Charleston, South Carolina, has quickly become the go-to vacation destination in the southern United States after being named to several major must-visit lists. Whether it’s your first trip ever or just your first trip in a long time, you’ll need know a few crucial things before booking your next visit to the Holy City.
1) Most of the major sights are within easy walking distance of one another.
Charleston’s historic district is an extremely walkable town, so lace up those shoes and head out. Within 10 blocks, you’ll find the high end shopping of King Street, the romantic beauty of White Point Gardens, the charming Rainbow Row, and the stately mansions south of Broad Street.
2) The beaches are nowhere near the historic district.
Unlike the sites on the peninsula which are quite compact, Charleston’s beautiful beaches require some sort of transportation since they’re beyond walking distance. Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island, which are to the north of the peninsula, are approximately 20 miles from downtown. Folly Beach to the south is just over 10 miles from the heart of historic Charleston. If you’re not planning to bring or rent a car, you’ll need to grab an Uber or Lyft ride; check out Ridester to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your destination.
3) You should come ready to eat your way through town.
In recent years, Charleston’s food scene has come into its own, and now the town boasts several James Beard award winning spots. Dive into the classic shrimp and grits at Poogan’s Porch, sample the locally sourced and ever evolving menu at Husk, or sample seafood at The Ordinary. There are cafes and coffee shops to linger at before you start your sightseeing. And, if you’re here on the weekend, you’ll want to stop everything and have brunch along with the locals. If you want an overview of the food scene–along with some history and architecture tips–sign up for one of the city’s walking food tours.
4) The weather is best in the fall.
The streets of Charleston are packed in the summer months, when the humidity and temperatures in this Southern city are at their highest. Skip that sticky sightseeing and come to town in October instead. Not only will you be able to linger outside without fear of melting into a puddle, but you’ll have the city to yourself. While the rest of the nation is marveling at rainbow colored leaves and pulling their jackets on in the chilly weather, you’ll be able to wander in the mild fall temperatures.
5) Take home a locally sourced souvenir.
Instead of buying yet another t-shirt, purchase a souvenir that’s more indicative of the Charleston culture. Marvel at the intricate detailing in the sweetgrass baskets, a Gullah tradition that’s been passed down for over 400 years. Take home some benne wafers, a lightly toasted round wafer with a savory sweet finish. Other popular souvenirs like handmade candles, Charleston-inspired jewelry, and paintings from local artists can be found daily at the City Market in the heart of downtown Charleston.