MORNING Wake up early and start your day with an espresso and decadent pastry at Caviar and Bananas on George Street. Fortified, you’re ready to walk the entire Design District. Even with frequent stopping and lingering it won’t take more than three to four hours to shop ‘til you drop. Make sure to sample the honeys at Savannah Bee Company.
NOON Once you’ve worked up an appetite, have a casual lunch at Fast and French on Broad Street. A soup, sandwich and glass of wine come in around $10 so you’ll have funds for shopping. After lunch, take a horse and carriage ride down King Street and enjoy a guided historic tour. Stop at the Nathaniel Russell House or Calhoun Masion to learn more about Antebellum homes.
EVENING Eat an early dinner at FIG and you’ll have plenty of time to watch the sun set at Waterfront Park. Or, if you’re visiting in the spring or fall, take one of the Home and Garden Tours. Prepare yourself for three hours of walking. You’ll want a comfortable pair of walking shoes and a flashlight for evening tours.
MORNING If you are staying in the lovely Charleston Place Hotel, you’ll want to enjoy breakfast at your hotel before heading out for a day at the plantations. Hop in your rental car and take a one hour drive to Middleton Place. Linger in the gardens.
12 NOON A lowcountry lunch at the Middleton Place Restaurant is a hearty affair, but may be worth the extra hole in your belt. If you have energy after lunch head to the nearby Magnolia Plantation and enjoy their tour as well.
EVENING Head back to Charleston for a tasty dinner on East Broad Street. Try the shrimp and grits at SNOB or the oysters at Pearlz and then take a stroll on Vendue Street and finish the day with a scoop from Paolo’s Gelato.
MORNING It may be a good morning to sleep in and that’s just an excuse for brunch. High Cotton is an excellent choice and it’s just cross the street from the city’s best kitchen shop and cooking classes at Charleston Cooks. If you’d like to take a class, arrange it ahead of time.
AFTERNOON Spend the remainder of the afternoon poking around the city’s art galleries or finish your souvenir shopping at City Market.
EVENING It’s easier to stroll on the sidewalk of the French Quarter since cobblestone streets are tough to negotiate. Afterwards, take in the theatre at the Footlight Players.
1. In the French Quarter don’t miss the oldest standing tavern (and brothel) in the South. The famous pirate Black Beard may have had an ale or two at the Pink House. Today, the West Indian coral stone walls (which withstood the great earthquake of1886 and Hurricane Hugo) house a small art gallery. Head across the cobblestone street to the Old Slave Mart Museum to hear an informative recorded history of the city’s slave auctions.
2. Wake early and enjoy a leisurely stroll along Waterfront Park. You’ll get a great view of the Cooper River from the pier and see the Cooper Bridge which joins Charleston with neighbouring suburb Mount Pleasant. After a long walk, stroll across Vendue Street and reward yourself with a gelato at Paolo’s.
3. No trip to the South is complete without a trip to a plantation. Historic Middleton Place has lavish gardens which take at least an hour to explore. There is also a reproduction home on the property and a popular lowcountry restaurant. America’s only tea plantation, The Charleston Tea Plantation is humble but may be worth a visit if you’re interested. Tours take guests through the tea fields and into the factory. The gift shop has gifts to bring home.
4. Once you’ve had enough history, take a break and spend a day at the beach. Lay out in the sun at Tides Folly Beach in the West Ashley area, only a 20 minute ride from the historic district.
5. Once you are sold on visiting Charleston, you’ll need to book a place to stay. There are several options: you can stay in a luxury hotel like the Charleston Place Hotel or the Francis Marion Hotel. For a true historic district experience, stay a few nights in a cha
In Charleston, porches are referred to as “piazzas” and are situated to catch harbour breezes and offer a view of the garden.
Homes in Charleston are generally elevated, have large windows and doors and high ceilings in order to have cross-ventilation of breezes from the water.
Many homes have a distinctive architectural name, in local vernacular, referred to as the Single House. These homes are typically one-room and a hallway wide with long piazzas that span the length of the house. The entrance door faces the street but typically leads to the porch where the home’s front door is found. The homes are oriented in this fashion because the British taxes were based on streetfront measurements.
