Our Weekend in Charleston, SC

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Our Weekend in Charleston, SC

Charleston is one of my favorite cities. It’s beautiful, there’s so much history, it has a huge food and shopping scene, and it is very walkable. This was the second time Joe and I have been there and our first time bringing the kids and there was so much to do! We got there late in the afternoon on a Friday so we checked into our hotel and ventured out to get something to eat. The kids immediately wanted to do a carriage tour, so we did! We were starving after that so we grabbed dinner at RuRu’s (we can all agree on Mexican!), dessert at Kaminsky’s, and ate it in our pajamas in our hotel room. We pre-ordered room service for breakfast and took it slow the next morning because we knew we’d be out walking most of the day. We stopped by Rainbow Row and saw The Battery before heading over to the Nathaniel-Russel House and taking the audio tour there… I cannot recommend it enough! Then we walked to King Street to do some shopping (our favorites were Buxton Books, LAKE, Vineyard Vines, Madison Mathews, and the Lily Pulitzer store), got vegan ice cream at Off Track, had a late lunch at TBonz, perused the City Market, went back to our room to shower and took a quick walk to see the Pineapple Fountain, and ordered pizza from Frannie & the Fox to eat in our room for dinner. It was the perfect day! We were leaving early the next morning so we had a quick breakfast at Benne’s down the street and hopped back in the car to get on our way to St. Augustine. 


1. Take a Carriage Tour

We hadn’t even been in Charleston for a couple of hours before our kids were asking us to take a carriage tour! The one we took was an hour long and they loved it! We knew we wanted to spend the following day walking the streets near Rainbow Row and the Historic District so this was a nice option to get to see a little more in other parts of town and to learn a little bit about the history of the city (like Powder Magazine, a colonial military history museum in a gunpowder storage museum from 1713, and the history behind “The Holy City” and all of its churches) that we may not have otherwise known. 

2. Order Breakfast in Bed

I know I talked about this in our Savannah Weekend Guide, but we really love to sneak in room service when we can! Breakfast has always been our favorite, unless we arrive to a hotel late and we really don’t feel like going to a restaurant, we’ll order room service for dinner. It’s just something that our kids love and makes our vacation feel a little more special and the kids feel pampered! 

3. Stop by Rainbow Row

It really is as beautiful as it sounds! This was my second time to Charleston and Rainbow Row was just as impressive as the first time I saw it.  It’s really easy to get to The Battery and a handful of historic houses (particularly the Nathaniel-Russel house) from here. 

4. Walk The Battery

The Battery is an old defensive seawall, a promenade, and a Charleston landmark. It’s bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers that come together to form the Charleston Harbor. It’s really pretty to walk and you can see Fort Sumter from it. 

5. Visit a Historic House

We try to tour something with a historic significance everywhere we go and our favorite kind of tour to take is a historic house tour. Even our kids love it! On our first trip to Charleston, we toured the Aiken-Rhett House (without kids) and this time we toured the Nathaniel Russel House, built in 1808. It “offers a glimpse into the lives of the mercantile elite… in the late Colonial and early Federal period, the artisans and craftspeople…, and the enslaved men and women whose forced labor made possible their lavish lifestyles” (Historic Charleston Foundation). We took the self guided tour and our kids were engaged the entire time (about an hour, maybe?)! After touring the house, we walked around the garden a bit before heading to King Street for shopping! 

6. Shop on King Street

We didn’t spend much time on King Street on our first trip so I wanted to walk a little more of it this time. It was fun to actually go in the LAKE store and then Amelia & I walked into a store that sold mostly Lily Pulitzer and they were doing “fairy hair” extensions, which she of course got! They each got new books in Buxton Books and Joe was excited to see a Johnnie-O store. The Vineyard Vines store here also had a great selection of pieces that either said “Charleston” or had South Carolina’s emblem on them. Fair warning: King Street is really long and I bet we only saw a quarter of it! Time definitely gets away from you here so make sure to do the things you really want to do first!

7. Browse the City Market

The Charleston City Market was built in 1841 as a sort of farmer’s market to sell produce and meats. Today, it houses a multitude of small shops with a flea market feel and sells everything from food to jewelry to antiques. If I’m being honest, this wasn’t my favorite place to walk through with the kids because they wanted to touch everything… and rightly so! There are a lot of fun finds here. 

8. Stroll South of Broad

There are so many gorgeous homes to see and window boxes to be inspired by that it is absolutely worth your time to stroll the streets south of Broad Street.  I think this would be an especially nice walk in the morning with a cup of coffee!

9. See the Pineapple Fountain

I totally forgot about wanting to take the kids to the Pineapple Fountain until it was dinnertime on our last night. We decided to take a quick walk from our hotel before dinner and were lucky enough to be able to catch the sunset over the water! It was just stunning. There’s a big green there, too, which was nice for the kids to run around a bit before heading back to the hotel for the night!

More Things to See & Do:

1. The Old Slave Mart Museum
2. Drayton Hall- America’s oldest unrestored plantation
3. Fort Sumter
4. Boone Hall Plantation
5. Spend some time at Folly Beach
6. Magnolia Plantation– looks like you should plan for at least a full half day here

Where We Ate:

1. Frannie & the Fox (their pizza is delicious)
2. Kaminsky’s Dessert Café (get the Tollhouse Pie)
3. Off Track (the best vegan ice cream)
4. Ru Ru’s Tacos & Tequila
5. TBonz Gill & Grill
6. Benne’s (coffee)
7. Peninsula Grill (get the coconut cake)
8. Magnolia’s (southern food)

Recommendations from Liz Adams & Sally Gallagher:
1. Leon’s
2. Hometown BBQ
3. 82 Queen
4. Basic Kitchen

More suggestions:
1. Poogan’s Porch

Where To Stay:

This was our second time staying in the Historic District and I would highly recommend it. If you stay near the City Market, you’re pretty central to most places you’d want to go and everywhere I listed that we went is entirely walkable! We really like to be able to walk from place to place and it makes everything simpler, too, since you don’t have to worry about parking or securing transportation. I’d say our top 3 qualities we look for in a place to stay are quality of the room and amenities, walkability to restaurants & coffee, and having a restaurant on site (with room service!).

1. The Emeline– This is where we stayed this time. It is a pretty big hotel for our standards but it was really nice. We really liked the location (right across from the City Market) and that it had a restaurant (Frannie & the Fox), a coffee bar, and room service.

2. The Charleston Place– This hotel is definitely a splurge but it looks beautiful and is also right in the Historic District!

3. Planter’s Inn– We stayed here on our first trip and loved it! It’s more of a boutique hotel, also in the Historic District (and right across from the City Market), and The Peninsula Grill, an incredibly delicious and upscale restaurant, is attached to it. 

4. Harborview Inn– In the Historic District and on the water. 

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Sincerely, Britt