Our gorgeous town of Charleston, South Carolina has seen it’s fair share of publicity and press recently. It began with Oprah – naming Charleston the best place in America to eat back in 2008. Then the New York Times started picking up on the energy of the town – telling its readers that our town is the cure to leave the stress of big city life behind, if only for a weekend getaway.
It wasn’t long before Southwest Airlines grounded roots in our little airport, making Charleston an accessible 1-2 hour direct flight from Chicago, D.C, New York, Boston and Nashville, to name a few. Charleston had always been a destination for weddings and beach vacations for folks in the Southeast, but in the past 5 years, there has been a nationwide buzz about the Lowcountry. It’s easy to see why. We’ve got it all. Old-world charm, a slower pace of life, world-class cuisine, distinctive local art and the the most beautiful, Lowcountry waters – 3 beaches and a marshland ecosystem not found anywhere else in the world.
But none of this is new to you. If you’re reading this and don’t already live in Charleston, you’ve probably visited a handful of times or more – because once people come to Charleston, they come back again, and again, and again. So here is an outline of living like a local for 24 hours during the Fall season:
4pm : Check into the Elliot House Inn
This quaint little inn is nestled in Harleston Village – a residential neighborhood of historic downtown – and offers all the charm of a bed and breakfast with the cleanliness and professionalism of a 4 star hotel. You’ll be in the heart of the peninsula so getting around town will be a breeze.
5:30pm : Cocktails at The Vendue Rooftop
There is a reason it has been voted the best rooftop bar by locals for the past 7 years. Plush couches, multiple levels to lounge and a view 360 view of the city from river to river make the atmosphere perfect for sunset drinks. Order the Hot Lolita to drink and the Ceviche of Local Seafood to share. If you aren’t feeling seafood just yet, the Edamame Hummus is made in house and to die for.
7:00pm : Dinner at FIG
This restaurant gets it right, starting with it’s name, an acronym for Food Is. Good. The menu changes weekly andsometimes even daily, depending on what is local and available. You’ll be wow’d by the creativity of dishes offered, the unique flavors and pairings, and the reasonable pricing of everything on the menu. If you want to eat like a local, it doesn’t get better than FIG.
9:30pm : Nightcap at The Gin Joint
Don’t be fooled by this little bar’s big East Bay street address. You might miss it if you aren’t looking for it, which is one reason it is so cool. It almost feels like a speakeasy because it can be so hard to find. Once there, grab a seat on the garden patio and put an order of Peanut Butter Bar Bites in for dessert. When you’re ready to order your drink here is a tip: give your waiter two adjectives – yes, as in descriptive words – and the bartender will come up with a customized drink that tastes like the adjectives you’ve given.
9am : Wake up at the Marion Square Farmers Market
Head to the center of the peninsula (about a mile walk from Elliot House Inn) and go straight to the Vietnamese Coffee truck. Once the coffee defogs your brain, you’ll be ready to decide on one of the many breakfast options at the market. Do you want omelettes, crepes or made to order donuts? Want a breakfast burrito? Look for the Roti Rolls food truck. Sit in the park, enjoy your breakfast, and then resist the urge to fall into a food coma by walking the market and browsing dozens and dozens of local artist’s tents. If you’re staying longer than 24 hours, pick up your groceries from all the local farmers that set up shop every weekend.
11am : Rent paddleboards or kayaks at Charleston Paddler
The best time in Charleston to get out on the water, in my opinion, is the Fall. The summer sun hangs in the sky and warms your skin while the crisp air keeps you cool throughout the day. It is a much needed reprieve from August and September’s soaring heat indexing and humidity – trust me, you’ll never want to be inside during the Fall in the Lowocountry. Head to Shem Creek and you’ll be able to experience the scenic waterways of Mount Pleasant.
3pm : Late lunch at the The Obstinate Daughter
You might think I would suggest going to Poe’s for lunch since I’m telling you to drive to Sullivan’s Island, but I know my readers better than that – you’ve already been there a dozen times and while the pimento cheese burger and fries are heavenly, your 24 hours is coming to a close and there is no way you’ll be able to drive home with a belly full of Poe’s. Instead, go to Sullivan’s Island newest restaurant, The Obstinate Daughter. Order the Faro Salad to start and the Old Danger pizza as your main.
4pm : Beach + gelato at Beardcat’s Sweetshop
You’re going to need something sweet but light for desert. Head just below The Obstinate Daughter and order the cinnamon gelato at Beardcat’s Sweetshop. Homemade gelato. Need I say more? Take your scoop (or 3) to the beach and end your 24 hours in Charleston with a lazy Sullivan’s Island bike ride.