A Weekend Guide to Charleston
Every magazine. Every travel article. Every Instagram post. I couldn't get away from it. Charleston was right in my face everywhere I turned for the last couple years. The Holy City has been on the rise in popularity with travelers from all over the world and it was about time for me to get down there to see what all the hype was about. That and the fact that I also wanted to feel like a little princess amongst those candy colored houses and cobblestone streets...
I'm not even going to waste my time with a long intro to this post because the content below speaks for itself (I mean, just LOOK at that enormous food list!). This might even be one of the most comprehensive mini city guides I've ever put together for you... Use this handy weekend guide to Charleston so you can easily figure out where to eat, sleep, and play on any budget!
In case you haven't been tuning into popular culinary shows like Top Chef or Parts Unknown, Charleston has officially emerged as one of the great food meccas of our country (and I will gladly have words with anyone who says otherwise). You can come to Charleston and spend a month eating at a different place for every meal and you'd only begin to scratch the surface of what this city has to offer (you'll see what I mean based on my list). This city is on another level when it comes to food--and I am all about that level.
The best thing about the restaurant scene here is that you can really find just about any cuisine you're looking for at every price range. Plus, everything you eat is guaranteed to be fullllll with flavor (give me all the buttery shrimp and grits, I don't even care about my cholesterol). To help you narrow down your [endless] choices, here's a list of some of my favorite spots you should check out when visiting Charleston!
- Callie's Hot Little Biscuit, $, 476 1/2 King St -- Do yourself a favor and grab a nice, homemade biscuit from here to start of your day. They are soooo yummy and come in a variety of styles. Such an adorable little shop!
- Persimmon Cafe, $, 226 Calhoun St -- Quaint little cafe/sandwich shop that is located in a laundromat (yes, a laundromat). But don't let that put you off because the sandwiches are to die for.
- Brown Dog Deli, $, 40 Broad St -- Pet friendly spot with really great sandwiches and salads
- Dashi Food Truck, $, Location Varies -- This little Asian/Latin fusion food truck is all the rage with locals. And honestly, how can you not love a place that has a slogan like this: "Put Some Sriracha in Your Sombrero." All you have to do is check their website schedule to see where they will be on what dates. They're often at the weekend Farmer's Market too, which is definitely something to check out if you're in town when it's open!
- Sugar Bakeshop, $, 59 1/2 Cannon St -- Cute little bakeshop with delicious cupcakes and sweets in a fun area of town. Gluten free options available as well!
- Bon Banh Mi, $, 162 Spring St -- Incredibly flavorful food (tacos and sandwiches galore) at this Vietnamese-style spot
- Verde, $, 347 King St -- Good spot for a quick salad
- Pink Bellies Food Truck, $, 73 Saint Philip St -- Another incredibly tasty food truck to stop by in Charleston. This one serves up Vietnamese style treats to their hungry customers. Location may vary, so just check on their website or social media
- Breizh Pan Crepes, $, 39 George St -- Delicious crepe spot that offers both sweet and savory options (with gluten-free crepes available, too!)
- Butcher & Bee, $($), 1085 Morrison Dr -- So this place is a little higher priced than the others on this budget section, but it is very worth a trip. The food and all the ingredients they use are extremely fresh and filling. The decor and vibe are also very fun, so it's worth a trip outside of the downtown area. Make sure to try the roast beef sandwich!
- 167 Raw, $$, 289 E Bay St -- Do not skip this place. UNREAL seafood menu? Check. Trendy decor? Check. Affordable prices for incredible seafood? Check. Cute bartenders and staff...? Check. If you're into a little Ahi Poke like I am, order the "GAINZ BOWL" when you go (yes, GAINZ with a "Z"). It's an off-the-menu item that the staff will surely know about. It's basically the Ahi Poke mixed with a little avocado. Delish delish delishhhhh...UGH! *mouth drips with drool*
- Xiao Bao Biscuit, $$, 224 Rutledge Ave -- I had no idea the South could pack so much Asian flavor into a dish until I tried this place. Incredible option if you're looking for some Asian Soul Food Fusion around Charleston. Their most famous dish is the Okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese cabbage pancake that you can add candied pork, bacon, or an egg to. The flavors in all the dishes are unbeatable.
