We recently stopped in Charleston, South Carolina for three days on our way from our home in New England to our winter escape in Florida. Neither Paul nor I had ever been to Charleston before and we were looking forward to a little of that Southern charm we have heard so much about. I am happy to say that we were not disappointed. We loved Charleston and are already thinking about how we can spend some more time there in the future.
Where to Stay in Charleston
Charleston offers a wide range of hotels, from discount to lavish. However, we have found Airbnb to be the way to go for any spot we are planning to stay for more than a couple of days. Our Airbnb in Charleston did not disappoint. We rented a wonderful apartment near the intersection of Spring Street and King Street. The space was comfortable and convenient. We found ourselves steps from incredible restaurant after incredible restaurant. Our only issue was that the interior of our AirBnB was so nice that we were almost afraid to breathe on anything.
The region around King Street stretching from Spring Street to Calhoun Street is a great area to look for rentals. There are myriad wonderful spaces for rent at reasonable prices. This location puts you in the middle of the action and is just a few minutes drive from the historic district of the city.
Where to Eat
There are so many good places to eat in Charleston that we had trouble deciding where to go for almost every meal. We had intended to eat a couple of meals at home, but as soon as we saw what was out there, that plan went out the window. Here are the places we visited. We highly recommend one and all
La Patisserie – French bakery right on King Street. Everything looks incredible. We can attest that the chocolate croissants are out of this world.
Glaze – If your breakfast druthers are doughnuts rather than pastries, you can’t go wrong with Glaze. They have a fascinating (and expansive) selection of donuts. Note, however, that they only offer about a dozen flavors each day. So you will have to remain flexible!
We only ate two lunches in Charleston and will admit that one of them was a miss (a little shop in the City Market). But the other hit a home run.
The Brown Dog Deli – There are two. We ate at the one on Broad Street. Or, rather, the one on Broad Street was packed, so we ordered sandwiches and took them to a nearby park where we happily ate them in the sun. I ordered a French onion grilled cheese that was warm and moist. Paul got a chicken shawarma pita that was the best he had ever eaten. If you are looking for lunch in Charleston and are anywhere in the historic district, go to the Brown Dog Deli. You will not regret it.
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Mesu – Our first night in Charleston we were tired and just looking for dinner somewhere close and quick. Lucky for us, we stumbled on the Mexican-Sushi fusion restaurant just steps down King Street. The food was amazing, from Paul’s tuna sushi to my crispy chicken tacos, and the street corn that we shared. The house margarita was crisp, and the service was friendly and fast. Of course, Paul’s favorite feature was the fact that from 4:00 to 6:00 food was 25% off!
Husk – Husk is a famous farm-to-table fancy restaurant in Charleston. It’s the place everyone tells you that you need to try, and the one reservation we had coming into this trip. Meh. We found it a bit precious. The food was definitely good and the dishes were creative, but they did not rock our world. We just didn’t find the meal worth the high price tag. I think that Paul was wishing we had gone back to Mesu.
Malagon – We ate at Malagon on our last night in Charleston after a full day of walking. Even the quarter-mile trek to King Street felt too far that evening. Fortunately, there was a small, but well-rated tapas restaurant just steps from our Airbnb. Although we had not made a reservation, the friendly host seated us immediately at the bar. We then proceeded to eat our way through five or six amazing small plates of food, accompanied by a couple of incredible glasses of Spanish red. Who knew leeks could be an appetizer? We can recommend them, along with the shrimp, the patatas bravas, and La Bomba de Barceloneta.
What to Visit in Charleston
We fit in a lot of activity for a three-day visit to Charleston. The downtown is fairly compact and it was easy to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. Having said that, there is at least as much we are interested to see that we didn’t get to as well. We will definitely be taking another trip to this great city in the future.We recently spent three fabulous days in Charleston, SC and can't wait to go back!Click To Tweet
Walking Tour – Our first day in Charleston we decided to take a self-guided walking tour of the city. We started at City Market (where we bought two hats and some earrings within 15 minutes of arrival). Following, our retail spasm, we took a nice stroll through the city’s historic district, reading about various buildings on my phone as we went. This was a wonderful introduction to the city and an excellent walk. However, as we started our stroll, we noticed a number of horse-drawn carriages running guided tours of the city. Even though we felt we had gotten a good grounding on our own, we decided to come back on day two and get another tour.
Charleston Carriage Company – There were at least four different companies offering carriage tours of the city. They all looked excellent, but we chose to go with the Charleston Carriage Company. We were not disappointed. By chance, we were the only two who signed up at our time slot so we got a personal tour of Charleston. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about the history and architecture of the city, as well as being very funny and personable. We enjoyed it thoroughly and learned a number of fascinating tidbits about the town. Probably our favorite was the fact that Charleston is the home to the first liquor store in North America. This establishment has been a liquor store continually from the 1600s to today. As our guide put it “Charleston is a drinking city with a historic problem.”
Gibbes Museum of Art – On our second day in Charleston, we also visited the lovely Gibbes Museum of Art. Gibbes Museum of Art is one of many museums in Charleston. We chose to visit the Gibbes for its manageable size, range of holdings, and affordable price ($12 per person). The Gibbes held a wonderful variety of art from impressionist paintings by Monet, Degas, and others to historic furniture built in Charleston, modern art, and special exhibitions. When we visited, Gibbes was showing an exhibition of works created via the WPA. If you are an art lover, Gibbes is definitely worth your time.
Karpeles Manuscript Museum – Our Airbnb sat across the street from a large historic building that we learned housed the Karpeles Manuscript Museum. And it was free to visit! So on our final morning in Charleston, we decided to wander across the street to check the place out. According to the website:
“The Karpeles Manuscript Museum Charleston is 1 of 14 Karpeles Manuscript Museums in the United States. The museum has the largest private collection of original documents and manuscripts. The revolving series of over 1 million documents represents the eccentric private holdings of David and Marsha Karpeles.”
So, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. But it definitely was not what we found after entering the doors of the building. The interior of the museum was unchanged from its days as a Methodist church. The exhibits hung on the walls, along pews, on podiums, and on tables placed at the front of the church. The majority of the documents the day we visited related to Star Trek. On display were numerous drawings from early set design, copies of original scripts, and other Star Trek miscellanies. There were other displays as well, including a ship’s lading from the 1600s, copies of some historic documents relating to Charleston, and, oddly, a few ancient sandstone inscriptions of Egyptian gods. Hands down, this was the strangest “museum” we have ever visited. Not sure whether we can wholeheartedly recommend this one, but it was definitely an experience.
Summary of Our Trip
In the span of three days, Charleston went from a city we’d like to visit to a place we definitely need to return. We frankly loved everything about the place. The food was fabulous, the weather lovely in the dead of winter, and there were plenty of sights to see. We will probably avoid the city in July when the average temperature is 88 degrees, but will definitely consider another trip in any of the other three seasons. Unfortunately, there are no poker rooms in South Carolina, but BestBet Jacksonville is under four hours away. We already have a list of further things to do and places to eat upon our eventual return.
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