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If you enjoy the simple things in life (colorful homes, mouthwatering biscuits, the simple pleasure of being able to Uber to a nice beach), then you need to plan a weekend getaway to Charleston. Immediately. Right this second. I’m not sure what you’re waiting for, but Charleston has you on speed dial and it is calling.
But AnaMaria, where do I even begin to prepare a whole Charleston travel itinerary? I have no time! I have so much laundry to do! I need to binge the latest season of “Stranger Things”! When will I ever be able to do the research necessary for this trip?
Fret not, dear readers. We’ll break down everything from where to eat, where to drink, where to lay your head at night, and — OF COURSE — all the main bucket list must-do’s that no trip to the ~Holy City~ is complete without.
Quit your job and pack a large suitcase, because once you step foot inside the oasis that is Zero George? You’ll want to move right in. Comprised of restored buildings from 1804, this luxury hotel offers cobblestone alleyways, brightly-lit rooms, and breathtaking outdoor verandas that now have me believing in love at first sight.
On top of the sheer beauty of the hotel and the attentiveness of staff (for reference, a warm cookie and glass of milk was left in my room every night), all of the below amenities are also included in your stay:
Continental European breakfasts: From delicious waffles and house-made granola to fancy quiches and biscuits from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit (see the “What To Eat” section in this post), you’ll find yourself leaving the ~protein bar on the go~ attitude back at home. At Zero George, breakfast feels like a special event.
Wine and cheese pairing: Relax on the veranda in the best possible way: with a glass of red to be drunk and a cheese plate to be devoured. These complimentary tastings take place every single night, and I’m not outright saying that an evening alcohol-and-dairy hour was the highlight of my trip but..well..you know what, it was.
Bicycles: If your pulse quickens at the thought of how quaint it would be to bike around a new city, then you’re in luck. Zero George offers complimentary bikes that are pastel blue and equipped with a basket and cream-colored tires.
Coffee machines, water bottles, and sparkling water: Every room is stocked with a coffee machine, Le Creuset mugs, bottles of water, and Izzy sparkling water. Staying both caffeinated and hydrated will have never been so easy.
Address: 0 George St, Charleston, SC 29401-1543
Rooms starting at $269.
Scour Airbnb for a place that best suits your needs (and party size) — because what better way to live like a local than by, well, renting out a local home? Now excuse me while I make myself comfortable in the adorable green (!!!!) abode below. It’s got a porch. It’s got a breakfast nook. And it’s also got my heart.
Book the above Airbnb, with rates starting at $65 per night.
Budgets: annoying to have, impossible to avoid. For a nightly rate that won’t ruin your humble savings account, book a shared dorm or private room at The Notso Hostel (the hostel itself is a series of double-porched homes built in the 1840’s).
This hostel is located right in downtown Charleston, which makes it especially great if you’re looking to avoid cab fares and car rides. It’s just a quick walk from a ton of restaurants and nightlife.
Address: 156 Spring St. , Charleston, USA
Rooms starting at $30+.
Browse more hotel options at Trip Advisor, Expedia, or Hotels.com.
Get in some vitamin D at Sullivan’s Island, which is only a short Uber ride away*. This clean little paradise is surprisingly calm and NOT overcrowded, which gives it major summer-beach-town-from-a-Nicholas-Sparks-novel-turned-movie vibe.
For a relaxing day at the beach, Sullivan’s Island is where it’s at — but if you prefer the idea of a boardwalk and being able to drink on said boardwalk, opt for a trip to Folly Beach instead!
*It was a 23-minute Uber ride from Zero George to Sullivan’s Island and it cost me about $13. By New York City standards, the ride was practically free.
Trip Advisor review: “We decided to go to Sullivan’s Beach because we thought it would be less crowded than Folly Beach, and it definitely was. We got there late in the morning and there was only a handful of people there. The beach has white sand and is really clean.” —Redheadedlass
Address: Atlantic Ave, Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
Be sure to download Zillow before strolling through Rainbow Row, because the chances of you wanting a pastel pink house after said stroll will likely increase by about one million percent. And no, not an exaggeration.
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Tonight was EPIC! Jon and I got the opportunity to capture a surprise proposal on the beach! Thank the Lord that the rain held off and the people somewhat cleared out of the way!!🙌🏼 . I can’t wait to share some sneak peeks of them! They are absolutely adorable!! . On another note, but still exciting, we are visiting Charleston and Greenville, SC again this year!!!! We can hardly wait for September! . If you’re interested in booking a session, we will be offering minis while we are in town!! Just send me a DM or email me directly 🙂 . I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend! . #charlestonsouthcarolina #rainbowrow #adventureswiththemcclures #mccluretravels
Trip Advisor review: “The houses are beautiful and extremely historic. In the 1700s, a woman decided to buy a lot of houses, fix them up, and paint them bright colors. It’s now illegal to repaint them in colors other than the originals to preserve the beauty and history.” —TrulyExcellentAdvice
Address: 83 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401
If you’re looking for a little morsel of buttery heaven, run (don’t walk) to Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. Between the country ham and blackberry biscuits to the biscuit breakfast sandwiches, consider your taste buds satisfied and spoiled for all of eternity.