- Edmund's Oast, $$, 1081 Morrison Dr -- Great brew pub just outside of the downtown area that's wonderful for people craving a quality beer accompanied by a hearty meal
- R Kitchen, $$, 212 Rutledge Ave -- Come here to enjoy the chefs cooking a 5-course meal for you right in front of your face
- Hominy Grill, $$, 207 Rutledge Ave -- Ideal place to grab some authentic Southern style breakfast
- Avila, $$, 141 Calhoun St -- A Venezuelan food truck turned brick and mortar joint. The arepas and tostones are a popular combo here.
- Fuel, $$, 211 Rutledge St -- Located in an old gas station in a trendy part of town, this little spot has a variety of Caribbean style food that keeps people coming back for more
- 39 Rue de Jean, $$, 39 John St -- A delightful French brasserie in the heart of Charleston
- 5Church, $$, 32 N Market St -- The interior (particularly the art and the ceiling) is really something to stop in and marvel at. The restaurant is located in an old church and the entire manuscript of "Art of War," is written in white on the ceiling. It is absolutely incredible to see! The food menu looks just as appetizing as the drinks, too!
- Pawpaw, $$, 209 E Bay St -- There are quite a few reasons why the locals in Charleston are flocking to this new hotspot: The wine on tap, the hushpuppies and fries, and basically the rest of the menu. You can't go wrong with anything here.
Also try: Poogan's Porch, Jestine's Kitchen, Pearlz Oyster Bar, Cannon Green (beautiful interior!), and O-Ku
- Husk, $$$, 76 Queen St -- If you can only pick 1 place to eat in Charleston, let it be Husk. DO NOT SKIP THIS PLACE! The hype is very real for all the right reasons. The food here, which is all sourced locally, is un-freaking-believable. I didn't care much for shrimp and grits until I came here and actually tasted real shrimp and grits. The food is outstanding and you probably will need to arrange to be wheelchaired home because it's nearly impossible to stop eating once you've tasted the deliciousness that comes out of that kitchen.
- Chez Nous, $$$, 6 Payne Ct -- This adorable French spot, which is tucked away in a hidden alley, is a well kept secret amongst the locals. The trendy restaurant has a different menu every single day and posts the daily options on their Instagram page every morning.
- The Ordinary, $$$, 544 King St -- There is nothing ordinary about this restaurant and its menu. If you're looking for a good seafood dinner in Charleston, this is your spot! The oyster sliders are definitely something to write home about.
- Halls Chophouse, $$$$, 434 King St -- There's a lot of debate as to where you can truly find the best steak in Charleston, but Halls Chophouse just might come out on top... They have a Gospel Brunch on Sunday, and the service here is said to be incredible
- Coast Bar & Grill, $$($), 39 John St, Ste D -- This little seafood spot is tucked away in a hidden alley (which is picture worthy in and of itself) and boasts some great happy hour specials. The portions do not disappoint either.
- The Macintosh, $$$, 479 King St -- This trendy spot off of King Street has a great assortment of seafood and meat dishes on the menu, as well as a thirst quenching drink menu.
- Zero Restaurant + Bar, $$$, 0 George St -- A lovely, cozy restaurant located in the heart of the uber hip Zero George Hotel
- Circa 1886, $$$$, 149 Wentworth St -- The epitome of fine dining in the heart of Charleston. This world renowned place is located in the carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion. Definitely a place to go if you're celebrating a special occasion.
- S.N.O.B., $$$, 192 E Bay St -- The acronym stands for "Slightly North of Broad," which is exactly where this restaurant is located. The food here is very unpretentious and outstanding. You can get a nice combination of shared plates, or your own larger entree(s) if you prefer.
- Cypress, $$$, 167 E Bay St -- Although this definitely classifies as a fine dining spot in the city, they do have a couple of nights that there are incredible specials. Maybe the locals have just done a really good job a keeping it a secret, but you can come here for $5 burgers on Mondays! Also try the Wasabi Tuna and Lavender Martini when you're here.
