Charleston, South Carolina Travel Diary

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

My mom and I had been talking about doing a Charleston trip for months. We both love to travel, and the city seemed like the perfect long weekend destination (it was.) She comes to visit me in NYC once or twice a year, and she was planning to come to visit me in May, with talks of a Charleston trip put off until the fall. But when I was thinking about the fall, it just seemed so busy. We have a really big family trip coming up in December, and I might be planning another big trip before then — after last fall, where I was gone nearly every weekend, I knew I didn’t want to do that again. So after I saw Sunday In The Park With George (which was so, so good!), I called my mom right outside the theater (she had just purchased her NYC flights, so I knew we were operating on a limited time schedule for a refund!) and suggested we do Charleston that weekend instead. She agreed it was a great idea, and I woke up to her itinerary forwarded to my inbox.

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

As cliche as it sounds, the city was everything I expected and more: So, so cute and charming. The colored houses were so picturesque, the food was so good. Plus, everything is better when you’re surrounded by palm (or palmetto) trees. I see why everyone is so obsessed. It’s not a go-go-go city with a million museums to visit, which sometimes, is nice when you travel. We had a really relaxing but still packed stay in Charleston, which is the best kind of long weekend, in my opinion!

I’m going to break this down a la my Barcelona post, with sections on what we did, what we ate, and where we stayed below!

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Where We Ate

I thought a lot about what to eat while we were in Charleston. Like, a lot, a lot, a lot. Unfortunately, it was also the College of Charleston graduation weekend, so making reservations was tough. Plus, it was simply impossible to hit every restaurant I wanted to. Next on my list? Poogie’s Porch, Xiao Bao Biscuit and 167 Raw. But I loved pretty much every place we went.

Charleston Grill
This one we ended up going to because we could get a last minute reservation on Saturday night, but it was a great option. It’s definitely a classic grill — very nice, white tablecloths, elaborate menu, that sort of thing. To be frank, I’d never go to this sort of place if I was picking up my own tab (thanks, Mom!) so it was a fun switch from my normal setting.

Darling Oyster Bar
Honestly, this was my least favorite meal of our trip. I had an oyster appetizer dish that was just not good — it was heated and prepared with a sauce neither my mom or I enjoyed (and my mom likes everything.) I had a poke dish for dinner which was tasty, but a little small. My mom loved her food though, so I think this is more on me than the actual restaurant. The place itself is super cute!

Leon’s Oyster Shop
This was our first meal in Charleston, and it was the perfect place to start! It’s classic Southern food: char-grilled oysters, one of the best dishes I tried in New Orleans, fried chicken, etc. It’s a bit fur

Husk
This was my favorite meal we had in Charleston. It’s notoriously tough to get into, but we went right when they opened on Sunday for brunch, and managed to get a seat after a 20 minute wait. The food was so, so good. If I went back, I think I’d want to go for dinner to try that menu, but I highly recommend brunch! I had

Magnolia’s 
Another upscale Southern spot, we ended up going here because Xiao Bao Biscuit was closed and the wait at 167 Raw was insane. I had a caesar salad with fried shrimp to have a (bit) of a detox

Callie’s Little Hot Biscuits
A quick place to stop for your biscuit fix. They sell sandwiches or just little biscuits in a few flavors. Right on King Street, so an easy spot to hit. However, there’s limited seating, so maybe best to grab for later.

Sugar Bakeshop
I’m something of a cupcake connoisseur, and I loved these. The whole shop smells like baked good, I seriously would buy a candle with the Sugar Bakeshop scent if I could. I had the strawberry flavor and it was divine.

The Daily
We just stopped here for coffee, but the setup was cute and they have a nice array of smoothies + other quick breakfast spots.

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

What We Did

We arrived late on Friday, so we just took an Uber to our hotel (the King’s Courtyard Inn — more on that below!) and went to bed. Saturday was a bit rainy, but started out overcast so we walked all the way to Leon’s, which is a bit further down King Street. After lunch, we walked back down King Street, but this time, stopped in all the stores along the way. My favorite was Skinny Dip, which has a ton of cute and preppy brands, like Sail to Sable and Margaux. There’s also a coffee shop upstairs if you need somewhere to rest your feet for a bit! I also liked Willy Jay’s, which was a bit more affordable. I picked up a super cute off-the-shoulder top there, which I wore in this post. Hampden Clothing also has a gorgeous array of designer items, but most were way out of my price range! Still fun to stop in and dream, though!

