Each year, my husband and I take a trip to celebrate our anniversary, just like my parents do. It’s a great time to get away, spend some quality time together and rekindle our relationship. For years I’ve wanted to go to Charleston, after reading about it in Travel and Leisure, Condé Nast and Garden and Gun (my three favorite travel magazines). We finally made it there this year and it was incredible! Cannot recommend it enough no matter what life stage you are in, they have something for just about everyone. Here are our trip highlights:
Where to Stay
We ended up trying out two very different hotels during our stay, both incredible hotels with their own personalities.
Upscale, boutique art hotel with an artist in residence. If you are an art connoisseur, you will love this hotel. All artwork on the walls is for sale, and they even have an art gallery inside. They have a complementary daily art and wine reception where you can discuss the art and learn more about it. They also have complementary nightly milk and cookies, you really can’t go wrong with those.
My favorite piece while we were there was a wall of 3D donuts in honor of National Donut Day. No surprise that someone purchased this piece while we were there. We almost did!
My favorite place. Small, cozy, boutique hotel. The staff are extremely friendly, from the front desk to the cleaning staff, and you feel as if you are at home with your friends instead of at a hotel in a new city.
Amenities include bicycles to tour the city, complimentary daily wine and cheese reception, 24 hr Miele coffee station and locally made cookies at turndown. They also have a cooking class at their restaurant, see “What to Do” for more details.
Where to Eat & Drink
The first thing I did when planning our days was decide where we were eating and stopping for morning/afternoon coffee. That’s the most important part of vacation, right?! I have a passion for food, especially restaurants that are farm to table, using locally sourced ingredients. My husband has a passion for fried, comfort food. We tried to do a balance of both our “favorites” as we ate our way through the city.
Click on the name of each restaurants to link to the menu!
Very cute restaurants and marketplace, specializing in high quality ingredients for their food with handmade, local goods for sale in a variety of booths.
Good for a quick breakfast. Sit down or grab & go. Visit their location just outside of town or their new location inside The Gibbs Museum.
This was one of my husband’s “not to miss” places. They are known for the Charleston Nasty Biscuit: fried chicken, cheese and sausage gravy. Thankfully they have granola, yogurt and banana for those wanting a healthier option.
We mainly snacked throughout the day instead of stopping for lunch, but here are the two places we did eat lunch at and loved!
Southern soul food. Sweet tea, cornbread and fried chicken were a must for my husband. I got a salad with grilled chicken and unsweet tea as a healthier option.
James Beard award winning restaurant. Menu changes daily! Fried chicken, grits, cornbread and sweet tea are outstanding. Really, just order anything off the menu and you won’t be disappointed.
One of the best steaks I have had in a while, and that is coming from a Texan!
Steakhouse with a live music and a fun atmosphere. The sides here are quite large, but they can do 1/2 portions of any of the sides if you want to try several different ones. If you have time, go to the Sunday Gospel Brunch.
A casual restaurant that is off the beaten path, but not to be missed. I highly recommend the whipped feta and the bacon wrapped dates.
James Beard award winning restaurant. The ricotta gnocchi is a must order! You need to book three to four weeks out, but if you forgot to snag a reservation in advance, you can take your chances and walk-in. If you’re lucky, you’ll just wait 20-30 minutes and get a seat at the bar. It will be worth it.
We did the cooking class here, which is only on Saturday afternoon and Monday evening for a max of eight people. Chef Petrillo is a true artist with his cooking and will teach you to make dishes that are more flavorful than anything you can imagine. This is another place that is not to be missed!
As you can tell from my long list of recommended restaurants, I’m a major foodie. I’m also a coffee fanatic and searched the city for my favorite craft coffee shops. Here are my top three:
Very small but cute inside, excellent coffee. They have seating outside if you want to enjoy your coffee there.
We stopped at the location inside The Gibbs Museum, but they also have one just outside of town. Great place for coffee and a snack.
This is outside of the main tourist portion, but still gets very crowded with locals and students from the nearby college. We went in the morning, which was the perfect time as it was not yet busy. We passed by later in the afternoon and the line was almost out the door. Looks like we weren’t the only ones who read that they serve a great cup of coffee!
What to Do
Beach Day at Sullivan’s Island
A little slice of heaven! Very wide beach with lots of space which makes it quiet and not crowded at all. Great place for families who want space to enjoy the beach/water or couples wanting some peace and quiet. We camped out at Station 19 which is the easiest if you want to take a break from the beach to visit the nearby restaurants. I recommend The Obstinate Daughter for food and Home Team BBQ for a drink — order the Game Changer.
My husband is a major history buff, so this was a must do on our list. I went along for the ride, wanting to just get in and get out, but ended up really enjoying this and found the history of the island fascinating. We went at 10 am, which was the first boat out for the day. I highly recommend getting out early if you are there in the summer as it get VERY hot. Bring water and snacks with you as you won’t get back for 2.5 hours. They do sell snacks on the boats there, but I would still recommend packing your own in your purse.
Garden & Gun’s only brick and mortar store inside The Dewberry. The store is split into two sections, Hunt and Gather, each featuring high quality, southern made artisans.
Charleston made products only. I picked up these stunning Brackish earrings made from peacock and pheasant feathers. Right now this is the only store that sells earrings from Brackish, but they are coming out with a line for women soon. Until then, go buy your own pair from the Preservation!
The coolest candle shop I’ve ever been in. They have over a hundred different scents of candles, all organized in the large candle “library”. The staff will help you find the scent, or scents, that are perfect for you and your home! If you have some extra time on your hands, go to one of their candle making classes; this would be a great event if you’re in town for a bachlorette party or girls weekend.