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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Diaz

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Charleston, South Carolina

Updated: May 6

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Unveiling the allure of Charleston, South Carolina, one can't help but be captivated by its pastel houses and the timeless elegance of horse-drawn carriages. This charming port city holds a magnetic appeal for architecture enthusiasts, with its diverse array of styles including Colonial, Georgian Gothic Revival, Italianate, and Art Deco facades.

For those who seek the sun-kissed shores, Charleston offers a bountiful coastline that caters to surfers, anglers, and sun-worshippers alike. And for fellow food enthusiasts, the city presents a delectable journey of culinary exploration, as I discovered during my own delightful escapade. Over three nights, I unearthed numerous hidden gems that left an indelible mark on my palate.

Although three days may not suffice to experience everything Charleston has to offer, you can certainly embark on a journey that touches upon the essential highlights. So, are you ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure in this South Carolina gem? Brace yourself, for here is your ultimate guide to Charleston.

Things to Do in Charleston

This historic city is known for its vibrant culture, charming architecture, and Southern hospitality. Whether you're a history buff, a foodie, or a nature lover, Charleston has something to offer everyone. In this ultimate travel guide, we will explore the top attractions, best places to stay, and must-visit coffee shops and restaurants. Let's dive in!

Waterfront Park

Take a leisurely stroll along Waterfront Park and soak in the picturesque views of the Charleston Harbor. Be sure to stop by the iconic Pineapple Fountain, a popular spot for photos and a symbol of Southern hospitality.

Address: Vendue Range, Concord St, Charleston, SC 29401

Rainbow Row

Step into a vibrant world of pastel-colored houses on East Bay Street known as Rainbow Row. These historic homes provide a charming backdrop for a leisurely walk and are an Instagram-worthy sight you won't want to miss.

Address: 83-107 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

The Battery

Located at the tip of the Charleston Peninsula, The Battery offers a scenic promenade lined with beautiful mansions and centuries-old oak trees. Enjoy panoramic views of Fort Sumter, the harbor, and sailboats passing by.

White Point Gardens

Situated within The Battery, White Point Gardens is a historic park with magnificent live oak trees and well-manicured lawns. This serene retreat offers a perfect spot for a picnic, leisurely stroll, or simply enjoying the waterfront ambiance.

Address: 2 Murray Blvd, Charleston, SC 29401

Historic Charleston City Market

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the Historic Charleston City Market, one of the oldest public markets in the United States. Explore the diverse array of vendors selling local crafts, artwork, and traditional Gullah sweetgrass baskets.

Address: 188 Meeting St, Charleston, SC 29401

King Street

Indulge in some retail therapy along King Street, Charleston's premier shopping destination. This bustling street is lined with a mix of high-end boutiques, local shops, antique stores, and renowned culinary establishments.

Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon

Step back in time at the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, a historic landmark that played a significant role in Charleston's history. Take a guided tour to explore the intriguing exhibits and descend into the eerie underground dungeon.

Address: 122 E Bay St, Charleston, SC 29401

Historic Homes of Charleston

Charleston is renowned for its well-preserved historic homes. Explore the stunning architecture and history of notable residences such as the Nathaniel Russell House Museum and the grand Calhoun Mansion.

Middleton Place

Experience the beauty of Middleton Place, a historic plantation that showcases elegant gardens, a plantation house museum, and a stableyard with farm animals. Take a guided tour to learn about the plantation's rich history and its role in the American Revolution.

Address: 4300 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414

Drayton Hall

Discover the allure of Drayton Hall, a well-preserved plantation house that survived both the American Revolution and the Civil War. Explore the grandeur of this National Historic Landmark and learn about its architectural significance.

Address: 3380 Ashley River Rd, Charleston, SC 29414

Charleston Tea Plantation

Visit the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only working tea plantation in the United States. Take a tour to learn about the tea-making process, stroll through the tea fields, and sample some of their freshly brewed teas.

Address: 6617 Maybank Hwy, Wadmalaw Island, SC 29487

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, one of the oldest plantations in the South. Explore the meticulously manicured gardens, take a nature tram tour, and visit the plantation house to delve into Charleston's rich history.

