Hey y’all-hope you had a great weekend! Thanks so much to everyone who read my post in memory of my Timex kitty last week and offered condolences. I miss him so much, but I’m thankful for all the amazing memories I have with him. Today I’m back with another travel post, featuring one of my absolute favorite places, Charleston, South Carolina. I don’t get to visit Charleston nearly often enough, but I cherish every chance that I get. My most recent trip to Charleston was almost three years ago. I had been at an event with my family about 30 minutes away from Charleston. As we went our separate ways, I decided to take a quick excursion into Charleston before hitting the road for a weekend in Greenville. This trip only consisted of about two hours of walking around downtown Charleston. However, it was still nice to soak in one of the greatest cities in the world. So today’s post is a Charleston travel diary with some pictures from that fun little trip.
Since I wasn’t blogging at the time, I didn’t take the same quality of pictures that I would take today. In addition, I didn’t want to ask a ton of strangers to take pictures of me. Furthermore, I didn’t have any food or drink other than a Starbucks latte before hitting the road. Hence, that’s why I’m structuring this post more like a travel diary than a travel guide. This post will give you a glimpse of noteworthy sights and the general ambiance of Charleston. I also incorporate some of my experiences from my fall 2011 Charleston trip, which was my cousin’s bachelorette weekend. However, this post won’t have quite as many in-depth details for planning a trip as some of my other travel posts do.
With that being said, let’s get started!
Charleston- The Lay of the Land
Downtown Charleston sits on a peninsula. Many people access Charleston via I-26 east. The interstate basically dead-ends into Charleston, and you will want to turn right onto Meeting Street, which will put you heading south towards the water. The area right when you get off the interstate is a bit sketchy, so definitely don’t stop anywhere until you at least get a bit further south. That being said, Charleston is very safe overall. I felt completely comfortable walking around by myself during the day. But as with any city’s downtown area, I would prefer to be with someone at night. As with anywhere you visit, stick to the main tourist areas, and be aware of your surroundings.
Some of the Trip Advisor and City-Data forums I’ve read have advised tourists to stay south of Calhoun Street. However, the Hampton Inn we stayed at for my cousin’s bachelorette weekend, along with a couple places we went, were just north of Calhoun Street. So the Calhoun Street boundary isn’t a hard guideline. But while you would be totally fine venturing slightly north of Calhoun, I would use caution in going significantly north of there, especially at night. The best rule of thumb is to trust your instincts, and if the area gives you sketchy vibes and you feel you shouldn’t be there, then you’re probably right!
To get the full downtown Charleston tourist experience, I would recommend staying in a hotel right in the heart of the main historic and tourist area. They are significantly more expensive than hotels in the surrounding suburbs. However, it’s nice to be able to park your car at your hotel and then walk everywhere. There are multiple parking decks downtown, and I parked at one of them without any issues during my quick trip in 2016. But hotel parking with pedestrian access to all attractions would be my preference for a multi-day trip. The only downtown Charleston hotel I’ve stayed at is the Hampton Inn on Meeting Street, but there are several options in the area.
King Street is the well-known shopping, dining, and entertainment thoroughfare that runs through downtown Charleston. It boasts both local boutiques and well-known chain stores. One of my favorites is Palm Avenue, a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Store. The Charleston location has a great sale rack, and during my 2016 trip I got both shorts and a bracelet in one of my favorite Lilly prints for 75% off! There’s also a Kate Spade retail store. I stopped in there during my short excursion, and it was my first trip ever to a retail (non-outlet) Kate Spade store, as the closest one to where I live is more than two hours away. They were having a 30% off sale at that time, so I bought a coffee table book I had been wanting. Even though it’s not special Charleston merchandise, it still reminds me of my trip!
There’s also some various galleries on King Street too. Once you get past the business district, the more Southern portions of King Street are residential. It’s fun to gawk and take pictures of these beautiful homes.
Once you walk all the way down King Street you will reach the Charleston harbor, where the Ashley River & Cooper River meet. This spot at the tip of the Charleston peninsula is called “The Battery.” From here you can see Fort Sumter (where the first shots of the Civil War were fired) in the distance. This iconic spot is definitely a must-see.
(It was definitely a windy fall day, as you can see by my hair!)
Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park
One of the most Instagram-able sights in downtown Charleston is the famous pineapple fountain at Waterfront Park. Even though I didn’t have this blog back in 2016, I still had my affinity for pineapples. Since Charleston is know for being the epitome of Southern charm, it’s fitting that they have a fountain representing the symbol of Southern hospitality. Prior to this short trip, I had visited Charleston for my cousin’s bachelorette weekend in October 2011. I didn’t get a picture of the pineapple fountain during that trip, so I definitely wanted to get one during my little solo walking trip
As you can see, I went with a casual outfit of jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and cowgirl boots. I needed to wear something comfy since I wouldn’t have anywhere to change before driving the three hours to Greenville. And my cowgirl boots were comfortable for doing lots of walking.
It’s a tradition for Clemson fans to take pictures around the country and world holding up a “Tiger Rag,” so I had to pull mine out at the Charleston Pineapple Fountain. These two things together represent my favorite things about the Palmetto State. Also, Palm Avenue has the cutest shopping bags!
I also had to stop and take some pictures of the famous brightly-colored row houses in downtown Charleston, appropriately dubbed “Rainbow Row.” Every time I visit Charleston, I fantasize about living in one of the colorful homes!
Places to Eat in Charleston
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t stop and eat anywhere during my most recent visit to Charleston, since it was such a short trip. However, I did want to share the names of a few places I remembered eating and enjoying during my cousin’s bachelorette weekend in 2011. If you love Southern comfort food, I highly recommend Virginia’s on King. We ate here one of our nights, and I had a delicious vegetable plate.
Caviar & Bananas is a great lunch spot. They also have locations in Greenville, SC and Nashville, but the Charleston location is the original. This was a great place to stop for a bite while strolling around the city.
Finally, Poogan’s Porch is a well-known brunch spot. It definitely lived up to the hype. I’m honestly not as big of a “brunch” person as the stereotypical basic millennial, but I won’t turn my nose up at a good brunch place either. During my cousin’s bachelorette, we had brunch here our last morning before heading out.
I hope that y’all enjoyed this post, and that it gave you a good picture of Charleston. Fall is such a lovely time to visit Charleston. My quick solo trip in 2016 was in early November, and my cousin’s bachelorette weekend was late October. Nights and mornings can be a bit brisk, but during the day you can be comfortable in long sleeves or a light jacket.
Fun fact-I actually lived in Charleston briefly when I was little. However, I was too young to remember anything about it. Hopefully I can go back to Charleston sometime in the near future and do a more detailed Charleston travel post! Have you ever been to Charleston, SC? If so, what were some of your favorite places and memories?
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