I spent a weekend in Charleston in February 2017 and loved this little Southern city and had the best time eating our way through it. While we were only in Charleston for 48 hours, we felt like we hit all the hot spots and even spent time at a gorgeous plantation that is a Charleston must-visit. Read on for the best places to eat at and the top tourist spots to hit during a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.
Disclosure: This “Weekend in Charleston, South Carolina” guide may contain affiliate links. I may receive commissions for purchases made through links in this post. As always, all opinions are my own and I would never post about something I have not personally used/verified.
HOW TO GET TO CHARLESTON
We flew JetBlue to Charleston from NYC and it was super easy. All major airlines fly to Charleston so it should be fairly straightforward (and cheap!) to get direct flights to Charleston. The flight is around 2 hours from NYC. You can take a quick Uber from the airport to the downtown area for only around $20 USD!
WHAT TO DO DURING A WEEKEND IN CHARLESTON
King Street is downtown Charleston’s main shopping street. It is a must-visit and I definitely recommend walking up and down a couple of times. There are so many cute, trendy boutiques for shopping as well as your usual big shopping chains. The street is always busy and very touristy. Lots of the main restaurants (below) are also on King Street, but we liked it more for the boutiques 🙂
City Market is Charleston’s main, most popular market and is over 200 years old. You can find anything from food, drinks, and little southern gifts here…pretty much anything you can think of. It is always bustling and fun to walk through a few times during the day. There are over 100 authentic vendors here, and I suggest getting dried Okra chips (which you can only get in Charleston).
Another top thing to do in Charleston, horse carriage rides are very popular in the downtown area. Palmetto Carriage Rides is one of the main companies, but any of them are fine. They take you around downtown and it is a fun experience and a great tourist activity for spending a weekend in Charleston.
Charleston Battery is the tip of the peninsula of the city and is a nice walk around the water with pretty views over-looking the city harbor. Around here you can also see a row of historical cannons they used to use back during the war. If you keep walking along the water you will hit Waterfront Park which is just a gorgeous area to walk around in the city. I suggest walking through the residential little streets to get here from King Street; the quaint, gorgeous, colorful townhouses are amazing to see.
Pretty self-explanatory, this is the street that is made up of a stretch of colorful townhouses that you see in all the tourist magazines and websites about Charleston. It is so pretty and colorful and so nice to walk around here. There will always be tourists in front of the houses taking pictures. You definitely can’t miss it when spending a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.
When you think of Charleston you think of Southern plantations. Magnolia Plantation is the most popular and famous in Charleston and it was amazing. It was about a 20 minute Uber ride outside of downtown Charleston and it was so worth it! They even have a little farm in the front (good for kids) where they have gorgeous peacocks roaming around. We spent more than an hour getting lost in the gardens on the plantation, they were so beautiful. I definitely suggest spending half a day of your weekend in Charleston exploring this plantation.
WHAT TO EAT IN A WEEKEND IN CHARLESTON
- Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit: a must-visit (see picture at right). This tiny tiny shop always has a line out the door (it’s on King Street) and for good reason; their biscuits are AMAZING and do not disappoint.
- Hominy Grill: One of the most famous Southern brunch spots here, a must-visit if you are trying to be touristy.
- Husk: Most famous restaurant in Charleston and their brunch is no different. Won one of the top brunch spots in America in 2017.
- Park Cafe: We went here after wanting a ‘local’ recommendation. It is a little outside of downtown but it was such a good, trendy local brunch place. I highly recommend this for the ‘real’ Charleston, non-tourist, feel.
- The Grocery
- The Macintosh
- Butcher and Bee
- Leon’s: Very famous lunch spot in Charleston known specifically for the oysters and bloody marys. Leon’s is located on King Street but all the way at the top (farthest from downtown area), about a 25 minute walk. The place is very divey. I can’t eat oysters but my friend said the oysters were some of the best she’s ever had! The drinks were also delicious. Leon’s is a must-visit for tourists and locals alike during a weekend in Charleston.
- Xaio Bao: Not sure who visits Charleston for Asian food, but Xaio Bao is very well-known and has the best Asian food in the area.
- Cru Cafe
- Minero: Known for their tacos!
- 167 Raw
- Fig: So Fig and Husk are the two ‘must-go’ restaurants on any Charleston list. We tried to hit both in one night but failed. We made it to Fig and it was worth it. I thought the meals were beyond amazing and memorable and so were the drinks. I absolutely recommend Fig especially because it is only in Charleston. Must make reservations far, far in advance.
- Husk: The other must-do and extremely famous. Try to hit both if you can for the experience. There is also a Husk in Nashville. Must make reservations far, far in advance.
- Hall’s Chophouse: Famous restaurant with amazing steak.
- Magnolia’s: We ended up going here for lunch just because we had no more dinners left and we wanted to hit it – the food was very good and fresh and the restaurant was big. Definitely recommended.
- SNOB (Slightly North of Broad): Another highly recommended restaurant.
- Blossom: Fresh seafood restaurant.
- Poogan’s: Real BBQ restaurant. We were in Charleston during Superbowl weekend so we decided to come here to watch the game AND have real southern BBQ. The food was extremely good and recommended for BBQ lovers.
WHERE TO STAY DURING A WEEKEND IN CHARLESTON
We stayed at The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel which was gorgeous. We had a great stay here; it was in a perfect location and walking distance to everything right in the middle of downtown Charleston. It is also directly across the street from Husk restaurant. It’s been around since 1853 so it definitely has that Southern charm feeling as well. I would absolutely stay here again.
AIRBNB Charleston: There are also so many cute apartments in downtown Charleston with extra nice hosts. They are generally cheaper than hotels so if you like the Airbnb route instead of hotels I definitely recommend it in Charleston. Also, if you use my Airbnb link you get $40 off your first stay!
WHERE TO PARTY IN A WEEKEND IN CHARLESTON
- Rooftop at Vendue: Good views of the city
- Pavilion Bar: Another good rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city.
- Market Pavilion Hotel’s Grill 225 Bar: Known for one thing: their Nitrotini drinks (see picture below). These are drinks made of Nitrogen and they come out literally smoking. The drinks are strong too. Go for the experience if anything, and then go to the rooftop upstairs.
- Proof: Whiskey bar on King Street
- Closed For Business
- Midtown: Good night club (get the blue slushie drink).
- Stars Rooftop
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Did I miss something for a weekend in Charleston that you loved? Let me know in the comments for my next visit!