Most of the DMs I get these days are from readers thinking of planning a trip to Charleston. This makes me so happy as I have fallen so hard for this city and love seeing others discover how magical it is. Today I’ve gathered some of the most popular questions as of late, and put them into a blog post. I also updated my big Charleston city guide yesterday, and have a CHS favs highlight on my instagram which I add to as I find out new favorites. If you have a question that isn’t answered by the guide or this post, leave it in the comments and I will answer it here.
Q – I’m coming to Charleston for a long weekend. Do I need a car?
A – As long as you are staying on the peninsula, I don’t think so. But it would definitely be nice. Ubers are very touch and go right now (sometimes you’ll get one in five minutes, other times it will be twenty or thirty). And if you want to go to Mt Pleasant (The Old Village is the most charming), and/or the beach, the uber situation gets tough for the way home. But if you are staying downtown and sticking to downtown, no!
Q – Are there any times to avoid visiting Charleston?
A – Charleston is pretty lovely all year round but I would avoid coming mid July through early October. It just gets really, really hot. You’ll still have fun but make sure you either get a hotel that has a pool or try renting a house near the beach! Conversely, my favorite times to be here are October/November and April/May.
Where to stay
Q – I’m going to Charleston with a group of friends / my family etc and want to stay somewhere nice without breaking the bank. Where do you recommend?
A – Ugh – Charleston hotels have gotten so expensive! My two favorite hotels here are either Zero George or The Dewberry but to your point, they have gotten expensive.
If you have a big group (or even if not, they have some smaller apartments), Guest House is really, really nice. Most of their properties are around Spring Street (so close to so many of my favorite restaurants) and it’s like staying in someone’s really beautiful home. For an affordable but still fun and instagrammy hotel, The Ryder is nice. The Mills House is in a great location (and a beautiful location) but the rooms are just medium… they have a business hotel vibe if you ask me. There are more recommendations in my broader city guide.
What to do
Q – Your guide is mostly shopping, eating, and drinking. What else is there?
A – Lol. Those are my main interests but there is a lot more to do of course. You could drive out to one of our beautiful beaches. My go-to is Sullivan’s Island but Folly Beach is wonderful too! Or do a day trip out to Kiawah. You could rent a sailboat, take an architecture tour, a ghost tour, or the late-night tour of the jail. Or visit our wonderful art museum, The Gibbes! Also, Hampden Park which is just beautiful… one of my favorite places to take a walk, play with my niece, or have a picnic.
Q – Any favorite book stores?
A – YES. Buxton Books! I also love Blue Bicycle, which carries mostly used books.
Q – What about boutiques?
A – Oh there are so many. Of course, you know I love Hampden. But further south on King Street I love Beau & Ro and also Madison Matthews. And my friend Holst + Lee’s store with Van H Jewels (so much jewelry but they’ve started carrying the cutest dresses and accessories) at 35 Broad Street.
Where to Eat
Q – My s/o and I are celebrating something really special. Where should we go?
A – My two favorite restaurants in Charleston are Chubby Fish and Chez Nous. I would say either one of those. Hall’s Chophouse is an incredible old school steak house – I am always impressed when I go there. Zero George has an incredible tasting menu and their brand new champagne & caviar bar is pretty special (would be a great pre-dinner spot!).
Q – How about a fun girls’ night?
A – I’m going to go with either The Ordinary or Brasserie la Banque (the downstairs bar is super fun too).
Q – What are your must have food items in Charleston?
A – Oh so many! The whipped ricotta at Le Farfalle. The fried chicken at Leon’s. The tuna burger at 167 Raw. The Okonomiyaki (Japanese cabbage pancake) at Xiao Bao Biscuit) . The stretch armstrong pizza at Melfi’s. The nori steak tartare and caviar sammie at Chubby Fish. And anytime there is fish on the menu at Chez Nous, get that! The cheeseburger at Little Jack’s. And the buffalo cauliflower at Basic Kitchen.
Q – I overdid it on fried food. Any recs for lighter, healthier fare?
A – Absolutely: Basic Kitchen will be your best friend for that! But get a beet margarita too!
Q – Favorite lunches?
A – 167 Raw (on King Street, not the sushi bar – get the tuna burger!), Basic Kitchen, Xiao Bao Biscuit!
Where to Drink
Q – Do you have a favorite roof bar?
A – Yes! Citrus Club at the Dewberry. The Watch at The Restoration Hotel is also very nice!
Q – I am planning a bachelorette party / want to have a wild night out in Charleston. Where should we go?
A – For a wild night out I am just not the person to ask anymore. My favorite bars are Vintage Lounge, Bin 152, and The Belmont (they’re all pretty chill, relatively speaking). Henry’s could be fun? For something more divey and casual, my friends and I like The Blind Tiger and/or The Griffin. There are so many more wild/party-party bars on Upper King Street but I haven’t been to any of them. I’m 40 and they are loud, lol. I didn’t live here until I was 39 so I have never set foot inside the more bachelorette-y spots (think Uptown Social, Prohibition, etc.) I would ask someone younger, or someone who lived here when they were younger!
Q – What about a wine bar?
A – Now you’re talking! My favorites are Bin 152 and Graft, which is also a wine shop. I have heard great things about The Tippling House (basically across the street from Chez Nous) but have yet to go. It’s on my list.
Q – How about for some breezy afternoon cocktails?
A – Baba’s on Cannon is my absolute fav. Great snacks + homemade cocktails. I love their house made orange spritz! They have really good coffee too if that is more your speed.
Photo by Laura Saur.
Let me just add that Charleston is really nice during January and February too. The winter weather is mild compared to most of the country and it’s not as crowded at restaurants or on sidewalks like it is throughout the rest of the year. And you can stay at the nicest hotel in town at competitive rate!
This is great! I’m actually moving to Mount Pleasant in May and this is helpful for me too!
Charleston is a beautiful place, or should I say was….depends on your likes really. It is going though a lot of transformations last time I was back home. It will depend on a fine balance of construction and knowledge. Its definitely not the Charleston of my youth, 50 yes ago.