Charleston Itinerary: A Charleston Travel Guide
Looking to plan the perfect weekend itinerary in Charleston? I’ve got you covered! There is no shortage of southern charm in Charleston, South Carolina. Over the past few years, it’s really grown in popularity as a top travel destination. Furthermore, 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 spending a weekend in Charleston. Being that this city is walkable it’s the perfect amount of time to spend exploring! In this “The Ultimate Weekend in Charleston Itinerary” I’ll share the best things to do, where to stay, the best restaurants, and more!
The best time to visit Charleston is between March-May and September-November. The weather is mild and the hotels are less expensive during these times (except for Easter weekend). Since Charleston’s weather is hot and humid during the summer, it’s best to visit in the fall or spring. Furthermore, we visited in November and loved it!
Things to Do in Charleston
13 historical houses all boasting beautiful colors. Truly a must-see when you visit. It makes for 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 various colors so drunk sailors coming in from the sea knew which houses they were to bunk in. How’s that for a fun fact?
Ravenel Waterfront park
Ravenel waterfront park is located 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, including the infamous pineapple fountain, to cool off during that Charleston summer heat!
Charleston Historic Carriage Tour
One of the most popular things to do in Charleston is a historic Charleston tour. You roam the streets of historic Charleston and learn all about its history in a horse-drawn carriage. We loved this Carriage tour on Viator. Finally, you can take a haunted ghost tour with a horse-drawn carriage as well for all my spooky lovers.
Charleston City Market
One of America’s oldest public markets is the Charleston City Market. Home to over 300 eclectic entrepreneurs you can come here to eat, shop, drink, or explore. It is open every day 9:30 am – 6 pm (aside from Christmas).
Visit Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter is an island fortification located in Charleston Harbor. It’s well known for being the place where the first shots were fired during the civil war. It’s a national monument today and you can visit it by taking a ferry. For the best tours, I always check out GetYourGuide.
Dock Street Theater
The Dock Street Theater is a theater in the historic French Quarter of Charleston. They have great performances throughout the year and it’s a great way to support the local arts. For a schedule and tickets click here.
Walk Around the French Quarter
Part of Charleston’s original walled city is the French Quarter. One of our favorite activities was to roam the French Quarter in Charleston. The homes and cobblestoned streets are incredibly charming. Not to mention most of Charleston’s main attractions are located here including the dock street theatre, charleston city market, the farmer’s exchange building, and the French Huguenot Church. Finally, this neighborhood gives off all the Southern Charm!
3-Day Charleston Itinerary
Here is a sample of a 3 day Charleston Itinerary that I’ve put together for you:
- Arrive in Charleston in the afternoon
- Check into the Mills House Wyndham (my hotel pick!)
- Sunset at Ravenel Waterfront Park
- Dinner at Basic Kitchen
- Brunch at 1 Broad
- Walk Rainbow Row
- Explore the Charleston City Market
- Take a Carriage Tour
- Shopping on King Street
- Drinks at Camilla at The Hotel Bennet
- Dinner at Husk
- Breakfast at Mills House
- Harbor Day Cruise, Middleton Place, or Fort Sumter
- Walk around the French Quarter
- Late lunch at Church and Union
- Depart Charleston
While all opinions and recommendations are always my own, my content on this blog post may contain affiliate links for hotels I’ve traveled to, tours I’ve completed, and products I recommend. This means I get a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you book a stay or purchase a product after clicking one of these links. As always, I am so thankful for your support so I can continue to offer free resources!
The Mills House ($$)
This boutique hotel is incredibly charming with its decor and pink exterior. We personally stayed here and would highly recommend it. Don’t miss out on the romantic courtyard – it’s the perfect spot for morning coffee! Finally, The Mills House has a rooftop pool and jacuzzi that comes in clutch during the summer months.
The Ryder ($$$)
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. Finally, 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 or bachelor/bachelorette party.
Best Restaurants in Charleston
Basic Kitchen ($$)
Basic Kitchen is located downtown and they offer tons of vegan and healthy food options. We had the Basic Bowl and it’s the most popular thing on the menu! Furthermore, they have a great brunch menu.
Situated in a renovated historic home, this restaurant has made all the top lists! If you’re a foodie, Husk is the restaurant for you! Top-notch service, extraordinary food, and a quiet courtyard setting. Definitely want to make a reservation for this one.
Church and Union Charleston ($$)
Church and Union is a trendy new American cuisine hotspot located downtown. This cocktail bar and restaurant are housed in a former church. The decor is dramatic and the food is well reviewed! Finally, you must make reservations for this place.
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 has delicious food and a prime corner location in Downtown Charleston right next to Rainbow Row. The Ricotta/Jam Toast was insanely good and their decor is charming. Make a reservation if you plan to visit on the weekend!
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, that the shops close pretty early (6-7 pm).
Charleston City Market ($$)
Charleston City Market is a historic complex in downtown stretching over 4 city blocks. It’s not only a prominent landmark but is also known as the cultural heart of Charleston and there are over 300 entrepreneurs to shop from. You can learn more about the city market here.
The Shops at Belmond Place ($$$$)
If you’re looking for luxurious shopping, then the shops at Belmond Place are for you. There are tons of designer shops and high-end services to choose from.
What to Pack for Charleston
- Good walking shoes or sneakers: These Madewell sneakers are trendy and comfy to walk around all day.
- A sturdy pair of flip-flops. These Olukai Sandals are my go-to and have lasted me years.
- Chic sandals for dinner.
- Flowy Dresses: These really come in handy when the temperatures are high in the spring/summer. My favorite white dress for photos are linked here, here + here.
- A wide brim sun hat: I love this one from Brixton I have it in multiple colors.
- 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.
- Shorts: Abercrombie has the best shorts for all sizes and shapes. Check out my favorite shorts here. For my favorite Levi Shorts click here.
- Finally, I always find the best basics at Abercrombie. You can also shop my favorite Amazon Basics HERE.
In conclusion, a Charleston weekend is perfect for a wedding, a family vacation, a girl’s trip, a bachelor party, and so on! Thank you for reading my “Weekend in Charleston Itinerary”. Don’t forget to check out more of my US travel guides!
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