I can’t emphasize how long I’ve been waiting to visit Charleston, South Carolina. I’d heard that the city was rich in history, culture, and charm. I’d heard that architecture would make me feel like I stepped back in time and that the food would quite literally make my mouth water. I’d heard this from so many people that I knew I had to go see for myself. Just a few years ago I visited South Carolina for the first time and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Lowcountry – Beaufort, Daufuskie Island, and Hilton Head to be exact. I was simply counting down the days until my return so that I could finally see what all the Charleston hype was about. I was ecstatic when Discover South Carolina invited me to visit at the top of 2022. The timing was perfect, so I couldn’t have said yes quicker. I am now back from a 4-day/3-night trip to Charleston and I’m here to share the (sweet) tea! Before we dive into everything I got up to, here are some things you should know about the ‘Holy City’(one of the city’s many nicknames):
The first public US public college, theatre, museum, and golf club were established in Charleston. The city is full of history!
The pineapple symbol that you see displayed on buildings around the city represents hospitality. The Southern hospitality that permeates the city is REAL!
The state of South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia. The more you learn!
Charleston’s Angel Oak Tree is one of the oldest living trees in the US – 500 years to be exact!
Sweetgrass baskets are South Carolina’s official handicraft and you can shop for these cultural souvenirs at the Charleston City Market
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s get into this weekend guide for your trip to Charleston!
I was fortunate enough to stay in the pretty and (very)pink Mills House Wyndham Hotel. Pink is my absolute favorite color, so I thought the hotel was stunning. The architecture is reflective of the vintage allure that radiates through the cobblestone streets of Charleston. The Mills House was built in 1853 and the hotel just steps away from the city’s most historic sites. It’s full of amenities like a fitness center, a pool, a business center, and an onsite restaurant. You’re only .2 miles from the Charleston City Market, 315 feet from the Gibbes Museum of Art, 1.1 miles from the Aiken Rhett House, and .9 miles from the Charleston Museum. That’s just the beginning. Now that you know where you’re staying, let’s get into things to do on your visit.
Shop For Souvenirs At The Charleston City Market – You cannot go to Charleston without strolling through the historic Charleston City Market. Established in the 1970s, there are four long blocks for you to shop your heart out. What would I recommend picking up? Sweetgrass handicrafts! Sweetgrass basket-weaving is a cultural skill that has been passed down through Gullah culture from generation to generation. I got to meet Corey Alston who is a direct ancestor of the Gullah Geechee family and he demonstrated the process of basket weaving. His stall is set up at the very front of the market and his baskets are artfully crafted. Not to mention, he’ll share a wealth of info on the history and craft of Sweetgrass basket-weaving!!
Go Casual Crabbing With Tia – Charleston is known for fresh seafood and this is a unique yet quintessential way to get hands-on with all that’s under the sea. Tia Clark is native to the city and she will show you how to cast a net, set bait, fish, and catch crabs. I hope you have more luck than I did with crab catching, but I can assure you that you’ll enjoy stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new. This is the ultimate way to experience a different side of Charleston that most tourists miss. Plus, Tia is just amazing! There’s a reason why Airbnb hand-selected her experience and story as one of the best on the platform.
Relax at The Battery & White Point Gardens – If you’re looking for a peaceful spot to relax, then you’ve gotta visit The Battery & White Point Gardens. This site was once a public garden and it even served as a fortification for the city during the civil war. You’ll be able to witness historical structures throughout the park along with an incredible view of Charleston Harbor. Soak up the sun, smell the salt water, feel the saltwater breeze against your skin, and sit under the giant oak trees that line the park.
Learn about Black History At The Boone Hall Plantation – It’s impossible to deny the horrors that were once inflicted upon enslaved African-Americans on plantations across the south, but it’s equally important to understand what took place at places like the Boone Hall Plantation. While sobering, it is a moving depiction of the life of an enslaved person. Don’t leave without seeing a live presentation of Gullah Culture from a third-generation Gullah who was born in South Carolina!
