Where to Eat & Drink in Charleston

North is a direction, south is a lifestyle.

Charleston is the epitome of Southern charm. Quaint streets lined with sprawling, pastel homes and palm trees. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And, seriously good eats.

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Last spring, I flew to Charleston for a long weekend with friends where our main objectives were to wander as much as possible, and indulge in some great Southern cooking.

We were, without a doubt, successful. The weekend was packed with great eats, delicious cocktails and fun experiences learning more about this southern city. I’ve had a lot of people reach out recently for top food/drink recos as a result of heading to Charleston for a bachelor/bachelorette party or fun weekend getaway.

These are the places I’d unquestionably go back the next time I’m in Charleston.

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Top Picks for Coffee:

  • Black Tap Coffee: Loved this place so much, we came back twice. Cold brew is great, but the coffee cocktails were my favorite thing on the menu. Recommend trying the Black Julep- espresso, cold brew, mint and honey
  • Kudu Coffee: Liked the vibe of this place a lot, plenty of indoor and outdoor garden seating
  • Tricera Coffee: Coffee & dinosaurs? Two of my favorite things! Tricera’s close-location to King Street makes it a good place to stop if you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up from shopping/wandering

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Top Picks for Drinks:

  • The Gin Joint: One of my favorite cocktail bars in Charleston, this place revamps their menu seasonally. We came a week after they introduced the spring menu and weren’t disappointed. If you’re there when the Studmuffin (Charleston Madeira, Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur, St. George Coffee Liqueur, Amaro Sibilla, Sumac Bay Leaf Ice Cubes) is on the menu, I highly recommend ordering it
  • Proof: Another one of my favorite bars in Charleston. They have a great happy hour, but also a solid cocktail menu. Grab a seat at the bar and work your way through their drink list- my favorite one: the Martinez, served with a cheese slice garnish
  • The Belmont: Cozy bar with old black and white movies playing on the side wall
  •  The Griffin: A dive located near HUSK, it’s been a local staple for 20+ years

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Top Picks for Eats:

  • HUSK: Unable to get a dinner reservation here, we came for lunch on our first day in Charleston. Everything we tried was delicious. Using only ingredients from the south, HUSK nails hearty home cooking
      • Waiting for a table? Grab a drink at The bar at HUSK. They carry an outstanding selection of bourbon and whiskey. I’m a big Madeira fan and appreciated the ones they have on the menu here
  • Hominy Grill: Located in a historic Charleston single house, Hominy Grill feels as though it has been open for generations. It’s southern food perfection, you have to try the shrimp and cheese grits
  • Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit: Is there anything better than bacon, egg and pimento cheese on a fresh baked biscuit for breakfast?

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10 Of My Favorite US Cities

With a move to London on the horizon, I’m growing increasingly excited to live in another country and see as much of the UK and Europe as possible during my time there.

I’ve done a lot traveling around the US the past few years, and will definitely miss the breadth and diversity of cities across the country. I say it all the time, but travel doesn’t have to be expensive or far flung- so many places in America are the perfect (affordable!) destinations for a long weekend.

10 Of My Favorite US Cities

Seattle

When I hear the “Emerald City,” a few things come to mind: Quirky music and art, the great outdoors, first-rate local produce, and, of course, adventure. Every time I visit Seattle, I’m reminded of how eclectic of a city it is.

Having visited the Pacific Northwest many times, I’ve had the chance to explore a lot of Seattle’s neighborhoods, and because I know a lot of people automatically think “Space Needle” whenever they hear “Seattle,” I’ve put together a list of my favorite places to go in the city, as well as my must-sees for Pike Place Market.

Between the food, the music and the shops, you can’t go wrong spending a few days in Seattle. And, it’s close enough to Portland, Victoria, B.C., and Vancouver to warrant spending more than a weekend in this part of the country.

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Los Angeles

Every time I visit the Golden State, I fall a little bit more in love with the land of laid back. It’s a refreshing break from the East Coast- palm trees, sunshine and warm weather year-round, what more could you ask for?

Contrary to what many people may think, LA is not just Hollywood. During most of my trips to LA, I’ve stayed in Santa Monica or Venice to get my fill of beach vibes. And, if you head outside of the main areas, Malibu, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree State Park, and even Disneyland are great places to kickback and unwind while soaking up some sunshine.