An FYI that the line can be pretty long, but it’s available for order on UberEats!
Yelp review: “Worth. Every. Ounce. Of. Hype. Wow. We each got our own breakfast sandwich and then a couple of the flavored biscuits to split. The breakfast sandwich with bacon and egg was delicious and I also tried a bit of the sausage breakfast sandwich with the spicy pimento cheese, which was soooo good! The sweet biscuits are good, too! The cinnamon one was a highlight. Be prepared to wait because it’s a really small spot, and it can a while to get your order — but it’s totally worth the wait and these are some fantastic, buttery, stick-to-your-ribs biscuits! A must for a visit to Charleston.” —Lauren C.
Address: 476 King St Charleston, SC 29403
Take a Bulldog Tour for some history and haunts! They offer a variety of yours including one of Magnolia Cemetery, in which I maybe possibly captured an orb on my iPhone?! Indisputable proof below.
My lovely tour guide Karin, who was LOVELY, mentioned that Charleston was now considered the most haunted city in all of America (with the title having previously been held by Savannah).
Hello? R.L. Stine? I think I’ve got the perfect backdrop for your new book.
Trip Advisor review: “Our tour was amazing! It provided many historical facts about Charleston and it was loads of fun! We have visited Charleston many times but this was our first history tour, and we highly recommend.” —kimY5240IX
Tickets starting at $29.
Browse through around 300 vendors at Charleston City Market, the ideal spot to unearth gorgeous finds ranging from spices and sweetgrass baskets to artwork and candles. And while this is the place to go souvenir shopping for your loved ones, I should mention that it’s also an especially great place to go shopping for…yourself.
Trip Advisor review: “The city market is a must stop while in Charleston. It is a fun place to people watch, explore, and find some great local artisans and souvenirs.” —yoandre79
Browse through a list of vendors here.
Address: 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401-3155
The menu changes daily at Wild Common, a new dining experience that sources fresh ingredients for innovative, unique recipes that are love at first bite. Prepare your palette for dishes such as dragon fruit with pickled jalapeños and seaweed crisp to dry aged prime ribeye with black truffle and tomato marmalade.
While the above menu items may not be available during your visit, that is the beauty of Wild Common: Executive Chef Orlando Pagán takes a unique approach to fine dining by changing and curating the menu every single day.
Opt for small bites and drinks or go for the five-course tasting menu, which can be enhanced with a wine pairing. Not a wine person? No problem. The cocktails at Wild Common are equally as delicious as their food; Bramble Smash (vodka, preserved blackberry, lemon, lime, and mint) was my personal favorite.
Yelp review: “Chef Orlando and his team have brought together simplicity and elegance to wonderful combinations of flavor, depth and texture. He has a history of working with some of the best chefs on both coasts, and his time spent with Sean Brock reflects in his creations.” —Patrick B.
Address: 103 Spring St Charleston, SC 29403
What can rival a boozy bottomless brunch? Not much. Get yours at The Macintosh, where you can indulge in mimosas, bacon bloody mary’s, fried chicken and waffles, peach pecan bread…honestly just go stalk the brunch menu for yourself. You’ll want everything.
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Convinced that spring is playing an #AprilFools joke on us with this weather, but it’s back in the 70s this Saturday for BLUES, BREWS & BBQ 👏👏 — Join us after the bridge run for brews, bbq from Chef @jeremiahmartinbacon, and music by @mattmackelcan starting at 10 AM 🎶 . . . #cooperriverbridgerun #bluesbrewsbbq #saturdayplans #afterparty #charlestonsc #helloapril #macintoshchs
Yelp review: “While in Charleston, my friends and I were fortunate to dine at this restaurant for Sunday Brunch. This brunch was one of the best I have been to by far. The bacon Bloody Mary was absolutely marvelous and the bottomless mimosas will definitely sneak up on you if you consume them to quickly. I thought the banana walnut bread was the best I have had, without a doubt and ‘The Duke’ was one of the best breakfast sandwiches in the city of Charleston. The portions are extremely generous for what you’re paying. You will definitely not leave this restaurant hungry. In the future I’d like to order their fried chicken and waffles as they looked absolutely incredible.” —Stephen F.