Address: 3550 Ashley River Rd, Summerville, SC 29485

Boone Hall Plantation

Step into the past at Boone Hall Plantation, a historic site famous for its Avenue of Oaks and beautiful plantation house. Take a guided tour, visit the slave cabins, and learn about the history and culture of the Gullah people.

Address: 1235 Long Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464

Coffee Shops and Bakeries:

Harken Cafe & Bakery

Start your day with a visit to Harken Cafe & Bakery, a charming spot known for its artisanal coffee and freshly baked goods. Indulge in their delectable pastries, including croissants, scones, and muffins, paired with a perfectly brewed cup of coffee.

Address: 62 Queen St, Charleston, SC 29401

Second State Coffee

For coffee enthusiasts seeking a top-notch brew, Second State Coffee is a must-visit. This specialty coffee shop focuses on sourcing high-quality beans and expertly crafting each cup. The knowledgeable baristas will guide you through their selection of pour-overs, espressos, and cold brews.

Address: 70.5 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401

Clerks Coffee Company

Discover the cozy ambiance of Clerks Coffee Company, a local favorite in Charleston. This inviting cafe serves up delicious espresso drinks, along with an assortment of house-made pastries and sandwiches. Enjoy a relaxing break and soak in the friendly atmosphere.

Address: 181 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401

Kudu Coffee

Located in the heart of Charleston's historic district, Kudu Coffee offers a unique blend of artisan coffee and a relaxed courtyard setting. With its European-inspired atmosphere, Kudu is the perfect spot to unwind with a cup of coffee or enjoy a craft beer from their curated selection.

Address: 4 Vanderhorst St, Charleston, SC 29403

The Rise Coffee Bar

Elevate your coffee experience at The Rise, a trendy coffee shop known for its sleek design and exceptional brews. This specialty coffee bar showcases a rotating selection of beans from renowned roasters, ensuring a diverse and flavorful experience with each visit.

Address: 77 Wentworth St, Charleston, SC 29401

Sugar Bakeshop

Indulge your sweet tooth at Sugar Bake Shop, a delightful bakery known for its delectable treats. From perfectly crafted cupcakes and cookies to flaky pies and delicious cakes, Sugar Bake Shop offers a wide range of delectable pastries that pair perfectly with a cup of coffee.

Address: 59 1/2 Cannon St, Charleston, SC 29403

In Charleston, you'll find a thriving coffee scene with a variety of establishments catering to different tastes and preferences. Whether you're looking for a cozy bakery or a hip coffee bar, these spots, including Sugar Bake Shop, Harken Cafe & Bakery, Second State Coffee, Clerks Coffee Company, Kudu Coffee, and The Rise, will satisfy your cravings for excellent coffee and mouthwatering pastries.

Where to Stay in Charleston

When it comes to choosing accommodations in Charleston, there are several exceptional options to consider:

Hotel Emeline

Nestled beside the Charleston City Market, this chic boutique hotel offers an elegant hideaway in one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Charleston while enjoying the comfort and style of Hotel Emeline.

Planters Inn

This iconic inn is housed in a grand 19th-century property and stands as the only Relais & Châteaux Hotel in the state. Experience the charm and sophistication of this historic inn, which offers a truly memorable stay.

Restoration Hotel

Located in the heart of the city, Restoration Hotel provides a range of accommodations, including residences with up to three bedrooms and classic suites. Perfect for those seeking a home away from home, this hotel offers a comfortable and convenient base for exploring Charleston.

Mills House

Immerse yourself in southern elegance at Mills House, a colonial-style hotel with sweeping views of the Historic District. Enjoy the timeless ambiance and gracious hospitality that Charleston is known for during your stay at this beautiful hotel.

Wentworth Mansion

For a truly luxurious experience, the Wentworth Mansion is a must-visit. Housed in a stately 19th-century mansion, this five-star hotel exudes elegance and offers an essential Charleston experience. Indulge in the opulence and charm of this exquisite property during your time in the city.

