This month, we’re headed south—to South Carolina, that is—with amBRAssador Jeanette. She’s got the inside scoop on what to see, do, eat and drink in Charleston.
If you like good food, good drinks, architecture and history, it’s the perfect place. The later you go in summer, the hotter and steamier it gets.
Where to stay in Charleston
I went with a few college friends to visit our friend Shaun, who lives there. We stayed with Shaun in the Avondale section of Charleston, less than 15 minutes from downtown.
Consider looking into the Vendue Hotel. It’s a cool boutique hotel dedicated to art—there’s even an artist in residence—right smack in the middle of the action. It’s reasonably priced, exceedingly beautiful and has a rooftop bar.
Things to do in Charleston
We had a great afternoon with History of Charleston Walking Tours, a company led by two sisters who are 14th-generation Charlestonians. There are many historic houses to visit; the only one we had time for was the Edmondston-Alston house from 1825, a perfect example of Greek and Federal architecture. Middleton Place and Drayton Hall are both plantations along the Ashley River; Middleton has these beautiful lush gardens, too—the oldest in America. Don’t miss walking along The Battery to see the harbor and the mansions that line the streets. We also took a sunset boat ride on the Schooner Pride in Charleston Harbor with the most incredible views all around, and we took a 2-hour kayaking eco-tour of a marsh saltwater creek on Bowens Island. Dolphins got really close to our kayaks, which was amazing. Then we went to Folly Beach.
Where to eat
Sooo many places! Butcher & Bee serves all kinds of food from local farmers. They also own a breakfast spot called The Daily with amazing avocado toast. There’s also Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, The Blind Tiger Pub, The Bohemian Bull, Bay Street Biergarten, High Cotton, Poogan’s Porch, 39 Rue de Jean, Anson and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. Gal Meets Glam is a Charleston-based blog with loads more great recommendations.
Where to drink
The 1920s-inspired Gin Joint. My friends tried the Bartender’s Choice: You give the bartenders two adjectives to describe a drink, and they concoct something fun and delicious. The Venue and The Watch are two more excellent rooftop bars, and Republic Lounge on King Street is where to go for nightlife. Charleston has a lot of breweries, too. We visited Holy City Brewery and Frothy Beard Brewing Co.
Where to shop
King Street has as many high-end stores as it does little local boutiques.
Fort Sumter was like history class come to life. The park rangers explained Charleston’s role in seceding from the Union and what led to the first shots of the Civil War being fired.
What to pack
Chantelle Modern Invisible Plunge T-shirt bra and the Freya Muse T-shirt bra—love those J-hooks! I packed a Miss Mandalay swimsuit from last summer, too. And don’t forget the sunscreen and sneakers because you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
Inside travel advice
Try to meet some local Charlestonians. They’re very proud of their city and love to talk about it.