Hey everyone! Finally back from our trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and what can we say, this trip is definitely one for the books. We had the greatest time together and really experienced what this destination has to offer. Not only is Charleston an incredible place, rich with southern history and charm, but it is also a food lover's dream come true. From the historic plantations to the vibrant waterfront downtown, Charleston is surely a place you'd want to be. Come check it out!
Where to Stay:
Let's first start off with hotels. We decided to stay at The Homewood Suites by Hilton Charleston Historic District. Situated on upper Meeting Street in the famed Historic District, this brand new hotel offers a spacious retreat on Charleston’s peninsula. Within walking distance to popular boutique shops and restaurants along Upper King Street and close to Marion Square, The Homewood Suites is the perfect destination for long and short trips alike. What we really enjoyed about this hotel was that it offered a complementary happy hour (Monday through Thursday) which was a real treat. Overall, this hotel gave us everything we needed and more, and also didn't break the bank!
Some of our other favorite hotels:
The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel: Situated in the heart of downtown historic Charleston, The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel is practically perfect in every way. Known as the "pink hotel", The Mills House boasts southern charm like you have never seen it before. On our third day in Charleston, we had the pleasure of taking a beautiful stroll through this magnificent hotel. From the crystal chandeliers in the elegant lobby, to the garden courtyard rich with Charleston charm, the Mills House is definitely a hotel we plan on coming back to!
Belmond Charleston Place: If you are looking to add a dash of luxury to your trip then look no further than the Belmond Charleston Place. This hotel may be a little bit of a splurge, but in our opinion it is worth every penny. With prime downtown location, the Belmond Charleston Place is definitely one of our go-to spots when visiting this charming city. One thing that we absolutely love about the Belmond Charleston Place is that you do not even have to leave the comfort of your own hotel to experience the city’s best shopping. Right downstairs you will find a plethora of high-end stores including Gucci and Louis Vuitton. This hotel also hosts a number of beautiful restaurants with The Palmetto Cafe being our favorite. Attractively decorated in a lush windowed garden, the Palmetto Cafe is the perfect spot for a quiet afternoon lunch. All in all, you cannot go wrong with a stay at the Belmond Charleston Place.
Meeting Street Inn: This hotel is one of the most affordable hotels in downtown Charleston, yet still maintains that old southern charm. Nestled in the historic district on 173 Meeting Street, and opposite the bustling City Market, the Meeting Street Inn is the perfect romantic getaway for those of you traveling on a budget! In the style of the Charleston single home, this adorable inn hosts fifty six guest rooms along with a gorgeous garden courtyard. This charming outdoor area is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a glass of wine after a long day of exploring the city.
Where to Eat:
Okay now onto our favorite part - the food!! So if you didn't know already, Charleston has an insanely impressive food scene. From biscuits to doughnuts, to fabulous cocktails and fried chicken, the city of Charleston has it all.
On our first night in Charleston we jumped into a cab and headed out to our favorite restaurant; the Peninsula Grill. At the Peninsula Grill, a longstanding tradition takes place every evening at dusk: A gentleman emerges from the restaurant to light the garden’s carriage lanterns by hand, one-by-one, until the Courtyard Dining area comes alive. Once inside, guests are greeted by the warm, candle-lit Champagne Bar that hosts a selection of rare vintage wines. We were seated at a lovely table right next to the kitchen which gave us the perfect view of the entire Dining Room. Delightfully curious and lighthearted details are found throughout the classically elegant room, including a series of captivating 19th-century oil painting portraits. Not only were our main dishes extraordinary (Dave had the Roasted Breast of Duck and I had the Pan Roasted Jumbo Sea Scallops), but the dessert was out of this world! If you have the pleasure of making it to the Peninsula Grill then you definitely have to get their famous Ultimate Coconut Cake. Trust us, you will not be disappointed!
After having a drink at the visually stunning and infamous Husk on our second day in Charleston (we'll talk about this place a little later on), we decided to stop into Poogan's Porch for a bite to eat. Poogan's Porch has to be one of the best brunch/lunch spots in all of Charleston. With it's wrap-around porches and the beautifully decorated yellow Victorian-style townhouse, Poogan's Porch is difficult to miss.
