Looking to enjoy a quiet retreat during your next Charleston visit? Book a classic three-day getaway at Wentworth Mansion, voted the #1 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. Make the 20-minute jaunt into the Historic District and check into the Wentworth Mansion, Charleston’s only AAA Five Diamond hotel. The Gilded Age mansion-turned-inn features 21 beautiful rooms, each equipped with a king bed, a whirlpool, and a fireplace. A tribute to Charleston grandeur, the Wentworth Mansion offers personalized service and gracious hospitality.
You’ll want to spend the morning discovering many of Charleston’s charms, so pick up a healthy fruit smoothie at Whisk, where the menu includes a variety of fresh and healthy options.
One of the best introductions to the city’s intimate, human scale is via the leisurely pace of a horse-drawn carriage. The Old South Carriage Company guides will entertain you with historical facts and humor, while pointing out many of Charleston’s most noteworthy landmarks and attractions. With someone else driving, you’ll be free to gaze at the sights and snap souvenir photos along the way.
After getting your bearings via the carriage tour, sit down for a leisurely brunch on the shaded patio of Kitchen 208. Enjoy great fare and fresh air at this clever spot that overlooks the gateway to King Street’s venerable antiques district. Watch the world walk by as you dine on the “cobblestone” sandwich, a savory combination of egg, candied bacon, tomato, arugula, Gruyere cheese, and lemon mayonnaise on a benne seed bun—yum!
Make the short walk down King Street to locally, family-owned Ben Silver, a repository of custom designed bowties, tortoiseshell spectacles, jewelry-quality blazer buttons, and other tasteful accessories. Thanks to its booming mail order business, Ben Silver has earned loyal customers around the world; you’ll have a “regimental ball” trying on the luxe goods in person. Venture another block south toward the blue neon sign emblazoned with “Berlin’s since 1883” and duck into locally, family-owned Berlin’s for Women, a fashion forward boutique that specializes in exclusive dress collections.
Back at the Wentworth Mansion, climb up to the hotel’s cupola for a spectacular 360-degree view of Charleston’s unique skyline. How many church spires can you see?
Time to don your new duds and get gussied up for dinner! You’re in for a real treat tonight. Chef Marc Collins has been at the helm of Circa 1886 restaurant since it opened in 2001. Located in the Wentworth Mansion’s original carriage house, the restaurant retains much of its 125+ year-old character, including the wood-burning kitchen fireplace, stable doors, light-filled windows, and original heart-of-pine floors. While Collins is adept at Lowcountry-inspired cuisine, he is widely recognized for his antelope dishes. His latest creation—antelope goetta—is an inspired combination of artichoke barigoule, black olive, enoki mushrooms, and white balsamic hollandaise. Be sure to save room for something sweet, like the pineapple upside down cake.
For more than three centuries, French culture has left its imprint on Charleston. Take advantage of this delicious influence by starting your day with a pastry and carafe of French press coffee at Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier. While there, pick up a few hand-painted chocolates for later!
A tranquil morning spent at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is a morning well spent. This 17th century estate is home to America’s oldest public gardens as well as some of the nation’s largest groves of azaleas and camellias. Originally established as a rice plantation with an extensive and intricate irrigation system of dams and dikes, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens now places great emphasis on embellishing the soft natural beauty of the site with highlights including the Biblical Garden, Flowerdale, and the cattail wildlife refuge.
Continue your exploration of Southern culture over lunch at Magnolia’s restaurant, one of Charleston’s pioneers in the current acclaimed culinary scene. Although known for its traditional cooking techniques of classic Lowcounty dishes, one eclectic epicurean twist has guests coming back year after year— the Down South Egg Roll stuffed with collard greens, chicken, and Tasso ham and served with red pepper purée, spicy mustard sauce, and peach chutney. Enjoy!
Want to learn more about Lowcounty cuisine? Cross the street to Charleston Cooks!, a locally owned kitchen retail emporium stocked with everything from cookware and cookbooks to baking and bar essentials.
Dinner takes you to Poogan’s Porch, a Victorian-style house-turned-restaurant located close to Charleston’s antiques district (only one block away from Ben Silver). This cozy spot has been serving Southern fare, including homemade buttermilk biscuits and She Crab soup, since 1976.
Take a short stroll over to the Circular Congregational Church and discover the area’s rich musical heritage during a performance of The Sound of Charleston. Charleston has inspired musicians for more than 300 years, and this unforgettable live concert spans a wide range of local compositions, including jazz, gospel, Gershwin, Gullah, spirituals, and Civil War marching songs. You’ll be humming and tapping your toes as you head back to your guest room.
Enjoy pleasures found in your own backyard this morning! After breakfast at the hotel, you have a date to be Rubbed and Wrapped at the Wentworth Mansion Spa. This signature treatment combines a Wentworth Custom Massage with a body wrap using warmed oils of your choice: detoxifying ginger and lemongrass, cleansing wintergreen and eucalyptus, or relaxing lavender and tangerine.
Pick up lunch to go from Ted’s Butcherblock, a locally owned and operated neighborhood butcher shop and gourmet café known for its refined picnic-worthy food. A popular pick is the tasty pickled shrimp salad sandwich made with grape tomatoes, lemon basil yogurt, and cucumbers on a cornbread hoagie roll.
Head a block away to Liberty Square and hop aboard the ferry to Fort Sumter, the island fortress that participated in the opening bombardment of the Civil War. Watch for dolphins swimming alongside the boat’s bow during the 30-minute trip to this historic fort.
The final night in town calls for Lowcountry favorites, so head to High Cotton, where the “livin’ is easy” and the food is distinctively southern. Order the Picnic Plate for a tasty introduction to local cuisine, including smoked salmon deviled eggs, house made pâtés, ham, pimento cheese, BBQ peanuts, and pickles. Then dive into richly composed dishes such as grilled heritage pork with field pea succotash, fried okra, and green tomato chow chow or shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage, local tomatoes, okra, and corn.
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.
The Junior League of Charleston originally published Charleston Receipts cookbook in 1950. Described by Food & Wine as “reflecting the nostalgia for the Old-South that prevailed among low-country aristocrats during the postwar (Civil War) era,” the compendium features 750 recipes.
The only commercial tea farm in North America is located in Charleston, and its Plantation Peach Tea is a refreshing blend.
A traditional treat that harkens back to the plantation age, Benne Wafers are a mainstay nibble at Charleston cocktail parties.
Take special note of Croghan’s Jewel Box’s Silver Rice Spoon, an iconic serving utensil that has adorned Lowcountry tables since the plantation age and is easily recognized by its long spindle.
Master the art of the southern breakfast with the help of Callie’s Biscuit Mix.