Spending a long weekend in Charleston
Charleston SC is one of my favorite places. The city is beautiful and charming, full of amazing restaurants, bars, shopping, and nearby beaches. There is definitely a Southern feel to Charleston, and I love it. Charleston is the perfect place to visit for those looking for a relaxing destination, near the beach, with a lot of things to do.
With a drive less than 6 hours from Knoxville, TN, Charleston is a fairly easy travel destination. Kyle and I had our 5th anniversary in May, so we decided to celebrate by spending a long weekend in Charleston. We stayed at the SpringHill Suites Charleston Mount Pleasant, located right across the bridge from Charleston. I would definitely recommend this hotel because my stay here was great. It’s also conveniently located to many shops and restaurants in Mount Pleasant and a short drive to both Folly Beach and downtown Charleston.
We spent our time in Charleston exploring three of the nearby beaches and eating LOTS of delicious food. Something I love about Charleston is that you can do a lot or nothing at all and have an amazing time either way.
Walking around and exploring downtown Charleston is the best. The Charleston City Market is an open market where you can purchase locally made goods. It’s a really popular stop for most people who visit Charleston. Surrounding the City Market are plenty of bars and restaurants. The Waterfront Park is a short walk from the City Market. It’s a beautiful park, especially at night. Taking a walking or a carriage tour are both popular options to see everything you want in the city, but I prefer to wander a bit and see where I end up.
We spent an evening in Charleston after dinner, walking around, taking pictures, and stopping at a couple places for drinks.
Henry’s House is a really fun bar to visit on an evening in the town. They have a live band play every night and a really cozy rooftop bar. The service was great and I loved the atmosphere of the entire place.
Southend Brewery has good (girly) drinks and beer. I didn’t eat here so I can’t comment on the quality of the food. The service and atmosphere are both mediocre.
The food in Charleston is AMAZING, especially if you are a seafood lover. There are so many fantastic restaurants that it would be hard to make a bad choice. (Well, unless you decided to go to a fast food or chain restaurant… please don’t do that.)
Fleet Landing is a waterfront staple in the heart of Charleston. This restaurant needs to be a priority every time you are in Charleston. The food, the drinks, the service… everything was perfection. I ordered a few speciality cocktails, oysters on the half shell (my new obsession), she crab soup, and the herb-encrusted baked cod. I almost forgot to add that I had, hands down, the best slice of key lime pie of my life for dessert. I would also recommend to sit outside if you are able to… the views are amazing.
Poe’s Tavern is an Edgar Allan Poe themed restaurant located in Sullivan’s Island. I ordered the fish tacos for my lunch and they were good, but nothing special. The atmosphere and the decor of the restaurant made it stand out. It’s a very popular restaurant and I did enjoy going there but I will probably not go back.
Charleston Crab House is located in the heart of downtown Charleston, right next to the City Market. This is a low key, casual restaurant that serves really amazing seafood. I ordered oysters on the half shell and a pot of shrimp and crab legs. This was the perfect spot to enjoy some straight up delicious seafood. (Think Joe’s Crab Shack but about a thousand times better.) I didn’t take any pictures here, probably because I was too excited to eat.
Bacco is an authentic Italian restaurant located in Mount Pleasant. The food at Bacco is outstanding. I ordered a salad with house made mozzarella, fettuccine carbonara, and, of course, wine. The food is incredibly fresh and delicious because they make all the pasta and bread in house. The atmosphere is pretty nice too. I would 100% go back here again.
We visited Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Kiawah Island during our stay.
Isle of Palms is about a 40 minute drive from downtown Charleston. This area is definitely feels more like a vacation spot. There are lots of beach rentals and not much else happening in the area. We enjoyed a nice walk on the beach because it was too cold to go swimming the day we visited. Overall, it was my least favorite beach in the Charleston area. (BUT still a very nice beach!)
Sullivan’s Island is the closest to downtown Charleston, only about a 25 minute drive away. Sullivan’s Island is awesome! There are shops are restaurants within walking distance to the beach. The Sullivan’s Island beach was about the same as Isle of Palms as far as quality of the beach and the amount of people. I liked the atmosphere in Sullivan’s Island better than Isle of Palms because of all the things to do nearby.
Kiawah Island Beach is about 50 minutes away from downtown Charleston. If you only have time to visit one beach, I would suggest this one. It’s beautiful and surprisingly a lot different than Isle of Palms and Sullivan’s Island beaches. They have a paid parking area available at Kiawah Beachwalker Park but we parked at the Visitor’s Center and walked a little bit to the beach. There are restrooms, a shower area, and concessions right off the beach. I’m not typically a beach person but spending a day here would be pretty enjoyable. Walking around the beach was so nice because it was breathtaking. We walked for a while towards the Kiawah River and found tons of seashells, hermit crabs, and sand dollars.
Things To Do
We spent the majority of our time exploring the beaches in the area and hanging out in downtown Charleston. However, there are a lot of other awesome things to do in and around Charleston.
Explore Shem Creek
Exploring Shem Creek is really fun. We decided the best way to do that would be to rent a kayak from Nature Adventure Outfitters and kayak around. It was so much fun and WE SAW DOLPHINS! They swim into Shem Creek from the ocean. Another enjoyable activity is to walk around the Shem Creek Boardwalk. You can spot dolphins from the boardwalk but it’s more fun to be in a kayak next to them. Shem Creek also has many bars and restaurants in the area and is a lively place to spend an afternoon or evening.
Visit Patriots Point
Patriots Point is a Naval and Maritime Museum located in Mount Pleasant. Even though I’m not a history buff, or into really big war ships and aircrafts, it was still a pretty cool place to visit. It was a little pricey ($22 per adult plus parking) so I doubt I would go back in the future. There were a few good views of the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge to enjoy from the parking lot and on top of the ship.