“I’m going back to dignity and grace.
I’m going back to Charleston, where I belong.”
- Rhett Butler, Gone With The Wind
The slower pace of this beautiful and historic city in South Carolina is perfect for a family vacation, a romantic getaway, or a weekend with friends. We recently spent five days in Charleston and loved every minute of it.
We had a quick, direct flight from our home base. Landing mid-morning, we quickly secured our vehicle (a jeep wrangler - top down!) with plans to find lunch, shopping, and a whole lot of history!
Our first stop was the City Market. The City Market is one of the nation’s oldest public markets and is located in the cultural heart of Charleston. The Market is open daily 9:30am-5:30pm except for Christmas Day. Parking can be found on the street, in metered lots, and in parking garages located nearby.
The City Market is a combination of open-air stalls and the more permanent shops of the Great Hall. We recommend starting at one end working your way to the other so you don’t miss anything!
About halfway through the market we stopped at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit for the daily “mix and match” 3 for $6 and a large sweet tea. Yum. There isn’t a place to sit so we took our biscuits and kept on walking. These biscuits are really delicious. We purchased all six daily options and shared them as we walked. Don't forget the extra napkins - they are a bit messy.
We enjoyed a successful shopping experience taking home a pair of one-of-a-kind earrings, a South Carolina ornament, a baseball hat, a map, a sweetgrass basket as well as fun food items like benne wafers, pimento cheese, golden rice, praline almonds, and grits from the vendors located within the Great Hall. Clearly the offerings are diverse – there is literally a treasure for everyone. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours tasting, smelling, and shopping our way through the City Market.
Perhaps the most famous souvenirs found throughout the market are the sweetgrass items which include baskets, roses, ornaments, serving plates, and more. For more than 300 years, the art of weaving natural grasses into bowls, flowers, etc has been passed through the Gullah people. If you are interested in learning more about this tradition, you can visit the Charleston Museum. There are many vendors and many price points for these items. Be sure to check out a couple of stalls before making your final purchase.
Next up? Lunch! With only biscuits for a snack, we were starving. There are many restaurants in the neighborhood surrounding the market so we walked until we found one that sounded interesting. We enjoyed sampling the traditional southern foods which included pimento cheese, hushpuppies, crab cakes, and local craft beers.
After lunch, we needed to move. So we set out on our own walking tour which include Waterfront Park, the Pineapple Statue, the cobblestones of Adger's Wharf, Rainbow Row, the Battery, and White Point Gardens. This 1.2 mile walk was the perfect way to end our first afternoon.
We checked into our hotel, freshened up, and headed out to dinner. We had reservations at Fleet Landing located on the water. I highly recommend planning ahead for this restaurant as it is the only restaurant directly on the water in Historic Charleston. We enjoyed appetizers, drinks, and entrees while dining on the deck. After dinner we walked a short distance for drinks at the rooftop bar of the Market Pavilion Hotel.
It was a great first day!
Know Before You Go:
Dinner reservations during high tourist times are a must.
There are so many fun places to stop for live music, cocktails, dessert surrounding the City Market. We were able to walk into the rooftop bar and find seating and a waitress!
Wear comfortable shoes! Historic Charleston is all about walking and the streets are uneven.
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When to Go:
In our opinion the best time to visit Charleston is March to May or September to November. The temperatures are lovely - typically 60-80 degrees – without the humidity and heat of the summer months.
Is Charleston Safe?
Yes! Charleston is considered safe for visitors. However, Charleston is a city, so we recommend taking the typical city precautions – don’t walk alone at night, park your vehicle in well-lit locations, ensure valuables are stored out of sight, be aware of your surroundings.
We recommend using a rental car. For our adventures in Charleston, we loved having a jeep wrangler. It was a treat! Parking isn’t a problem if you know where to look. A full list of parking options can be found at Parking Information. This link includes parking locations, costs, as well as amenities like security or restrooms. We found both the Waze app and Google maps to be easy to use to navigate from one destination to another.