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Short Getaway to Charleston, SC

Hi! My husband and I are looking at driving up to Charleston, SC for about 3-5 days. I am looking for recommendations on where to stay (would love some place local and historic), what/where to eat to experience the local food, and places to visit. We love walk tours, visiting historic buildings and churches. When we visited Italy we did some of Rick Steves' audio tours as well as Walks of Italy, which were all phenomenal. Is there anything else out there similar? Has anyone done the Charleston walking tours through We had also thought of stopping in Savannah on the way, but not sure if that would be too much. Any help would be great. Thanks so much!!

Posted by
3186 posts

We have been to Charleston more times than we can count and hope to move there at some point. We usually stay at Wild Dunes or use hotel points. We really liked the downtown Embassy Suites and it was a great location for walking. Eat at Jestine's, Poogan's Porch, Blossoms, or Magnolias. At Water's Edge in Shem Creek(Mt Pleasant), you can see the day's seafood catch being taken off the boats. My favorite experience is to eat an early dinner at Middleton Plantation and you get to walk around the gardens before and after your meal without paying the admission price and with fewer crowds. We also love the carriage tours.
I hope to take a Gullah tour when we go there in Dec. Given that there is a Dungeon used to hold revolutionary soldiers imprisoned by the British, the ghost tour we took was interesting. I would spend all my time in Charleston. Being a native of Georgia and a Girl Scout for 10 years, I have been to Savannah several times but much prefer Charleston. Every time we go to Savannah, one of our reservations for a tour or dinner gets cancelled without our being given a reason-we suspect someone with more clout wants the reservation. This has never happened even once in Charleston, and we've been to Charleston more often by a factor of 10.

If you really must go somewhere other than Charleston, go to Beaufort, (but like Savannah , it's several hours from Charleston) which is also near Hilton Head.

Posted by
43 posts

Charleston has so many great restaurants but my favorite was Halls Chophouse. I'm sure you will get many recommendations from others.

I highly recommend Oyster Point Historic Walking Tours. A few years ago we took the Civil War Tour with Bill, although it looks like that particular tour is not offered currently. They do have a highlights of Charleston tour. Bill was one of the best tour guides we've toured with (and my then teenage daughters appreciated his good looks!).

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
8625 posts

How soon are you planning to go.? As I write this the news lists Charleston as the #1 location for increase in covid cases.

If you are already aware of this or your travel plans are farther out ( i.e. months away), I apologize for being "Mr Obvious"

Stay well

Posted by
3186 posts

YIkes! We are renting a house and since there are 5 of us, we may pay for a private carriage tour. We may have to do all our food by takeout. And Charleston is a great walking city. And I doubt that the people in Charleston are any stupider than those anywhere else in the Southeast. My husband's office building is shut down today to clean because someone tested positive. He's been complaining for weeks that the building manager makes no effort to enforce the city's mask ordinance.

Posted by
10344 posts

Several years ago we did 10 or 12 days that included 5 days in each of Charleston and Savannah, with several day trips: part of a day in Beaufort area, part of a day exploring Hilton Head area, and two plantation day trips, one outside Charleston and one outside Savannah.

Savannah and Charleston are two Southern cities not burned to the ground in the civil war, so there is ample ante-bellum architecture, unlike Atlanta and other southern areas that were destroyed in the war.

But IMO trying to do Charleston and Savannah in one 3 to 5-day trip is spreading yourselves too thin. And there's the heat/humidity in July.

Posted by
72 posts

Just be aware, sightseeing in Charleston in July is Hot and humid! One of my most miserable 4th of July’s was spent in Charleston, and I am a native Floridian.

Posted by
13492 posts

One of my most miserable 4th of July’s was spent in Charleston

I will ditto that except that you mention that you're driving UP from somewhere south of Charleston so you may be used to the Southern states' oppressive summer heat and humidity? That said, our first visit, which was during a summer some years ago, was pretty miserable for walking outside after about 9:00 AM.

