Lately, it seems like the hubby and I frequent the same places all the time. We go to a city, fall in love, and want to go back as many times as possible. That’s Mexico for us! This time, Nick was adamant on going somewhere new. He was set on Charleston. I was dreading it because that would mean a new city, hours of research and unfamiliarity (I like feeling like a local). After seeing so many beautiful pictures, and all the features as best places to visit, I started to warm up and was looking forward to the trip.
Charleston has so much charm with a small town feel where everyone is super nice and polite. We learned so much about the city through exploring the streets, at the many museums, historic homes, and even the Uber drivers were passionate and knowledgeable. The city prides itself on preservation, and that is easily seen throughout the tree lined neighborhoods.
Airline– we flew direct via United Airlines which took about 2 hours.
Accommodations– we stayed at Hyatt House on King street. The hotel is located in an area called Upper King. This street is full of shops, restaurants and bars. Very walkable and convenient in more of a ‘new’ area. The hotel itself was actually new, and not 100+ years old. In my opinion, the hotel is not fancy, and is geared more towards families because of the kitchen/living room combo.
Transportation– we took Uber everywhere or walked. The distance from the airport is approximately 30 minutes.
We arrived late Friday afternoon. We had time to drop off our luggage, change and head out for an early dinner and drinks at The Darling Oyster House. The food was delicious! You must order the clam chowder fries.
Tip– go 15 minutes before happy hour is over, so you can order your first round of drinks and oysters for appetizer.
We started our day with a carriage ride through Old South Carriage Company. There are tons to choose from with many different tours on this block. I’m so glad we went with them because the horses looked very well taken care of, and the stable was clean. Each tour is completely different. There’s a lottery system, where the tour guide will stop at a booth to obtain a permit for the chosen route. Think Power Ball. This is a city rule to ensure the streets aren’t overrun by carriages. I wasn’t too ecstatic with our route only because it was more of a tour of the historic affluent neighborhoods- Slightly north of Broad (aka S.N.O.B.). In my mind, I was hoping to see the waterfront and rainbow houses, but not a big deal because we went later. It was still a fun experience, and highly recommend the carriage tour.
After the hour tour, we walked through the Charleston City Market. There were plenty of local vendors and souvenirs to shop from.
Next stop was lunch at Husk in East Bay. This is a popular James Beard award winner restaurant. I made the reservation over a month in advance and could only get in for lunch. The food was very flavorful, and had a farm to table Southern vibe. I had the chicken fried steak, and Nick had the fried chicken. I felt that the CFS would have been even better if it had gravy.
Tip– make reservations 3 months in advance.
After our meal, we walked to King Street. We were on the opposite end, and our hotel was about 1.5 mile away. Not a big deal because we shopped along the way. The street is closed the second Sunday of the month for pedestrians. There were a lot of festive street performers.
We stopped by the Charleston Museum halfway towards our hotel. It was a good in between stop to learn more about the history of the city. I also had fun dressing up as a belle of the South. With admission, you can also do 2 historic home tours. We chose the Joseph Manigault home because it was directly across the museum. It was very interesting to see how the wealthy lived in the past. All the rooms were staged and preserved. We spent about 2 hours at the museum and tour.
We headed back onto King street and continued our way to the hotel. That night we had dinner at The Ordinary. The restaurant was conveniently located right next to our hotel. We didn’t have reservations, but was able to score a table at the raw bar which was much better. The kitchen door is made out of an old bank vault. The food was good, however, the portions were small. It was much pricier than what we would have wanted to spend.
After a long day, we headed back to the hotel. If you still want to go out, they have a nice rooftop bar at the Hyatt hotel.
We started our morning with a short walk to Callie’s Hot Little Bisquit. There was a line that moved quickly. I had the bacon and pimento cheese biscuit. This is a must try! We ate our breakfast in the Uber on the way to our tour.
We checked in for the Fort Sumtner Tour, and walked through the museum. They don’t allow food, so eat fast. We boarded the boat, and took the 30 minute ferry ride to the island. The boat ride was smooth, and amazingly, I didn’t get seasick! If you’re lucky, you’ll see dolphins swimming alongside the boat.
Once you arrive, there is a calmness that washes over you from the historical significance of the hallowed grounds. The guides do a great job of describing the layout of the fort and how the first shots of the civil war began. These types of forts were constructed to protect the country from foreign invaders but was used by the union as the first stand against the confederacy. The museum inside has a great exhibit of the civil war. They allow you an hour to spend on your own. On the way back, you can get great views of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge.
Tip-book your carriage tour and FS tour together for a discount.
I ordered an Uber about five minutes from disembarking. We met up with a friend for lunch at a cool spot called Mercantile and Mash which used to be an old cigar factory. It was a market, bakery, coffee bar/eatery in one. Lots of options, and food was delicious. If you can’t tell, we love the farm to table concept.
Next, we headed to Rainbow Row to see the colorful historic homes. We parked along the street, and walked along the waterfront and strolled through Battery Park. Afterwards, we headed back to King street to have drinks at the Grand Bohemian Hotel rooftop bar on their Art Deco style patio.
To wrap up our trip, we headed back to the hotel, grabbed our luggage and left for the airport to catch our 7pm flight.
If you have more time, check out one of the plantations. This is at least a half day if not full day excursion. We didn’t have time to see Foley Beach or do a popular ghost tour. Our last Uber driver who is also an actual tour guide shared with us that day trips to Savannah, GA are also very popular. He also does a fun Southern Charm tv tour where he shows you all the spots they frequent and feature. Let me know if you want his contact information.
Until next time!