Where to Eat in Charleston

When it comes to dining in Charleston, you're in for a treat. This vibrant city is renowned for its culinary scene, offering a diverse range of flavors and experiences. From traditional Southern cuisine to innovative farm-to-table fare, Charleston has something to satisfy every palate. Here are some top dining destinations to consider:


Helmed by award-winning Chef Sean Brock, Husk celebrates the flavors of the South with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. Expect creative interpretations of classic Southern dishes in a charming historic setting.


With a commitment to showcasing seasonal ingredients, FIG (Food Is Good) has gained a stellar reputation for its farm-to-table approach. The menu changes regularly, ensuring that diners experience the freshest and most vibrant flavors.

Peninsula Grill

Known for its elegant ambiance and refined cuisine, Peninsula Grill is a must-visit for a memorable dining experience. Indulge in their famous 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake, a Charleston classic.

Leon's Oyster Shop

For seafood lovers, Leon's Oyster Shop is a go-to destination. This casual eatery serves up fresh oysters, delectable seafood dishes, and a variety of tasty sides in a laid-back atmosphere.

The Ordinary

Housed in a beautifully restored old bank, The Ordinary is a seafood-focused restaurant that blends classic and contemporary flavors. From oysters to shrimp and whole fish, their menu offers a delightful selection of seafood options.

Xiao Bao Biscuit

Craving Asian-inspired cuisine? Head to Xiao Bao Biscuit, a funky eatery serving up innovative dishes with flavors from China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Don't miss their renowned Okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake.

Hominy Grill

A Charleston institution, Hominy Grill serves up classic Lowcountry cuisine with a modern twist. Indulge in shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and other Southern favorites at this beloved eatery.

Rodney Scott's BBQ

If you're in the mood for authentic Southern barbecue, Rodney Scott's BBQ is the place to go. Known for their mouthwatering smoked meats, including pulled pork and ribs, this spot delivers on flavor and authenticity.

The Obstinate Daughter

Located on Sullivan's Island, The Obstinate Daughter offers a coastal-inspired menu with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. Enjoy wood-fired pizzas, seafood dishes, and delicious cocktails with an ocean view.

The Darling Oyster Bar

With its stylish nautical decor and a wide selection of oysters, The Darling Oyster Bar is a popular choice for seafood enthusiasts. Indulge in freshly shucked oysters, lobster rolls, and other seafood delicacies.

Charleston's culinary landscape is rich and diverse, with countless dining options to suit every taste and preference. These recommendations provide a starting point to explore the city's vibrant food scene and savor the flavors of Charleston.

Best Time to Visit Charleston

When it comes to visiting Charleston, the ideal time is during the Spring and Fall seasons. From March to May and September to November, you can expect mild temperatures and pleasant weather. These months offer a perfect balance of comfortable temperatures and fewer crowds.

My personal experience visiting Charleston in March was truly wonderful. Spring brings an enchanting atmosphere with blooming flowers, gentle breezes, and a serene ambiance. It's a great time to explore the city without the overwhelming summer crowds.

Keep in mind that Charleston can become quite busy during the summer, as it is a popular beach destination. The weather in summer tends to be hot and muggy, which may not be as enjoyable for some visitors.

So, if you're looking to make the most of your trip to Charleston, consider planning your visit during the Spring or Fall months for a delightful experience with pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Charleston, South Carolina, is a destination that effortlessly combines history, charm, and exceptional culinary experiences. From exploring the colorful Rainbow Row to immersing yourself in the beauty of the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, there is no shortage of attractions to discover. After a day of sightseeing, unwind in one of the city's cozy coffee shops like Clerks Coffee Co and treat yourself to a memorable meal at restaurants like Husk or FIG. Your visit to Charleston is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Happy travels!




Hi, Thanks for stopping by!

I'm Samantha! A photographer and I believe that every picture has a story. As a blogger, I share my travel stories with everyone. I think it's important to document my travels and share my experiences with others. I've been to some amazing places and I've seen some incredible things. I want to share my stories and photos with the world.

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