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Austin

I haven’t written about Austin yet for this blog, but after living there for a few months a couple of years ago, I fell hard for the city. Known as the live music capital of the world, Austin is all about seriously good eats, strong drinks, great beats and being outside. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where people applaud sunsets.

One of the best parts about Austin? It’s compact enough to see and do a ton of stuff during the shortest of trips. I’m planning on spending a few days here as part of a visit back to the US in early March. Already excited to discover how much the city has changed since I’ve been there, and revisit a few of my favorite spots.

NYC

After calling New York City home for over six years, it’s really tough for me to imagine settling down anywhere else. Even though I (and many New Yorkers) have a serious love-hate relationship with the city, it’s a place brimming with energy morning, noon and night- you can’t help but feel so alive when you’re here.

Aside from never-ending options of things to do, I also love how walkable New York is, and even though I complain about subway delays, the public transit system really is top notch. There’s no question this city is somewhere everyone should visit at least once in their life.

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Miami

In Florida, they salt margaritas not sidewalks. My first time in Miami was during a particularly brutal February in the northeast, but it’s the perfect escape any time of the year.

With stunning beaches, a bustling art scene, great food and nightlife, and some seriously cool art deco architecture, there’s no shortage of things to do in Miami. And, because I know a lot of people think of the South Beach party scene when Miami comes up, I haven’t spent much time there, and have still loved every trip I’ve taken to the city. Although, I love a good night out, I’ve spent more time in Wynwood, Little Havana and Key Biscayne.

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Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World conjures up images of kids in strollers, characters roaming the parks and a lot of mouse shaped things. And, sure enough, as soon as you walk into the parks, you feel like a kid again- you’re excited to get your picture taken with Pluto, wait in line for Space Mountain, and buy a pair of sparkly mouse ears because, magic.

Disney may be extra special for kids, but I’ve come to appreciate it more as an adult through vacations and runDisney events. One of the best parts of visiting Disney as an adult? Seeking out the best spots to grab a drink when you need a break from the magic madness.

Whatever your reasons for visiting Disney, you have to appreciate the attention to detail everywhere from the resorts to the parks- it’s truly astounding. And yes, I recognize Disney isn’t technically a city, but it sure is big enough with enough to do to warrant a spot on this list.

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New Orleans

New Orleans is a city bursting at the seams with Caribbean vibes and Cajun attitude.

In Nola, it’s all about the details. Strings of beads are draped on cast-iron balconies year-round, an assortment of cultures, and live music bring Bourbon Street to life. There’s savory beignets for breakfast and steamed crawfish for dinner. It’s the perfect place to spend a long weekend.

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Charleston

Charleston is the epitome of Southern charm. Quaint streets lined with sprawling, pastel homes and palm trees. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And, seriously good eats.

After spending a long weekend in downtown Charleston, I realized nothing is truer than this statement: north is a direction, south is a lifestyle.

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San Francisco & Napa and Sonoma

San Francisco is the kind of city that never gets old, no matter how many times you visit, because there’s always something new to do or explore. Having been to San Francisco a few times, I have my go-to recos for things to do or see, but also have a slew of things I still want to do on return trips.

Located on a peninsula surrounded by water, San Francisco’s climate is mild year-round, although summers tend to be on the cool side. If the weather is a bit chilly during your visit, and you’re in the mood for warmer temps, plus some wine, head an hour north to Napa and Sonoma.

My first visit to wine country felt intimidating- so many wineries! According to Lonely Planet, there are over 600 wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties. But it’s quality, not quantity, that sets the region apart – especially in Napa, which competes with France and doubles as an outpost of San Francisco’s top-end culinary scene. Sonoma prides itself on agricultural diversity, with you-pick-em orchards and roadside fruit stands.

Fortunately, one of my girlfriends has grown to love wine as much as me, and every year we plan a weekend back to the region. Rolling hills, blue skies and vineyards as far as the eye can see make California’s wine country a relaxing and fun weekend getaway.

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Portland

If you like to shop and eat, Portland is the town for you. Usually, when I’m in the PNW, it’s to visit Seattle, so I haven’t spent as much time in Portland as I’d like. If you’re visiting for the weekend, get ready for days filled with walking all over the city, popping into shops and eating and drinking all of the delicious things.

And, like in Seattle, just outside the city, there are a lot of outdoorsy activities to do, including hiking the Oneota Gorge. Off I-84 near Mulnomah Falls outside of Portland, Oregon, the Oneonta Gorge is one of those bucket list natural wonders- you kind of have to see it to believe it.

