With Charleston’s charming cobblestone streets, magnolia trees, fried food delicacies, and southern hospitality, are you at all surprised that it’s been voted #2 best city in the world by Travel and Leisure? Take it from me, a Charleston native, to tell you it’s true.
I’ve spent 17 years of my life calling Charleston home and, quite frankly, I am happy to have grown up there. The field trips to Fort Sumter, visits to the aquarium, and beating the summer’s heat with getaways to Isle of Palms made my childhood experiences very memorable.
Because of my love for this city, I’ve collected a numbers of places worth visiting if you ever find yourself in the Holy City. Restaurants, attractions, gyms-they are all here, to make your vacation in Charleston the best trip yet.
WHERE TO EAT:
Hominy Grill– I had driven by this restaurant a number of times before realizing this is the restaurant I kept hearing about over and over again. The portrait of a women painted on the side of the building is something you can’t forget. On the menu: many recommend the “Nasty Biscuit”, which is fried chicken on a biscuit smothered in sausage gravy. Doesn’t get more southern than that, y’all.
Charleston Ale House– I am a sucker for rooftop bars and restaurants, but who isn’t? I came here “accidentally” not realizing it was a rooftop restaurant until I arrived. This ale house serves your typical American menu-burgers, salads, beers. They have it all.
Brown Dog Deli– Brown Dog is very unique and a custom restaurant in Charleston. Their menu is filled with sandwiches that you won’t find anywhere else, like the Wes’ French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich and a variety of hot dogs to choose from on the menu. Choosing only one option is the hardest part.
Sol– this southwest kitchen and tequila bar is a great place to get your mix of texmex. They have 3 different locations: Mt. Pleasant, Charleston, and Summerville. I had the chance to visit the Summerville location and loved the rustic cozy feel of the restaurant and the food.
Taco Boy– I’ve been a fan of Taco Boy since I could remember. I would run the Arthur Ravenel bridge more frequently back when I lived in Charleston and would head to Taco Boy for their Taco Boy salad with shrimp afterwards. Sooo good!
WHERE TO TREAT YO’SELF:
Mylkbar– My most recent mani was done here and I am in love with this salon for so many reasons! You can read about my full experience here. They only use coconut milk based products and are the only beauty studio in Charleston dedicated to the pursuit of non-toxic self care! Not to mention, the inside is so photo-friendly.
Drybar– this is the only place on my list that I did not get a chance to visit, although I really, really wanted to (!) but time (and money), had decided otherwise. If you aren’t yet familiar with Drybar, they have multiple locations across the US and just so happened to open this Charleston location recently, so go check them out!
WHERE TO STAY:
The Restoration Hotel– I made some trips downtown weekly to do some free yoga hosted by the Charleston Lululemon team and it was always hosted at the gorgeous Restoration Hotel rooftop. I really loved, not only the interior of this hotel, but also that they have several activities and events here from yoga to wine tasting Wednesdays.
WHERE TO SWEAT:
The Orange Theory– I tried this one hour workout in West Ashley as a first free session. I’ve tried Crossfit once before, but I like OTF (Orange Theory Fitness) a lot better. I was constantly doing something throughout the whole workout whether that was running, the row machine, or free weights.
Yoga with Lululemon– as I mentioned above, I would normally go downtown Charleston to practice yoga at The Restoration Hotel. The Lululemon team in Charleston is so kind as to host free yoga classes for everyone every Wednesday evening so if you plan to go make sure to sign up in advance as classes get booked quick!
WHERE TO SHOP:
Cannonborough Collective– this cute little shop has products from several brands, such as The Tiny Tassel, Charleston Weekender, Crew Lala, and more, ranging from household items to fashion. They also host events here, I most recently took a calligraphy class at this location by the oh-so-talented Danielle Fabrega.
Candlefish– I love candles and like most women, am guilty of collecting more than necessary to have all over my home for that cozy, warm feeling. I recently discovered my favorite brand of candles this past summer with Candlefish and even made my own candle which you can read about here.
The Skinny Dip– part retail store, part bar. I came here for an event one evening and loved not only the merchandise, but if you head upstairs you will find, what is probably the cutest wine bar in Charleston, with an outdoor patio so you can drink your bevies away while taking in the Charleston breeze.
WHERE TO GO:
The Battery– with Charleston’s humidity, and sticky summer air, walking on the Battery by the waterfront is much-needed. Here you will see many of the unique, southern mansions along palmetto lined streets that Charleston is famous for.
Pineapple Fountain– the pineapple. A symbolic motif of hospitality in Charleston, and Charleston is full of southern hospitality, so this pineapple fountain fits in just right! The picturesque fountain can be found at the Charleston Waterfront Park and comes in handy for splashing around during the hot summer months.
Rainbow Row– Rainbow Row is probably the most photographed landmark of Charleston. It’s a row of street-lined houses with bright pastel colors that are thought to have been used to help direct drunk sailors at sea back in the day.
Fort Sumter– I used to take many trips here for school growing up. Although history wasn’t my favorite subject, it was still pretty cool to see this place in its raw beauty as a memory of the American Civil War.
Spiritline Cruise– my family and I recently went on a dinner cruise around the Charleston Harbor for my sister’s 32nd birthday. It was nice to do something like this that is different than just going out to eat at a regular restaurant. The dinner cruise includes a 3 or 4 course meal with several different options for the main entree. I had the shrimp and grits, because #wheninCharleston, right?
As you can see, although Charleston is not a big name city like Los Angeles or New York City, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see and do here! So next time you are planning a trip and want to check out one of the best US cities, keep Charleston in mind and I hope this guide will help in planning that trip.
Let me know if you have already been to Charleston before and what your favorite places are that I may not have mentioned above.
All my love,
UPDATE(1/12/18): I have recently teamed up with GPSMyCity to convert this blog post into an article on their app! If you would like to download it to get step by step directions on your phone next time you are in Charleston, simply click here. Enjoy!