Welcome back to Part 2 of my Charleston travel guide. If you missed Part 1, which goes into more activities that you can do in Charleston proper, you’ll want to head there first before reading on.
Part 2 will go into more detail about things to do around and outside Charleston. And then last, but not least, I’ll go through a few restaurant recommendations that you’ll have to add to your list.
It’s going to be a long one, so let’s jump right in.
THINGS TO DO AROUND CHARLESTON
One of the things I loved about Charleston is that there’s so much to do right in the city. So if you’re short on time, it’s pretty easy to see everything in just a day or two.
If you have more time, I’d highly recommend renting a car so that you can explore all of the gems that are outside of the city. During my trip, I had decided not to rent a car, and in retrospect, I wish I would have. Instead, I had planned to use ride shares to get around. In the city, it’s a great option because parking can be tricky. But with everything else, having a car would have been much more convenient. Note to self: Rent a car.
Once you have that settled, make sure to add these places to your list:
Explore Mount Pleasant: Just across the bridge, you’ll find the city of Mount Pleasant, which is where I ended up staying during my trip. It’s more residential, so it’s a great area to walk around or take a bike ride.
Walk the boardwalk at Shem Creek: If you’re staying in Mount Pleasant, make sure to head over to Shem Creek. Depending on where you are, you could easily walk or bike over. Start by taking a leisurely stroll along the entire boardwalk, where you’ll get a glimpse of the marshes that South Carolina is known for, fishing boats coming in with their catch, or heck, even a yacht coming in to dock for the day.
There are also quite a few great restaurants here, which are all great options for lunch or dinner.
Head to Sullivan Island Beach: South Carolina has great beaches, so make sure to make a day of it. And by that, I mean, stay until sunset if you can!
That evening at Sullivan Beach was my favorite from the trip.
I loved wading through the waves and listening to the sounds of the ocean, all while taking photos of the beautiful sunset. It’s quite cathartic.
If you like the ocean walk image above, you can buy the digital print from my travel photos Etsy shop.
Explore the historic plantations in the area: Specifically, add Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens and Magnolia Plantation & Gardens to your list. I’d highly recommend both of them.
The Boone Hall Plantation is an antebellum-era plantation that is still growing crops yet today, making it one of the oldest working plantations in the country.
The 10,000-square-foot mansion is still in great condition. Some of the older workers quarters off of the mansion, not so much. But I found these old buildings to be still quite beautiful.
But for me, the main attraction at Boone Hall Plantation was the Avenue of the Oaks. You drive up this road to get to the plantation and it’s quite stunning, especially when the sunshine filters through the trees and the Spanish moss.
At the Magnolia Plantation, you could definitely spend much more time here. There is an assortment of walking paths that you can explore.
The gardens around Cypress Lake are gorgeous. I could have spent hours here just taking photos.
Make sure to check both of the websites before you visit. I always like to check the calendar to see what might be happening during my visit. Sometimes they have live music or other events which adds a little extra to the experience.
Believe it or not, I didn’t get to everything. So here are a few more things I’d recommend doing if you have time:
- I’ve heard that Middleton Place is quite pretty. It’s another plantation near Magnolia Plantation, so you can do the two back-to-back.
- Drive to Savannah, GA if you’re looking for more dreamy scenery. It’s just under two hours from Charleston, so it would make a great day trip or overnight.
- Hilton Head, SC is a little harbor town about two hours from Charleston that looks quite adorable. Similar to Savannah, this would be another great option for a day trip or overnight.
- Looking for some photo opportunities? Head to Botany Bay where you’ll find hauntingly beautiful old trees growing on the beach.
Places To Eat in Charleston
Where to start? There are so many great food options in Charleston. Just walk King Street or the Cannonborough neighborhood and you’ll find all kinds of great options. But to make it easy, here’s a list of places I went to or were recommended to me:
- If you’re staying in Mount Pleasant, head to Vintage Coffee Cafe for coffee and breakfast. It’s this cute little spot that will give you all the good vibes to start the day off right.
- If you’re in the city of Charleston, make sure to stop at Second State Coffee. Try their lavender honey latte (iced if it’s a hot day).
- For a great breakfast spot, try Callie’s Little Hot Biscuit.
- Miller’s All Day is a bistro, bakery, and bar. Their specialty is breakfast, but it’s still a great spot to stop any time of the day. I specifically loved their bar area that looks like an old pharmacy. There’s a photo booth you can use as well.
- Going for a beach day at Sullivan’s Island Beach? Great, make sure to stop for lunch or dinner at The Obstinate Daughter. I’d highly recommend the Old Danger pizza. Double the danger (just ask).
- If you’re in the mood for oysters or fresh seafood, head over to The Darling Oyster Bar on King Street. It has a cool vibe with yummy dishes.
- If you’re looking for something healthy, Basic Kitchen is a superb spot to grab a bite. I loved the long beautiful bar and the natural light. They serve seasonal and local produce to create beautiful grain and veggie bowls, sandwiches, and a breakfast selection. Don’t forget to grab a coffee on your way out. I’d recommend the charcoal latte.
- R Kitchen is what the locals are recommending. With a new menu made on the spot every night and only 16 seats available, this place is usually booked for at least a month.
- And last, but not least, make sure to head over to Husk. It’s the new cool spot in town located in a restored Victorian-era home. It’s quite romantic, so this would be a perfect spot for date night.
Places To Stay in Charleston
I didn’t do a ton of research on places to stay in Charleston proper because I decided to stay in an Airbnb in Mount Pleasant. However, I did hear one name pop up that I wanted to share with you:
- Canon 86 is a luxury boutique inn located in a fully restored 1860s house. It’s nestled in the Cannonborough-Elliotborough neighborhood, which means that it’s within walking distance of great restaurants. The inn has great reviews and the rooms look quite lovely.
However, I’d highly recommend checking out Airbnbs in Mount Pleasant. The one I stayed at was here which I thought was conveniently located. Your host, Sloan, is responsive and friendly. And the room has everything you’d need for your stay, including a kitchen, washer and dryer, bikes to use, and more. I loved it!
That completes my Charleston travel guide. My hope is that after you’re done reading, you’re as inspired as I was to make a trip to this charming city. Plus, you have quite a list of things to do in Charleston, so you’ll have plenty to explore once you get there. And you’ll leave wanting to go back again and again and again.
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Let’s go places,
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Have you been to Charleston? Share your recommendations with us in the comment section below.