Looking for a weekend getaway that is easy on both your eyes and pockets? Charleston is the epitome of southern charm at its very best and is the perfect place to reset and refocus!
Jordan and I started our new year on a slightly different note than usual. We typically put our feet to the ground and go full steam ahead into the new year, anxious to start making head way on both new and old goals for the year. But on January 02, instead of parking ourselves at our desks we parked ourselves in the car and took a road trip to Charleston! One of our yearly goals is to carve out time together in our Happy Balance Planner where we just check out of our todos and check in with each other. Too easily we find ourselves getting lost in the hustle and bustle of work and everyday and we want to make a habit of instead getting lost in new places and new experiences, hand in hand, without a schedule, todo list or meeting. We want to purposefully make the choice to step away, refocus on what matters most (each other!) and come back to our work more refreshed than when we left it.
So that’s exactly how we started our year. We let go of the pressure of vacations only being real if they required a plane, big budget and a week off of the clock and traded that in for easy, budget friendly getaways that could be taken by car and required only a few days off. Our first stop: Charleston, South Carolina!
The minute we arrived in town, we both asked each other why we had never ventured to Charleston before! The best way to describe it is southern charm at its very finest. Painted shutters, gas lanterns, flower boxes in all their glory, front doors and entrances that should just be called #frontdoorgoals, satisfying southern comfort food, biscuits (oh the biscuits!!), and southern porches for days! You can park your car at the hotel and leave it be while you explore the city by foot and can make a day of just making turn after turn down each majestic street after the next. We wanted to share some of our favorites from the trip, along with things we’ve already added to the wish list for our next visit…because there will absolutely be a next visit!
Where To STAY in Charleston
- Zero George Hotel. Out of all the hotels we’ve stayed at, this sits at the very top of the list! It’s a boutique hotel that is wrapped in southern charm. Our room was spacious, with hardwood floors and a fireplace to make us feel more at home than in a hotel and our bathroom was beautiful. The closet space had a fridge that was always stocked with drinks (including water and Izzy drinks) and we could walk out of our room onto a comfortable porch that was basically an outdoor living room just asking you to put your feet up. Each morning we’d hop on over to the main, original house and have an amazing European breakfast that was included with our room rate. Included in the breakfast line up were the freshest biscuits from Callie’s Charleston Biscuits still hot from the oven that I might have eaten my weight in during the few days we were there! The location of the hotel was not in the middle of the city, which we actually preferred but was still perfect walking distance to all the good restaurants and sights around town. In between afternoon exploring and dinner, we’d walk back over to the hotel, freshen up for dinner and head back over to the main house for complimentary happy hour each night: wine and a cheese and dried fruit board. Again, all delicious and the perfect touch to really make you lean into full vacation mode. You can’t help but hit the reset button when you sink into the porch couch that you see in the pic above! On our last night, I was already asking Jor when we could return!
- The Restoration: We didn’t end up staying at The Restoration, but it was another refurbished hotel that made the short list. We like to find the places that have a character and history and make us feel like we are in the location we are visiting. Similar to Zero George, they also provide complimentary breakfast and coffee (in a basket each morning, I might add…how cute!) and have a happy hour.
Where to EAT in Charleston
Perhaps the hardest of all the categories to narrow down to just a few but we’ll give it our best shot!
- Poogan’s Porch: Nestled into the cutest restored house that is lit with twinkle lights and greenery as you walk up and has delicious southern food to match. We had dinner here our first night and it was the perfect introduction to how Charleston does southern food…in a good way! They are famous for their award winning mac-n-cheese and Jor can affirm that the fried chicken is legit!
- Husk: Next door to Poogan’s Porch and was unfortunately closed the few days that we were there, sprucing up for Restaurant Week that was going to kick off right as we left town. We heard amazing things about this place though and how some people have had their best meal here. Reservations are recommended and you can bet that we will definitely be making some the next time we go back.
- Low Country Bistro: We stopped in here for lunch one day and were not disappointed by the hype over the restaurant. It’s a comfortable and casual spot that had a beautiful upper level with high beams and a sunny porch. We were unable to eat on the porch that afternoon because it was a little overcast and damp but inside did not disappoint. More delicious southern food and their she-crab soup is famous and the original recipe that President Taft requested be sent to the White House kitchen so he could continue to enjoy it in DC!
- Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B): A bit on the fancy side, which is what we were looking for and perhaps one of our favorite meals of the trip. They have an open kitchen and source a lot of their food locally, which we love, and while you still get your southern comfort food, it has the perfect touch of sophistication added to it. We finished our meal with the Chocolate Pot de Crème and let’s just say if it were polite to lick the bowl, we would have! Absolutely delicious and worth the vacation indulgence.
- Butcher and Bee: Our last dinner in Charleston was here and while it was a departure from the traditional southern fare, we enjoyed every single bite! The most farm-to-table out of all the restaurants we tried and they had a Mediterranean twist that truly combined some of the best spices and flavor combinations we’ve had in awhile at a restaurant. They have small plates, which allowed us to share and try a few different items and then we each got a larger plate that put our table at max capacity but it was worth it! If you’re looking for something a little different, definitely check this place out.
- Black Tap Coffee: Jor is the coffee drinker in this family and so when we go on vacation we always try to find the best of the best in coffee shops. This place came HIGHLY rated and it did not disappoint. I had a chai tea latte that was better than any I’ve had before and Jor was in coffee heaven for the hour that we rested our feet. It’s a little off the beaten path but should definitely be paid a visit.
- Peace Pie: I have a sweet tooth and Jor has an ice cream tooth. Peace Pie satisfied both! They have homemade gourmet ice cream in between two homemade cookies. Is your mouth watering yet because if it isn’t it should be! The flavor combinations are endless, making for perhaps the hardest decision of our trip and between this place and the biscuits, I’m surprised Jor didn’t just roll me back into the car for the drive home!
- Whisk: The perfect spot for a quick green juice and an easy wrap for the road. We hit this place up on our way out of town and they packaged up delicious wrap sandwiches filled with all the fresh veggies, salad and meat (if you like) so that we didn’t have to worry about finding something edible on the road. I wish we had stopped by sooner and I could have tried more of their juice options…they all sounded delicious.
What to SEE in Charleston
We weren’t able to make it to all these places or do all these things but here are a few things off our TO SEE list:
- Rainbow Row: 13 pre-war houses dating back to the 1700s (first picture in post) that are named appropriately for their vibrant colors. Not only are these houses fun to visit but the side street surrounding the homes provide the perfect morning or afternoon stroll with picture worthy views on either side of the street.
- Waterfront Park: This is near Rainbow Row and right off the water. It’s the perfect spot to spend your early morning, watching the sun rise and you can take a picture with the largest pineapple water fountain you might ever find.
- King Street Shopping: The “king” of shopping streets in Charleston. You will find boutiques scattered among name brands while never loosing a bit of the Charleston charm on your walk down the street. I was lucky enough to catch site of a side alley/stairwell off of King Street that introduced me to two of the cutest shops: Texture Design Co. and Be the Change Boutique. I bought things from both shops and loved the chance to support two local small biz owners!
- Candlefish: We learned about Candlefish from the owner of Texture Design Co. and it is a must-see if you are a lover of candles! You walk into the largest room of candles I have ever seen but what’s most impressive is that they are also a candle making shop that offers candle making classes. If you’ve crushed on big library ladders that span a wall of books, replace the books with candle after candle and scent after scent (but keep the ladder!) and you have one wall of Candlefish! We brought home some candles with us created by them but hope to bring home some created by us during our next visit!
- Old South Carriage Tours: We loved learning about the city and its history via horse and carriage! We made a last minute decision to take a carriage tour via Old South Carriage Tour and were so glad that we did. Mr. Gumbo, our horse of the day, along with our guide, provided the best view and narration of some of the most interesting tidbits on the city. You can take a group tour or even reserve a buggy for two!
- Magnolia Plantation & Gardens: Public gardens that are said to take your breath away. We didn’t make it this trip but have it on the must-see for next time around.
- Folly Beach: My parents say that this is one of the most beautiful and relaxing beaches they’ve visited on the East Coast. We’re putting this on the list when it’s a little warmer.
I’m going to go daydream about Charleston for the rest of the day now! We loved every minute of this trip and for the first time in a while, we were able to completely give in to full vacation mode. Sometimes a place can be hard to just completely let go in, but within an hour Charleston felt homey and comfortable. You wanted to put your feet up, turn the alarm clock off and not just find slow but enjoy slow! We all need a break from time to time and a break in Charleston certainly makes it easy to give yourself permission to lean in and press pause. We can’t wait to go back and hope it’s sooner than later!