I visited Charleston for the first time last year and again in December 2021 for an extended New Year’s Eve weekend getaway. There is now a direct flight from New Orleans on Breeze Airlines making it super easy to get there. Not only is it easy, but super affordable. On a holiday weekend, our round-trip flights were just $150.
Where to Stay
There are tons of really gorgeous boutique hotels in Charleston that I’d love to be able to visit one day, but as I’ve only visited during the holiday season, the rates were out of my price range.
I’ve found a couple of more affordable hotels that are just a quick Uber into town. Charleston is a pretty small city so getting around is easy. As long as you are staying somewhere not too far from downtown, you will have easy access to all that the city has to offer.
Hotel Indigo in Mount Pleasant is a great option. The rooms are extremely comfortable and the hotel has everything you need. The hotel is situated perfectly between downtown and the relaxing Sullivan’s Island. Plus, there’s a gorgeous pool and pool bar area if you need some chill time in the sun The Cambria Hotel Charleston Riverview is also another great option just about a five-minute ride to downtown Charleston. We wanted to save our spending money for shopping, food & booze!
Where to Eat & Drink
Charleston is a city known for its seafood like New Orleans, as well as its own brand of Southern “low country” cooking.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit – Biscuits are sort of a thing in the South so we had to try some of the best-known is one of the South’s finest cities. This tiny place is right on King Street and serves biscuits morning, noon, and night. You can choose the flavor biscuit you want as well as what you’d like on it. They have larger breakfast biscuits and classics like biscuits and gravy, but we wanted to taste a few so we opted for the small biscuit “flight”, if you will, and tried the cinnamon, the blueberry, and the country ham. Great for biscuits on the geaux!
Miller’s All Day is a fun place to stay awhile and enjoy breakfast or brunch and maybe a few cocktails. Their menu has something for everyone especially the love of pimento cheese. We tried a biscuit with strawberry butter; a slice of green onion, ham & pimento cheese quiche; and a braised okra and tomato bowl over grits.
The Daily is a great place to grab a coffee and a quick delicious breakfast. It’s by the team from Butcher & the Bee so we knew it was going to be great and it sure was. We had a delicious avocado and egg bowl, whipped feta toast with honey, and the best morning bun I’ve ever eaten. Don’t skip out on the pastries.
167 Raw was recommended to us by more than one person, so we stopped by for drinks and bites before a dinner reservation. They do not take reservations and there was about a 45-minute wait, but it was worth it. We tried our first South Carolina oysters here and the Lobster Roll. I would never have thought of having a lobster roll in Charleston, but this restaurant also has a location in Nantucket and their lobster roll was all over the ‘gram so they clearly knew what they were doing.
Rutledge “R” Kitchen won’t show up on all of the “where to eat in Charleston” lists, but it was recommended by a friend and was such a good find. What sets R Kitchen apart is that they are a kitchen, not a restaurant, meaning that you interact with the chefs cooking your meal all night – they are your chefs, your waiters, and bartenders. It’s such a fun experience! We were greeted with a chalkboard with a very purposefully vague description of what each course would entail that night. We sat at a bar right in the kitchen and guessed along with the other guests what each chef was putting into our next dish. Once each dish was complete, the chef responsible for it gave an elaborate description. Everything was delicious.
The Darling Oyster Bar is one of the cutest places to get seafood on King Street in Charleston. Their cocktails are great for happy hour, and the menu is extensive enough to have a full lunch or dinner. We had some local oysters, the hot crab dip, and some fried fish.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ – If you know anything about Carolina BBQ, you’ve probably heard of Rodney Scott’s, the South Carolina BBQ legend. The family business started in Hemingway, South Carolina, but now also has a location in downtown Charleston. We enjoyed the classic pig with greens and potato salad and most importantly the delicious, vinegar-based peppery sauce.
Lewis Barbecue – on our second trip to Charleston, we gave Lewis Barbecue a run. Although Lewis is known for Texas-style smoked meats, it’s consistently ranked one of the best so we had to give it a whirl. The brisket is melt-in-your-mouth. As for sides? Don’t miss the green chile corn pudding.
Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop is my favorite place in Charleston. I visited at least twice during both visits. Their local oyster selection (I’m partial to the blades), fried chicken, cocktails, and really everything on the menu is a win. The ambiance cannot be beaten. I’m immediately happy when I enter this place!
