We’ve only ever heard great things about Charleston from friends and publications. In fact, it’s been named the best small city in America for ten consecutive years by Conde Nast Traveler readers. We went recently for the first time and are happy to share that it lived up to all the hype!
From delicious restaurants to exceptional hotel options, history and culture, and romantic date opportunities, it’s hands down a great weekend getaway. Read on for information to build your ideal itinerary.
We drove from Atlanta, which took about 5 hours. But there are a ton of nonstop flights from destinations all across the country. Here you can find all of the airlines and airports that offer nonstop flights to Charleston. The information for the top airlines is also listed below:
Delta has nonstops flights from the below airports:
- Atlanta— Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)
- Boston— Logan International Airport (BOS)
- Detroit— Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)
- New York City — LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
- New York City — John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
- Minneapolis — Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
United has nonstop flights to Charleston from the below airports:
- Chicago— Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Denver— Denver International Airport (DEN)
- Houston— Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
- Newark —Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
- Washington, D.C. — Dulles International Airport (IAD)
American has nonstop flights to Charleston from the below airports:
- Charlotte — Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
- Chicago — Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
- Dallas/Fort Worth — Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
- Philadelphia — Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
- Miami — Miami International Airport (MIA)
- Washington, D.C. — Reagan National Airport (DCA)
If you’re someone who cares deeply about your accommodations when you travel, be prepared to feel like a kid in the candy store when choosing where to lay your head in Charleston. There are a plethora of outstanding hotels in the city! From boutique, traditional luxury, retro, art-filled, glam deco, and so much more, Charleston has no shortage of hotel options. We stayed at The Spectator Hotel, Hotel Bennett, and Marriott North Charleston.
Spectator Hotel is in the heart of everything, and everyone gets a personal butler, complimentary breakfast, and snacks. We loved how easy it was to walk to almost everywhere we needed to get to from the hotel; it was literally steps away from the Charleston Market and a quick walk to many of the restaurants that we went to. We also appreciated that they used local soaps, lotions, and snacks. The gummy bears that were stocked during our stay were so good!
Hotel Bennett was named the #1 luxury hotel in the USA by USA Today Best 10. It has beautiful rooms, spa services, and notable on-site restaurants. Being on King’s Street, it’s also a great location and steps away from great shopping. We loved our room and the relaxing massages that we had. We appreciated that after a long day, you don’t have to go out for dinner if you don’t feel like it because they have several on-site options with raving reviews.
North Charleston Marriott is a good option if you don’t mind driving and want to save money. It’s about a 15-minute drive from the city center. It isn’t as unique or luxurious as some of the other properties listed, but the rooms are nice and have the consistent quality you think of with Marriott.
Some of the other gorgeous and notable hotels include:
- The Loutrel- stylishly contemporary but steps away from colonial and Victorian vibes.
- Zero George- gives off an authentic Charleston home-away-from-home vibe.
- The Charleston Place- Understated opulence with seasonally themed exhibits
- The Dewberry Charleston- federal building turned into a modern work of art with one of the tallest rooftop bars in Charleston
- The Vendue- Charleston’s first art hotel concept
- The Ryder Hotel- stylishly modern boutique hotel
- The Restoration- urban aesthetic, spacious rooms, and cutting-edge photography installations
- Renaissance Charleston Historic District Hotel- Beautiful option for Marriott Loyalists and point collectors
- HarbourView Inn- Offers direct views over the water
- 86 Cannon Historic Inn- great balance between design-forward and authentically historic
Charleston is well known and praised for its foodie scene and signature dishes. We could totally see why Charleston was ranked in the top 20 of Foodie Cities by Wallet Hub. Below are a few of the restaurants that we tried during our visit and some others that we want to try on our next trip.
Rodney Scotts Bbq: Delicious BBQ restaurant. My husband enjoyed the ribs, and I thought they were some of the best I’ve ever had! The co-founder and pitmaster is a James Beard winner and has been featured on Netflix’s Chef Table.
Tempest Charleston: This upscale seafood restaurant is located inside an old cathedral. The seafood is sourced from Lowcountry area fishermen, oyster farmers, and other local purveyors. I particularly enjoyed the crabcake. It was lightly seared and bursting with flavor.
Church and Union Charleston: Offers American cuisine in a casual but polished atmosphere. It’s also located inside an old cathedral.