Opened in 1976 and set in a grand 19th century Victorian home, Poogan’s Porch is one of Charleston’s oldest restaurants. The restaurant is named after a dog named Poogan, the pet pooch of the building’s former owners before it was converted into a restaurant.
We were lucky enough to be seated right outside on the second floor balcony which couldn't have been more wonderful. It was so quiet and picturesque upstairs, overlooking Queen Street through the palm trees.
The complimentary biscuits served with whipped butter were our favorite part of our meal. The biscuits were massive, warm, and baked to perfection. These have to be the best biscuits we have ever had in our entire life!!! Our waitress was even kind enough to give us the recipe to try at home. Here's the recipe for you to try out as well, but we warn you, it's tough to perfect! Let us know what you think! :)
Poogan's Porch Buttermilk Biscuits
Yields Six 2oz. Biscuits
1 Cup sifted self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup shortening
4 oz. buttermilk (room temp)
Mix flour, baking powder, and sugar thoroughly - cut in shortening until you make course crumbs - add buttermilk and mix. Put dough mixture on a floured surface for kneading. Pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness and use biscuit cutter. Put biscuits on lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12 min. or until golden brown.
Here are some of the other dishes we ate at Poogan's, all cooked to perfection!
On Easter Sunday we had the pleasure of dining at the infamous Magnolia's restaurant. It remains a forerunner in upscale Southern cuisine, blending traditional ingredients and cooking techniques with modern flare. This restaurant is located on East Bay Street, right in the heart of downtown Charleston.
For an appetizer, we decided to order the Charleston Crab Cake and the Sautéed P.E.I. Mussels. While the crab cake was delicious, the mussels were too saturated with white wine, which overpowered the dish. For the entrées, we had the Shellfish Over Grits and the Bourbon Fried Catfish. Both of these dishes were not our favorites, but definitely kept their southern flare.
By far, their best dish has to be the off the dessert menu, and that dish is known as the Boston Cream Cake. It's unique presentation and wonderful flavor gets a 10 out of 10 in our book. If we were to come back here again we would order 4 of these for our entire meal!! No joke! LOL.
Where to Drink:
Located in The Belmond Charleston Place, Thoroughbred is a lounge that offers plush seating, delicious cocktails, and live jazz. Around the lounge you will find rich mahogany wood paneling and a beautiful old school bar. Whether it be happy hour or late night cocktails, Thoroughbred is surely a sophisticated place to enjoy both.
Husk, known as the king of Charleston restaurants, is by far one of the most visually appealing restaurants you will see. What once was an extremely plain building next to the main dining room of Husk is now home to the most exciting freestanding bar in historic Charleston. It really took us back in time. Enjoy a few drinks while you wait for a table or stop in for some late night cocktails with your friends.
While at Husk, we had a delicious cheese platter that was prepared beautifully, along with a glass of prosecco with a splash of St. Germain (my favorite!). Husk makes a sliced meat board that they fire up with a creme brulee torch which in turn gives the meat flavor. The bartender slices the prosciutto right in front of you if you choose to sit at the far end of the bar. This touch gives the place a nice feel and adds to the Southern ambiance.
Market Pavilion Hotel houses two incredible nightlife bars, both with different feels. The rooftop bar, known as the Pavilion Bar, gives you an amazing view of downtown Charleston. This bar has the only rooftop pool in the city. The second bar, which is located right downstairs in the main lobby, has incredible decor and serves amazing Nitrotinis. Cooled to -320 Fahrenheit, the Nitrotini is Charleston's only cocktail infused with liquid nitrogen. It is a unique blend of liquid nitrogen with whatever type of alcohol you choose. These not only taste great, but they also are perfect for those of you who love to take Instagram pictures like I do!
What to Do:
Now onto the fun part! Where to go and what to do! :)
On our first day in Charleston, we decided to take a quick ride over to Folly Beach while we were waiting to check into our hotel. From Downtown Charleston, Folly Beach is about a 20 minute drive, and in our opinion it is totally worth it! If you are looking for one of the best beaches in Charleston, then Folly Beach is definitely the place for you.
There are also some really great restaurants and beach bars located right on the water. We recommend stopping by Tides (the only hotel located on Folly Beach) for some wonderful people watching and a bite to eat.
