If you ever get the chance to visit Charleston in the Spring, I urge you to seriously consider. The entire city seems to be in bloom and the streets are filled with the smell of jasmine.
Charleston has been on my list of US cities to visit for a very long time. I had always heard that Charleston was a "cleaner and more safe version of New Orleans" (which is my favorite US city due to the incredible combination of culture, food, music, and architecture). I was absolutely overwhelmed with the accuracy of that description.
The people were friendly, the food was incredible, the architecture was immensely beautiful, and the city has a rich history beginning at the foundation of our country. What more could you want? I scoured blogs and travel sites looking for the best spots to visit, but quite a few of our stops were suggested to us by locals. If you are looking for a quick guide to Charleston, look no further!
I highly suggest staying in downtown Charleston. The area is only about 1.5 miles X 2 miles, so it is easily walkable/bikeable to all of the local amenities. Bikes will run about $25 per day per person, and Ubers only cost about $7 to anywhere in the downtown area. If you're more inclined to walk, I encourage booking a place near the intersection of King and Queen street. Most of the popular attractions and restaurants are within .5 miles of this crossroads. My fiance and I are into running, which is a great way to quickly learn the city streets and see spots you may not have noticed while driving.
We grabbed an Airbnb that came fully loaded with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, bathroom, etc. I love to eat out at the local restaurants, but it's nice to be able to grab groceries for snacks and in-between meals. Check out Harris Teeter in Ansonborough : it's a fantastic nearby grocery store and it's not crazy over priced.
Hominy Grill - Lowcountry classics with amazing brunch, sit in their courtyard that is surrounded by jasmine.
Xiou Bou Biscuit - "Asian Soul Food", has food from Japan, China, Vietnam, Korea, etc. Looks like a converted gas station with a very cool hipster interior.
167 Raw - The perfect spot for date night, this restaurant has very limited seating inside but has a few tables outside to accommodate larger groups. These were the best oysters we had in Charleston. Give the fried ones a try too, with a glass of rosé obvi.
Leon's Oyster Shop - This was my fiancé's favorite restaurant. You can't go wrong with fried chicken and oysters! These were my favorite fried oysters that we had during our stay. It has a great outdoor patio (it also looks like a converted gas station) and is walking distance to multiple bars and distilleries.
492 - 492 would be a great spot for a larger group of people. We sat in their gorgeous courtyard, conveniently located right on King Street. Give the smoked snapper paté and geechie boy grit loaf a try along with their Almost Summer Sazerac cocktail.
Queen Street Grocery - Drop into Queen Street Grocery for some coffee and a crepe before strolling the streets of Queen to gaze at the gorgeous houses. It has a great hippie/laid back vibe (reminds me a bit of Austin) and is a local favorite.
Fig - Seasonal cuisine using local and sustainable foods, this eatery has a laid-back vine with great Lowcountry cuisine.
Husk - There is a lot of hype around this restaurant so make sure to make reservations early. Located on Queen street, it has a southern plantation exterior and they pride themselves on only using ingredients from the south. Give their Husk puppies and shrimp and grits a try!
Edmunds Oast - Edmund's Oast is a lively brewery and restaurant serving American fare. Grab some of their in-house made brews and a charcuterie board. This place was recommended to us by multiple locals so you know it's good!
Chez Nous - A french inspired eatery that is tucked away near Spring street. They change their 3 course menu daily and only post it to Instagram.
Obstinate Daughter - If you're heading out to Sullivan's Island for some beach fun, grab lunch at the Obstinate Daughter. They have very neat interior design with gorgeous white-washed shiplap inside. Their peel-and-eat shrimp tasted super fresh! Fun historical fact, South Carolina was known as one of the "obstinate daughters of America" during the Revolutionary War, proving that being stubborn can change the course of history.
Prohibition - "Bringing the Swing back to King" is their motto! Prohibition is a 1920's style bar that serves super fun cocktails and often has live music at their venue.
Belmont - Located on upper king, they tout themselves as a "fine place to drink". They have a pretty cool vibe with classic black and white movies being projected on the wall.
Closed for Business - Laid-back gastropub with decent bar food!
Proof - If you're looking for lots of wine by the glass options, you've come to the right place. It has tastefully refined decor yet isn't pretentious. Good spot!
The Gin Joint - Another 20's inspired bar that serves cocktails and interesting small plates! Fun vibe.
Husk - As mentioned above, they own a restaurant next door that's pretty great. Grab a cocktail before/after dinner!
Sullivan's Beach - Sullivan's Beach is a residential area of beach. It is very clean and not overcrowded. Some of the best restaurants on the island are located in this area too (See Obstinate Daughter and Poe's Tavern)
Folly Beach - Folly beach is a more touristy beach area. A bit more crowded, but still a good spot to relax! It is a little more relaxed than Sullivan's Beach.
Isle of the Palms - In my opinion, the Isle of Palms is the best beach spot. They have great live music at Windjammers, pristine beaches, gorgeous residential neighborhoods, and multiple gorgeous resorts to spend the day playing golf or just grabbing lunch.
Waterfront Park - This 12 acre park is lined with palm trees and has a gorgeous view overlooking the Cooper river. You can often see dolphins playing in the water! Grab some gelato and go for a stroll to the Pineapple Fountain, one of Charleston's many beautiful water features.
Rainbow Row - Rainbow Row is a must see tourist destination. It is comprised of 13 beautifully colored Georgian houses along East Bay Street. At least check it off the list :)
Queen Street - Some of the best restaurants are located on Queen Street (Husk, 82 Queen, Queen Street Grocery) and the walk to get to them is superb!
King Street - King street is the Main strip of boutiques, restaurants, and bars in Charleston. There is plenty to see and a thousand different shops to check out. Must see for any new visitor.
Ghost Tours/Walking Tours - Do yourself a favor and learn about the rich history of Charleston on a walking tour or ghost tour! We really enjoyed taking a ghost tour of the city at night - super fun and creepy!
Magnolia Plantation - There are plenty of gorgeous plantations in Charleston, but my personal fave was Magnolia Plantation. The grounds were sprawling and gorgeously manicured, but in a way that is true to the natural beauty of the regional foliage. They even have a petting zoo complete with goats, peacocks, ponies, owls, chickens, turkeys, pigs, foxes, white tailed deer, etc. Take a look at some of my favorite photos below!
There you have it! This list is by all means not all-inclusive but it has some of my top spots from our week in Charleston. I would love to hear suggestions on where to visit next time we go!
Kat - Wander Life