Charleston has been a dream destination of mine for years. The historic homes, rich culture, southern comfort food and picturesque streets beckon me more and more each year it seems. Being a Texas gal, I love exploring places in the south and my sister and I left with full bellies and a camera roll full of beautiful homes. Here’s my Charleston travel guide for a weekend in the charming city. You are sure to leave feeling warm from all the southern hospitality and delicious food! Not to mention the desire to go back!
THE DARLING OYSTER BAR
Our first stop for food in Charleston encapsulated what the charming city is all about. From the darling green booths and airy raw bar to their delicious flavors and vibrant energy, The Darling is the place to grab seafood or cocktails. My sister and I swung in during happy hour, so they only had the raw menu. However, our bellies left quite full. We got four of the Charleston salts oysters, half a pound of shrimp cocktail and the daily ceviche, which was snapper and served with plantain chips. Also, reviews rave about the cocktails! This is definitely a must on my Charleston travel guide.
A modern approach to delicious Italian cuisine, you can get brunch, lunch or dinner here. Plus, there is plenty of outdoor seating on the whimsical patio. This is the place to go whether you have something to celebrate or just want a good plate of pasta. My sister and I shared the crispy potatoes, which I highly recommend despite how basic they may sound. I got the Linguine Alla Marco Polo and my sister the Fusilli Lunghi. We popped in for dinner and the candlelight was so romantic, but still bright enough you can read the menu and eat.
THE PARK CAFE
A cozy spot full of natural light, plenty of greenery and yummy eats. The parking lot is small, so take advantage of the free parking directly across Rutledge Avenue. My sister got the shredded kale salad with a side of sausage, which is rolled into meatballs here. The fried egg sandwich truly hit the spot for me. Heads up, I would pre-crack the yolk before the best part of your sandwich oozes out onto your plate, ha!
If you have a sweet tooth, make sure you don’t miss this gem on Cannon Street. A five-minute walk from our bed and breakfast, Sugar greeted us with the aroma of homemade treats. Owned by two New York City hustlers who traded in architecture for baking along with the tranquility of Charleston, Sugar will not disappoint. Everything is locally sourced. I got the vanilla blueberry, coconut, lemon curd and seasonal apricot cupcake.
THE RISE COFFEE BAR
If you love a good cup of coffee with a side of marble everything, this is the place to go. My sister and I popped in for lattes, then walked along King Street (more on this below). They also have matcha lattes and serve small pastries. I love finding local shops to support, especially when I’m traveling, so this hit the spot.
When preparing our trip to Charleston, Husk is a restaurant coming up again and again on lists of places to eat. Having dined there, I can definitely see why! Award-winning chef Sean Brock brings you southern comfort food in an elegant approach. Pictured above is the snapper. However, their menu is seasonal, so it changes quite often. I highly recommend reservations if you can make them because the wait can get pretty long.
The most famous and iconic row of homes in Charleston, Rainbow Row is nestled on East Bay Street before it turns into East Battery. It’s a cluster of 13 pastel Georgian-style rowhouses dating all the way back to the 1700s. The homes are in front of the Cooper River so you’ll get a nice water view too. If you are looking to take pictures, I recommend going in the afternoon or early evening so you get even light. My Charleston travel guide wouldn’t be complete without this on the list!
SOUTH OF BROAD
Get lost discovering beautiful private homes in this historic and exclusive downtown neighborhood. As its name suggests, South of Broad is south of Broad Street at the edge of the peninsula. I recommend walking or renting bicycles when exploring this neighborhood. These homes are absolutely stunning and you will swoon over how picturesque they are. Most of the homes have perfectly kept lush gardens and window boxes. My sister and I parked along East Bay and stumbled upon the famous “blogger stairs” on Church and Stoll’s Alley. Heads up, if you take pictures, be polite, these are private residential homes after all!
A quaint beach town with a long military history of protecting the harbor from invaders. The beach is beautiful, especially at sunrise. My sister and I woke up extra early to catch it and the cotton candy colors were more than worth it. The water is relatively calm, too. There are a few beaches to choose from near Charleston, but Sullivan’s Island is the locals’ favorite. Plus, it’s only 20-25 minutes from Downtown. We didn’t have time to explore as this was the day we drove back to Virginia, but Poe’s Tavern and Obstinate Daughter have rave reviews.
MAC + MURPHY
Pardon me for overusing the word charming in this Charleston travel guide, but Y’all have to pop into this stationery shop! They have beautiful custom work, including a Charleston card both my sister and I bought as a keepsake. Plus, tons of adorable calendars, journals and other fun knick-knacks. Fun fact: the owner used to live in Coastal Virginia!
A historic street full of incredible shopping, including famous retailers and local boutiques. There are stores you’ll recognize from Kate Spade, J.Crew and Anthropologie to more curated spots such as Hampden Clothing and Savannah Bee Honey. The latter is where my sister and I left with a few sweet items to drink with tea and cook with! Even if you are not a huge shopper, this is a stop on my Charleston travel guide I highly recommend because of the street’s history. Parking is sparse on King Street, so keep this in mind!
CANDLEFISH CANDLE MAKING CLASS
I love supporting smaller businesses and when I first discovered Candlefish at Anthropologie, I was swept away. Classes fill up quickly, so I did not get a chance to make my own candle. However, the store itself is stunning with a ladder where you can live out your Belle in Beauty & the Beast dreams. Plus, you’ll leave with beautiful scents, I’m sure!
I’m still plantationed-out from Miss USA in Baton Rouge a few years ago, but Charleston certainly has stunning ones you’ll enjoy. I’m putting Magnolia Plantation on my Charleston travel guide because it’s America’s oldest public garden, while also having a history with both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. There is a picturesque white bridge perfect for photos. Plus, some swamp life, including alligators. Don’t forget to check their website to see what’s in bloom during your visit.
THE INNS CHARLESTON
My sister and I could not have asked for a better location when it came to our accommodations. The Inns Charleston is nestled in a charming historic neighborhood and within walking distance to some good eats and things to do. Originally two Charleston Single Row Homes, they are now four charming units equipped with a full kitchen. Not to mention, there was a Keurig and coffee! My sister and I stayed in 71A, which has two bedrooms. It’s airy, bright and is the epitome of coastal style. We loved having the full kitchen to store leftovers and heat them back up when we were hungry at night. Our beds felt like clouds. The master has a romantic four-poster bed and the nightstand is equipped with ports for charging. I love when lodging is up to date with technology! Plus, the kitchen peninsula was perfect for the both of us to catch up on work at night. Each unit comes with one parking spot that’s super close to the house. Yay for not having to pay for parking! Thank you so much to The Inns for hosting us on this trip.
I hope you enjoyed my Charleston travel guide! I’m already planning on a trip back – I’m not sure when just yet but it’s on the list. If there are places you recommend that aren’t on the list, please leave them in the comments and I’ll be sure to visit!