Unless you have been living under a rock for the last five years, you are probably well aware that Charleston, South Carolina is near the top or at the top of most “must visit” lists. Noted as the top U.S. city for five years running by Travel & Leisure Magazine and one of 29 Best Small U.S. Cities by National Geographic Travel, among other accolades. Charleston has grown in popularity and is embracing it beautifully with plenty to eat, drink, and do. If you are looking for a long weekend getaway, it may be time to finally check Charleston off your list!
Where to Stay
While there are many top ranked hotels in the area and “South of Broad” may be a sought after location, consider giving the Cannonsborough area of Charleston a look! Cannonsborough is a quaint area of downtown Charleston that is being reinvigorated with adorable row homes and home to many Airbnbs. Not too far from the famous King Street, it is an affordable area to stay and is walk-able to many restaurants and shops. Many homes have porches and roof top decks which are perfect for your morning coffee or night cap.
What to Eat
Brunch: Like most southern cities, Charleston’s brunch offerings are on point. New to the scene is Macintosh, a sleek restaurant with a Sunday brunch menu including Banana Chocolate Chip Bread in addition to its happy hour and dinner offerings. Be sure to make reservations (easily done online)! Hominy Grill is another great option if you are in the Cannonsborough area. While this restaurant typically has a wait, it moves quickly and they serve beverages in the courtyard while you wait.
Lunch: If you are looking for a unique place for lunch, look no further than Fuel Charleston. An old gas station turned Caribbean café, their menu is distinctive and their back patio is a nice change to the scene on King Street. Oh, and get the ho-cakes when you go. You will not be disappointed.
Relaxed Dinner: Five Loaves Café may not look like much from the outside but this adorable corner café on Cannon Street will kindly surprise you. Small in size but mighty in their dished out flavors, be sure to leave room for an appetizer (maybe the goat cheese and balsamic gnocchi) and/or dessert here!
Worth the Hype Dinner: As one of Charleston’s most notable restaurants, Husk first and foremost almost always requires a reservation (often months ahead of time). However, if you are a planner and can grab one, it is worth the advance work. Sourcing all of its food locally, its menu changes daily and is committed to serving only southern food in the most unique ways. What is equally awesome? The service. Even on a busy Friday night, the servers give you plenty of time to decide and enjoy.
What to Drink
Breweries: If breweries are your thing, you are in luck as Charleston has you covered. While none are in the King Street/Broad Street area, they are a quick Uber or nice one-mile walk away. Palmetto is South Carolina’s oldest brewery and was recently bought by Catawba Brewing (a staple in Asheville, NC). They offer beers from both breweries on site. Revelry Brewery seems to be the hip brewery in town (follow them on Instagram!) and they have a great on-site food menu. Tuesday is Taco Night and on Sundays they serve sushi. Try the Japanese Mozzarella Sticks if you just want a snack! Holy City Brewing, while a little farther outside of the city, offers a large outside patio with picnic tables, a decent food menu, and pool tables, in addition to great beer selections.
Bar Scene: The bar scene on King Street, to be honest, can be overwhelming. But, you can find any scene you are looking for – chic and trendy, laid back, or historical and authentic. Consider 492 King with a killer courtyard or Closed for Business with a great selection of rotating taps. Also, for the best of the beverage worlds, Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer should be on your list. Enjoy a latte or coffee in the morning and by mid-afternoon, their taps are flowing. Plus, Kudu is another location with an adorable courtyard with live music on the weekends.
What to Check Out
To be honest, the list of things to check out in Charleston is quite long. Plus, it really depends on your tastes. With an abundance of art galleries, plantations and gardens, shops, and historical features, do your research before you go. But, try to make time for the “staples:” Charleston City Market and Sweetgrass baskets, The Battery, a ghost tour, Rainbow Row, and King Street shopping.
What to Know
Lastly, here are a few key tips before you go.
- When you get your bill at a restaurant in Charleston, don’t be alarmed. The retail tax rate in Charleston is 9%; but at restaurants it is 11% due to an additional prepared food tax!
- If you can, schedule your trip on the second Sunday of the month. Second Sunday on King could be compared to Frederick’s First Saturday and In the Streets combined. King Street is shut down and the street becomes filled with pedestrians, vendors, and live music!
- Take note of the hospitality doors on many of the “single” homes (i.e. the long skinny homes) in town. These doors are entryways to the front porch and were used in the past to indicate the home was ready to receive guests. Quite the unique architectural element!
These suggestions are just the beginning of the amazing features of Charleston. Get ready to enjoy the beauty and southern charm of one of our country’s best small cities and remember to pack your walking shoes, appetite, and wide eyes!