guests, is the option to curate your own breakfast basket the night before and wake up to a hand-delivered array of items such as fresh yogurt and berries, granola, baked goods, smoked ham and much more! After fueling up from my breakfast and Rise coffee, I was greeted downstairs with my complimentary Restoration bicycle – the PERFECT way to see Charleston in 24hrs.
Read More: Our stay at The Restoration Hotel on King
Cottages on Charleston Harbor
The Cottages on Charleston Harbor are the closest vacation rental homes to the water. Right when you walk in your cottage, if you reserved a harbor front cottage, you immediately see the water from every window. The cottages are two bedrooms three bathrooms with a cozy living room with a fireplace as well as a full kitchen. My favorite part was the screened-in porch that stretched the entire back of the cottage. There was a nice sitting area on the porch, rocking chairs, as well as a hammock so you could relax and read a good book while you watch the ships go by. There is a small lawn area just steps from the water with two picture-perfect Adirondack chairs that look like something from a Southern Living magazine. The cottages by the water are clustered in groups of three so it would make for the perfect family reunion or large family gathering.
See + Shop + Explore
Broad Street – Tradd Street – Waterfront Park – Battery Park – King Street – Church Street
I started my adventure bicycling down the exclusive neighborhoods of Broad Street and Tradd Street, which are known for its antebellum mansions, cobblestone streets, iron fences, and old oak trees. Fun fact: the oldest known structure in Charleston that dates back to 1715, is located South of Broad.
The city was in full bloom during my trip, which made for some beautiful photos and a couple of stops along the way to eat some fresh Loquats (a local fruit tree)! I highly recommend visiting Charleston in the Spring! Located just a few blocks away, I made my way down to Battery Park. Located along the waterfront, you will get incredible views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and Sullivan’s Island lighthouse. This was a great spot to sit, relax and plan out the remainder of my day. That included shopping and my favorite part of all… FOOD.
Most people will tell you that you can’t visit Charleston and not go shopping and I agree! King Street is where you want to be when it comes to everything shopping. I however, live in Atlanta, so I am used to a lot of the stores located on King, so my favorite shops when traveling are the unique boutiques and local stores that I can’t find back home.
Three of these shops in Charleston are Candlefish, Port Mercantile, and Mercantile+Mash. At Candlefish I was able to browse around and smell my favorite thing…candles! (I highly recommend the ROAM San Francisco scent). Located right next to The Restoration Hotel, is the little gem, Port Mercantile. Here you can find all sorts of local, handmade items that you cannot get anywhere else!
Lastly, I couldn’t visit Charleston without stopping in Mercantile+Mash. Known as the “gourmet food emporium” and located in an old cigar factory, you can find just about anything you want when comes to local, homemade items, cheese, wine, baked goods, gifts, cookware, and other one-of-a-kind products. I made sure to load up my basket with my favorite finds!
Where to Eat
Goat. Sheep. Cow – Butcher & Bee – The Darling Oyster Bar – The Cocktail Club
I had so much fun eating and drinking my way through Low Country! With so many options when it comes to the best foodie spots in Charleston, I have narrowed down my top 5 must-try spots! Trust me on this one, you WILL NOT be let down when it comes to these culinary innovations and cocktail creations!
Photos by: Andrew Cebulka Photography
I want to send a special shout-out to the extremely talented, Andrew Cebulka. Andrew is a local photographer in the Charleston area and was generous enough to spend the day with me in order to get the perfect shots for this Charleston Travel Guide article. Andrew has not only worked with the top rated restaurants in Charleston but has an impressive client list such as; Travel+Leisure, GQ, Bon Appetit, and Southern Living just to name a few. Andrew’s latest underwater project is going to be BADASS – so stay tuned VGB readers, you might just see some more of Andrew’s work in the future.