Charleston, South Carolina is rapidly developing a name for itself on both the national and international travel scene. The city was recently dubbed the #1 city in the United States and #2 city in the world by the readers of Travel+Leisure; and just one single visit to its shores will have you understanding why.
Its allure lays in its irresistible “charm”… a word that has become synonymous with Charleston, as it has consistently proven to be the epitome of Southern charisma and hospitality.
Home to a number of islands, historical architecture, beautiful gardens, great shops and restaurants, there’s really no shortage of activities to keep you entertained during a visit to Charleston. But if you truly wish to completely indulge in the city’s Southern charm, below are five things you must do in the Charleston Historic District. These will certainly give you a taste of why this picturesque coastal city is stealing hearts all over the world.
1. Stay in a Historic Charleston Inn
Set the tone for your Charleston stay right from the very start by ditching the traditional hotels and opting to stay in a historic inn instead. Dotted throughout the city are a number of cute and quaint boutique hotels or inns that bring the charm of the Lowcountry directly to your room. Planters Inn, Andrew Pinckney Inn, Zero George, Fulton Lane Inn, Kings Courtyard Inn, and French Quarter Inn are just a few charming spots in the heart of Charleston’s historic district that are sure to meet your fancy.
These restored 1800-style buildings are beautifully designed and offer elegantly furnished rooms that radiate Southern personality. During my recent trip to Charleston, the Cathedral Suite at the Fulton Lane Inn made for a delightful stay. Equipped with a whirlpool tub with shutters that open onto a four-poster canopied bed, this suite was dreamy and enchanting. I also enjoyed their complimentary continental breakfast and daily wine and cheese hour, which is a typical practice of most Charleston boutique hotels.
Historic inns are definitely the way to go in Charleston. They offer Southern hospitality at its finest. You don’t want to miss out on this experience when in the Lowcountry!
2. Enjoy a Scenic Walk along The Battery
Once a defensive seawall, the Battery is now an iconic landmark and pathway that stretches alongside the Charleston harbor. It is undoubtedly the most scenic walk in the city, and a leisurely stroll along this picturesque promenade is a must-do.
Lined with pretty palmetto trees and lavish antebellum homes (or should I say multi-million dollar mansions) on one side and the waterfront on the other, there are so many sights and scenes to savor. It’s an impressive and breathtaking display of beauty that will surely leave you inspired.
3. Catch the Charleston Sunset from a Rooftop Bar
As with any beautiful city, one should never just experience it from the ground, and Charleston is just as charming from above.
An evening of cocktail-sipping and sunset-viewing from one of Charleston’s chic rooftop patios makes for the perfect way to unwind from a day of sightseeing. Luckily there’s no shortage of rooftop bars in downtown Charleston.
Take in the city’s scene and spectacular sunset from trendy spots like Pavilion Bar, The Vendue, Élevé or Stars Rooftop Bar. I especially love the ambience at Pavilion Bar. It’s a super swanky outdoor space featuring a cascading pool and elaborate drink menu. You can read more about Pavilion Bar here in my previous Charleston post. I highly recommend this rooftop patio as a great way to begin a night on the town.
When you’re done at Pavilion Bar, head on over to nearby Henry’s to dance the night away to some amazing live music.
4. Leisurely Stroll through Rainbow Row
Charleston is a great walking city. In fact, walking is the best way to really relish in the city’s charm. A stroll around the historic district will greet you with many surprises (beautiful cobblestone streets, stunning architectural designs, elegant courtyards, and perfectly manicured window boxes), but the greatest of Charleston visual treats is the stretch of candy-coated homes on East Bay Street appropriately called Rainbow Row.
Rainbow Row is a must-see. This row of pastel painted beauties is the longest string of Georgian row houses in the U.S. It is one of the most visited sites in downtown Charleston and it’s not hard to see why; it’s certainly the prettiest street in town!
Be sure to walk with your camera because every house is a photo-op!
5. Experience a Southern Sunday Brunch
The brunch culture has taken over almost every U.S. city in recent years, but “Sunday brunching” has long been a thing of the South, and when in Charleston on a Sunday, well… brunch is “thee thing to do!”
As you may have read in my previous post “72 Hours in Charleston: A Foodie Adventure,” Charleston’s gastronomy is just as glorious as its charming aesthetic, and there are numerous renowned restaurants to choose from. Including a Southern-style brunch experience into your Charleston stay is an absolute must.
I recently had brunch at Poogan’s Porch, and I certainly recommend it. Located in the heart of Charleston’s historic district overlooking Queen Street, an outdoor seat on the porch is the perfect place to imbibe in the vibe of charming Charleston.
You can read more about my time at Poogan’s Porch, as well as my overall culinary experience in Charleston here. Check it out for information on where and what to eat.
Until next time,