The older we get the more we look forward to those three day weekends. If you’re looking for that perfect place to explore then may I suggest a long weekend in Charleston, SC? Three days is a perfect amount of time to explore the modern and historic parts of the city.
I’m going to be real with you. I’ve always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the southern way of life. I lived in Mississippi for eight years – leaving in High School. The people were not so nice to us. I was raised by a single mother from Las Vegas in a hick country town where segregation still existed and conversations about God were the only conversations.
As you can imagine, it was horrible and I thank my mom every day for getting us the hell out of there. Fast forward, I decided to give The South another chance. Another chance to change my mind.
So I headed out for a long weekend in Charleston, SC. While certain characteristics and traditions still exist, Charleston is proof that tradition and progress can coexist in one of the most charming towns I’ve ever seen.
Charleston SC FAQs
What’s up with the pineapple’s everywhere?
The Pineapple is a symbol of hospitality, or as some would say, “southern hospitality”.
Wait, why do you have two first names?
It’s common for people in the South to refer to someone using their first and middle name.
So it’s not a palm tree?
No. It’s actually a Palmetto Tree and the state tree of South Carolina.
What is the difference between Low Country and Charleston?
Low Country refers to the geographical location along the South Carolina coast where Charleston is located.
Why does the outdoor patio have its own door?
Odd I know, but the door to the patio was meant to be a privacy barrier for when men guests would come and the women were not prepared to be seen.
Long Weekend in Charleston SC: Top 10 Things To Do
From downtown to day trips, these are my top 10 things you should not skip. Rent a car and you will have plenty of time to see it all.
Fun Things to do in Downtown Charleston
The historic downtown Charleston is easily walkable in one day. However, I recommend taking your time – stopping in shops, iconic landmarks, and rooftop bars offering amazing views of the city.
One day is never enough time anywhere. Don’t you agree?
If a Pineapple is the symbol of hospitality then what better place to display one then at Waterfront Park?
Spanning a half mile of waterfront property, this makes for a perfect afternoon run or walk viewing both the water on one side and historic Charleston on the other.
Charleston is home to dozens of museums but Nathan Russell House and Calhoun Mansion are the most unique.
I mean, how many homes are lavish and historic enough to be considered a museum?
Gaze at the magnificent 3-story staircase of Nathaniel Russell House and get a feel for how the elite live.
Tours run from daily from 10-5 pm for $12.
For $17 you can take a 30-minute tour through the Victorian Era Calhoun Mansion. A private home that opens its doors to daily tours.
I’m sure you’re wondering why the horse-drawn carriage tours aren’t on the list.
If you weren’t then you are now.
I personally feel bad for making animals work in that sense. However, if you choose to take a tour, I recommend taking the time to research the company to make sure they are up to ethical standards.
There are plenty of legit, ethical companies in Charleston who care and love the animals.
So this is what old Southern money looks like?
Walking through The Battery makes for both a happy and depressed afternoon lol. I kid of course.
But the daydream does set in hard for these houses are so big and beautiful.
The best part is…it’s totally free and fun!
Just like New York City has Madison Avenue, Charleston has King Street – a main shopping area in the downtown area.
Stroll down a long street filled with large name brands to boutique shops, dining and more.
Looking to take home a true piece of Charleston fashion?
Stop by Grady Ervin & Co to pick up a famous Brackish Feather Bow Tie. These bow ties are truly unlike any other.
This was once run-down houses that no one gave a second glance to.
Then one day a woman by the name of Dorothy Legge saw the potential and decided to revamp the houses creating what is now Rainbow Row.
Today, pastel-colored houses line the street attracting Instagrammers of all sorts.
Built in 1841, the Historic City Market is now a bustling modern-day market – hosting over 300 vendors 364 days a year.
Can you guess the only day the market is closed?
Christmas of course.
The market covers a few blocks and intersects with the Market Hall – an indoor area with food vendors.
Make sure to grab a Charleston staple, Sweetgrass Basket. And might I add, a dying trade, which is sad because they are some beautiful baskets.
Enjoy cocktails and views
Charleston is home to many fun rooftop bars with my favorite one being the Vendue Rooftop.
Located inside an artsy hotel, the Vendue is a breath of fresh air quite literally and figuratively.
A little piece of modernism in an otherwise traditional town.
Plus, the old fashions are pretty good and we all know how much I love old fashions.
Historic Charleston Hotels
Needing a place to stay? Check out these historic Charleston hotels.
Location and comfort is everything at the French Quarter Inn.
