Charleston, South Carolina is a beautiful and romantic city. To me, it is the most European city in the United States. It is known for culture, history and southern charm. It’s is known as a foodie destination as well. For today’s Ten for Tuesday I am giving you ten things you have to know and do when planning a visit to Charleston SC.
- Where to stay – The historic district of Charleston is known for being very pricey. It’s for good reason. Charleston is a walking city. To get the full experience, you need to stay where the action is. One of my favorites is Kings Courtyard Inn on King Street. I’ve stayed at probably 20 different places downtown over the years though and always had a good experience. Other great places include the Harborview Inn, Charleston Place, and the Mills House. If you are a points guy, the Hilton Doubletree and Marriott Renaissance are cool spots in great locations. If you are on a budget and can’t afford the easy $200+ nightly rates downtown, then stay at one of the chain hotels in Mount Pleasant near the bridge. It is a doable walk into town and an inexpensive Uber trip back at the end of the day. Plus the view from the walkway on the bridge is amazing. http://www.kingscourtyardinn.com/.
- Where to eat — You would need to stay about a month to make a dent in all the great places to eat. May I suggest a few favorites: Caviar and Bananas for a quick breakfast to fuel you up, a blue plate of lowcountry favorites from Jestines Kitchen for lunch, local seafood in a cool building at The Ordinary for dinner. Get some Black Tap for coffee and longtime city favorite Kaminsky’s for dessert. Of course, there are dozens more great places like standby Hymans, Hanks Seafood, Husk………
- Tours – I’m not normally a big fan of taking tours. I usually prefer to just wander around and look for mischief to get into. Having said that, as a first time visitor you do need to do the carriage tours that leaves from the Market. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve also heard the ghost tours are pretty cool as well.
- Shopping – I just mentioned the Market. As the largest open air market in the United States, it is a must see. Don’t forget to look through all the antique shops on King Street. These aren’t the typical antique shops full of junk. Most everything is from England and very old and expensive.
- Angel Oak – This isn’t downtown, it’s a massive 400+ year old oak tree over on Johns Island. www.angeloaktree.com (I mean a tree with a website—wow!). This pairs really well with….
- Wadmalaw Island – I like to make a day trip over to eat BBQ at Bessingers on Hwy 17S, see Angel Oak and then tour the winery/distillery and tea plantations on Wadmalaw Island. All very cool. www.charlestonteaplantation.com. www.deepwatervineyard.com.
- Plantations – The plantations are another great day trip. There are several of them and they all have gorgeous gardens and huge mansions. I like the history and my wife likes the plants. Win! Win! http://www.charlestoncvb.com/plan-your-trip/tours-attractions~204/plantations-gardens~1149/
- Bar Hopping – Charleston has a bunch of great bars. When watching the big game I always end up at the Kickin Chicken. Buffalo Chicken Dip, friendly bartenders, lots of TV’s. I enjoy the view from rooftop Pavilion Bar as well. There are literally hundreds of bars here and more opening every day. I would recommend scouting out during your daily adventures and then bar hopping at night.
- Charleston Art Walk – This is one of those things that is hard to find on the internet. I literally stumbled into it a few times. It’s usually on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Basically art galleries all over town open up and have mini cocktail parties that you can just cruise through, check out the art, grab a glass of wine, some cheese and off to the next one. It is amazing how many participate and how many art galleries there are that you just don’t notice during the day. Best of all, it is all free (except for the art of course).
- Architecture – Charleston was founded in 1670 and the architecture is as varied here as anywhere in the United States. I love the single houses, old churches, rod iron gates, and majestic mansions. And fountains, did I mention hundreds of fountains!Be sure to spend an afternoon just wandering around exploring the cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods. The Provost Dungeon is at the end of Broad Street just down from the Four Corners of the Law. Check out the history and architecture here for sure.
Now, I know I’ve left off a bunch of things that many folks consider “must do’s. Going to the Battery, Fort Sumter, Patriots Point, the Aquarium etc…….. I know, I know! I self limited myself to ten and if you are a Charleston fanatic, don’t worry. As you know, once you visit Charleston you are sure to come back to see (and eat) more.