1. South of the Fashion District on King, the Lower King Street Design District has more than its fair share of Antique shops. Biggs and Powell, Alexandra and John Pope Antiques (ABOVE) are just some of the best high end antique stores in the area. Be prepared: these shops don’t have affordable little knickknacks or flea market type finds; you’ll be spending big bucks when you shop here.
2. Elizabeth Stuart Design is where Charleston’s most design savvy shop. Explore Muffie Faith’s elegantly eclectic boutique, curated with an incredible array of furniture, jewelry, and home décor selections including treasures from Charleston’s very own Sally Benedict, Kate Davis and Harper Poe.
3. Hop in a car or arrange for a taxi (cabs are difficult to find, ask your hotel for assistance) and head to Charleston’s West Ashley area where the city’s designers shop. Antiques of South Windermere and 17 South Antiques are perfect for an off-the-beaten-path antique hunt.
4. Located in the Lower King Street Design District, South of Market offers rustic and sophisticated French furnishings. The ever evolving shop is overflowing with antiques, re-purposed objects and home décor finds that make it one of the south’s leading sources for interior design. Stop in, it’s lovely.
5. If you like religious iconography, architectural salvage or one-of-a-kind treasures, visit Parham & Co. It’s one of the only antique shops located in the Fashion District, but it’s well worth the walk. Say hello to the family’s bichon frisé.
“There is no better way to learn about interior design than to travel to a city with an extensive history,” says Victoria Drainville.
Eager to explore, Victoria is on a mission to find Charleston’s most unique experiences and learn more about architecture and design. She quickly discovers this small, walkable city is loaded with charming southerners and historic places.
1. The best way to experience Charleston’s rich history is by touring historic homes. Tours typically cost US$10 and are worth every penny to the history buff or home enthusiast. The Edmondston-Alston House overlooks Charleston Harbour and its tour includes the history of this illustrious Charleston family. Visit the Calhoun Mansion and you’ll feel you’re visiting an eccentric aunt whose collections are too numerous to count. The Nathaniel Russell House has a stunning three-storey freestanding staircase and trompe l’oeil crown moulding that is sure to impress.
2. Typical to Charleston are the Single Houses, an architectural style where the main entrance appears to be on the side of the house but leads to a porch. Experience these homes firsthand through the Fall Tours of Home and Garden led by the Preservation Society.
3. There are many ways to get around Charleston, but taking a taxi isn’t one of them. Since you’re on the move anyway, why not combine commuting with a history lesson? Horse and Carriage tours, Rickshaws or even Guided Walking Tours are pleasant options.
4. There are two great shopping areas in Charleston: King Street for Fashion and Design and City Market for souvenirs. You’ll find inexpensive crafts, sweet treats, art, jewelry and sweet grass baskets made by local artisans.
5. Theatre fans will love the offerings at the Footlight Players. Affordable and popular productions run year-round. If reading is your hobby, visit the Heirloom Book Company, a bookshop dedicated to the literature of food.
Scott and Crystal Winks know exactly what to order and where to order it from thanks to their expertise as the pens and palates behind Charleston Food Blog.
Happy to tag along, Scott and Crystal sent us to the city’s best restaurants and led us to the must order dishes on every menu. (It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.)
1. We’re told people travel from all over the country to taste FIG’s Tomato Tarte. Order several of chef Mike Lata’s dishes to share because you’ll want to try it all. The seasonal menu changes daily so visit more than once if you can.
2. The name Closed for Business is sure to scare off or confuse many visitors, but the locals know better. This small drinkery has twice as many beers on tap as they do tables. The drink and food menus are both full of surprises. Try the duck pot pie, chicken salad or the pork slap sandwich—a perfectly fried pork cutlet, house-smoked ham, swiss cheese, green tomato chutney, with a house sauce that’s served on challah (egg bread). Need we say more?
3. Hidden on the first floor of the French Quarter Inn at the corner of Market and Church Streets is the delicious Tristan. Chef Nate Whiting runs the kitchen in this sleek, modern yet simple restaurant. Expect to be visually stunned by the beauty of the décor and the equally gorgeous food.