Also try: FIG, Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar, Magnolias, McCrady's Tavern, Trattoria Lucca, High Cotton
BONUS: PLACES TO GRAB A DRINK
*I don't normally include a list of places to drink in my city guides, but Charleston's options had quite a few that stood out to me. Here are my favorites:
- Prohibition, $$, 547 King St -- Great spot for music and also has a tasty food menu
- The Belmont, $$, 511 King St
- 5Church, $$, 32 N Market St -- See above in the food section
- The Cocktail Club, $$, 479 King St -- Pseudo-speakeasy right along King Street
- Closed for Business, $$, 453 King St -- Beer and bar food are the specialties here
- Bin 152, $$, 152 King St -- For those looking for a good wine bar
- Minero, $$, 153B E Bay St -- Great for spicy margaritas and tacos with the girls
- The Gin Joint, $$, 182 E Bay St
- Bar at Husk, $$, 74 Queen St -- Husk is a must-eat place just as Bar at Husk is a must-drink place
The Luxury Hotel
- Belmond Charleston Place, 205 Meeting Street
The Belmond Charleston Place is the ultimate place where sophisticated luxury meets Southern charm. It was my preferred hotel in Charleston because of the gorgeous hotel amenities and its prime, central location. You can read more about my stay here (and even see a behind the scenes video) by going to this post right here!
Also try: The Dewberry
The Boutique Hotel
- Zero George Street, 0 George St
If you're looking for a great hotel for a girl's weekend, Zero George Street might be your place. This charming and refined boutique hotel, which is set in 5 historic, restored homes, is sure to make you never want to leave. Guests can enjoy the on site restaurant, breakfast every day, and even wine/cheese receptions. They also have loaner bikes available for their guests to use to bike around the downtown area. Too cute!
Also try: The Spectator Hotel or The Restoration
The B&B Luxury Mansion
- John Rutledge House Inn, 116 Broad Street
I stumbled upon the John Rutledge House Inn on one of my walks around Charleston and decided to pop in for a quick look. The concierge was so kind and friendly and he even let me get a look inside one of their suites! The rooms were incredibly elegant and glamorous and made me feel like I had literally stepped back in time. Definitely a beautiful place to put on the bucket list if historic mansions are your cup of tea.
Also try: Wentworth Mansion or French Quarter Inn
The Affordable Inn
- King Charles Inn, 237 Meeting St
This wonderful inn is perfectly located right in the heart of downtown, making it perfect walking distance to get anywhere you need. They also have a lovely rooftop pool and terrace, making it a great place to cool off in the hot summer months.
Also try: The Vendue or 1837 Bed and Breakfast
Things To Do in Charleston:
- Sign up for a Candle Making Class at Candlefish. This was by far one of the most fun things we did on our trip! You'll instantly fall in love with the store when you walk in, so it's cool to be able to take a class where you can actually make your own product to take home (even though I went home with about 20 other products as well...). It's also BYOB, which makes for a great excuse to drink mimosas before noon. Make sure to sign up ahead of time because space is very limited!
- Take a day trip to Folly Beach or Sullivan's Island
- Rent a bike for the day from a place like The Bicycle Shoppe or Affordabike Bicycle Shop.
- Go Shopping! There are so many adorable and local boutiques placed all around the city of Charleston and finding them is half the fun. I personally love Candlefish, mac & murphy, Candy Shop Vintage, The Commons, Sweet 185, Luna, Worthwhile, V2V, Vestique, and The Impeccable Pig
- Visit Charleston's Historic Houses. Since Charleston is so old, you can surely bet that you'll get your fair dose of history lessons in your trip if you visit the historic houses/museums around the city. I love these attractions because it feels like stepping into a piece of history! You'll see how incredibly well maintained some of these properties are as well. My personal favorites were the Aiken-Rhett House, the Nathaniel Russell House, and the Heyward-Washington House.
- Walk along Rainbow Row and the Waterfront Park, which are probably the two most photographed locations in all of Charleston. I recommend going super early to avoid the crowds!
- Shop for your dream home around Battery Park and White Point Gardens
- Take a historic walking tour or carriage tour of downtown Charleston
- Wander around the French Quarter and downtown areas. It is the best way you will find the city's adorable hidden alleys, colorful houses, and courtyards.
- Explore Upper King Street, which is becoming the new hip and trendy area with lots of new restaurants and shops opening up.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO Charleston? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO EAT, PLACES TO STAY, OR THINGS TO DO? COMMENT BELOW WITH MORE RECOMMENDATIONS!
Thank you to Explore Charleston and Belmond Charleston Place for hosting my visit in Charleston. All opinions are my own.