Charleston, South Carolina is a historically rich, coastal chart topper, offering plenty of recreation, chic dining and shopping.
The downtown is a complex mix of hipster and high end shopping and dining woven into the pastel colored antebellum architecture. The mesmerizing streets give visitors a chance to experience the old world while enjoying contemporary cuisine and comfort.
The city, founded in the 1600s, offers visitors a surreal experience where cobblestone streets line the corridors of colorful Georgian homes. Originally named Charles Town after King Charles II of England, the city established itself early on as a trading mecca, offering indigo and rice crops.
The largest and wealthiest Sephardic Jewish community resided here, establishing the KahalKadosh Beth Elohim Temple in 1749. Huguenots and Roman Catholic communities also had a strong presence and each group maintained great tolerance and respect for each other’s beliefs.
Perhaps the best way to hear of Charleston’s history is via carriage. The Old South Carriage Company offers one hour narrated tours with fascinating stories about historical homes, churches, the old jail and more.
The Charleston City Market is at the heart of downtown. Established in 1804, the market offers three blocks of vibrant shopping, which will appeal to even the most apathetic shopper. The market is filled with handcrafted treasures presented by local artisans. Discover unique soaps, talc and lotions to pottery to Sweetgrass baskets. The ancient craft of basket weaving, which originated from Sierra Leone in West Africa, is demonstrated live throughout the market. For a culinary treat, grab a biscuit at Callie’s.
After an exhilarating afternoon downtown, wind down at Josephine’s Wine Bar. The figs are a great starter, filled with a blue cheese mousse and topped with sherry caramel and Marcona almonds. While the housemade pasta dishes are great options, the glazed short rib is heavenly. It offers a rustic taste, with blend of flavors from Anson Millos faro piccolo, lemongrass and pickled chilies.
Where to stay and activities
The Cottages on Charleston Harbor offer an idyllic setting with plush comfort. There are 10 harbor front cottages to choose from, each with two luxurious bedrooms, three baths and a fully stocked kitchen. The private screened porch equipped with rocking chairs, a Pawley’s Island hammock, table and chairs make it hard to leave. The cozy interior offers Heart pine floors, gas fireplaces, leather club chairs and cathedral ceilings. Guests are welcomed with crackers and a cheddar cheese ball in the fridge. The clubhouse provides a daily selection of breakfast items as well as mid day sweets.
For a quiet evening, pick up a bottle of wine and grab some dinner for a night in. Get a fresh catch sandwich or fish tacos at the nearby Fish House and enjoy them on the porch.
Grab a “cruiser,”aka a bike, from the Cottage clubhouse to the USS YORKTOWN located in Patriots Point. The massive aircraft carrier was commissioned in 1943 for service in WWII. The ship also served in the Vietnam War after the addition of an angled flight deck for jets.
A contrast to the Cottages, Hotel Indigo in Mount Pleasant, S.C. is located just a few minutes from downtown Charleston. The boutique hotel is an affordable yet charming place of stay reflecting Lowcountry charm. Pets are welcomed in this upscale venue
Chef John Burley delivers some amazing cuisine within the hotel at Eliza’s, making this a unique spot for exceptional dining. What appears as a deceptively simple menu is a brilliantly designed with twists to classic favorites. Recommended are the fried green tomatoes topped with fresh grilled corn, fresh crabmeat and micro cilantro.
A phenominal entrée is the Ahi tuna wrap, cooked to perfection and served with fresh vegetables. If poultry is your preference, check out the fried chicken sandwich.
Things to do
Middleton Place is an 18th century rice plantation offering the oldest landscaped garden in the country. Henry Middleton, former President of the Continental Congress and colonial legislator during the American Revolution, can be credited for his vision of the garden. Botanists will appreciate the rows of bold and colorful camillas adorning walkways. The National Historic Landmark showcases symmetrical gardens taking after 17th century European design.
Experience a sunrise, or perhaps a sunset, along a quiet beach on Sullivan’s Island. While on the island, take advantage of amazing cuisine at Obstinate Daughter. The orange colored Bloody Mary is spectacular, made with heirloom tomatoes. Recommended are the mildly flavored Roasted Beets, sitting atop creamed ricotta. Topped with pistachios, the dish offers a medley of textures.
For a scenic ride, enjoy a smooth sail aboard The Schooner Pride, an 84’ tall ship, which cruises the Charleston Harbor. The sail offers great views of the city.
Packed with historical gems, the coastal city is a culinary and recreational haven with plenty of options for exploration or relaxation.