Looking to elevate your next Charleston visit to dramatic new heights? Book a decadent three-day getaway at Market Pavilion, voted the #6 Best U.S. Small City Hotel in the Travel + Leisure 2015 World’s Best Awards.
Hop aboard one of 69 daily direct flights to Charleston International Airport, make the 20-minute jaunt into the Historic District, and check into Market Pavilion Hotel, an enclave of dark wood-paneled walls and chandeliers. Here, the 70 decadent guest rooms are decked out with French-style chaises, toile wallpaper, gold-framed mirrors, and black granite countertops in the Hermès toiletries-stocked bathrooms.
Midmorning, take flight to enjoy a breathtaking bird’s eye view of local sights with a Raven Air private helicopter tour. Cruise above the historic Charleston harbor and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the western hemisphere.
Ready for lunch? Head to Husk, the acclaimed restaurant housed in a meticulously restored 19th century house on Queen Street, where Chef Sean Brock has helped turn Southern ingredients into a national culinary obsession.
Charleston is home to an eye-popping array of Antebellum Era mansions. Although most are privately owned, the Nathaniel Russell House, which was built in 1808 and is widely recognized as one of America’s more important neoclassical dwellings, has been converted into a public museum. The interior is adorned with elaborate plaster ornamentation and a stunning free-flying staircase. Be sure to check out the joggling board in the formal gardens–this is a uniquely Charleston invention.
It isn’t difficult to imagine Humphrey Bogart or Frank Sinatra holding court at Grill 225, the dark wood-paneled, white tablecloth restaurant that commands the ground floor of the Market Pavilion Hotel. Celebrate your first night in town with a sumptuous dinner that includes 50-day wet-aged cuts at Charleston’s first 100% USDA Prime steak house. Don’t let the evening end without ordering the house cocktail specialty: a Nitrotini. Trust us, it’s akin to an epic all-night Ibiza rave served in a glass.
Do yourself a favor and start the day with a glass of fresh cold-pressed juice at The Daily, the popular grab-and-go provisions staple located on upper King Street. Or continue the journey toward decadent nirvana with the “Oinky Okra” breakfast sandwich—a savory concoction of pork chop, fried egg, cheddar cheese, and pickled okra piled on an English muffin. Hello, breakfast!
Next, venture to Drayton Hall, an icon of colonial American identity. Widely considered the finest example of Georgian Palladian architecture in North America, Drayton Hall is certainly one of the Lowcountry’s greatest architectural treasures. Untouched by fad or fashion, the house museum stands as an example of meticulous preservation and has neither running water nor electricity. As one of the most successful planters of his time, John Drayton surrounded himself with the most fashionable goods acquired from travels around the world. The surviving furniture, ceramics, and glassware exist in situ and exhibit the lengths that Drayton went to furnish his house with imported objects that befitted his status and lifestyle and were in keeping with the latest protocol of British society.
After your brush with Drayton’s plantation fantasia, go “see and be seen” at Slightly North of Broad, Charleston’s version of the power broker’s lunch spot famously referred to by the acronym SNOB. Chef Frank Lee is one of the area’s seasoned stars. While known for his southern fare (he even raises his own quail for the eggs), his Pad Thai is the best in town.
Stretch your legs with a stroll to some of Charleston’s art galleries, including the nearby City Waterfront Gallery and the Mary Martin Gallery.
Ready to eat again? Good! Craig Deihl, an accomplished young chef with unbridled enthusiasm for pork products and a passion for creating charcuterie, will prepare dinner for you at Cypress. A towering wall of wine greets guests at this popular restaurant, where the menu is a reflection of local, seasonal ingredients as well as Deihl’s partnership with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy and Carolina Heritage Farm. A little known fact: Deihl is the first chef in more than 100 years, and currently the only chef in the nation, to cook the rare American Guinea Hog.
After dinner, head a block south to Pearlz and nab a sidewalk table for prime people watching. Linger as long as you like—the hotel is only two blocks away.
Not all of the Charleston area’s treasures are found in the Historic District. Behold The Ocean Course, a wind-swept, Scottish-flavored masterpiece at the 5-star Kiawah Island Golf Resort, located 25 miles south of the city. Rated the No. 1 most difficult golf course in the country, this 24-year-old, Pete Dye–designed links became only the fifth course in the United States to stage all three of the major tournaments of the PGA of America, including the 1991 Ryder Cup. Nurse a strong cup of coffee while you make the short trip to this stunning course. Fore!
After trying your luck on the links, you’re due a day of relaxation. Decamp to Market Pavilion’s rooftop pool for a light lunch and nap beneath blue skies.
Now that you are sun-kissed and rested, it’s time to stroll down East Bay Street to enjoy a wonderful dinner on your final night in town. Want to play a lighthearted joke on your server? Make a special request for the chef to recreate the grand 30-course menu that was served to President George Washington in 1791 in the very building that houses McCrady’s restaurant. Or, just sit back and enjoy a contemporary approach to Southern cuisine prepared under the direction of noted Chef Sean Brock.
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 a hand-cast plaster star replica of the ones carved into the ceiling of Drayton Hall, a copy of Charleston in My Time by West Fraser, and a set of Sacred Bird & Butterfly porcelain teacups from Historic Charleston Foundation. The original setting of the handsome Sacred Bird & Butterfly 17th century porcelain is on display at the Nathaniel Russell House, 51 Meeting Street. Exquisite reproductions of this dinnerware and other noted antiques are found at the Historic Charleston Foundation City Market Shop.