We’ve recently returned from a much-needed quick getaway to Charleston, South Carolina and if you have a trip planned, or still need to plan your trip to Charleston use this as a reference for things to do, and places to eat!
It’s been a very long three years since hubby and I last got away for a break from daily life. Our last trip was our dream trip to England and Scotland which I covered pretty extensively in this post, this post, and this post; that trip still holds some of our favorite memories together! We finally got a break in his work schedule and decided it was time for another vacation, sans children, so back to Charleston we went.
What’s so great about Charleston, you ask? Well, it has everything. It’s a city, but a very small one and one that’s packed with history and charm. It’s incredibly easy to navigate whether walking or driving – though you definitely need a vehicle to get around – and it has a treasure trove of amazing restaurants, unique shopping experiences, and even a gorgeous beach! We went the weekend after the 4th of July, so it was probably a bit less crowded than the previous weekend, but nonetheless, we were always able to quickly find convenient street parking (which is free on Sunday) and had no issues with traffic at any point – a welcomed change from daily life in the DMV. My main concern prior to the trip was learning, literally the night before we left, that you need a reservation to eat anywhere, and of course there were zero reservations for a few weeks out at the popular places. To make a long story short, we were able to get into every restaurant we wanted to eat at without a reservation, so if you have the luxury of time and you can book your table weeks in advance, maybe do it but make sure you don’t have a cancellation fee (especially if you book with Resy) should you change your mind, if not, you certainly won’t starve.
Where to go
My favorite thing to do in the city is wander around South of Broad gazing at the beautiful historic homes and mansions that offer a glimpse back at life in the antebellum. The SOB area is delineated on your map so it is easy to find, otherwise look for Broad St. and head south from there! This is also where you’ll find the famous Rainbow Row, and The Battery. We happened to choose a Sunday morning to do our city wandering, shopping, and eating and what a fabulous time to be in this area! This beautiful church pictured below was ringing it’s bells calling worshipers to come in and take their seats, and what a treat to be in this beautiful place, serenaded by beautiful church bells! Another perk of visiting on Sunday is free street parking. This saved us a few dollars but is exciting to have one less expense nonetheless.
Outside of the downtown area was where we stayed at the Post House Inn located in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village. I discovered this quaint Inn via a fortuitous internet search and loved that it looked like a scene out of one of my favorite British TV shows, so I stopped my search there! We have stayed in the lively downtown right on King Street before, but wanted a more restful and slower paced stay this time and that was exactly what we found in the Old Village. The Inn is beautifully decorated with no small detail neglected, from top to bottom. Our room was beautifully wallpapered, adorned with antique furnishings, and had a nod to the Inn’s coastal locale with the most exquisite rattan bed – which I now need in my house! Service was wonderful from the tray of water, ice, and everything we needed to make our own water cocktails that we received upon check-in that became a life saver as we popped in and out for the rest of the evening from the balmy South Carolina heat, to accommodating our extremely early departure (we always travel extremely early in the morning, otherwise we would have stayed until the very last minute). We spent most evenings, and some mornings, strolling the historic residential streets that surround the Inn, admiring the beautiful homes and ancient live oaks in the golden evening sunlight. It really was so lovely and Nate said he prefers this stay to someplace in the city, and I think I agree. It’s important to mention that the Inn also has a restaurant which closes sometime between 10-11 pm so you can expect some noise until that late at night.
If it’s sand and sea you need then head east to one of the local beaches; Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, or even Folley Beach if you want to venture a little further. We love Sullivan’s Island because it’s not your typical tourist beach. It’s less busy, there’s no boardwalk, no high-rises taking up all the best views, and the beach is always clean. We are always able to find parking quickly and you get a gorgeous walk through the dunes on your way to your spot for the day! Beach access points are called “stations” and while we normally park by the lighthouse, we’ve found an even nicer, less crowded stretch down by Station 28 and will be going back there next time.
What to eat
One of our instant favorite activities was walking to Coastal Crust Pizza. A quick 10 minute walk, this quaint pizza stop is a summer evening al fresco dining haven with a playground for wiggly little ones, and a converted Airstream trailer for your after dinner sweet tooth craving at Coastal Crust Creamery. Of course, the pizza is SO good here and we loved the vibe here so much that we had dinner here twice over our 4 day trip! I especially recommend this if you’re looking for an inexpensive yet delicious dinner, and if you are traveling with children.
Perhaps the best luxury dinner we had was at our own Inn. The Post House restaurant was absolutely delicious for the complimentary continental breakfast, and for dinner. I adored the aesthetic here but the food stole the show! We started with Caesar salads, then I ordered a steak while Nate ordered a shrimp curry. Wow! Definitely one of the best meals we’ve eaten in a long time. We finished with a chocolate torte topped with an orange whipped cream for a decadent yet summery sweet treat. The menu is small (I prefer this) but you can’t go wrong with whatever you end up ordering.
We also really enjoyed the Gospel Brunch at Hall’s Chophouse, which we did not have a reservation for and were told by others unaffiliated with the restaurant that it’s hard to get in, but randomly walked in and were seated right away just after being welcomed by one of the owners himself! The She-crab soup is what the best coastal dreams are made of and the buttery steak just melted with every bite. I really loved the popovers for the table before the meal, and hope I can attempt them at home! The one thing we did wrong here was eat a huge breakfast beforehand, at Miller’s all-day, which was also delish, but we weren’t that hungry by lunch time and I do wish I could have eaten more at Hall’s, it was absolutely delicious and such a good experience. If you want to try Hall’s, show up at 1:45-2:15 ish when the brunch crowd is clearing out for the most part. Another favorite is La Patisserie located at the ground floor of Hotel Bennett for a French snack and pastry. Everything I’ve had here is delicious – eat with your eyes!
No day at Sullivan’s Island is complete without dinner at The Obstinate Daughter, followed by creamy cool custardy treats at Beardcats located in the same building. You will never find us so desperate that we end up drinking Starbucks, so please stop by our two new favorites in Mount Pleasant; Vintage Coffee (also a part of the Coastal Crust/Creamery plaza), and Metto Coffee & Tea and enjoy a delicious beverage while supporting small/local businesses.
How to dress
Charleston is unique in that it is a city, but it’s a coastal city, and it’s a southern city, and it’s also a very popular tourist stop. All this means people are more on the casual end of the spectrum at all times than say in parts of DC, New York, or London. Elevated casual is a good way to describe it at it’s most dressy, while for dinner you can go as fancy or as not as you want. I sometimes felt overdressed in heels compared to those around me but know that the city has a booming fashion scene and that being overdressed is perfectly welcomed. My thing is that I’d rather be overdressed than underdressed, but I personally feel my most confident and comfortable when I am slightly dressier than others. It’s not out of place, especially on Sullivans or in Mount Pleasant to see diners in swimsuits and coverups. Still, why not break out the nice chinos and polos, or your loveliest floaty kaftan? Here are some of the outfits I wore and links so you can shop them!
Writing this post three weeks after our wonderful trip has me wanting to plan another trip to Charleston! If you haven’t been, what are you waiting for? This town has everything, and does all of it very well. If you are familiar with Charleston, what’s your favorite thing about it?