What to Eat, See, and Do in Charleston, SC

Last week I had the chance to take a 4-day getaway to one of the places that has been on my bucket list for quite a while.OConnor_Girls_Charleston

Not only was I able to finally visit Charleston, SC but I was able to see this gorgeous city with some of my favorite people — my mom, sisters, & nephew.

Charleston_SC_Palm_Tree_Pink_ChurchAlthough Charleston was HOT when we were there, this charming and colorful city did not disappoint. We had an absolute blast and I’m excited to check-in today and share a little bit about our trip. We’re definitely not experts, but hopefully our experience helps anyone else visiting this hot spot!Guide to Visiting Charleston

Where We StayedCharleston_SC_Magnolia_Plantation

We got a great deal at the Mills House, which was located in historic downtown Charleston, and ended up being a perfect location for us to walk just about everywhere. The pink exterior was adorable, and our room was one of the few with a balcony. They had a pool, which came in handy on some of those extra hot days. Overall we enjoyed our time at the Mills, especially after seeing how expensive it is other times of the year!

What We Did

Walked Around Downtown CharlestonTravel_Charleston_SC-14

Charleston is such a gorgeous and unique city. Between the horse and carriages, the amazing architecture, the stunning neighborhoods, bright colors, and cobblestone streets… each block is prettier than the next! So just walking around and taking it all in was one of our favorites parts of the trip.

Explored the Waterfront Park

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Because of the extra hot temperatures and trying to trick Owen into falling asleep in his stroller each night, we spent a lot of time walking the waterfront paths that led into the neighborhoods. Travel_Charleston_SC-10Plus there were some fountains in the waterfront park that were extra refreshing for the little guy (and even us) when we were overwhelmed by the heat.

Popped in Some Historic ChurchesTravel_Charleston_SC-18Travel_Charleston_SC-12

Some of the churches were locked throughout the neighborhoods, but many of them were open for the public to come in and see. There are SO many churches in Charleston and seeing inside of these historic churches was pretty amazing. Many of the churches also have very old cemeteries next to them, which sounds a little creepy but walking through those was fascinating. Many of the tombstones dated back to the 1500, 1600 and 1700’s. Pretty amazing history.

Took in the Gorgeous Neighborhood ViewsCharleston_SC_Magnolia_Plantation-7

I already mentioned this, but thought it was worth mentioning again because seeing these houses and tiny, cobblestone streets was one of my favorite parts. The houses are like none I have ever seen before, so we really loved walking through the neighborhoods (especially right before sunset when it was quiet and cooler out) to really check them out.

Visited Charleston’s Market StreetTravel_Charleston_SC

Market street is home to Charleston’s famous market that runs everyday and even into the night/evening on weekends. It was fun to walk through and see all the handmade items and local favorites. We didn’t buy anything, but it’s always fun to look.

Spent a Half Day at Magnolia PlantationCharleston_SC_Magnolia_Plantation-3

We were torn between visiting Magnolia Plantation or Boone Hall Plantation because we heard great things about both. We ultimately decided on Magnolia’s Planation and paid $50 a person for a 1/2 day trip, which included a round trip ride, a walking tour, mansion tour, and a train tour of the property. I’ve never been to a plantation so it was interesting to see. Plus we were able to see a few alligators while we were there (yikes!) and also some pretty amazing views that reminded me of a scene straight out of a Nicholas Sparks’ novel.

Relaxed at Folly Beach

Folley_Beach_Charleston_Travel-8Folley_Beach_Charleston_Travel-3Last but certainly not least, we spent a day at Folley Beach, which was about 20 minutes from our hotel. This beach had a long pier and several restaurants/shops to explore around the beach, which made the day a little more fun for sun-sensitive people like us!Folley_Beach_Charleston_Travel-5

