I have to admit not being able to travel due to COVID has been hard for Sean and I. We usually plan a couple big trips a year and then do a lot of weekend getaways. This year we obviously haven’t been able to do that, but we did get the opportunity this past September to visit Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is such a cute city and really has an amazing vibe all its own, filled with so much history, culture and fabulous food. If you are looking to plan a trip and wanting to stay state side don’t pass up the opportunity to visit Charleston.
I would just like to add in, when we went we drove our own car down there, had a private Airbnb and practiced all safety and social distancing mandates. The city itself had plenty of protocols in place and limited capacities, social distancing was enforced, as was mask wearing and frequent sanitization.
The city of Charleston is broken down into neighborhoods, we stayed in the Elliotborough section.
We really enjoyed the area our Airbnb was in, it was just off King Street, so it was quiet but also easily accessible to everything. We walked to a lot of places, but Uber is very popular in the area.
Our Airbnb was a traditional Charleston Single home. This means it was a long narrow home with a private porch and what looks like the front door on the street only enters to the porch where the main home entrance is. This home was a one bedroom and perfect for us, the first floor was the kitchen and living room while the upstairs was the bedroom, bathroom and another porch.
This home is available from Airbnb here, if you are interested in booking or just seeing even more pictures.
Charleston’s Restaurant Scene
I was probably the absolute most excited about the restaurants in Charleston while planning our visit. Charleston has an outstanding food scene that has been gaining international attention with some of the most up and coming chefs, and the restaurants did not disappoint.
I will shamelessly admit that I booked our meals for everyday and pretty far in advance to guarantee we would be able to eat at all the most notable places. The best thing about the food in Charleston is there is such a diverse array of brand new restaurants right next to restaurants that have been Charleston staples for decades. I also could have spent another few weeks just exploring all of the food culture in this city and loved every minute of it.
I was so busy eating, I forgot to even take pictures of our food. Minus the one picture of chicken and waffles above.
We fell in love with the new coffee shop right in our neighborhood of Elliotborough called SightSeeShop. It was a really delicious coffee shop with local items available for purchase as well. The owners were so nice and we were able to walk here in the mornings.
Another neighborhood favorite of ours was the Elliotborough Mini Bar. Conveniently located diagonally from our Airbnb, it was perfect for a close nightcap. They have live music here and you will tend to find the owner behind the bar who is a great person to talk to and who truly loves this little gem in Eilliotborough.
There is not a single restaurant we went to that we would not recommend, honestly I can’t say enough about the food in Charleston. Here is the list of places we went to.
Chez Nous – A small restaurant featuring food and wine from Southern France, Northern Italy and Northern Spain. The best part of this restaurant is there are only two appetizer, two dinner and two dessert options daily which are posted on their Instagram.
Poogan’s Porch – Is a traditional southern restaurant, they describe themselves as “a fresh approach to lowcountry cuisine” and I could not agree more. When looking for the traditional flavors and choices of southern home cooking, this is where you want to be. The biscuits are perfect and the shrimp and grits are what my dreams are made of. They also have a fabulous brunch, and this is a great spot for chicken and waffles.
Husk – Arguably one of the best restaurants in not just Charleston, but a world wide known restaurant with chef Sean Brock. Featured on an episode of Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain (and a guest appearance by Bill Murray) Husk was named by Bon Appetit Magazine in 2011 the best new restaurant in America. Another traditional southern restaurant with modern flair, the use of local foods here is what makes it a true gem. Husk also has a location in Savannah, GA as well as Nashville, Tn.
Hank’s Seafood – A staple in downtown Charleston in a place where seafood is abundant. I totally stepped out of my comfort zone while dining here and chose the Seafood A La Wando, which may be one of the best seafood dishes I have ever eaten in my life.
Hall’s Chophouse – An upscale steakhouse with a fabulously extensive wine list. My parents told me when we were planning this trip that whatever we do, we must eat at Hall’s Chophouse, and I can see why it is another can’t miss location. I had one of the best steaks ever here and the sides (done family style) are amazing. There are four Hall’s Chophouse locations, Charleston, Columbia, Greenville and Nexton.
Lunch Options & Bars:
Rodney Scott BBQ – Rodney Scott was also featured on the episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown in Charleston. At the time Rodney was cooking and BBQ’ing from his family’s pit stop in Hemingway, SC. He now has multiple BBQ locations and it is a perfect lunch stop for traditional BBQ.
