There is no shortage of southern charm in Charleston, South Carolina. This city is best known for its historical beauty, secret gardens, old mansions, & cobblestone streets. As you walk the gas-lamp-lit streets, you feel as though you have traveled back in time. Come for the beautiful pastel hues and stay for the delicious southern food. You will not regret booking a ticket to Charleston, here is my “Ultimate Charleston Travel Guide”!
The best time to visit Charleston is between March-May or September-November. The weather is mild and the hotels are less expensive during these times (except for Easter weekend). Since Charleston’s weather can get really hot and humid during the summer, we visited in November and loved it because there were no crowds and we had the city to ourselves in the morning.
Things to Do in Charleston
13 historical houses all boasting with beautiful colors. Truly a must-see when you visit. Not only that but it’s the perfect backdrop for a photo op. Furthermore, the colorful houses acquired the name “Rainbow Row” over time but according to tall-tales, the houses were painted in the various colors so drunk sailors coming in from sea knew which houses they were to bunk in. How’s that for a fun fact?
Riley Waterfront park
A waterfront park in the heart of the French Quarter. This area used to be a center of maritime traffic and was transformed into this park in 1990. In addition to this, there is a boardwalk where you can walk along the water with multiple fountains to cool off in during that Charleston summer heat!
Magnolia Plantation Tour
Beauty, charm, and character exuding out of all angles! The Magnolia Plantation tour is the epitome of southern charm. Head here in the spring/summer for beautiful garden displays. Before you go, check the prices on their website so you know what you’re getting into, there are some upcharges.
Charleston Historic Carriage Tour
Roam around the streets of Charleston and learn all about its history in a horse-drawn carriage. Most carriage tours are less than $40, so it’s a fun activity for everyone to enjoy. Check out this tour on Viator that we took and loved!
While all opinions are always my own, my content on this blog post may contain affiliate links for hotels I’ve traveled to and recommend. This means I get a small commission if you book a stay after clicking one of these links. As always, I am so thankful for your support and will continue to share the best properties!
The Mills House ($$)
This boutique hotel is known for its charming decor and pink exterior. We personally stayed here and would highly recommend it. Its romantic courtyard is a great place to have breakfast when staying. Also, if you’re staying in the summer months make sure to check out the rooftop pool and jacuzzi!
The Ryder ($$$)
Charleston’s newest and chicest hotel with a bohemian flair, The Ryder. This hotel is taking the town by storm with its chic decor, top-notch service, and the best place to take photos.
Belmond Charleston Place ($$$)
If you’re looking to splurge a little, The Belmond Charleston Place is the hotel for you. It’s located close to the french quarter downtown, which is a prime location. The hotel is known for its glamour, interior design, and service. The rooftop pool pictured above is reason enough to stay here!
The Vendue ($$)
This chic downtown hotel offers unique guest rooms, innovative dining, and beautifully curated art everywhere you turn. The Vendue is known as Charleston’s Art Hotel and it’s the perfect location. The ambiance is southern charm all the way!
With the rise of the popularity of Charleston, there are plenty of affordable Air BnB and VRBO options to rent. It’s the best option if you’re coming here for a family vacation, bachelor/bachelorette parties.
Best Restaurants in Charleston
Basic Kitchen ($$)
Basic Kitchen is a downtown hotspot that is known for its clean/healthy food. They have a myriad of Vegan options. You need to order the Basic Bowl, the best thing on the menu! Also, they’re great for brunch.
Situated in a renovated historic home, this restaurant has made all the top lists! If you’re a foodie, Husk is the restaurant for you! Top-notch service, extraordinary food, and a quiet courtyard setting.
Camillas at Hotel Bennet ($$)
The perfect spot for a girl’s afternoon tea, brunch, or dinner. Honestly, whatever occasion you choose to celebrate here will be one for the books. Just look at that decor!
1 Broad ($$)
This quaint breakfast spot is known for its delicious food and prime corner location. The Ricotta/Jam Toast was pure heavenly, you will not be disappointed with that order!
Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oysters ($$)
Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oysters is a neighborhood gem with great seafood and an extensive European wine selection.
Shopping in Charleston
King Street ($$)
King Street is the main shopping street in Charleston. It’s lined with cute boutiques as well as well-known brands. Keep in mind, the shops close pretty early (6-7 pm).
The Commons ($$)
The Commons is tucked away in a courtyard so it’s easy to miss. But you don’t want to miss this cute shop! They sell beautiful home goods that are all made in the USA.
The Shops at Belmond Place ($$$$)
The shops at Belmond Place are luxurious designer shops with high-end service. The Gucci store is reason enough to want to come here. Finally, if you’re on a budget stay far away from this place!
Getting Around Charleston
Charleston is a fairly small city and you can walk the majority of it in a couple of hours. Take your time and enjoy the sights!
Renting a bike is a great way to cover most of the city in a small amount of time! Furthermore, there are plenty of bike rental shops that average $20 a day for bike rentals.
What to Pack for Charleston
- Good walking shoes or sneakers: These Veja sneakers are trendy and comfy but these Asics are the absolute best!
- A sturdy pair of flip-flops that you can also wear on a nice walk or to the beach. These Olukai Sandals are my go-to and have lasted me years.
- Chic sandals for dinner + a light jacket for the evening.
- Flowy Dresses: These really come in handy when the temperatures are high in the spring/summer. My favorite white dress for photos is linked here, here + here.
- A wide brim sun hat: I love this one from Brixton I have it in multiple colors. Also, I’ve been eyeing this Lack of Color Boater Hat and I just purchased and it has easily become my new favorite!
- Bathing Suits: Being that Charleston gets very warm year round you’ll want to always be prepared by bringing bathing suits. I always find quality suits that last for a few seasons at aerie, revolve, amazon, and cupshe.
- Sunscreen: This GOOP FACE SUNSCREEN BRUSH is perfect for traveling because it adds SPF to your face all while not messing up your makeup. Also, my daily moisturizer with SPF is incredible for traveling + every day.
- Shorts: Abercrombie has the best shorts for all sizes and shapes. Check out my favorite shorts here and here. For my favorite Levi Shorts click here.
- Basics: I always find the best basics at either Free People + Abercrombie. You can also shop my favorite Amazon Basics HERE.
In conclusion, Charleston is a great place for a wedding, a family vacation, a girl’s trip, a bachelor party, and so on! If you’re headed here for one of the aforementioned, please share this with your friends and spread the love! Thank you for reading my “Ultimate Charleston Travel Guide”. For more of my travel guides head here!
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