Where We Ate

  • Toast ($): We ate breakfast at this simple restaurant and really loved it! It was traditional southern cooking and also pretty affordable. They are open for lunch and dinner too.
  • Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits ($): We grabbed fresh biscuits at Callie’s hot biscuits one morning per a reader’s request and were SO happy to find this tiny treasure. If you LOVE biscuits, you should definitely consider stopping here! It’s a small place where you could eat in quickly or take your flavored biscuit or breakfast sandwich to go. Either way, we don’t think you’ll leave disappointed.
  • Oyster House ($ Lunch, $$ Dinner): We ate lunch at the Oyster House right off Market Street and loved everything we ordered. This hot spot was a great place for a group because the menu was pretty diverse. The prices were very affordable for lunch, but did get a tad more expensive based on their dinner menu.
  • Taco Boy ($): This was also a reader recommendation that we really loved (thank you!!). We actually went to Taco Boy at Folley Beach, however there is a location in Charleston as well. Everything we had was so fresh and super delicious!
  • Sticky Finger’s BBQ ($ Lunch, $$ Dinner): We had to try a little southern BBQ while in town, so we went to Sticky Fingers because we heard a lot of great things from the locals. Southern BBQ is different from the style we typically eat in Chicago so it was fun to try the different sauces while we were there. I wouldn’t say it was the BEST BBQ we’ve ever had, but we all left full and happy!
  • 82Queen ($$$): Queen82 was right across the street from our hotel so when we arrived into town we sat in the bar area (with no reservation) and enjoyed dinner. This was one of the pricier meals we ate, but the food was upscale and really delicious. If you’re interested in eating here, I would definitely recommend making reservations in advance or checking out the bar (open seating).Travel_Charleston_SC-21
  • Poogan’s Porch ($$$): This hot spot was also right across from our hotel and located inside an old Charleston house. It was cool to go inside and check it out, plus the food was amazing! This dinner was also a bit pricey and required reservations.
  • Belgium Gelato ($): We grabbed gelato while we walked the waterfront trail one evening. I’ve never met gelato I didn’t love!
  • Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe ($): For almost the same price as our gelatos, we sat down at Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe another night and had 3 to-die-for desserts! The portion sizes were much larger and the cost was very comparable to the mini gelatos. This is a cute place on Market street that only sells desserts and dessert-y drinks!! We were all in our glory!

What YOU RecommendedCharleston_SC_Magnolia_Plantation-6

Here are the recommendations we received from our readers, which may come in handy when making your Charleston plan! I wish we had enough time to try them all.

  • Happy Hour Oysters at Pearlz or Amen
  • Amazing Oysters at Leon’s
  • Home Team BBQ
  • Stars Rooftop for drinks
  • Visit Sullivan’s Island of John’s Island, while you’re there try Obstinate Daughter or Wild Olive — both owned by the same chef, amazing food!
  • Try the PB&J Beer at Edmund’s Oast
  • Hominy Grill for Breakfast
  • Glazed on King St. for Donuts
  • Lewis’ BBQ
  • Rarebit for amazing moscow mules
  • Beirgarten — you can pour your own beer!
  • The Darling
  • Little Jack’s Tavern
  • Lavender Lattes from Black Tap
  • Gin Joint for drinks — choose the bartender’s choice and the bartender will mix up a drink based on adjectives you describe
  • Carmella’s Ice Cream SandwichesCharleston_SC_Magnolia_Plantation-5

If you’re headed to Charleston anytime soon, hopefully you can find some recommendations in today’s post to help you plan your own stay. And if we have fellow Charleston lovers (or locals!) tuning in, please feel free to add anything I missed in the comments below.

Bridget

  • Oh my gosh those pictures are amazing! Charleston looks more like a European city, with its pastel buildings and amazing historic architecture! It is going on my bucket list now also! What an amazing place to experience with your family! ❤️

    • Thanks Kerri! It’s SO gorgeous, you will LOVE it!

  • Paul Crook

    I enjoyed reading your post about the things you did while you were in Charleston. My wife and I live in the area, but outside the city, so we often take for granted how beautiful it is. For the sake of clarification for other readers who might search for things you mentioned in your post, I wanted to point out a few corrections in names: Folly Beach, 82 Queen, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, Belgian Gelato, Hominy Grill, and Boone Hall Plantation. Again, I loved reading about our city from another point of view. Thank you for bringing these great places to the attention of your readers!

  • It’s so interesting seeing the perspective of a non Southerner in Charleston! Glad you enjoyed South Carolina!

  • shawnna griffin

    hey girl- I would love to visit Charleston! cool pics! Glad y’all had fun!

  • Loved reading this! I visited with my family a looong time ago and it was one of my favorites. It’s on my short list of places I want to take my husband and son to (in the next 5 years!). You mentioned the plantation looking like a Nicholas Sparks novel and Boone Hall is where parts of The Notebook were actually filmed! We visited right before that movie came out and I’m still delighted every time I watch it! Saving this for when we (hopefully) go again!

    • I heard that about the Notebook, which is why it was super hard for us to choose between Magnolia or Boone Hall! Ahh.. such a gorgeous place!!