Updated: Jul 14
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links, at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.
When I say this trip was a whirlwind, it is no exaggeration! Normally Charleston is an easy trip and not so rushed, but we had last minute changes which forced us to cram. So now I can give an accurate 24 hour trip guide for Charleston from experience. Let's dive in!
There are many amazing places to stay in Charleston and you really can't go wrong with any of them. Each is popular for their own reasons and all of them have the charm people look for when visiting the Holy City. I had a comped night with Hotel Bennett, so we chose to use it on this trip and got to enjoy one of the crown jewels of Charleston again! Shout-out to my friend Cara for keeping our big chocolate baby, Miller, for us; he definitely exceeds the weight limit at Hotel Bennett.
We have consistently been impressed by this hotel and it's amenities, plus the service! Everyone from the bellhops, concierge, front desk staff, and restaurant staff are SO friendly and make the stay just that much better. I've also been witness to their organization and efficiency with events which just makes me appreciate them even more. The location is perfect, right off of King St. next to Marion Square which makes it convenient to everything downtown. In the mornings, Jason likes to go downstairs to La Patisserie for a coffee and maybe a pastry. Just know that weekday mornings are pretty busy in La Patisserie as people stop by before starting their day.
Other options for hotels that are convenient to downtown are:
Mid-century style dripping everywhere
Overlooks Marion Square
Top-rated bar, The Citrus Club
Bikes included (if booking directly) which I think would be so fun to explore on. Also, in the Summer, it is SO humid. The more wind on your body the better. Bikes are your friend.
Balconies that scream French charm, but with Charleston views
Top-rated restaurant, Charleston Grill
City Market and King St. shopping are right around the corner, including LoveShackFancy
Bonus points for having Charleston's #1 rooftop bar
Make sure to check out the art gallery
A stone's throw from the famous Waterfront Park and the Pineapple Fountain (like it's right there)
Expect crowds here, especially on weekends, but still worth the stay!
You get your own. personal. butler. What?! I hope his name is Alfred.
Hardly a walk to the famous City Market
SO retro, and for obvious reasons very popular since their recent opening
Stay here for ALL the fun and colorful photo ops
Ugh, the interior design here by Cortney Bishop is perfection
Where to Eat
When we arrived we went straight to Edmund's Oast for a beer and a late lunch. I've been wanting to try Edmund's Oast forever because I heard their food is just as good as the beer. The food was definitely good, but the photos weren't. We sat outside and didn't expect paper boats and plastic containers and silverware. The presentation wasn't there, so it wasn't very photogenic, but the flavor was all there! Maybe we'll sit inside next time for a photo op of the food. We had the Spicy Pimento Cheese, Spicy Korean Meatballs, and the 2 piece Chicken Dinner.
Since we ate a late lunch, we didn't need dinner. However, if you are looking for dinner downtown you will find a looooong list of options. Charleston is known as a foodie paradise and there's no shortage of places to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Fleet Landing Restaurant & Bar (Average entree price $28.75)
Southern and seafood
Eat on the water here! It's right next to Waterfront Park too
Vegetarian and gluten free menus available
Try the fried green tomatoes, calamari steak, and crab cakes
Convenient to a parking garage if you're not staying nearby
Chubby Fish (Average entree price $26.50)
New seafood restaurant, stylish and laid back, but elevated dishes
Raw oyster bar if you're into that (I like them all the other ways, but not raw)
Casual to upscale casual
Barsa (Average tapas price $10.55)
Spanish tapas restaurant
I don't know why I like tapas so much when I don't like to share my food
Get the brussel sprouts, empanadas, dates, and croquettes
Then get the paella, any of them (note: it takes 45+ minutes, so get tapas to hold you over!)
You may want to drive if you're staying on the lower end of the peninsula, it's a long walk up King St.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
I have a whole blog post for this place because we love it so much
Get outside your comfort zone and let the staff order for you, you won't be disappointed
Don't leave without at least trying the Okonomiyaki
Parking can be a pain in this area, so expect to drive a little bit to find a spot
The next day we had to be at the city marina early, but afterwards we attempted to go to Huriyali for açaí bowls. They were closed for a team outing, so maybe next time because that's also been on my list for a while; just check out that link and you'll see why.
This was the day that was pretty crammed with the boat excursion, shooting content, and getting Miller back from Cara. By the time we were done it was mid-afternoon so we went to Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant for lunch before heading home. This area is one of my favorites to hang out in because it's so close to Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms (IOP). Before or after a day at the beach, I'll always stop here and get a bite to eat.
It's surrounded by water and marsh views, herons and pelicans, incoming and outgoing boats, and lots of great food! I've eaten at Water's Edge, Red's Ice House, The Shelter, Saltwater Cowboy's, Red Drum, Page's Okra Grill, Coleman Public House, Grace & Grit, Mainland Container Co., and now Tavern & Table! The only one I wouldn't go back to is Page's. Don't get me wrong, it's Charleston famous and very popular with tourists, but I've given it three chances and I'm just not impressed with the food and don't get the hype. Also, I would go back to Saltwater Cowboy, but I wouldn't get just bbq here again. HomeTeam and Rodney's holds the bbq throne for me, so if I ever find myslf at Saltwater again, I'll need to try those nachos everyone talks about. If you go to Grace & Grit, you MUST try the grit flight. I know the flavors sound strange for grits, but trust me; the brussels pesto was my favorite. The Shelter has a great menu and we always like bringing Miller here; Jason always gets their Golden Beet Salad.