Bodega: The perfect place for casual or quick eats. The sandwiches are yummy. We went for lunch one day and again for breakfast on another day. We both had the Diner Club for lunch. I had the Burro for breakfast, and my husband had the Bodega classic.
Peninsula Grill: The perfect place if you are celebrating a special occasion; it holds a Four-Star and Four-Diamond rating. The service is fantastic, and the food is delicious. If you go during the warmer months, We had the SheCrab soup, the Lobster “3 Way”, She Crab Soup, Local Greens Salad, The Scallops, and New York Strip. Everything was delicious, including the bread served before dinner!
Magnolias: Serves upscale southern cuisine and has been a staple in Charleston for over 30 years. It was one of our favorite meals during our trip, and we want to return on our next visit. We had fried green tomatoes, down south egg rolls, and devil eggs for appetizers. For our entree, I had the Shellfish Over Grits, which was impeccable, and Leslie had the buttermilk fried chicken breast.
Gabrielle Dining: “Gabrielle captures the spirit of Charleston through genuine hospitality, a lively indoor bar and dining room, as well as the city’s finest outdoor dining terrace, which overlooks historic Marion Square.”
Mesu: A combination of Sushi and Mexican cuisine with an energetic and artistic atmosphere.
Gillie’s Seafood: A place designed for you to feel like you’re at your grandma’s house… a place full of love, warmth and good food!
Boat Ride at The Cypress Gardens
Massages at Hotel Bennett
Make Candles Candle Fish
Learn the tricks of crabbing and more about Charleston’s underwater and blue crab life from Casual Crabbing With Tia:
Dinner Date at one of the above restaurants
Graft: Wine shop and cool hang spot. Won 27 Best Bars in America and Sommelier of the Year.
The Dewberry Charleston: A beautiful, whimsical rooftop bar and restaurant that is currently the tallest in Charleston at eight floors.
Fiat Lux: Hotel Bennet’s rooftop bar features specialty cocktails, light bites, and a pool to cool down in during a warm summer day.
Camellias-Gorgoreous pink champagne and dessert bar located inside Hotel Bennet
Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company: Serving up craft beers with a food menu to match
Bourbon N’ Bubbles: A luxury lounge and restaurant serving up appetizers and shared plates along with Champagne, bourbon, and handcrafted cocktails.
History Tours in Charleston, South Carolina
Even with all its glory, beauty, and positive accolades, there is no denying that Charleston has a complicated past. More than 40% of all enslaved Africans first stepped foot in the US through the Gadsden Wharf in Charleston.
It was emotional to learn more about enslaved people and their experience, but we truly appreciated that never did it seem like the city or tour guides were trying to sugarcoat or rewrite history. As painful as it may be, the truth sets us free and empowers us to create a better tomorrow.
Below are some of the tours that we did:
Sites and Insights Tours: Explore Gullah Geechee and Black History by bus ride with an entertaining and very knowledgeable guide, Al Miller.
Bull Dog Tours: Stroll through 300 years of Charleston history and hear the stories behind the city’s past.
Rebellion Road: Charleston Harbor Tour shows riders Charleston’s biggest attractions East of the Cooper River on an electric bike.
Shopping in Charleston, South Carolina
From well-known brands to chic boutiques, you’ll be able to find something to bring home during your trip.
Explore Kings Street: luxury stores, chic boutiques, and antique shops. Named one of the country’s “Top 10 Shopping Streets.”
The Charleston City Market: one of the nation’s oldest public markets
The Tiny Tassel: Jewelry, clothing, and accessories brand inspired by the vibrant colors of Charleston, SC.
Ben Silver Collection: custom bow ties and accessories
BR Design Company: Beautiful statement jewelry and accessories made from clay. Their accessories are featured in countless publications and worn by some of our favorite celebs. They ship worldwide 🙂
The thirteen frequently photographed homes that stretch from 79 – 107 East Bay Street in Charleston’s famed Historic District.
Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park
An eight-acre linear park and pier along the Charleston Harbor entry that combines intimate gardens, beautiful fountains, and spacious lawns.
Battery Park/White Point Gardens
A picturesque, six-acre green space that crowns the tip of the peninsula.
We had an amazing time in Charleston and can’t wait to return! If it’s now on your list of places to go, let us know, and check out the Experience Charleston website for more helpful information.
You may also like this article.
Our trip was hosted by Experience Charleston, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.