Help plan a trip to Charleston, SC
July 3, 2010 12:08 PM   Subscribe

What are your recommendations for a young couple spending a week in Charleston, SC? We are in our late 20s-early 30s, and enjoy historic sites, museums, good restaurants, shopping, etc. We are definitely more urban vacationers, and not so much into beaches, nature walks, or parties.

We've been looking into some packages offered by the Charleston Area Convention and Visitor Bureau, having had good luck with packages like this in the past. These combine hotels with different historic sites, walking tours, meals at restaurants, etc.

I'm not opposed to booking these sorts of things on my own, so suggest away! We need a week's worth of activities. We're looking for historic places (of course, Civil War history is included in this, but anything historic we'd be interested in), museums (art, history, or otherwise), great restaurants (fancy or not), maybe somewhere to go for a walking tour of the city, shopping areas, and anything else you think we might enjoy!

We will have a car, so even though we will have driven quite a distance to get there, I don't think a drive of less than 1 hr. for a day's activity nearby is out of the question.

We'll be in town at the end of September, is there anything special going on around that time?

(Yes, I saw this recent question, but was hoping for answers specific to my timeframe and our dislike of outdoor activities. Will definitely be taking some of the suggestions posted there, though.)

Sorry to ask anonymously, but I don't like posting my travel plans online. If you need additional info or anything, you can e-mail me at
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation around Charleston, SC (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A site (place) we found interesting--ask around for it--is the prison, which you see during the evening hours. Has great history to it, all explained by guy who takes you through it.
posted by Postroad at 1:06 PM on July 3, 2010

With Charleston Walks, Have done both the ghost walk and pirate walk and enjoyed both a lot!
If you have a car and it interests you, one of the big touristy things is to go visit Middleton Place or one of the other plantations on the Ashley River.
King street is great for shopping and there are many great restaurants in the historic area.
Civil War stuff gets a lot of attention in Charleston but I really am more interested in Colonial & Revolutionary War history so I would definitely ask the Visitors Bureaus people for recommendations on that front.
posted by pointystick at 5:09 PM on July 3, 2010

I was there for a conference last year. I didn't wander much, but my hotel was very close to the market stalls on Market Street - tons of vendors selling sweetgrass baskets, t-shirts, spices, etc. And go into the Urban Outfitters (on King Street, I think). it's a convertered theatre and such a great space.

When I was there several years ago we went to a plantation not too far out of town. I can't remember the name.

And The Citadel is in Charleston.
posted by Sukey Says at 6:00 PM on July 3, 2010

Design Sponge does excellent city guides with stylish and interesting choices for places to eat, stay and shop. Their Charleston one is fairly recent and looks pretty comprehensive.
posted by judith at 7:20 PM on July 3, 2010

This is the secret to Charleston: Stay at the Holiday Inn on Calhoun Street and talk to Kevin McQuade, the concierge. The hotel is nothing special but Kevin is basically the key to the city. It's all the planning you'll need.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:46 PM on July 3, 2010

The plantations:

Middleton Place
Boone Hall (site comes with sound turned on)
Drayton Hall
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
posted by initapplette at 8:50 PM on July 3, 2010

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, that is.
posted by initapplette at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2010

Eat (several times) at G&M (aka Fast & French) -- great quick&cheap bistro food. Best coffee in the world, amazing soups at lunch. Probably my favorite place in the world: it's on Broad Street, right off of King.

Also: Jestine's (251 Meeting Street) is excellent straight Southern Food. Everything is delicious.

Hope & Union: (199 SAINT Philip St. b/t Spring AND Cannon) -- Superb high-end coffee shop, well worth it if that's your thing. I love G&M's coffee for being just plain good & simple, but at Hope & Union, they elevate it to an art. Really neat spot. []

A/C's, on King St., is a dive-y bar, but has surprisingly great weekend brunch. Not a must-do, but fun.

Whatever you end up doing, enjoy!
posted by bah213 at 11:58 PM on July 3, 2010

My husband and I (late 20s) visited Charleston recently and loved it.

The aquarium is awesome. We also visited the Patriot’s Point Naval and Maritime Museum. A ferry ride to Ft. Sumter made my history-loving husband happy. If you like seafood, be sure to eat at Hyman's ( My husband STILL talks about that meal.

It seems a shame being so close to Savannah to not drive over. It is probably 90ish (maybe an hour 45?) minutes away, but totally worth it in my opinion. I mean there is a Paula Deen restaurant there! Lots of other fun stuff as well of course, so much fun history.

I'd highly recommend doing some sort of hop-on, hop-off bus tour in either (both) cities. I love to do these on the first day of vacation in a new city. It really helps you get your bearings and pick the things you might want to come back to later.

I wrote a blog detailing our trip, if you'd like more info specifically. I don't link it to my metafilter account, but send me a message if you'd like the link. Have fun!
posted by saucy at 7:16 AM on July 4, 2010

Don't walk around with an open bottle of beer in a brown paper bag (like this 50 year old tourist from Florida did a few days ago): "Ted Zellman thought a horse knocking over his wife on Wednesday would be the most excitement the couple would see on their two-day trip to Charleston. That was before he spent nine hours in jail for walking along Rutledge Avenue with an open bottle of beer." "Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said Friday he's not worried that the arrest of a tourist for violating the city's open-container law will keep others from visiting the city. "

One of the comments in the local paper:
nochaseboy wrote:
"I'm going to repeat my past comment. On this fellow from Florida. He sounds Jewish, now there is nothing wrong wityh Jewish men, except this one sounds like a yankee transplant who moved to Florida."

The local paper wrote in an op-ed:
"This arrest is the latest development in what appears to be a campaign to put the clamps on alcohol violations that previously had been viewed as harmless. Participants of the French Quarter Art Walk have been cited for carrying plastic cups of wine while walking from gallery to gallery. Tailgating at Citadel football games has been targeted for alcohol consumption."
posted by iviken at 1:36 PM on July 4, 2010

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