While sitting in a restaurant in Atlanta last month, I innocently mentioned that I was headed to Charleston, South Carolina for the weekend. Three heads whipped around at the table next to me and they all said, “Charleston? You’re going to Charleston? That’s our favorite place in the whole world,” and they proceeded to tell me why for the next 10 minutes. Our food coming to the table cut off our conversation, but suffice to say, I got the idea that Charleston is fantastic, and I was even more excited to get there.
Boy, my new restaurant friends couldn’t have been more right. Charleston is a stunning example of the Deep South with an artistic flair and Lowcountry vibe that I’ve not see duplicated in any of my travels. The pace is relaxed, and the people talk a bit slower than other parts of the country, but it’s like they’re savoring their spot in the world and are letting it seep slowly into you so the feeling will last.
If you get a chance to experience Charleston, don’t hesitate. It is worth every mile to get there and every penny spent to enjoy it all. As a head start for planning your visit, I’ve made a list with just a few ideas for truly enjoying your stay in the “Holy City.”
Find a fabulous place to stay – Charleston and the surrounding islands have every kind of lodging you can think of available. There are some delightful options in Charleston proper from the amazing 5-star Planters Inn on Meeting Street where you can have breakfast in your room on a silver tray, to the charming bed & breakfast Two Meeting Street Inn which is a true Lowcountry experience with all the Southern ambience you could ever ask for. If you’d like to stay outside the city itself but want to be close enough to experience all it has to offer, I suggest renting a condo out on Isle of Palms. There are some great options out there directly on the beach, and it’s only about a 20-minute drive to get to downtown Charleston.
Take a walking tour of Old Charleston – If you’ve never taken a walking tour of the historic district, this is a “must do” while in Charleston. The guides take great pride in their city (as they should) and are as entertaining as they are informative. At the very least, it will give you a great overview of the layout of the city so you can do more sightseeing on your own once the tour is over. I highly recommend booking the Historic Charleston Walking Tour through Viator (www.viator.com).
Eat fantastic seafood – Charleston is the biggest hub of amazing food I’ve ever seen, and trust me, I’ve looked. 😊 Pretty much any type of food you enjoy is available in the city and done with a little Lowcountry twist that makes you feel like you’re absorbing the culture right along with the fantastic eats. My one solid recommendation for everyone though is to have some seafood while you’re there. It’s flat out fabulous. Everything is fresh and lovely from fish to oysters to shrimp and crab. There are so many options in town, I couldn’t possibly list them all, so I’ll just give you two of my particular favorites: SNOB or Husk. (DEFINITELY make reservations ahead for either one.) If you’re staying in a condo and a restaurant doesn’t sound great, stop at one of the many seafood markets and pick up some shrimp for a Lowcountry boil (click here for a recipe) on the beach outside your condo. Nothing like peeling and eating shrimp with a little sausage and corn while watching the waves roll in.
Take a bike ride on Isle of Palms – Even if you stay in the city, you should make the short journey out to Isle of Palms and spend the day. The beach is lovely and there is a marina, some great restaurants (Acme Lowcountry Kitchen is a particular favorite) and lots of fun things to do like golf, tennis and, you guessed it, BIKING! You can bike right on the beach or pedal around the shaded bike paths that run throughout the island. Renting a bike is really easy. Just go to http://isleofpalmsbikerentals.com/ , and they’ll fix you right up.
Take in Art Walk – Charleston isn’t just known for their food. They also have a very vibrant and growing art scene, and the galleries are simply lovely. Four times a year the Charleston Gallery Association hosts an Art Walk through the French Quarter and surrounding areas in downtown Charleston. With over 40 galleries participating, you’re sure to find a piece that is just your style. There are two Art Walks left this year – Friday, October 5th and Friday, December 7th. The Walk runs from 5-8pm and while many galleries will have things to nibble on, most will be offering wine to sip while you peruse their offerings. (If you can’t schedule your trip to coincide with these 2018 dates, never fear, they will have 4 more next year.) A few important tips. 1) Go to http://www.charlestongalleryassociation.com/ to see a downloadable/printable map of all the participating galleries with a description of the type of art displayed so you can use your time wisely; 2) Be sure to book a dinner reservation for about 8:15pm because everyone else on the Walk will want food at that time as well; and 3) Have a little fun and use a Rickshaw to get around the city rather than trying to move your car or walk after 3 hours of viewing art. Just go to https://charlestonrickshaw.com/ to reserve your private Rickshaw chariot.
Thinking of visiting Charleston? I’d love to help you plan your perfect Lowcountry experience! Give me a call at 678-548-6402 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.