Admire THE Angel Oak Tree – Drive out to Kiawah Island to witness one of the oldest living trees in the US – over 500 years to be exact! South Carolina is already known for its gorgeous Spanish Moss and Palmetto Trees, but this one takes the cake! The tree is 65 feet tall and the limbs are quite literally grazing the ground. Don’t take it from me though! The Angel Oak Tree is a natural wonder that you must see for yourself!
Tour The Aiken Rhett House – The Aiken Rhett House demonstrates the stark contrast between the lives of slave owners and the enslaved whom lived under the same roof yet within entirely different realities. You’ll take a self-guided tour through the home and get a unique look at one of the best-preserved homes in the US since the 1830s.
Roam Rainbow Row – Rainbow Row just might be the most picture-perfect neighborhoods I’ve seen in the US! Before you get to the Battery, you’ll walk through a community of pastel-colored and cobblestoned streets wth homes that date back to the 1740s. Don’t forget to be camera ready! You’ll definitely want to snap a few photos!
This should be more than enough to fill your weekend, but you can also take a ghost tour, drink your way through the local craft beer scene, go to the Gibbes Museum of Art, lounge on the beautiful beaches, and bop around King Street! Needless to say, you certainly won’t be bored in Charleston!
Enjoy Rooftop Vibes at The Watch – Catch the best views of Charleston while sipping on brunch cocktails at the Watch. Get the roasted pimento cheese dip – thank me later!
Let’s Taco ‘bout Mesu! What sounds better than Sushi and Mexican fusion at a black-owned restaurant right on King’s Street? I’ll wait!
Nothing beats a Southern breakfast and Miller’s All Day has you covered. The biscuits and gravy are truly some of the best I’ve ever tried. And don’t forget to check out the 175-year-old mill in the front of the store as proof that Miller’s All Day is producing some of the best grits around!
Slip into Chez Nous for a dining experience like no other! You’ll eat from a daily-changing menu while sitting inside of an intimate, candle-lit home.
Nobody does Barbecue like South Carolina and that’s coming from a Texan! Rodney Scott’s is no exception! We’re talking about a James Beard award winner and chef that has been featured by the likes of Anthony Bourdain. Need I say more?
Grab a glass of wine to the sounds of live jazz music at The Graft. It’s good vibes only at this black-owned wine bar!
Chow down on hand-made biscuits at Callie’s hot Biscuits! These are undoubtedly some of the best biscuits I’ve ever had in my life. And don’t even get me started on the Grits! I had the pleasure of making biscuits with the founder Carrie and she is incredibly inspiring. While Charleston is Callie’s founding location, It’s easy to see why she’s expanded to markets like Atlanta and Charlotte.
Grab some speciality goodies to go at Caviar & Bananas! Consider gathering some local snacks for a picnic at Battery Park!
Get Gullah at Gillie’s Seafood! Every Gullah I met said I couldn’t leave without tasting some soul food & traditional Gullah cuisine at Gillie’s. As a lover of soul food, I knew I had to visit and I wasn’t disappointed. Show up with an empty stomach because Gillie’s will fill your belly & soul.
Eat brunch inside of a refurbished cathedral at Church and Union! The property is one-of-a-kind and the food is just as special.
There’s no shortage of places to eat in Charleston. Make reservations to secure a spot at some of the best spots in town! Regardless of where you choose to dine, there are certain Southern classics that you must try like Grits, Fried Green Tomatoes, and She-Crab soup! Thank me later!
Have I convinced you yet? This is definitely the most dynamic US city that I’ve visited in a long time! As a traveler with an abundance of interests, Charleston ticked every box. From tasty food to exciting adventures to ample history, it undoubtedly lived up to the hype. Whether you want to take a family trip, travel solo, or bring your girls on a bachelorette trip, you’re bound to have a fantastic time! Get yourself to Charleston ASAP so you can see what the hype is all about! Have I steered you wrong yet?
Hey, I'm Ciara. I’m a global citizen and lover of travel. Want to know more?
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