Every year I take a trip with my girlfriends. This year it was my turn to choose the location, so I picked Charleston, SC. We went in early May and the weather was fabulous – sunny and in the 70’s. Here are 11 Fabulous Things To Do In Charleston.
Rent a House at the Beach
After we picked Charleston, we needed to find a place to stay, which wasn’t easy. Charleston is not a LARGE city by megacity standards. Places within Charleston proper are expensive. And we didn’t find out until we arrived that we were there on a major college graduation weekend, so I’m sure that contributed to the accommodation scarcity and prices!
When we travel together, we like to have our own bedrooms, so we often look for a house to accommodate us house on VRBO. I found a cute little 4 bedroom beach cottage outside of Charleston at Folley Beach, complete with a screened in porch that got a nice breeze. We enjoyed our coffee and the scent of magnolias on the porch every morning. The location was great. It was a 20-minute drive to all the places we wanted to see in Charleston.
Take a Carriage Tour
We started our first day in Charleston with a carriage tour around the city taking in all the historic sites. Doing this first allowed us to get our bearings so that we knew how to get around and see some of the other places we wanted to go.
Since a carriage tour ride is the quintessential touristy thing to do in Charleston, there are numerous carriage tour companies to choose from. We booked ours through Classic Carriage Works.
We booked an early in the day tour in advance, but we could have easily waited to book the tour when we arrived. Although we would not have had our choice of times, we probably would have been able to get on one within an hour. One advantage of going on one of the early tours is that you have a better chance of finding a place to park your car for the day since downtown parking is VERY LIMITED.
There are several types of tours you can choose from, depending on your interests. We took the Charleston History Tour. There is also a Civil War Tour or Slavery to Freedom Tour. Private tours and adults-only tours are also offered.
We had a super fun (and handsome) tour guide who gave us an hour tour through the historic district where we saw lots of homes (including Patricia’s from Southern Charm) and historic churches. Did you know that Charleston is often referred to as the “Holy City” because of all the majestic steeples and spires you can see as you drive through town?
After our tour, we took a short walk over to the Charleston City Market, which is a historic open-air market where slaves used to take their wares to sell. In addition to touristy things, they have crafty and handmade items, a great lemonade stand and clean restrooms.
Have Brunch at Poogan’s Porch
Next on the list was brunch at Poogan’s Porch! OMG, was that wonderful! I had the BEST Bloody Mary made with Dixie Black Pepper Vodka, Charleston Mix & pickled okra, followed by an appetizer of Fried Green Tomatoes with Peach and Blueberry Chutney and a main course of Shrimp & Grits. You don’t get much more Southern than that.
And lest I forget the biscuits….
Other favorites: Pogan’s Salty Dog, Pulled Pork Benedict & French Toast.
Restaurant Tip: Many of the most popular restaurants in the city are open daily for brunch. Great option if you can’t get a dinner reservation or just want to go to brunch.
Go Shopping on King Street
We spent the afternoon on King Street – a LONG street for shopping. One end has unique high-end boutiques, antique stores, and art galleries. The other end has more of the luxury retailers you’d see at home.
Visit the Cemetery at the Unitarian Church of Charleston
The cemetery at the 2nd oldest church in Charleston is a beautiful spot with gravestones dating back to the 1700’s. The pathways are maintainted for visitors, but the plots and grave markers have been given over to nature. Vines, shrubs, and trees grow among, around and through the cemetery. Ghost Tours of Charleston even offers a tour of the cemetery at night!
A street with beautiful homes in a rainbow of colors. One of the prettiest streets in Charleston.
Charleston Tea Plantation
The Charleston Tea Plantation is not a plantation in the “Gone With the Wind” sense, but an actual working plantation where they grow tea. In fact, it’s the only place in the US where tea is grown.
The plantation is picturesque with huge trees and a nice picnic area. They have a large gift shop with many different varieties of hot and cold tea to sample. If you are interested in how tea is cultivated, take the 45-minute trolley tour. We had a delightful tour guide and the tour was most informative. If your time is limited and you are not SUPER INTERESTED in tea, I would skip this.
Middleton Place is the home of the oldest landscaped gardens in America. When you visit, you will see 65 acres of formal landscaped gardens, and get a look at 18th and 19th-century plantation life with costumed craftspeople and historic animal breeds in the plantation stableyards.
When I heard about the gardens, I thought of flowers. There aren’t many flowers, but it is a gorgeous place with big trees, ponds, creeks and sculpted bushes. There is so much to see and do, I wish we had started our day there.
We enjoyed walking through the gardens:
Seeing the animals:
And the authentic look of plantation life they offered:
If you go to Middleton Place, make it the first stop of your day. There is so much more to see and do there than we were able to do, including a tour of the original house.
Dinner at Wild Olive Cucina Italiana, Johns Island
Dinner at this lovely farm to table restaurant features house-made pasta and dishes made with primarily locally sourced food. Pasta and seafood are outstanding!
Breakfast or Lunch at Lost Dog Café, Folly Beach
A little breakfast and lunch place off the beaten path featuring all your breakfast and lunch favorites – bagels, biscuits & gravy, eggs benedict, sandwiches, salads, and wraps. My favorite – Blackened Salmon BLT Wrap with grilled blacked salmon, fried green tomatoes, crumbled bacon, romaine, and Cajun mayo. This wrap is HUGE. You could definitely split this with someone.
Dinner at The Fat Hen, Johns Island
Authentic French Cuisine in a casual, family atmosphere. Delicious steaks, seafood, Southern fare. Get the Flounder Nicoise and don’t’ miss out on the Bacon Cheese Grits.
We had such a wonderful time in Charleston. I wish we had had more time. Put this on your list of the best girl’s trip destinations!
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