Ah, Charleston. One of the most quintessential Southern towns. A place not too far from me in Atlanta, and a city that is an absolute must to visit. Why is Charleston such a popular tourist destination? Because it is a perfect city to see in a weekend. Small, friendly and full of fun… this is how I saw Charleston in a weekend (and how you could too!)
I drove into Charleston from Atlanta after work on Friday night. Putting me at my hotel (right outside of the city center) around 10:30 PM. I hit traffic just north of Augusta and had to stop for dinner, which accounted for the delay. After checking in, I unpacked and settled in for the night. I had not set any plans for the next few days, so my friend and I spent Friday night making our itinerary and planning our weekend.
As with any Southern or historical town, I must do a house or plantation tour when visiting, and Charleston was no exception. I had heard of Magnolia Plantation before visiting and my friend agreed that this was the place for us. A beautiful house to tour, world renowned gardens to visit and wonder around, a petting zoo, swamp tours, rice field tours, a restaurant, and more, all on one property. We woke up early, bought an all-inclusive day ticket, and started our adventure. We had some bumps (only one rice field tour driver, and he had a family emergency that day), so we had to cancel that part of our tour. But the administration office offered us a refund and were very pleasant to deal with. Other than missing that, this place was incredible. We were some of the first to arrive, and when you purchase your tickets, they plan your whole day for you. It was very organized, and I thoroughly appreciated that. I am not going to say much more about this plantation, other than it is a must see and I highly recommend! I am going to be doing a post with my favorite plantations to visit, and this one will be at the top of the list. Not to mention, one of the Drayton’s married a Ewing and I am certain we must be related somewhere down the line!
We got back to our hotel and did a quick getting ready to head downtown. We did dinner and walked around some before our “ghost tour”. Along with plantation or house tours, I always try to do some sort of ghost tour in any city that offers one. These are so interesting to me, and even if you don’t believe in ghost, you get a history lesson about the city from a different viewpoint. We choose Bulldog Tours “The Dark Side of Charleston” walking tour. This turned out to not be a ghost tour, but a tour about the dark history of the city. And I loved it! We learned about the brothels, prostitutes, gangsters, affairs, cover-u and crime of Charleston’s past. I really recommend this tour. After this, it was late, so we called in a night.
We woke up and headed downtown to grab lunch (did I mention I like to sleep in when I can, especially on a trip or vacation?). We headed to City Market first. We stumbled upon Henry’s On The Market and wondered in. This came across as an “American” style cuisine restaurant, but I got the Shrimp N’ Grits and I was not disappointed! My friend got the Seafood Platter and it was delicious as well. I recommend, especially since they seated us in 10 minutes and the Charleston Crab House across the block had a TWO HOUR wait! After a lovely lunch, we walked through the market and did some city sight-seeing. Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Circular Congregation Church (and cemetery), shopping and so much more. We saw a lot of the city on the walking tour the prior night, but I always like to take an afternoon and just wonder around and see what I can find. We also stumbled into a Starbucks to warm up and spend some time just relaxing. After this, we grabbed dinner and called it a night. This was what I would consider a “lazy day exploring”.
I took a three-day weekend for this trip, and I am thrilled that I did. One, it gave me more time to relax and two, I was able to see more and do more. We decided against Fort Sumter on this trip, and spent our last morning at Patriots Point. I will be honest, I was not expecting this to be that exciting. I love history and military history, but I did not think touring an aircraft carrier sounded THAT fun. But, my friend was excited for this, so we got our tickets and headed out. The minute we arrived, my thoughts changed. So much so, that I am forcing my mom and dad to take a night trip to Charleston with me JUST to do this. They did such an incredible job with this, that the tour was one of the most fascinating and educational things I have ever done. First, we toured the USS Laffey, then headed inside the USS Yorktown. You do not truly appreciate the size of aircraft carriers until you are inside one. These things are gigantic. Inside, we did a flight simulator and started the self-guided tour. It is broken down into sections and you really do get to see the entirety of this carrier. Not to mention, the planes that would be housed here as well. We spent hours here and I could have stayed longer.
After this, we walked down to tour the USS Clamagore. I think most people do not realize this submarine is available to tour, because we were the only ones there are the time. This was also equally as cool! I mean a real submarine, and the only surviving example of a “Guppy” submarine, so that’s also cool. If you like history, our military, airplanes, ships, boats or any of the above, Patriots Point is an absolute must. Plus, it’s right on the water and if you are lucky (like I was) there will be sailboats galore. It gives such a beautiful view from up top. We then visited the gift shop and headed to get dinner. We were driving home after this, so we knew we wanted some excellent seafood before our journey. We found R.B.’s on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant and boy were we glad we did! We ate our body weight in seafood, dessert and more seafood. It was starting to get dark, and we had a four-hour drive ahead of us, so we headed out. Thus, ending our wonderful Charleston vacation.
What are my Charleston must haves? Magnolia Plantation, City Market, a ghost tour, Rainbow Row, Patriots Point, Fort Sumter (though I passed on my trip this time around), any place with excellent seafood, and whatever your heart desires. This city is full of history, hospitality and good food. You are certain to have a great time!
So, let me know, have you ever been to Charleston? What are your suggestions for a weekend trip to this southern city? Let me know in the comments below. And as always, follow me on social media to know when a new blog post is up. XOXO.