Happy Monday, babes! We have spent so much time in Charleston over the last few years. From vacations, to friends weddings, and then our own wedding this past year, it seems like we are in Charleston at last once a quarter and I’m not complaining about that one bit. It is hands down, my favorite place to visit and vacation. It’s a super easy drive from Charlotte, and you can almost always bet on a hot sunny day there. Plus, it’s impossible to eat a bad meal in Charleston – and we all know Shane and I love a good date night out. With all our travel to the holy city, I realized I’ve never actually done a post on our favorite things to do there. So today, I’m giving you all the deets on our favorite places to stay, eat, and play. Let’s get started!
WHERE TO STAY:
Renaissance Charleston Historic District // This is where we stay 9 times out of 10 (unless it’s sold out, or the rates are crazy). Nestled in the middle of downtown, the location couldn’t be more perfect for exploring on foot! It’s walking distance from some of the best bars and restaurants Charleston has to offer and is located just a half block off of Kings Street (where all the shopping is located). It’s an older hotel, however they recently redid the entire inside of it and have given it a more modern flare! We like this hotel so much so that we booked our wedding block here.
Belmond Charleston Place // If you’re looking for that old southern charm and you’re okay with splurging a little, this is one of the nicest hotels Charleston has to offer. Like the previously mentioned hotel, this one is also located downtown in the historic district and within walking distance of all the main attractions. This hotel embodies old world charm while feeling super luxurious, and it’s dog friendly! PS: Get the room service for breakfast, it’s worth it!
WHERE TO EAT:
Rise Coffee Bar // I’m a big time coffee gal. I have a cup of Joe in the room, and then my first stop after getting ready is always at Rise for an iced Caramel Latte! It’s within walking distance of Renaissance, located right downtown inside of the Restoration Hotel (they have their own storefront from the road). It’s cute, quaint, and the service is always good.
Hominy Grill // This is a Charleston favorite and a huge attraction amongst visitors for it’s popularity on several TV shows. I’ve only had breakfast/brunch here, but it’s delicious! It’s always busy, but the vibe is very relaxed and casual. Like lots of restaurants in Charleston, it’s located in an old home and serves up all the low country classics. This is definitely a “cheat day” spot!
Millers All Day // We tried this out for brunch on our most recent visit and loved it! They started the restaurant based around the notion that you can have brunch at any hour – which is right up our alley because we aren’t early risers on the weekends! The decor is super cute, definitely Instagramable and the food measured up as well! We tried a slew of things on the menu, but the waffle took the cake. The coffee here is also really good!
The Macintosh // This is actually where we held our rehearsal dinner, and I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better meal in my life! We’ve had both brunch and dinner here, but I recommend it most for dinner. They change their menu seasonally, but if you’re around when the Deckle is on the menu – get it! It’s life changing. I also really like that they use their southern roots as inspiration for their menu daily!
Hanks Seafood // I can’t remember a trip to Charleston without a visit to Hanks. It’s ranked as the best seafood restaurant in Charleston, and I couldn’t agree more. We don’t cook seafood a lot at home, so anytime we are in Charleston I splurge on the Roast Grouper with spinach and goat cheese risotto here. I’ve never had a better Grouper dish anywhere else, and it’s consistently delicious.
Elis Table // Charleston is known for their shrimp and grits, and Eli’s is the place to go if you want the real deal. They recently won best shrimp and grits of Charleston, and again – totally agree with that accolade! They also used to have an amazing Maitre D’ named Raymond, however during our most recent visit we were told he now works at Stars Rooftop (if you’re there, ask for him – he hooks it up!). I do want to note that our last go around of service at Eli’s was sub par, the food was still fantastic (also highly recommend the shrimp and sweet potato pancakes appetizer), but for whatever reason the service was extremely slow.
THINGS TO DO:
Shopping // There are tons of options for shopping on Kings Street! You’ll find popular big box stores like Sephora, Apple and H&M mixed in between local boutiques and art shops that have hand made jewelry, art work, candles etc. The Market is also a great place to pick up handmade Charleston goods! It’s fun to walk around at and sight see nonetheless.
Folly Beach // This is our favorite activity in Charleston. Folly is a small little beach town about a 20-30 min (depending on traffic) ride from the downtown area. We love grabbing a few towels and heading there for a solid beach day. The town itself also has great little beach bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops as well. Our favorite beach bar to hang at is on the backside of the Tides hotel called BLU. If you’re in the mood for low key Mexican, give Taco Boy a try! The Mexican street corn is what dreams are made of.
Boat Rental or Sunset Sail // We’ve done this a couple times over holiday weekends and it’s a blast! There are tons of marinas and harbors around the city that you can rent a boat from, or that offer sunset sails if you’re not in the mood to be the captain! There are tons of dolphins that swim in the channels so you’re likely to see them if you decide to go this route! We’ve seen them every time we’ve been out.
Plantation Tour // There is so much history around Charleston, especially in the plantation space. Magnolia Plantation and Gardens & Middleton Plantation both offer tours of the grounds and gardens. Magnolia was recently named America’s most beautiful garden by Travel + Leisure magazine! It’s also really interesting to hear about the history behind it’s location through the American Revolution and Civil War. If you’re a history buff, this ones for you! We’ve attended a wedding there, as well as toured the property and it truly is stunning! Just make sure to bring bug spray. Both properties are super close to each other, so you could easily see both in one day – however, it is about a 25 minute drive from downtown Charleston.
Carriage Ride // Experience downtown Charleston by horse drawn carriage! We recommended doing this to everyone at our wedding who had not been to Charleston before. It gives you the opportunity to see incredible historic homes (and mansions), gardens, architecture, and history through a 1 hour guided tour. Tickets start at $16 with the option to select a private tour for $150.
Rooftops // Check out any of Charlestons rooftops for happy hour and a view! We love doing this before dinner to watch the sunset and kick start a fun evening out.
Phewww, that was a lot and it’s only a tiny glimpse into all the city has to offer! We still have so many restaurants, coffee shops and bars on our Charleston bucket list to try – so I will update this post as we give those a go. I’d love to hear what your favorites are in the comments below!