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Chicago

The third largest city in the US (by population) is known by a multitude of nicknames- The Windy City, the Second City, the City of Broad Shoulders- and for good reason. There’s a lot to do in Chicago, from cultural gems like the Art Institute to exploring the city’s booming food scene.

If you’re only visiting for a weekend, it’s impossible to do everything, but there are some things that shouldn’t be skipped over. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Chicago, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to spend a few days becoming reacquainted with the city on a return trip to the US- already excited to revisit a few of my favorite places and check out some new restaurants and bars that have popped.

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Honorable Mentions to: Denver, Savannah, Pittsburgh and San Diego.

On my list of cities to visit on return trips to the US over the next few years?

  • St. George, Utah
  • Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Marfa, Texas
  • Billings, Montana (aka Big Sky Country)
  • Portland, Maine
  • Nashville, TN (I’ve only been there once for a conference)
  • Oahu, Hawaii

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#Take12Trips: March

Is anyone else surprised it’s already April? This year is flying by!

Fortunately, I’m keeping up with my New Year’s Resolution to #Take12Trips. I’ve been able to spend time each month visiting a new destination or exploring a different neighborhood. To recap #Take12Trips so far:

  • January: Visited Florida twice, once for a week-long family vacation to Walt Disney World, and another time at the end of the month with my mom. Although I’ve been to WDW and Florida a few times, it was nice to take a break from winter and spend time in the sun

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  • February: Stayed close to home and visited Astoria a few times to try restaurants and bars I’ve never been to, as well as check out different neighborhoods and local shops. This month was about rest and rejuvenation for me, which makes me appreciate how flexible the #Take12Trips challenge is- anything, even a day trip somewhere new counts!

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  • March: Spent an awesome long weekend in downtown Charleston, a city that epitomizes Southern charm- quaint streets lined with sprawling, pastel homes and palm trees; some of the nicest people I’ve ever met; and, seriously good eats

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Continuing on with my resolution to travel more this year, near and far, here’s what I’ve got planned for the rest of 2016 thus far. It’s a good mix of adventures close-to-home and explorations in new places.

  • April: This is a travel filled month for me- Philadelphia for a race, Seattle for a long weekend, Tulum for a week-long beach getaway and Boston / Cape Cod for a long weekend (going to a friend’s wedding!) at the end of the month
  • May: Coming off April’s travel high, I’ll be staying in the city this month. Thinking of spending some time Bushwick since I’ve only been out to that part of Brooklyn a few times
  • June: Long weekend in London (one of my favorite cities)
  • July: Thinking about taking a “staycation” to my family’s home in Pittsburgh for a weekend
  • August: TBD, Considering about an end-of-summer weekend getaway to Rhode Island or Maine
  • September: Amsterdam, Berlin & Munich for Oktoberfest!
  • October: Paris!
  • November: TBD, Thinking about a weekend trip to the Bahamas or spending Thanksgiving in London and Dublin
  • December: TBD, Looking for a US city to spend NYE in- Nashville is the front-runner at this point

Is anyone else doing the #Take12Trips challenge this year or trying to travel more? I’d love to hear about your adventures and plans for the rest of 2016 🙂

The Ultimate Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is the epitome of Southern charm. Quaint streets lined with sprawling, pastel homes and palm trees. Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. And, seriously good eats.

After spending a long weekend in downtown Charleston, I realized nothing is truer than this statement: north is a direction, south is a lifestyle.

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Interesting Attractions

  • Explore Charleston on foot: A walking tour hadn’t been on our list of things to do until we found a great Groupon deal ($10 for a 2 hour tour of Historic Charleston). I’m so glad we decided to do this! Strolling through the streets of Charleston and listening to Paulette share interesting facts was a fun way to get a real feel for the city and its history. As you’re wandering, you’ll see a lot of carriage tours, but I prefer the walking version because it feels more personal and you’re able to take photos as you wish. Paulette also offers a ghost tour at night for those who want to learn about Charleston’s spooky side
  • See Historic Charleston: Parts of Charleston feel suspended in time, thanks to its antebellum architecture. The window boxes Charleston is known for were one of my favorite things to check out as we wandered around town. Also, the secret gardens tucked away in alleyways are absolutely adorable
    • A fun fact I learned on our walking tour- a lot of the homes in Charleston use a layout called the Charleston single house. Well-suited to long, narrow lots, which were laid out in early Charleston, a single house has a narrow side with a gable end along the street and a longer side running perpendicular to the street