The city's tourism site is a good resource for what is open and what is not at this point, although anything could change at any time:

No, I wouldn't try to do Savannah too, and our walking tours of Charleston have mostly been on our own with a book, or a carriage tour...which we did once when it was too freakin' hot to walk. We're dedicated hikers in the U.S. Southwestern parks so it's not like we're shrinking violets!

The USS Yorktown was a good self-guided experience if you've never explored a (decommissioned) aircraft carrier:

Fort Sumter is a valuable piece of Civil War history:

Posted by
3186 posts

Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island near Charleston, is interesting for Revolutionary War history. It's the reason the Palmetto is the state symbol.
I took some classes at College of Charleston in the summer and what I remember is how much better it was there than in Columbia on days when it was 100 due to the ocean breezes from Charleston Harbor. One of my favorite humorous moments was when a teacher from NY tried to do a static electricity demonstration in Charleston in July. Bless his heart.

Posted by
7205 posts

We always take our bikes and enjoy biking the back roads of Sullivan’s Island. You can park at the public beach entrance across the street from Ft Moultrie. We used to head to restaurants in downtown Charleston,but now there are many fabulous places in Mount Pleasant. Definitely check out Graze and Cru. Avoid the tourist restaurants like Hymans and that dreadful Page’s Okra Grill.

Posted by
3186 posts

"Don't forget we're a failed Covid-19 state" As are the majority of states right now. Southerners aren't the only ones insisting on their freedumb.

Posted by
1830 posts

Not to beat a dead horse, but wearing masks would mitigate 90 percent of COVID-19. I'm a fairly conservative guy, but science is science, as is common sense.

Yes, I "get it" regarding resistance to the government being a nanny and telling people what do to. Truth be told the first two months we were constantly reminded that masks would do us no good. Anyway, I try to understand others even if it seems idiotic. If we could just set politics aside and wear a mask it would make a huge difference. I just hope at some point China is held accountable for this disaster.

Posted by
3186 posts

Big Mike, I so agree. I don't understand the resistance to wearing masks-it sure beats the economic problems of shutting things down, although certain activities(bars) seem to cause more than their share of cases.

Posted by
1779 posts

hey hey gretel
spun the wheel at an art/wine festival and won a trip to see charleston and savannah for 6 days a few years back, staying at hilton head. what a joy and fabulous trip. so much to see and do. helped that we met a couple from johns island, on a fall color cruise. spent 3 nights in savannah and 2 nights in charleston with a rental car is the carolina lowcountry
family owned restaurant: hyman seafood deli had the best fried green tomatoes and okra for the first time.
peninsula grill: famous for their 12 layer ultimate coconut cake. stop and have a cocktail in the champagne bar or or or savannah
firefly vodka distillery/irvin-house vineyards or may have changed to deep wine vineyard.
wadmalaw island. they distill sweet tea vodka along with other flavors. enjoyed the tastings and small little house it's in with a gift shop. had to buy sweet tea vodka to bring home, "break my arm".
charleston tea garden, angel oak tree "oldest oak tree". (this was a half day trip), walk along rainbow row, east battery to murray blvd along seawall and promenade, charleston city market has local artisans and local made products, cross over the arthur ravenel bridge to mt pleasant.
if you have 5 days. at least spend a night in savannah. loved walking around town with beautiful gardens, parks and plazas, watch "midnight in the garden of good and evil", bonaventure cemetary, mrs wilkes boarding house for brunch, get their early, no reservations, line moves fast, communal tables with southern good food, trolley tour around historic district,, river street promenade, ghost tour. for hotel, make sure parking and if a fee, a car is useless in both downtown places. can't refer any, we stayed in hilton head. eat great food, learn the history of these cities and enjoy southern hospitality. we loved it.

Posted by
130 posts

Many good options, more food include Oak (steakhouse), Hank's (seafood) and on Sullivan's try Poe's (burgers) and The Obstinant Daughter (high-end).