Husk is one of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants. Chef Travis Grimes is known for his interpretation of the Lowcountry style using the bounty of the surrounding area. We decided to really treat ourselves on this one. The restaurant is known for its cocktail bar as well which was closed due to covid, but we were still able to try some delicious bourbon cocktails with our meal. Food-wise, it was really difficult to choose because everything sounded so amazing. We started with wood-fired oysters with roasted red pepper butter, pimento cheese, and fried green tomatoes. For our mains, we ordered a royal red shrimp dumpling dish as well as a crispy catfish and grits dish. Every bite was better than the last.
The Obstinate Daughter, located on Sullivan’s island is one of the most gorgeous restaurants I’ve ever been to. Coastal Southern vibes meet Italian here for some seriously delicious eats and drinks.
Chez Nous – last, but very much not least. Chez Nous is one of the dreamiest, tastiest French restaurants I’ve been to outside of France. The small, neighborhood spot in an old home is cozy and romantic. The menu is handwritten by the chef and features different dishes each day. For a New Year’s Eve dinner, we enjoyed crispy potatoes with creme fraiche and caviar, foie gras, roasted chicken with a truffle red wine jus, and baked Alaska.
Carmella’s – we resisted ordering dessert as Husk, as several locals insisted that we go to Carmella’s for dessert and we were happy we did. It was such a fun vibe and splitting a mini cake is pretty fun too! We went back here on our second visit as well.
Prohibition is known as the best cocktail bar in Charleston. They have an extensive whiskey menu as well as many other delicious cocktails. It’s a great stop on King Street for a couple of cocktails before or after dinner.
Cutty’s – If you’re looking for a total dive bar with pickleback shots, this is your place. We had a couple of nightcaps here after our meal at R Kitchen. It was fun to check out a divey, local spot.
Burn’s Alley Tavern – if you’re looking for another dive bar. My fiance loves dive bars if you can’t tell. This one is definitely a cool local spot for a couple of less expensive drinks off of King Street if you’re looking to keep the party going!
What to do
Rent Bikes and take a self-guided tour of the city
I’m a big believer in renting bikes for a day when you have limited time to see a city. It gets you around faster than walking but is slow enough that you can take in everything you pass. We rented bikes for $30 for the day from The Bicycle Shoppe and rode to Waterfront Park to see the Pineapple fountain, down the famous Rainbow Row, through the beautiful College of Charleston campus, and down streets like Legare Street to see some of Charleston’s most gorgeous architecture and homes.
Tour the Aiken-Rhett House Musuem
If you’re looking for a dose of history and an understanding of what it was like living in Antebellum Charleton, the Aiken-Rhett house is a great way to get that in. The self-guided tour is as simple as downloading an app and means you can go at your own pace. We loved that the tour paid equal parts attention to those who inhabited the main parts of the house as well as the everyday realities of the enslaved Africans who lived on site.
Visit the Gibbes Museum of Art
We really enjoyed visiting the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. It’s short and sweet which I love in a museum and featured some really interesting exhibits from Southern artists with ties to the region as well as rotating exhibits such as the French impressionists.
Check out the Charleston Farmer’s Market
The Charleston Farmer’s Market is held in Marion Square on Saturdays and Sundays and is a great way to check out local vendors with food & crafts.
Walk around King Street
King Street is one of the most historic and lively places to explore in Charleston. It’s a great place to walk around to do some shopping and pop in local bars and restaurants.
Spend a morning near the beach
There are a couple of beaches right outside of the city. I’ve visited both Sullivan’s Island and Folly Beach and they are both great depending on what you are looking for. Sullivan’s Island is a much less crowded beach. There’s less to do nearby the beach than in Folly, but not nothing. One of the best restaurants in town, Obstinate Daughter is just a walk from the beach and a small bar Poe’s Tavern is great for grabbing a drink. If you are looking for a more lively scene filled with people and colorful beach shack bars and restaurants, give Folly Beach a go!
Disclaimer: Not everyone is comfortable traveling right now and it does involve certain risks. This blog post is meant to share my thoughts on a safe travel experience, you should always consult with your doctor + CDC guidelines before making a decision to travel.