Prohibition – We went for the drinks, but the lunch and brunch menu looked really great. I loved the feel and decor of this place, the drinks were really great and they had a lot of their own infused liquors.
Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub – Because we are incapable of going anywhere with an Irish pub and not eating there. This was a great traditional place with live music.
Henry’s on the Market – We ate in the rooftop section, but there is a traditional dining room too. The rooftop menu is limited compared to the other menu, but the view of the city is really great. This is where the chicken and waffles photo I posted earlier is from.
Republic Garden & Lounge – We sat outside in the garden area here and shared small plates. The menu is small, but very good for a quick bite.
King Street Public House – This is a college bar, no doubt. After over 12 hours driving we were just looking for a quick place to grab a bite to eat and a drink, and these kids were ready to go. This place would be a lot of fun when you don’t spend half the day in a car, the food and drinks were good and the atmosphere was casual, but a little rowdy. They also had live music.
Things to do and See:
Charleston is a quaint city that is not too big, but definitely is packed with so many things to do and see. Since we were traveling during COVID there were some things that were not open, but most were just limited capacity with social distancing practices in place with masks mandatory.
Charleston has a brewery district in the Wagner Terrace and North Central neighborhoods of the city. There is a free trolley for the breweries available. We only had rain one day while visiting and doing the brewery tour was a great way to spend a rainy day. We visited four breweries in the day and enjoyed them all. Here are the breweries we visited: Munkle Brewing Co. (they have an adorable dog on site), Palmetto Brewing Co, Edmund Oast Brewing Co. and Tradesman Brewing Co. Sean and I both work in the trades so we loved the tradesman theme.
Visit Deep Water Vineyard:
Located outside the city Deep Water Vineyard is one of the only wineries in the area. The 48 acre grounds are beautiful with animals on premise as well. While we were there they had live music as well. They also make very good wine slushies! This place gets busy so plan ahead for sure!
Horse Draw Carriage Tour:
This is a must do in the city taking a historic horse drawn carriage tour is a great way to see the city and learn about history and architecture as well. Every time you take this tour it will be different! When making your way to the city line of Charleston there are city workers that give the guide a random route at that time and that is the tour you will see.
Visit Fort Sumter:
Fort Sumter is where the first battle of the Civil War was fought. It is built on an artificial island that protects the city of Charleston. You will take a ferry to and from the fort, if you can book the first tour so you can watch the flag being raised on the fort in the morning!
The South Carolina Aquarium:
We did this the morning of the brewery tour since it was raining out. Located on the water the aquarium is a fun way to spend a few hours. We enjoyed the exhibits they had and especially their Sea Turtle Care Center.
We did two night time tours during our time in Charleston, we toured the Old Jail and the Magnolia Cemetery. The Cemetery tour was my absolute favorite thing we did the entire trip. Both of these were a lot of fun though, my preference for the cemetery over the old jail was simply because the cemetery was an outside tour and we did the earlier time slot so we started when it was still light out and was there for the sun to set into the dark. For both of these tours we used Bulldog Tours, they have an array of tours available.
Day Trips from Charleston:
Visit A Plantation:
Although a controversial topic, visiting a plantation while in Charleston is a way to learn about history. It is way to understand how the foundations and people in charge of these lands now are ensuring that the history is not only preserved, but that visitors can grow, reflect and learn about the times when plantations were in full use. There are many options of plantations to visit for a day trip from Charleston. We visited Magnolia Plantation & Gardens as well as Middleton Place. Another popular plantation is Boone Hall. We were unable to get on a tour of the inside of Magnolia Plantation but did the garden and grounds tour. We toured the home and all of the grounds at Middleton Place.
Approximately a 25-30 min drive from downtown Charleston is Folly Beach. We enjoyed spending a few hours at the beach here relaxing. Unfortunately it was a very windy day when we went. But as a Jersey Girl is reminded me of a lot of the Jersey Shore filled with local shops and restaurants.
No trip to Charleston is complete without seeing the Pineapple Fountain!
Charleston is full of rich culture and history and is a city I hope everyone has the opportunity to visit. Its food scene is unbelievable and pride in its history is unmistakable. It truly is a small city with a huge heart. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the things we did on our trip, there was so much more I could have put in too! If you are using this to plan a trip to Charleston of your own, don’t hesitate to ask any questions or for any other recommendations in the comments below!