Charleston, South Carolina
As the wife of a Carolina native, I consider myself an honorary Southerner. Plus, I love fried chicken and biscuits, so it's a win win for everyone. Even during those humid Summer months, Charleston takes the cake as one of my favorite cities. Here's why...
WHERE TO STAY
There are no shortage of charming inns in Charleston, but for my money the best bet is Zero George. Located at Zero George Street (see what they did there...), it's walking distance to great shops, restaurants and The Battery, but I'd suggest borrowing one of their mint green cruiser bikes. Help yourself to homemade biscuits in the courtyard in the morning and leave plenty of time for sitting on the porch, glass of wine firmly in hand.
Planter's Inn was built in 1844 as a dry goods store and has an excellent location in the heart of the Historic District. The service here is above and beyond. Don't miss their wine & cheese hour every Friday at 5pm. Rumor has it some of the rooms are haunted.
The Restoration on King has a great location right near all the King Street shops and larger loft style rooms with exposed brick and galley kitchens. Downstairs, The Rise Coffee Shop brews Toby's Estate and The Port Mercantile sells a beautifully curated selection of Southern gifts.
The Dewberry is a a mid-century modern dream with a slick new refresh and smartly dressed public spaces. The lobby bar is fit for the likes of Don Draper and the on-site restaurant Henrietta's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Charleston Place is a larger property with a spa and indoor pool. The experience isn't terribly unique, but the location is central.
(With my trusty Away bag at the always charming Zero George Hotel)
WHERE TO EAT
Charleston is coming into it's own as a food city with young chefs doing new and exciting things. Chef Sean Brock has made a name for himself at Husk putting his stamp on traditional Southern classics (hello, shrimp and grits). It's a tough table to get, but the Bar next door serves a limited menu including the incredible Husk burger. They have an extensive collection of bourbons and whiskies. Tip: During cooler months, request a table outside on the porch for a truly Southern vibe.
If you're craving mexican check out Minero, a casual eatery with housemade tortillas and an excellent happy hour.
Leon's Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop is a former garage churning out chargrilled oysters, hot fried chicken and above all, the inimitable Siam Salad, a delicious mix of Napa cabbage, avocado and peanuts. The perfect spot for a quick, affordable lunch.
The Ordinary is anything but. Located inside an old bank, they offer an impressive selection of raw bar items, but the showstopper is the oyster slider, a fried oyster atop a buttery, homemade parker house roll.
McCrady's Tavern is on the more classic end of the spectrum serving old school favorites like Shrimp Louie and a dynamite tavern burger.
Hominy Grill is easy on the wallet and makes for an excellent breakfast option.
The Belmont is a slick space with an top notch cocktail menu.
The Darling Oyster Bar is a bright and cheerful space with a killer oyster happy hour. Tip: Try a frozen paloma to beat the heat.
Two Boroughs Larder is a local favorite offering $5 biscuit breakfast sandwiches, noodle bowls and $3 canned beer during Happy Hour. Don't miss their shop featuring maple syrup and King Bean Roaster coffee.
On the veranda, wearing my favorite Donni Charm seersucker scarf.
WHAT TO DO
Charleston is a walkable city, but renting a bike is a great way to get around. Ride over to The Battery for beautiful views of the water.
For shopping, King Street has it all. Check out Hampden, M.Dumas & Sons and The Finicky Filly. Candlefish is a great stop for hostess gifts. Indigo & Cotton is further afield, but worth the walk for unique Menswear. Mac & Murphy is a paper lover's dream with unique stationery and prints. The Canonborough Collective is a co-op shop of sorts selling a variety of wares by locals, like handmade tassel earrings and shift dresses. The Cigar Factory is a new development project housing several shops, including Fritz Porter, a design showroom with a range of styles from modern to antique.
The Preservation movement is alive and well in Charleston. Stroll through the historic district to see some of America's oldest buildings and make a stop at Rainbow Row. If you visit during the Spring, check out the Festival of Houses & Gardens for a rare opportunity to tour these historic private homes.
GOOD TO KNOW...
Charleston is an easy jumping off point for exploring the Low Country area. Rent a car and head towards Pawley's Island. There are beautiful beaches, tasty BBQ and affordable beach house rentals.
T W Graham & Co in McClellanville makes a great stop along the way. Try the fried shrimp. Save room for pie.
Hog Heaven BBQ on Highway 17 in Pawley's Island doesn't look like much, but they do a mean pulled pork sandwich loaded with tangy homemade vinegar-based BBQ sauce.
Otherwise, Sullivan's Island is a short distance from Charleston proper and has beautiful sandy beaches. Don't miss lunch or dinner at The Obstinate Daughter, one of the best meals we had.
Sleeping in, in my forever favorite pajamas.
Add some Southern charm to your wardrobe with these pieces...