Looking to have a lively adventure in Charleston? Book an action-packed getaway at the French Quarter Inn, voted the #2 Best U.S. Small City Hotel in the Travel + Leisure 2015 World’s Best Awards.
Touch down at Charleston International Airport, which receives 69 direct flights each day from a variety of East Coast and Midwestern cities. Pick up your sporty rental car—a convertible, preferably—and head downtown to the French Quarter Inn. Located overlooking the historic Charleston City Market, one of the oldest public markets in America, this 50-room inn is close to the noted shopping, dining, and nightlife, so get ready to pack as much fun into this getaway as possible!
For breakfast, dive right into delicious local cuisine at a hole-in-the-wall favored by locals. At Dixie Supply, the décor isn’t fancy, but the food is delicious and the owners are delightful! Taste a few beloved Lowcountry recipes like shrimp-n-grits and tomato pie. We highly recommend the tomato pie!
You’ll want to get the lay of the land and snap a few vacation selfies early on (tag us at #ExploreCharleston), so head out to explore with Charleston Strolls. Featured in Southern Living and recommended by The New York Times, this walking tour will introduce you to Charleston’s rich history, stunning architecture, enchanting gardens, and curious culture. Get your selfie stick ready!
If the weather is warm, try to nab a seat on the patio for lunch at 39 Rue de Jean, where all six variations of mussels, from curry to classic garlic, are insanely good. Served with thick French bread!
With two great meals and a lively sightseeing tour under your belt, it is time to shop. Start at Candlefish, a gorgeous store featuring a carefully curated collection of fine candles, as well as its own fragrance library. These folks are masters of their craft, and they share their illuminating experiences of candle making through scent, touch, and sight. Next, head to the Charleston City Market, one of the nation’s oldest public markets. This sprawling four-block retail venue dates to 1804 and currently houses more than 300 permanent merchants. Vendors are spread across three open-air sheds and in one enclosed Great Hall, which is where a variety of well-known local businesses, including Historic Charleston Foundation, Food for the Southern Soul, Caviar and Bananas, Wonder Works, and the Charleston Angler, have a flagship store.
Hop in a pedi-cab and head to The Macintosh, where Chef Jeremiah Bacon (yes, really) serves up a different savory Bacon Happy Hour treat daily, as well as a soulful menu inspired by Lowcountry farmers and purveyors. You’re now in the thick of upper King Street, home to the city’s densest concentration of nightlight. Pop into Proof and try to resist one of their tangy house-made pickled eggs (there’s an entire jar of them on the bar) and take a peek at their menu of sophisticated specialty cocktails. Hop in another pedi-cab and keep the party going at Bay Street Biergarten, a rustic-chic tavern that serves Bavarian-inspired craft beers from pour-your-own taps.
In 2005, a mother-daughter duo founded Callie’s Biscuits, a mail order business that specializes in haute, one-bite cocktail party biscuits in flavors such as black pepper and artisanal country ham. Demand grew as the biscuits appeared in Saveur, Food & Wine, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Elle Decor, Vanity Fair, Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Details, The New York Times, and Wine Spectator, among other places. In 2014, they opened Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, a delightful grab-and-go biscuit counter—and a delicious place to start the day.
After consuming your fill of freshly baked, flaky biscuits, head to Boone Hall Plantation. Here, you can learn first-hand about Gullah culture, or your can snap some more selfies on the grounds of this picturesque plantation, which has appeared in several movies and television mini-series. Perhaps you’ve heard of a little movie called The Notebook? We thought so.
Lunch takes you back downtown for a perch overlooking the harbor. Housed in a 1940s retired naval building on the east side on the Charleston peninsula, Fleet Landing restaurant features Chef Drew Hedlund’s fusion of classic and contemporary Southern seafood fare in a setting that celebrates the area’s waterfront heritage.
Ready to shop some more? Check out Candy Shop Vintage, a colorful emporium of thoughtfully designed baubles and whimsical pieces that blend vintage style with a fresh, modern aesthetic, like the fun-to-collect Charleston Rice Beads.
Sleek tresses and a perfectly styled coif await at Tease, Charleston’s premiere blowout bar.
Start your second night on the town with a true Charleston specialty at 82 Queen Street. It is impossible to calculate how many bowls of She Crab soup are consumed in the Lowcountry daily, but it is a sure bet that 82 Queen has served more of the Lowcountry specialty than any other restaurant on the peninsula. The distinctively delicate seafood bisque that dates back to the 1700s has been on the menu at 82 Queen since it opened in 1982.
Hop a few doors down to Husk Bar, an intimate two-story bar, where a bygone era of Charleston nightlight is recalled with handcrafted cocktails such as Madeira and Charleston Light Dragoon’s Punch, a recipe provided by the Charleston Preservation Society. Husk stocks several dozen bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle Reserve, Sazerac Rye, and Jefferson Presidential.
Begin your final full day in town with a Bottomless Mimosa and deluxe stuffed French toast at Toast! of Charleston, before heading to Folly Beach for a day of sunbathing. This nearby beach town draws throngs of pretty, happy people on sunny summer weekends. Surfing is a popular pastime here—just ask anyone at McKevlin’s Surf Shop, a Folly fixture since 1965.
When perched at the “Edge of America” (Folly Beach’s nickname), at BLU for lunch, it is hard to resist ordering the Wedge of America (bibb lettuce, dried tomatoes, fried croutons, and pepper bacon in buttermilk dressing) while enjoying the spectacular ocean views.
After being sufficiently sun kissed, how about a little more shopping? It is, after all, your last day! Hit up Finicky Filly, a lovely women’s wear shop nestled in the heart of downtown, and nearby Haute Hanger for flirty accessories.
Raise a glass to your fun Charleston getaway over dinner at Ruth’s Chris, located in the lobby of the French Quarter Inn. Chef Jonathan Kaldas, an American Culinary Federation award winner and 2010 graduate from the Culinary Institute of Charleston, presides over the kitchen.
BEFORE YOU PACK YOUR BAGS
No visit is complete without picking up a few special souvenirs. Make sure to leave room in your luggage for choice mementoes.
Named for South Carolina’s legendary Grey Ghost, the Charleston-based Grey Ghost Bakery is quickly becoming a Lowcountry favorite thanks to its absolutely delicious made-from-scratch cookies that showcase natural flavors like lemon and molasses.
Handcrafted in Charleston, Rewined Candles are made with all-natural soy wax that is infused with subtle wine-inspired aromas and hand poured into repurposed wine bottles. Rewined Candles launched in 2009 at the Charleston City Market and today appear in more than 1,300 shops across the country.
While scouring antique stores and flea markets for inspiration, Candy Shop Vintage designer Deirdre Zahl came across long, flapper style bead chains from the 1970s. Zahl recreated the Charleston Rice Beads in a variety of lengths and colors.
What could be more southern or more perfect than a jar of bourbon-soaked cherries? Probably not much, so pick up a jar of Jack Rudy Bourbon Cherries!