Charleston: Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Eat
My husband and I put about ten locations within driving distance from Central Maryland (five each) into a hat in order to randomly select one for our third-trimester “babymoon” in 2015. A “babymoon” is that last chance at a vacation, just the two of you, before suddenly there’s a third person in your marriage.
Lucky for me, my contribution of Charleston, SC was selected. I had not been to Charleston in about 30-something years, I don’t even remember any of it and I suspect it was a short day-trip or overnight with my folks, when we were staying in Garden City, SC (Myrtle Beach) as we did every other year with extended family.
So, Charleston was a great choice for us…it was a new place for us to explore.
It being our final vacation without children in our lives, we splurged a bit on the accommodations and went with Ansborough Inn, in the Palmetto Suite. It was gorgeous and very roomy…which was a great fit for my growing abdomen. The plus with this location was that we could walk to most all attractions, restaurants, and supermarket right next door, all within about 10-15 minutes. It was a great, central location to everything we were doing.
We timed our trip South to fall the week leading up to our friends’ wedding in Asheville, NC, so the trip fell in September. What we didn’t know at the time we booked is that it also happened to be Charleston Restaurant Week…which we took full advantage of. Most restaurants we visited had special prix-fixe menus for Restaurant Week and that made sampling an assortment of their specialties easy.
So, I didn’t realize quite how swanky most of the restaurants are. Though I wore summer dresses a lot, I could have really gone up a notch if we wanted to. Definitely not shorts and flip flop style establishments. I also didn’t know that you have to make reservations, and often days in advance, in order to nab the dates, times, and restaurants that you (and everyone else) wanted. Maybe that was a result of Restaurant Week, but we got in the hang of that after a day of being there. Once you map out the things you want to do and what days they would be best based on the weather it will become clear which area you’ll most likely be in by dinnertime.
So, here’s a quick recap of the attractions and restaurants that we would recommend, in no particular order within the subheads:
- Ansborough Inn – we stayed here, we loved the Palmetto Suite, the rooftop terrace, the wine and cheese in the afternoons, as well as the convenient proximity to most everything we did
- The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel – we did not stay here, but I had to use the facilities being 7 months pregnant and the courtyard and lobby were just beautiful and the location is also central
- Botany Bay on Edisto Island – about 75 mins south of Charleston by car
- Kiawah Island / Beachwalker Park – about 30 mins south of Charleston by car
- The Charleston City Market – local market with many basket weavers in town
- Charleston Footprints Walking Tours – great walk and historical information
- Charleston Harbor Tours – a view of Charleston from the water (not far from Ansborough Inn)
- Riley Waterfront Park / Battery & White Point Gardens – nice areas to sight-see the waterfront and walk
- Cypress Gardens – about 25 miles north, bring your bug spray to circumnavigate the swamp; the butterfly pavilion is cool too (closed until further notice due to flooding)
- Top Attractions – according to TripAdvisor
- Best Charleston Sunset Vantage Points
Attractions Recommended to Us, But We Never Made It To
- Gibbes Museum of Art
- Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
- Fort Sumter
- Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum
- Holy City Brewing
- Angel Oak Tree – I actually didn’t find out about this until after our visit, would have been cool to see
- Hominy Grill – we drove to this for breakfast on our way out of town, can walk to it but it might be a longer walk
- Cru Cafe – sat at a family-style table indoors for lunch, they have a small patio too
- 82 Queen – our first dinner in town, we loved the shaded courtyard
- SNOB – had dinner at “Slightly North of Broad”
- Magnolias – another place we had dinner
- Paolo’s Gelato – depending on where you’re staying, this might require a short drive, great gelato
- Craft Conundrum – short drive outside of town for any craft beer fans
- Page’s Okra Grill – in Mt. Pleasant (get the Shrimp & Grits), had lunch on the patio here
Restaurants Recommended to Us, But We Never Made It To
- Blind Tiger Pub – the courtyard specifically was recommended to us
- FIG – as much as we tried, we just couldn’t get a reservation on a night we were there
- Husk – right next to 82 Queen, really beautiful dual front porches
- Graze – in Mt. Pleasant
- Leon’s Oyster Shop – Made the Cheapism list: Best Soft Serve Ice Cream Shops in America
- Red Drum Seafood – in Mt. Pleasant, we heard it’s pricey
- Pickled Palate – in Mt. Pleasant, lunch (sandwiches specifically) was recommended to us
Things I Wish We Had Skipped
- Boone Hall Plantation – for the short amount of time we had to visit, there just wasn’t much to see and do
- Bay Street Biergarten – had an atmosphere and menu that rivaled any sports bar back at home
If you’re heading to Charleston soon, we hope you enjoy your visit too!
Let me know if there is anything else you would recommend in the Comments below.