After successfully avoiding the rain while walking down King Street, we took a break back at the hotel before heading over to the Calhoun Mansion for a tour. (At this point, it was pouring, so we Ubered.) The tour for the mansion was about 40 minutes. It’s not super historical, but it was a really cool space. The house is crammed with artwork, antiques and artifacts. Honestly, seeing all the stuff and how they manage to fit it into this house was really cool! If we had more time I’d have liked to have seen a home that was a bit more historical, but this was a good one to pop into it.

Dinner afterwards was at Charleston Grill. At that point, the weather had cleared up so we went and got ice cream sandwiches afterwards at a spot on King Street. I don’t remember what it was called, but it was on the east side of the street, past the big park, so a little further north.

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Sunday — and Mother’s Day! — the weather was much nicer. We started with Mother’s Day brunch at Husk, which as I said earlier, was delicious. We then headed down to Rainbow Row and the South of Broad, walking around and snapping photos. Of course, we also walked down to the Battery, but didn’t stay nearly as long as I’d have liked because we both forgot sunscreen. (Yes, my mom is as pale as I am, so this was especially stupid.)

My mom really wanted to see the Ravenel Bridge, so we walked up and over to the Water Taxi, which will take you over to Fort Sumter and Sullivan’s Island. We ended up just taking the taxi around the entire route, which was honestly a pretty way to see the bridge and enjoy some time on the water.

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Outfit details in this post

Monday was our last day, but I started out early with a trip to Callie’s Little Hot Biscuit and then Sugar Bakeshop (yes, I felt like I was going to explode afterwards.) This day was honestly pretty low-key. We explored more of the South of Broad area, walked over to the Waterfront Park and saw the famous pineapple fountain. We also popped into the City Market in the center of town, where my mom bought a wall hanging for my grandma (that she unfortunately ended up leaving in the cab or at the airport! If you know my mom, you’ll know this is classic. (She’d agree!)

We then went on a carriage tour of the city, something I had seen recommended. We did it with Palmetto Carriage Works, and our guide was great! It’s an interesting way to learn more about the history of the city while getting a peek at all the amazing architecture. I also adore horses — I used to ride every summer at camp, and wish it was easier to do so in the city — so any activity that brings a horse into my day is welcome!

It was so hot, so some time in the AC was welcome, and we had a long lunch at Magnolia’s. The rest of the trip was honestly stressful, having to figure out my flight situation after I was hit with a massive delay (and eventual cancellation!) but it all worked out, thankfully!

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the King’s Courtyard Inn, right on King Street, and I could not recommend it more. The prices were pretty reasonable compared to other Charleston hotels I looked at, and the location was incredible. Smack in the middle of King Street, right near Queen Street (and Husk!), nestled in between the shopping and the South of Broad neighborhood. If it wasn’t for the rain, we would have barely used Uber the whole weekend. The rooms are spacious (and provide an iron, bless!) and there’s a super cute courtyard (naturally) at the center of the hotel. Every night around 5, they provide complimentary wine and snacks served in the courtyard, too!

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

I know it’s so grainy, but I liked the photo otherwise! Outfit details here. Also I miss my long hair, WAH.

Charleston, South Carolina Travel Guide, What to Do in Charleston South Carolina // Pearl Girl

Charleston really is the perfect weekend getaway, and I’m so glad I got to spend Mother’s Day with my wonderful mom — and in this pretty city! Let me know if you have any questions, or any spots to add to my next trip — because I already know I’ll need to plan another one (dreaming about those biscuits!).

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  • I have not been to Charleston in over 15 years but I am hoping to get back soon! The city is so pretty and that food looks delicious!

    • You need to! It’s the perfect city for a weekend getaway + the food is UNREAL! xx