The food, the accents, the history, the Southern charm and hospitality. Charleston has it all, and then some. Like other places in the South, Charleston has a way about it that reminds you to slow down and enjoy all the good, simple things in life. So stroll around the city and take it all in.
I spent three days in the Holy City in December, and I’m dying to go back in warmer weather and see all the things I didn’t have time for on the first trip. And, for all of you engaged ladies and bridesmaids out there, Charleston is becoming a top destination for bachelorette parties.
Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
A historic plantation founded in 1676 with almost 500 acres of natural beauty along the Ashley River. Its website boasts that it is the last large-scale romantic garden in the U.S. As we wandered through the garden, each turn brought us to a new and even more beautiful area, with bridges, tunnels, and ponds hidden throughout. I highly recommend allowing a few hours at this site to tour the house and wander the grounds. They do have a nature tram and a seasonal rice field boat tour.
Waterfront Park & Pineapple Fountain
Grab some sweet tea and benne wafers and head to the park! Overlooking the Charleston Harbor and Cooper River, the park has over 10 acres to enjoy. Be sure to stop by the famous pineapple fountain and snap a pic for the #gram.
The Battery & White Point Garden
The seawall that was built to protect the city during the Civil War is now a popular landmark, featuring views of Fort Sumter and Charleston Harbor, alongside gorgeous antebellum mansions. Those are the houses I stood looking at for quite some time, imagining what it would be like to grow up a southern belle in one.
Charleston City Market
With over 300 vendors, this is a great spot to get souvenirs, meet local artisans, and sample local flavors. The Market is open 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day).
Like many old cities that have seen wars, Charleston claims to be one of the most haunted cities in America. Our tour guide for the haunted pub crawl wasn’t the greatest, but we did hear some cool stories and meet some great people from all over the country. Check out this article from U.S. News & World Report before planning yours.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour
This was a great way to sit back, relax, and get the lay of the land as well as some historical background of what we were seeing. Our tour guide actually appeared in “The Patriot” (2000), part of which was filmed in and around Charleston. See Tripadvisor’s Top 10 Carriage Companies in Charleston.
Walk across the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
The longest cable bridge in the U.S., it’s architecturally beautiful to look at and also offers beautiful views of the Cooper River and surrounding area.
The plantation on James Island was established in 1851 and is now a historic site that provides insight to the Gullah/Geechee heritage. The house and ground are charming, with views of the Wappoo Creek, which flows into the Ashley River. And the oak trees, oh God, the oak trees. I would be perfectly content spending full days under those oak trees. It’s enough to tempt me to pick up and move 800 miles south.
James Island County Park
Since we went in December, we were able to enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights, which may have been the best holiday light display I have seen. The 643-acre park includes a campground, trails, and recreational amenities such as a waterpark, climbing wall, disc golf course, and boat rentals.
Enjoy Lowcountry Cuisine
Gumbo, shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, and just good, plain, old-fashioned soul food -- One thing’s for sure: You won’t be leaving Charleston hungry. We ate at Husk and it was amazing, highly recommend!
Check out this article from Roads & Kingdoms that explains the history behind some of Charleston’s most popular dishes.
What’s on my list for my next trip:
King Street Shopping
Have you ever been to Charleston? If so, let us know if there are any spots we should check out not mentioned here!