For those interested in being close to top landmarks, having numerous dining options, and probably one of the comfiest beds to rest your head, then book here.
It doesn’t get much bigger and PINKER than the Mills House. If you are looking for the complete resort package then book here.
On the rooftop, you are greeted by a large pool, amazing views of downtown, and rooms with a walkout patio.
Inside you have a full restaurant perfect for brunch and a separate bar known to make the best version of Bees Knees.
I can personally confirm for I had more Bees Knees than I can remember.
King Charles Inn is aesthetically pleasing for it occupies a historic building while decorated in a modern-historic twist.
I personally think this property is underpriced (good news for us right?) because you get luxury for a very affordable price.
Though a smaller hotel of 56 rooms, The Meeting Street Inn does not compromise on historic charm.
From their pink courtyard to canopy beds carved from beautiful cherry wood, you will find yourself quite cozy here.
If you’re looking for historic charm in downtown Charleston without paying a ton, then book here.
Mini-Day Trips from Charleston
There are gorgeous plantations and world-class golf courses located only a short distance from Downtown Charleston.
Be sure to grab your rental car and head out for a day at one of these places.
Considered a historic landmark, Middleton Place is a massive property settled in 1741.
Today it’s home to horses, sheep, pigs, and dozens of more farm animals.
You can also enjoy dining and shopping options.
Make sure to pay a visit to the Reflection Pool and Butterfly Lake (shown above).
My recommendation is to take the tour of the Middleton Place House.
It’s all that remains of the three-building residence dating back to the 1700’s.
The tour is short and sweet but offers tons of history giving you a newfound appreciation for the plantation and all that goes into running it.
The drive to Kiawah Island is beautiful. You know those creeping trees that form a tunnel over the road?
That’s the entire drive from Charleston to Kiawah.
Kiawah Island offers tons of golf courses, shopping, dining, and a 5-star resort at least worth strolling through.
When visiting Kiawah Island:
Golf at: The Ocean Course. Ranked #25 out of 100 greatest USA golf courses by Golf Digest, you must visit The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.
Dine at: The Market at Town Center – a neighborhood market perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Sleep at: The Sanctuary Hotel. Between the grand staircases, grand pianos, and grand views, you will not want to leave.
The south lives on in Charleston SC (aka low country) but there is a nice balance between progress and tradition. The verdict? Go visit Charleston, South Carolina today.
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Charleston looks like an awesome place to explore! I’ve been to SC but not Charleston and have been wanting to go. That market sounds like a really fun place, I love places where you can get all different types of food in one place! I’m going to have to plan a trip to visit soon!
Charleston does look really pretty and after seeing that picture of Rainbow Road I was already sold 😀 It’s great that you’ve included also day trips, Kiawah Island sounds like a fantastic place to explore.
Charleston seems to be a cosy city to visit! The Rainbow raw sounds cute…imagine what a little of color on buildings can do to people! So more colors! Kiawah island sounds as not to be missed either! I wish though that you had a photo of the creeping trees to show us! Love to see it!
My parents in law live in Myrtle Beach, SC which is only 2 hours away from Charleston and I cant believe I haven’t been there yet!! It looks like one of the pretties cities of America ! So cute and stylish, you right definitely perfect place for wonderful instagram photos! I am visiting America in two weeks actually so who knows maybe ill manage to visit this stunning place!
I love cities with colorful, colonial looking buildings and streets. Charleston seems to fit the bill perfectly. On another note, I have two first names as well, for almost exactly the same reason. In my community, while we do have a family name, we hardly ever use it, even in official records.
I enjoyed reading this blog. Your writing style is engaging! Charleston sure is an interesting place. Though I am not much into museums but I am curious about Nathaniel Russell House. Guess elites are same everywhere! I am totally against horse driven carriage. I travel a lot but I never hire any vehicle which employs animals. I loved the little backstory of Rainbow Row. The houses are so pretty!
I never knew that pineapples were a sign of hospitality. Sounds like a great game for little ones though–finding the pineapples in the city. Love how you added mini day trips too!
I’d love to stay in a historic hotel and I am happy to see that you’ve listed quite a few options here. The Rainbow Row looks like an Instagrammers dream and it’s interesting to know how a run-down community was transformed by the women into such a colourful one. The historical city market also looks like the kind of place I’d love to visit!
Having lived in the South all of my life, I find the insults that you began your piece with extremely offensive. There are less than lovely people and places In just about any area. Your comments make you sound like quite a bigot: the fact that you included such details says much more about you than they say bout any Southerner.