I can now check Tavern & Table off of my list. The food had great flavor, was fresh, and reasonably priced for Charleston (average lunch entree price $16). We shared the Dynamite Shrimp, Jason had the Ahi Tuna bowl with salmon instead (that crusted avocado - YUM), and I had the Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread.
This is a great spot to sit outside and watch the boats; you may even see a dolphin or two. They have a large outdoor seating area with comfy chairs and couches. Be prepared, Shem Creek is very popular with locals and tourists alike, so parking can be difficult in the high season.
What to Do
There is definitely more to do in Charleston than eat and drink, and I want to highlight a way to enjoy the Holy City that maybe you haven't thought of - chartering/renting a boat! Since Charleston is on a peninsula, getting out on the water is one of the best ways to see the city. Not only do you get an awesome view of downtown and all the amazing properties that line The Battery, but you can also go fishing, island hopping, explore Fort Sumter, or tie up at Shem Creek for lunch. If you want some serious deep sea fishing, there are companies that can take you further than the peninsula. The marsh and ocean is a way of life in the Lowcountry, not only for leisure, but many make their living through fishing, shrimping, oyster harvesting, boat charters, tours, and more.
With a little help from Cara we were able to schedule a very last minute morning boat excursion with Dave Gugliotti, owner of Carolina Marine Group. Dave started Carolina Marine Group in 2014 and now it is known as the biggest and best private tour boat company in the city. I would highly recommend Dave if you are interested in a boat excursion; he offers a bunch of different types to choose from including: bachelorette/bachelor parties, team building activities, cigar & bourbon tour, dolphin tours, and sunset tours. His boats are beautiful and spacious, the vibes are good, and Captain Dave will be one of the coolest and realest people you'll ever meet. If you don't need a boat charter, you want a boat charter to meet Dave; I hope we get to see more of him ourselves.
If you're looking to stay on land, one of the best ways to explore Charleston is by simply walking or biking. Everything on the peninsula is walkable, some spots are further than others, but it's doable. We recommend the hot spots like Rainbow Row, the Battery, Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park, and City Market, but you should also check out:
Take a morning to walk the Ravenel Bridge (2.5mi one way and a total calf burner)
Catch a show at Charleston Music Hall
Chill with friends at Forte Jazz Lounge
Stroll around the Charleston Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings in Marion Square
Take a tour of High Wire Distilling
Participate in Charleston's Art Walk every first Friday
Go on a self-guided tour and don't be afraid to walk down alleys and side streets; they're full of surprises like courtyards, cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and window boxes and gardens
Speaking of Rainbow Row, part of the reason we went to Charleston was to shoot content for a brand partnership with ROAM Luggage. We got to design (yes, design!) our own luggage in exchange for content creation. Thank you ROAM for being one of our first few brand partnerships!
Have you heard of ROAM yet? From the same creators and owners of Tumi, it's the only luggage brand that lets you customize the colors. Customers can choose a different color for the front and back of the luggage, the handles, wheels, even the zipper! When I saw "Bermuda Pink" as an option, I knew the perfect setting for it was Rainbow Row.
For my piece, I chose Bermuda Pink for the front and back, Vail White for the wheels and zipper, and Tromso Ice for the handles and binding. I actually couldn't find any solid examples of what Tromso Ice looked like before choosing it. On the website it looks like a light grayish blue, but I scoured ROAM's Instagram and saw a photo that I was 90% sure was showing Tromso Ice (but wasn't named in the caption) so I went for it. I'm glad I did because it's the perfect light aqua color. I bet it looks so good with the Como Blue option.
Listen ya'll, both our luggage pieces that literally fell apart last Fall only had two wheels and one sided interiors. This was a major upgrade for us. We've already taken the luggage to Charleston and Costa Rica, and next up is Europe. Gliding through travel on four wheels is a game changer and these roll like butter. I also got a set of pink and white striped packing cubes to match and I'm never not using packing cubes to organize my bag again. You can find those cubes here. Even Jason's asking for some now.
Check out how easy it is to design your luggage below. (Sped up for time's sake, but accompanied by good music for your sake.)
Just look at this pretty combo! I almost forgot to mention you can choose the color of and monogram the back where the identification card is as well; such a nice touch. Tap through to see Jason's piece, decked out in Kyoto Black and Venetian Green.
As far as durability, they are strong and sturdy. The handles glide up easily and don't wobble, the wheels are smooth and don't shake, the polycarbonate case is hard and I trust it to keep my belongings safe. The only negative is the matte finish of the pieces (in my opinion) make it more susceptible to scuffs and scratches. Maybe a glossy finish on the shell would help with this, I'm not sure. Either way, my pretty pink luggage was not the only victim of TSA's poor handling; Jason's black luggage wasn't having a good day either. The good news is that ROAM has a lifetime warranty, and although cosmetic damage is not included, our luggage was considered more substantial than normal. The lifetime warranty allowed ROAM to provide us new luggage and a shipping label to send the others back. If your luggage does get scuffs and marks on the shell, ROAM's website recommends a cleaning eraser to buff them out. Also, we have pieces that need to be checked in, so I doubt a carry-on would see what ours did. TSA shows no mercy, no matter how pretty your luggage is.
If you've made it this far, thank you for reading and I hope this guide helps you on your visit to Charleston. It's not all inclusive because there are SO many things to see and do in the Holy City, but if you have any questions and need more tips let me know and I can try to help!
Don't forget to save one of the pins below so you can access this blog post later!