Charleston is one of those cities that is just overflowing with character and charm. It’s one of those cities where everything just seems so perfectly branded. An instagrammer’s dream, if you will. Domestically, Charleston is probably in my top three of favorite places I’ve been in the United States and if you’ve ever been, you know why. So, I’ve put together a list of places that I think are “must see/do” while in Charleston. There were a few places that I missed out on (Angel Oak Tree, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, to name a few) but really that just gives me a good excuse to go back.
At around $80pp for three course and wine, this was easily the most expensive place we ate. But the experience is worth it. Located on a quiet backstreet, we almost missed it if it weren’t for the glorious smell wafting down the street. They derive their inspiration from European roots (think Italian and French) and it really gives you a farm to table kind of feel. They serve a locally sourced three course meal every day with two options for each of the appetizers, entrees and desserts. EVERYTHING is good. Honestly, I felt like I stepped into the French Countryside when I walked in. I will never forget the way that steak literally melted. A serious MUST.
A staple that every local will recommend to you. They will also recommend that you try the Charleston Nasty Biscuit, but I had to try the Huevos Rancheros. A really sweet, classic breakfast or brunch stop. They also have an amazing pomegranite version of a mimosa and it’s worth a try, I think they called it their “brunch punch”.
The most hipster looking place you could ever hope to stumble upon. This restaurant is beautiful. I’m warning you. There will be a line, so go early to make sure they don’t run out of their cold pressed juices before you arrive. I again tried the huevos rancheros and this place has forever changed how I look at huevos rancheros. They put such a unique spin on their dishes and everything is SO amazing. Another one that you can’t miss.
So, when we ate here I kind of had one of those moments where I was like, shit I ate all of my food before I took a photo so now I have to order an additional dish. Yeah. Located in Folly Beach, about 15 minutes out of downtown but such an awesome, beachy, surfer type vibe. We were served mimosas in mason jars and the fried green tomatoes are a must order. I tried them for the first time here and then ordered them wherever I went. And I am a tomato hater, so this was a real life changing experience for me.
Everything here is good, but the line outside is for their signature dish. The okonomiyaki. One of my biggest life regrets is not also adding pork belly in addition to the egg on top. I know that my life won’t be complete until I go back and order this with the egg AND the pork belly. If you go here, and you should, don’t be like me. Don’t forgo the pork belly.
When on the East Coast, you must eat the seafood. So after doing some research we decided on this spot and ordered one of the family sized buckets… for the two of us. Funny story actually. I took a little too long to take apart my Alaska King Crab Leg and I look up and there was one maybe two measly little legs left. So, what I had was great. Everything else must have been spectacular because my sister wolfed it down like a champ.
All sushi lovers know that sashimi is not just sashimi. If it’s not quality fish, it just isn’t the same. Well, I had the best salmon sashimi of my life here. Not kidding, only one other place comes close and it’s in Washington. There is always a wait, so put your name on the list and check out some of the nearby shops while you wait. They have some pretty interesting rolls, and a lot of quality sashimi to pick from. If you can, request to sit by the sushi bar in the back so you can watch the chefs work their magic.
Dessert & Drinks
I am not a doughnut person. In my life I have had two life changing pastries. One was at a bed and breakfast in Tuscany and the other was here. It was called a black and white and all I can tell you is heat it up and be ready to drive straight back to buy like eight more. It was covered in powdered sugar (bottom/middle of the plate in the above photo) and the dough was like heaven and the filling was chocolate but not just any chocolate. Like the real deal. It will change how you look at doughnuts forever.
One of my favorite bars we went to. It has dark, moody lighting and it’s more for relaxing or just hanging out with a few friends. YOU MUST ORDER THE BARTENDER’S CHOICE. This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen done at a bar. You choose two adjectives off of their menu (I chose fizzy and refreshing) and they will make you a cocktail based on those adjectives. It was the best drink I ever had and all I can tell you is I got a buzz fast and I just remember it tasting like real oranges. And this isn’t your average bar. They have things like orange blossom water and elderflower something or other. Just trust me. Get the bartender’s choice.
The cutest little bakery you will ever see. They have cupcakes, tartes, cakes and pies. And everything is good. I tried the Pistachio cupcake. I normally hate frosting and it’s why I’ve never been a big fan of birthday cakes growing up, but I could have eaten an entire tub of this frosting. The girls are so sweet and will offer recommendations, so don’t be afraid to ask!
If I wasn’t so opposed to paying to check a bag I would have bought this whole store. Lucky for me, and not so lucky for my wallet, they have an online shop. This shop is kind of a stationary, home office, pretty things store. I couldn’t leave without something so I got this great little mug that I’ve been trying to make my new mantra, “Amazing things will happen.”
A beautifully arranged store that literally draws you from one display area to the next. They sell various home good and jewelry but what they are really known for are their candles. Look at that giant wall of CANDLES. And the best part? Candle tasting. Yes, folks. Candle tasting. It’s like wine tasting but instead of drinking wine, you’re smelling candles. Every candle in this store is assigned a number (hundreds of candles) and you describe the scents that appeal to you (pine, fresh, light, nothing musky) and they will bring you a few samples to smell. You then circle the ones you like and you work with one of their helpful employees until you nail down your perfect scent. Voila! It truly is an experience.
The Iconic Pineapple Fountain
If you would like to snap a pic of this Charleston staple without waiting in line, come in the early evening hours when all of the beach goers have packed up for the day. Located in Waterfront Park (and in perfect walking distance of the Gin Joint and the Crab House) this fountain is the perfect spot for a token tourist picture and some great views of the coast.
Literally the most underrated area that I heard about while in Charleston. It’s about a 20 minutes drive from downtown but it is WORTH IT my friends. It’s beautiful, the people are wonderful, the restaurants are so cute and eclectic. I want to start making an annual trip here a tradition I loved it so much. So, grab a coffee from Black Magic Cafe and stop by Bert’s Market for some delicious (and healthy options too!) snacks. Then, make your merry way down to that beautiful beach.
Admission is around $25 and gives you access to all of their tours. But my favorite attraction was before you even get to the house itself, the Avenue of Oaks. If you want a picture here, COME EARLY, because the constant traffic makes taking photos difficult. The best time to come would be right in the opening hours so that you have most of the place to yourself.
Where To Stay
I fell in love with this place. If you have read my other hotel reviews you know that I’m partial to privately owned hotels and bed and breakfasts. I did a full review of The Beachside Boutique Inn here but basically, this cozy little inn is about 20 minutes from downtown, a 5 minute walk from the beach and a 2 minute walk to all of the bars, restaurants and stops. I couldn’t have chosen a better location to stay. Honestly, if you plan on visiting Charleston I definitely recommend staying outside of the city and giving yourself time to enjoy the other side of Charleston charm.