If it is your first time in Charleston, we highly encourage you to take a horse-drawn carriage tour. The price ranges from $20 to $25 per person and lasts about an hour. The carriage ride follows a scenic route through the historic district and glances to the left and right will reveal the most charming Southern houses you have ever seen. The guides are very knowledgeable and will supply you with an enriched understanding of the history of Charleston.
You can't make a list of the best places to visit in Charleston without mentioning the iconic Rainbow Row. Rainbow Row is the name for a series of thirteen colorful historic houses and represents the longest cluster of Georgian row homes in all of the United States! Whether you're getting a shot of the entire stretch of brightly painted houses or taking a cute picture against one of the pastel colored walls, Rainbow Row is definitely the picture hot-spot of all of Downtown Charleston.
One of the best spots to get to know Charleston, South Carolina is Battery Park. This lovely spot on the waterfront features breathtaking southern mansions, beautiful oak trees, gorgeous statues, and incredible views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse.
Taking a stroll through Waterfront Park was by far one of our favorite memories from our trip. The Pineapple Fountain is a focal point of the Charleston Waterfront Park and that is because the pineapple has historically served as a symbol of Southern hospitality for many many years. If you visit the park during daylight hours, like we did, you can snap a picture of the Charleston Harbor behind the fountain. The fountain is a landmark for many visiting the Charleston peninsula and is a must-see experience.
Middleton Place is a plantation directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston and is about 15 miles northwest of Downtown Charleston. Built in several phases during the 18th and 19th centuries, the plantation was the primary residence of several generations of the Middleton family, many of whom played prominent roles in the colonial and antebellum history of South Carolina. The plantation, now a National Historic Landmark District, is used as a museum and is home to the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States.
One of the most captivating aspects of this plantation is its beautiful gardens and historic Live Oaks. The Middleton Oak, which is estimated to be between 900 and 1,000 years old, is the oldest of all of the Live Oaks at Middleton Place. Used as an Indian trail marker long before Columbus sailed across the Atlantic, this massive tree was incorporated into the garden plan in the early 1740's. Surviving innumerable hurricanes and earthquakes, along with witnessing events of the American Revolution and the Civil War, this tree has truly been through it all.
Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site is a gorgeous 663-acre park on the Ashley River, about 3 miles northwest of Downtown. Native Americans, English, Africans, and Barbadians came together at this site to create the first successful English colony in South Carolina in 1670, and today it belongs on the national register of historic places. Little remains from that period, but the visitor center and museum contains a lot of interactive exhibits describing the history of the settlement.
Live oaks and Spanish moss add to the beauty of the landscape at Charles Towne Landing. We were able to walk throughout the grounds for the entire day discovering some of the most gorgeous scenery in all of Charleston. We stumbled upon the main house at the historic site with a front yard more beautiful than anything we have ever seen before. The live oaks that line the front lawn for over 200 yards create a tunnel-like effect straight up to the house. It truly looked like something straight out of a movie.
The property surrounding the house also consists of a lake with a foundation, beautifully covered Spanish moss trees, and a plethora of different types of flowers. This place would be a perfect location for a wedding or even an engagement session! :)
CharlesTowne Landing also contains an Animal Forest, which is a 22-acre zoo of species that were native to the area at the time of the original settlement (pumas, bison, alligators, black bears, otters, bobcats, and wolves). This is a great place to take the kids for a fun family day!
Another fun thing to do with the kids is taking them aboard The Adventure. The Adventure is a reproduction of a 17th century sailing ship known as a trading ketch. You can climb aboard the floating exhibit that is moored at the dock on Old Towne Creek and get a feel for what life was like on these wooden sailing ships.
Prices and park info: Charles Towne Landing is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $3.75 for S.C. seniors,, $3.50 ages 6-15, free for ages 5 and younger.
If you're headed down south for some warm weather, southern hospitality, and a great dining experience, then Charleston is definitely the place for you. Rich with culture, history, and beauty, this southern city truly showed us what the South has to offer. We were to delighted to have walked around the city, dine in its finest restaurants, and make it out to see some of the most beautiful plantations in all of America. This is definitely a trip we will take again in the future and we hope that you find the time to make it there yourselves! You won't be disappointed :)
Hope you enjoyed our Traventures Guide to Charleston, South Carolina!
Onto the next Traventure! Beautiful Puerto Rico.
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