4. Pealz is the best spot in town to eat raw oysters. It is very small so head over there at 4:00 pm when they open to avoid the big crowds. If you can’t get enough of fresh seafood, go to Hanks and share the Grand Seafood Castle.
5. Dying to try Southern food? Head to 82 Queen Street. Sit in the courtyard and order the she-crab soup and the barbecue shrimp and grits. If you want something that tastes like grandma spent the entire day in the kitchen, try Virginia’s on King. They turn out authentic cuisine using the freshest local ingredients and recipes that are 100 years old.
Chassity Evans surrounds herself with all things stylish and writes about it in her blog, Look Linger Love.
“Charleston is such a lovely city,” says the blogger. Chassity invited us to look at her fave design stores, linger in the best ones and fall in love with an unbearable number of covetable items. Oh, and we did some shopping too.
1. King Street is the hot spot for design shops and right in the heart of it is the charming Lucinda Eden (that’s the shop and the owner). Temptations abound with artfully selected home accessories, vintage clothing and even custom haute couture. The shop’s on the second level, so look heavenward and you’re on the right track. Just across the street is another must shop, Lily. The shop is accented with French style offerings at reasonable prices. Owners Kevin and Lin are typically onsite and eager to share their city with you.
2. Another King Street destination is Dwelling where the style is understated glamour. Whether you’re looking for a design consultation or just browsing the fine furnishings, you’ll feel right at home in Leigh McAlpin’s timeless and sustainable shop.
3. If original art is your thing be sure to experience the art galleries on Broad and Church Streets. Or get your own hands dirty and try one of Redux Contemporary Art Center’s class offerings including figure drawing, screen printing, jewelry making, and woodworking.
4. A carefully edited collection of southern paintings is on display at Gibbes Museum of Art. Opened in 1905, Charleston’s premiere art museum is a history lesson and gem of southern culture. The gift shop is worth a visit too.
5. Another enjoyable walking street, Church Street has a lovely stationery store called Dulles Design. Emilie Dulles’ trademark red hair and cheerful disposition are true indicators of what’s in store in this distinct stationery design shop. Stylish correspondence is just beyond her doors.
ABOVE: Patrick and wife Fanny Panella warmly greet guests in the ambrosial wine bar at Bin 152.
1. If you’re looking for a great French experience in Charleston, you’ll find it at 39 Rue de Jean. Or, pair a light meal of cheese and meat with a perfect wine from Bin 152. Diners love the décor, and fortunately everything is for sale.
2. A trip to the Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square on Saturdays is sure to satisfy any craving. Come hungry and try Street Hero’s banh mi sandwiches or tacos, Charleston Crepe Company’s savoury or sweet pancakes and Roots Ice Cream’s small batch flavours like cucumber-mint, beet or caramelized fig.
ABOVE: A chicken satay pizza with peanut sauce and cilantro? Yes. Jeff Johnson from Zahh Pizza makes it in the wood fired oven of his food truck.
3. Food trucks are gaining in popularity around Charleston which now boasts a total of eight diners on wheels. HELLO My Name is BBQ is at the Food Truck Rodeo on Saturdays (have a beer braised BBQ Pork sandwich, yum). Try a Chicken Satay Pizza with peanut sauce from Zahh Pizza. Jeff makes the dough from scratch and cooks the pizza in 90 seconds. Follow them on Facebook to find where they are headed next.
ABOVE: Quite possibly the best dish in Charleston is the John’s Island Tomato Tarte Tatin created by FIG’s Executive Chef, Mike Lata.
4. You can’t go all the way to Charleston without eating some good ol’ Southern food. Maverick Southern Kitchens operates two fabulous restaurants on East Broad Street: Slightly North of Broad (SNOB) and High Cotton. Try the shrimp and grits at both locations. Tip: Don’t fill up on the wonderful corn bread they serve…or do. If you feel like learning how to make a Southern dish, visit Cooks right across the street and participate in a cooking class.
5. Whether you are just looking for a quick meal or a tasty coffee, visit Caviar and Bananas. First, the name is fun to say and second, it’s a beautiful gourmet store and café.