Charleston is consistently rated one of the most beautiful cities in America, and it is certainly one of the friendliest. It has a strong foodie culture, and great shopping. And what’s not to love about a city by the sea? The Holy City, as it has been nicknamed for the number of churches there, has done well at preserving the old, like Civil War-era plantations, as well as nurturing the new, like the up-and-coming Upper King Design District. You’ll soon see why Rhett Butler called Charleston the only place “where there’s a bit of grace and charm left in the world.”
9AM CHARLESTON FARMER'S MARKET
MARION SQUARE CHARLESTON, SC 29401
It’s time to start your day right with a hearty breakfast from the Charleston Farmer’s Market. You will find tourists, locals, Citadel and College of Charleston students shopping for their weekly produce or filling up on grits. Charleston Crepe Company always has a line, for good reason, but Roti Rolls and Tasty Brunch Catering are also worth a try. Don’t forget to check out the stalls to the left, where farmers from the barrier islands bring their products and local artisans sell crafts.
11AM MIDDLETON PLACE
4300 ASHLEY RIVER RD. CHARLESTON, SC 29414
There are dozens of plantations you can visit while you’re in Charleston, but Middleton Place is a firm favorite, and movie The Patriot was filmed here. The terraced gardens were known throughout the country in the 1800s and are still a highlight today. Whilst there, you may even spot an alligator sunbathing in the gardens.
1PM GAULART & MALICET CAFE AND RESTAURANT
98 BROAD ST. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
Gaulart & Malicet Cafe and Restaurant is fondly known by locals as “Fast and French” for its speedy lunch service and authentic French fare. Lawyers and courthouse employees crowd the tables in the afternoon. Breakfast is served all day, alongside staples like Burgundy escargots, Croque Monsieur and freshly baked croissants. You can have your choice of beverage, including French house wine, to feel like a true Parisian down south.
3PM THE BATTERY
CHARLESTON, SC 29401
From Broad Street, walk towards the Old Exchange Building, where the street dead ends, and take a right. On your right will be the famous Rainbow Row, houses known for their pastel colored paint. This street will take you to Whitepoint Gardens, better known as The Battery. The houses at the bottom of the peninsula are the oldest in the city. The gardens are now a place for wedding photo shoots, napping coeds and rowdy dogs, but it was here that pirates were once hung for their crimes.
4PM CHARLESTON MUSEUM
360 MEETING ST. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
Known as “America’s First Museum,” the Charleston Museum has something to offer the curious of all ages. In front of the museum you will see a replica of the Hunley, the Civil War submarine that was rediscovered underwater in 1995. Other highlights include a skeleton of a North Atlantic Right whale that was killed for oil in Charleston Harbor in 1880 and the many artifacts from old Charleston families.
7PM FLEET LANDING RESTAURANT
186 CONCORD ST. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
Keeping up the theme of old becoming new again, Fleet Landing Restaurant is housed in a former 1940s Naval building and is the only downtown waterfront dining establishment. If weather allows, watch the sun set over Cooper River, with views of Fort Sumter and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. Seafood is the main attraction at Fleet Landing, so be sure to indulge in dishes like the lump crab bruschetta and pan seared tilapia.
8AM HOMINY GRILL
207 RUTLEDGE AVE. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
Hominy Grill is the best brunch spot in town. They don’t take reservations, so on any given day you will see people lined up in front of this Rutledge Avenue joint. The restaurant has won many awards and accolades, including a James Beard award. Grits, made from hominy for which the restaurant is named, is the dish to try here. Shrimp and grits is the top item, but the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Rachael Ray have come for “The Big Nasty,” a biscuit topped with fried chicken, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy.
9AM CITY MARKET
73 N. MARKET ST. SUITE 1A CHARLESTON, SC 29401
Charleston’s recently refurbished City Market is steeped in history. The same stalls that once sold meat, vegetables and fish now sell souvenirs and local gifts. While you’re down there, go on one of the Culinary Tours of Charleston, such as the Charleston Chefs’ Guided Kitchen Tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at the top restaurants in the city.
12PM CAVIAR & BANANAS
51 GEORGE ST. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
Assuming you have any room left in your stomach, head back to King Street for a light lunch at Caviar & Bananas, a gourmet deli and grocery near the College of Charleston campus. You have your choice of quality sandwiches, salads, sushi or prepared foods. If it’s nice out, grab your sandwich to go and eat it on a bench on campus. Otherwise, take advantage of the killer coffee and free WiFi.
1PM MOUNT PLEASANT’S SHEM CREEK
166 CHURCH ST. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
To burn some of the calories you have just ingested, make the drive across the bridge to Mount Pleasant’s Shem Creek, the city’s seafood capital and a prime spot for dolphin watching. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Nature Adventure Outfitters to cruise the creek. You can see Crab Bank Island and other uninhabited islands as well as a beautiful panorama of the city skyline.
6PM THE DRAWING ROOM
19 VENDUE RANGE ST. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
Once you’ve had time to change, make your way to The Drawing Room at the Vendue Inn at Waterfront Park. The menu features seasonal ingredients and traditional Lowcountry food with a modern twist. After you’ve dined on crab cakes and roasted duck, take the elevator to the Rooftop Bar for the best view of Charleston. The bar as well known for its cocktails as the view. The Pear of the Dog and Carolina Peach are worth a sip.
WHERE TO STAY: THE FRENCH QUARTER INN
166 CHURCH ST. CHARLESTON, SC 29401
The French Quarter Inn is centrally located, luxurious, and is frequently ranked as the top hotel in Charleston. Its restaurant and lounge are excellent, and it has lots of neat extras for guests such as complimentary bicycle rental.