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  • Head to the Waterfront Park: Home to the Pineapple Fountain, this park is perfect for a picnic or relaxing in shade on a sunny afternoon
    • Wondering about the Pineapple Fountain? Back in the day, before returning to Charleston, a sea captain’s last stop would likely be somewhere tropical. As part of their loot, they’d bring home a slew of tropical fruits. Upon arriving home after a long voyage, the captain would spear a pineapple on his fence post to let friends know he had returned safely. Seen as a symbol of hospitality, the pineapple became an invitation to come over for drinks and stories of adventure

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  • Check out Rainbow Row: A Charleston staple, there are a few rumors about how the series of thirteen Caribbean colored homes got their name. Historians believe homes on Rainbow Row were painted their pastel hues when one woman bought and renovated several of them to save from demolition. In actuality, that’s probably what happened, but I prefer the local myth, which claims the houses were painted in various colors so intoxicated sailors coming in from port could remember which houses they were staying in
    • After you check out the pastel-hued homes, continue heading south to the Battery & White Point Gardens. It’s a public park at the tip of the peninsula, shaded by stately oak trees and surrounded by breathtaking mansions

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  • Stroll through Old City Market: Boasting 300 local vendors, this open-air market stretches four city blocks and is one of the oldest city markets in America. Vendors change daily and sell everything from sweetgrass baskets to handmade jewelry and candied pralines

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  • Go Shopping on King Street: The best stretch of shopping is from Marion Square to Lower King Street, a few of my favorites:
    • Candlefish: Gorgeous shop selling its own brand of candles and carefully curated selection of small gifts. We weren’t able to try one of their famed candle making classes, but we did spend time at the candle library- blindly sniffing scents until we found ones we loved. Such a fun and charming shop to visit, and all of their hand-poured candles are soy-based
    • Savannah Bee Company: Come here to taste different varieties of honey, including whipped honey
    • Impeccable Pig: Cute clothing boutique
    • Also, Mac & Murphy is a cute local stationery shop not located on King Street, but it’s a short walk (reco checking it out if you visit Hominy Grill to eat)

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  • Visit a plantation: Plantations are part of Charleston’s history. On our trip, we took the Greyline to Boone Hall, which is still a working farm. The plantation itself has a lot of history- on our visit, we toured the house, watched a Gullah presentation, strolled down the Avenue of the Oaks and took time to take in the well-preserved slave cabins

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  • Old Slave Mart Museum: ~40% of all enslaved Africans coming into the United States in the 18th century came in through the Port of Charleston. This museum is the only known former slave auction gallery still in existence

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  • Hampton Park: If you’re staying nearby, as we were in an Airbnb, this park is a great place to go for a morning walk or run- beautiful and well-kept gardens

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Where to Get Coffee:

  • Black Tap Coffee: Loved this place so much, we came back twice. Cold brew is great, but the coffee cocktails were my favorite thing on the menu. Recommend trying the Black Julep- espresso, cold brew, mint and honey
  • Kudu Coffee: Liked the vibe of this place a lot, plenty of indoor and outdoor garden seating
  • Tricera Coffee: Coffee & dinosaurs? Two of my favorite things! Tricera’s close-location to King Street makes it a good place to stop if you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up from shopping/wandering

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Where to Eat:

  • HUSK: Unable to get a dinner reservation here, we came for lunch on our first day in Charleston. Everything we tried was delicious. Using only ingredients from the south, HUSK nails hearty home cooking
  • Hominy Grill: Located in a historic Charleston single house, Hominy Grill feels as though it has been open for generations. It’s southern food perfection, you have to try the shrimp and cheese grits
  • Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit: Is there anything better than bacon, egg and pimento cheese on a fresh baked biscuit for breakfast?
  • Glazed Gourmet: Come here early for delicious doughnuts with quirky flavors- we loved the apple bacon fritter and lemon old fashioned
  • Butcher & Bee: Located on Upper King Street, this sandwich shop is right by The Daily. The menu changes daily, but we tried a grilled cheese with zucchini ribbons and brunch biscuit sandwich. Be sure to stop by The Daily before you leave for homemade cold-pressed juice or cold brew
  • Jeni’s Splendid: This place has been on my to-try list forever, but somehow, I never make it to one of their locations when I’m in LA or Chicago. Went a little crazy here and ordered a double scoop with brambleberry crisp and salted caramel ice creams, topped with salted caramel sauce and bitter chocolate fudge. Simply amazing, crossing my fingers Jeni’s opens a NYC outpost soon
  • Poogan’s Porch: Southern classics done right. The pimento cheese fritters were delicious. While we enjoyed having dinner outside on the front porch, if I had to choose between here and HUSK, I’d dine at the latter
  • Coast Bar & Grill: We came here one night after a few cocktails and were pleased to find a chill environment to enjoy a few appetizers (fried green tomatoes!). The full dinner menu looked good, so I’d consider this a solid option if you’re on King Street and need somewhere to grab a bite
  • Mercantile & Mash: Charleston’s first fancy food court, it’s a good place to grab lunch if you’re nearby
  • Kaminsky’s: You can’t come to the south and leave without having pie. Bonus: Kaminsky’s also has a full bar. Order the Tollhouse Cookie Pie & Brandy Alexander
  • Sugar Bakeshop: The cupcakes are delicious, but the courtyard was our favorite part of this little bakery