Address: 479B King St Charleston, SC 29403
At Sullivan’s Island, gobble up everything from burgers to Annabel Lee crabcakes at Poe’s Tavern. As the name would imply, this place pays homage to Edgar Allen Poe by way of kitschy, Poe-themed decorations that I guess you can say any lit lover will “love with a love that was more than love”.
Someone contact my AP English teacher and let him know that I still have this poem memorized.
Psst, Edgar Allen Poe actually *lived* on Sullivan’s Island for a bit while in the army! Hence this tavern being named after him.
Yelp review: “Poe-lease stop what you are doing & take ya tush to Poe’s Tavern. This place now not only aesthetically pleasing for my fellow literary-lovers (trust me, you’re going to GEEEEEK OUT), but it also has the best, most mouthwatering southern-style burgers in the area! The pimento cheese is the kind of pimento cheese that pimento cheese dreams are made of — warm and gooey and just like my mama makes it. The burgers are big, juicy, and fresh. You’ll never leave hungry because the portions are large and in charge. And, while you are enjoying the most perfect meal in all the land, you can also enjoy the friendly staff and great bar. I’m serious folks, this place has me ~Raven~ about it to everyone.” —HannahRoseT
Address: 2210 Middle St Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482
With an intimate and homey atmosphere, Zero Restaurant uses herbs and vegetables from their own garden (as well as local produce) for a luxury meal that doesn’t feel like an intimidating fine dining experience. Each plate is delicious and you’ll struggle to pinpoint which bite was your favorite.
Don’t be fooled by the meal highlight above: it’s not a potted plant that needs to be watered (thankfully), but is a baby radish, fried quinoa, and dried olive delight. Pull out the radish, dip it into some fresh herb butter and quinoa, and chomp away.
Yelp review: “This is hands-down the best tasting menu I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. The staff was nothing short of perfection, every course perfectly timed, perfectly paired, and perfectly explained. It started at inventive, built to delicious, and ended with desserts so perfect that I was truly devastated I couldn’t eat them both…. and I don’t usually like dessert. Some of the wines they chose were absolute stunners! If you want to have a moment that makes you question all other food that has entered your mouth, this is that moment. Lastly, $135 for an eight-course meal of wine and food? I’m honestly shocked at the value. This place is a hidden gem. Get in while you can.” —Rachel D.
Address: 0 George St Charleston, SC 29401
King street reigns (😉) supreme as the heart of Charleston. This long stretch has so many quaint shops, restaurants, and drink spots that you’ll feel the need to extend your trip ticket just to experience ’em all. Clothes. Candles. Candy. I bought it all.
For a cozy atmosphere, delicious bites, and creative cocktails, head on over to The Gin Joint. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, opt for the ~Pick Two~ drink: choose two out of a selection of adjectives, and your bartender will make you a drink based on those words.
Yelp review: “This place has the coolest cocktail menu! If you are adventurous at all, you can pick two describing words off the list on the menu and the bartender will make you something based around that! I ordered Refreshing and Herbal and wound up with a gin and basil drink! It was exactly what I would’ve wanted had it been a menu item. Hubs ordered Smokey and Herbal and he loved his drink as well. The atmosphere is relaxed as it is a relatively small space, but it was busy when we went. You may have a wait depending on when you go (we waited maybe 10 minutes mid-afternoon on a Saturday).” —Kim L.
Address: 182 E Bay St Charleston, SC 29401
If live music is, well, music to our ears — then The Commodore will easlily become one of the highlights of your trip. (On the random Tuesday night that I went, the seats were empty but the dance floor was packed. Seriously, everyone was dancing. )
Yelp review: “Outstanding music venue! Some of the best live music I’ve experienced — classic funk, soul, R&B, popular covers, all with beats that make you want to boogie! The place has an intimate feel with a hip throwback vibe to earlier times. The downside is that on weekends it can get pretty crazy and you’ll probably have to wait in line if you don’t get there early enough. I recommend going on a week night if you want to enjoy the music without a massive crowd.” —Betsy P.
Address: 504 Meeting St Charleston, SC 29403
And with that, I bid you adieu — time to plan your trip to Charleston and use this post as a reference!
Psst, here is a little cheat sheet checklist of everywhere to go during your weekend getaway (I even included some additional spots not detailed in the list above):
1) King Street
2) Rainbow Row
3) Bulldog Tour
4) Charleston City Market
5) Sullivan’s Island
6) Firefly Distillery
7) Folly Beach
8) The Macintosh
9) Zero George
10) Wild Common
11) Poe’s Tavern
12) Callie’s Biscuits
13) Basic Kitchen
14) Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
15) The Commodore
16) Gin Joint
Want more travel inspo? Check out our Iceland travel guide, our Montreal travel guide, and this list of US hotels with amazing outdoor pools.
The reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.
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