3 Days in Charleston

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Day 1

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.

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Day 2

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.

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Day 3

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.

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Charleston’s Top 5 Travel Sites

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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.

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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.

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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

Charleston’s Top 5 Restaurants

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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.

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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.

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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.

New Orleans Architecture

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ABOVE: Magnolia Mansion.

Take any Garden District tour and you’re bound to see where Sandra Bullock and John Goodman live. But the real stars are the homes that make up one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in all of America.

During the French and Spanish colonial periods, the Creoles established the French Quarter. But the Garden District was created by newly monied Americans who brought European revival styles to their new homeland.

The most popular styles of Garden District architecture include the shotgun house (so named because you can shoot a shotgun through the front door and its pellets will exit the back door), two storey townhouses (classical, narrow facades), double-gallery houses (similar to townhouses, often larger with covered porches and wrought iron railings) and raised basement bungalows.

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ABOVE: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button house.

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ABOVE: Shotgun style house.

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ABOVE: Centre Hall Bungalow.

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ABOVE: Tudor Style house.