Charleston Weekend Travel Diary

Over Labor Day weekend, Zack, our friend Alex, and I took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. It was me and Zack’s first time visiting – which surprises a lot of people since we grew up in NC. I loved all the architecture and food, but MAN, I was definitely not prepared for the HEAT! I will never take NC summers for granted again! 

Anyway – here’s how we spent our long weekend:

We hit the road early so we could make it to Charleston for lunch. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive from Raleigh, NC to Charleston. We stopped at our hotel first to drop off our bags – we stayed at a hotel near the airport which is about 20-30 minutes from the Charleston Historic District. 

Our first stop in Charleston was lunch at Brown Dog Deli. I give this restaurant a 10/10 – the sandwiches were not only creative but DELICIOUS. Zack and I rarely order the same thing, but we both ended up ordering the Pig n’ Fig: pulled pork, fig-rosemary preserves, bacon jam, cheddar, and granny smith apple slices on a hoagie. 

We spent the next few hours walking around and doing some sight-seeing which included:

White Point Garden
The Battery
Rainbow Row
Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park

We grabbed a quick coffee at Bakehouse and even popped into The Tavern at Rainbow Row (which is the oldest liquor store in the country and has a pretty neat history!)

We had reservations at 4pm for The Darling Oyster Bar (and I highly recommend making a reservation to guarantee a seat! Even the bar filled up very quickly!) We had a few cocktails (I tried the Spritz Carlton + Basil Daisy), some oysters and shrimp cocktail from the raw bar, and a fry basket with shrimp + hushpuppies. The food, atmosphere, and service were excellent!

After our early dinner, the temperature had cooled down enough so we strolled along King Street and popped into a few shops.

Eventually we made our way towards the water to watch the sunset. We had some time to kill so we stopped at the Griffon to grab a drink. The bar was highly recommended and had great reviews, so I don’t know if we were just there on an off night, but we weren’t impressed. It’s definitely got a cool vibe with dollar bills covering every wall, but the service just wasn’t great. 

We found a bench at the Waterfront Park Pier and enjoyed the breeze and watched the sunset before heading back to our hotel for the night. 

We grabbed a late breakfast at Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. We went to the one inside the City Market. Another 10/10 meal. Zack and I ordered 3 different biscuits to share: Bacon, Egg, & Cheese; Goat Cheese, Peach Jam, & Arugula; and a Pumpkin Spice Biscuit. So good. So filling. Three biscuits may have been too much but we just couldn’t narrow it down to two! 

If there was one thing we learned on Saturday, it was to try and find inside things (with AC!) to do during the hot afternoon hours, so here’s a list of what we did:

• Strolled through Charleston City Market
• Toured the Nathaniel Russell House
• Grabbed drinks at The Blind Tiger Pub
• Toured the Heyward-Washington House

The house tours were a spontaneous decision (found them with a quick google search), but they were one of our favorite parts. It was really cool to see and learn about the history of the buildings. 

It finally cooled down enough, so we wandered around aimlessly for a bit. Admiring all the gorgeous architecture and quaint streets was definitely a highlight for me. We had dinner reservations at Poogan’s Porch, located in an old Victorian house and serving up traditional southern cuisine. Here’s what we ordered:

DRINKS: Poogin Berry (Gin, Blueberry Puree, Simple Syrup, and Soda) for me and a whiskey flight for Zack.
APPETIZERS: Fried Green Tomatoes with bacon jam and pimento cheese (to DIE for!!), Mac & Cheese with country ham and cornbread crumbs, and Fried Okra.
ENTREES: Zack and I shared the Shrimp & Grits.

And absolutely zero room for dessert. 

Great food (and lots of it!) and excellent service. 

We were full and exhausted, so we called it a night after dinner and headed back to the hotel.

Our plan was to drive out to the Angel Tree (a giant live oak tree), but it unfortunately ended up being closed. It’s surrounded by a metal fence, and it had started pouring rain, so we didn’t even stop or get out to look. 

I did remember hearing about a nearby tea garden, so we decided to check that out, and it ended up being amazing. The Charleston Tea Garden is the ONLY tea garden in North America, and it’s FREE to visit (unless you opt for the trolley tour). There’s a free little factory tour, free tea samples, and an adorable gift shop. Zack, Alex, and I are all tea lovers, so this was honestly one of our favorite finds! Plus all the live oaks on the property were dripping in Spanish moss, and it was stunning. 

When we were done at the tea garden, it was time to head home.

Charleston was beautiful, but a few things that surprised me/things I’d do differently next time::

• It was much more expensive than I expected. And that’s coming from someone who lived in Los Angeles! Not something that should deter you from visiting, but something to keep in mind for sure! 

• I’ve already mentioned this a few times, but the HEAT! I’d definitely visit in the fall, winter, or early spring if I go back! 

• Stay in the historic area. There’s a few pros to this: You’ll save money on parking + if it is hot you can easily take an afternoon break. We planned our trip pretty last minute + it was a holiday weekend, so staying a little farther out was our only option!

All in all it was a nice weekend, and a really cute town to explore! We put together a little video as well highlighting the trip – check it out below!

– Courtney

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