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Where to Drink:

  • The Gin Joint: One of my favorite cocktail bars in Charleston, this place revamps their menu seasonally. We came a week after they introduced the spring menu and weren’t disappointed. If you’re there when the Studmuffin (Charleston Madeira, Hoodoo Chicory Liqueur, St. George Coffee Liqueur, Amaro Sibilla, Sumac Bay Leaf Ice Cubes) is on the menu, I highly recommend ordering it
  • Proof: Another one of my favorite bars in Charleston. They have a great happy hour, but also a solid cocktail menu. Grab a seat at the bar and work your way through their drink list- my favorite one: the Martinez, served with a cheese slice garnish
  • The Belmont: Cozy bar with old black and white movies playing on the side wall
  • The Cocktail Club: Great cocktail menu, nice bar area and plenty of seating. We visited on a warm spring night and enjoyed sipping drinks on the rooftop
  • The bar at HUSK: Outstanding selection of bourbon and whiskey. I’m a big Madeira fan and appreciated the ones they have on the menu here
  • The Griffin: A dive located near HUSK, it’s been a local staple for 20+ years
  • Bay Street Biergarten: Perfect place for a few beers in the afternoon sun
  • Amen: Come for the afternoon happy hour (4-7 pm at the bar weekdays). Great drink specials and half-price fresh oysters
  • McCrady’s: I’ve heard good things about the tasting menu here, but we came for cocktails. If you’re a Madeira fan, this is a good place to try a few varieties

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A few other recommended restaurants/cafes we didn’t have a chance to check out:

  • Taco Boy: Margaritas + tacos
  • FIG: I’ve heard this place is as good as HUSK, will def check it out on a return trip
  • Wildflour Pastry: Doughnut muffins!
  • Caviar & Bananas: Said to be similar to Dean & Deluca, come for brunch
  • Indaco: Recommended for brunch and burrata
  • Two Boroughs Larder: Hipster southern grocery store with great noodle bowels
  • Edmonds Oast: Local favorite with a top notch beer selection

We spent most of our time in downtown Charleston, but if you want to see more of the surrounding area, I’d suggest renting a car and checking out Isle of Palms, Sullivans Island, or Folly Beach- all barrier islands off the coast.

Because we stayed close to Harleston Village, we opted not to rent a car- walking everywhere was really easy, our longest walk was ~15 minutes. On late nights out, we took Uber home. At the time of our visit, Uber rates had just been lowered, and most rides cost us $2-6 (super cheap!). To put it into context, we took an Uber from Harleston Village to the airport outside of downtown for $14- taxi rides covering the same distance are over double that.

Have you ever been to Charleston? What was your must-visit attraction or place to eat?

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A First-timer’s Guide to Charleston, South Carolina: Where to Visit, Eat, Shop, and Sleep

A First-Timer's Guide to Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com

After my First-Timer’s Guide to Savannah, Georgia, made some waves, I figured that the time was right for me to impart my knowledge about my beloved hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. I was born here, and other than an eight-year-gap when I lived elsewhere in South Carolina, I’ve called Charleston my home my entire life.

From school field trips to my own wanderings, I’ve seen most of what the Holy City has to offer. If you’re heading this way on a trip, here are a few ways to make the most of your stay.

Where to Stay
 

If you’re staying in downtown Charleston (aka the Peninsula), there are plenty of options for every budget.

  • The Holiday Inn Charleston Historic District is one of the newest hotels on the peninsula. It’s just a block from the Visitors Center and within easy walking distance of Marion Square and King Street.
  • The Days Inn and the King Charles Inn (both on Market Street) are two of the lower priced options in the downtown area that are still in safe, walkable areas. Note that both of them have been there for as long as I can remember, so I can’t speak to how well they’ve been updated.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Charleston has some amazing high-end hotels. Book a stay at the Wentworth Mansion, the Charleston Place, or the Francis Marion Hotel to experience luxurious accommodations in the middle of the historic district.
  • There are also many smaller boutique hotels such as Zero George, 2 Meeting Street Inn, Planters Inn, Fulton Lane Inn, Ansonborough Inn, and Vendue Inn if you’re looking for a more intimate experience.
  • If you’re willing to drive over the Ravenel Bridge to Mount Pleasant or the Ashley River Bridge to West Ashley, you can get some great deals on large chain hotels such as Hampton Inn, Extended Stay America, and Quality Inn.
What to Eat
 

Charleston has so many great places that I don’t think you can really go wrong no matter your budget, tastes, or style. I’ve broken down some of my favorite restaurants into a few different categories, and then suggested favorite dishes at each (since I’m allergic to shellfish, any recommendations for seafood have come from family and friends). Note that not all of these are in the historic district!

A First-Timer's Guide to Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com
Fuel Restaurant

Trendy

  • The Ordinary (downtown): oysters on the half shell
  • O-ku (downtown): sushi, chicken teriyaki
  • Red’s Ice House (Mt. Pleasant and Seabrook Island): fish and chips
  • Husk (downtown): the menu rotates seasonally since all of the ingredients are locally sourced
  • Fuel (downtown): braised pork tacos, hoe cakes
  • Poe’s (Sullivans Island): blue cheese coldslaw, any of their burgers

Classically Southern 

  • Poogan’s Porch (downtown): fried green tomato BLT, crab cakes, ham macaroni and cheese
  • Jestine’s (downtown): pecan fried chicken, fried okra, sweet tea
  • Sewee Restaurant (Awendaw): fried flounder, potato salad, any dessert
  • Virginia’s on King (downtown): pecan fried chicken, macaroni and cheese

Cheap

  • Groucho’s (downtown and West Ashley): mushroom cheese melt or the Pink Moose
  • Fire Grill (downtown): chicken teriyaki
  • Tzakiki’s (downtown and Mt. Pleasant): traditional gyro
  • Andolini’s (Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, North Charleston): standard cheese pizza or calzone

Fancy

  • Eli’s Table (downtown): filet mignon, pimento cheese and tomato appetizer
  • Peninsula Grill (downtown): the coconut cake

Breakfast

  •  Hominy Grill (downtown): omelet, biscuits
  • Acme Cantina (Isle of Palms): the Southerner (sweet tea fried chicken on a biscuit)
  • Charleston Cafe (Mt. Pleasant): waffles, Amber’s Choice (egg-topped crab cake)
What to See
 

Charleston has some tried and true attractions–I’m a firm believer that some things are popular because they’re good. So, while you’re here, try out a few of the big attractions, but don’t forget to mix in a few hidden favorites as well!

A First-Timer's Guide to Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com
Hampton Plantation, McClellanville

Plantations are a part of Charleston’s history, so if you’d like to learn more, you need to head out to see the Ashley River Road plantation district. The big three areMiddleton Plantation, Drayton Hall, and Magnolia Plantation. Of the three, Magnolia is my favorite since there’s a great petting zoo, extensive gardens, a butterfly house, and restored slave quarters in addition to a tour of the main house. If you’re willing to drive further away from downtown, Hampton Plantation in McClellanvilleis never crowded and, with its wide front porch and classical architecture, looks more like a stereotypical antebellum plantation.

Many of the rich planters also had fashionable “city” homes in downtown Charleston, so you can get the full story by visiting both the plantations and the houses in the historic district. The Edmonston-Alston House, the Nathaniel Russell House, and the Aiken-Rhett House are all within easy walking distance of the rest of the historic district.

A First-Timer's Guide to Charleston, South Carolina | CosmosMariners.com
My husband and our dog on Isle of Palms

If you’d like to see more of the Charleston area, I highly recommend renting a car or taking a cab out to one of the beaches. Isle of Palms, Sullivans Island, and Folly Beach are all barrier islands just off the coast of Charleston, and each has its individual charms.