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Picturesque cobblestone streets, moss-draped trees and pastel-colored antebellum houses attract visitors year-round to the South Carolina port city of Charleston. Founded in 1670, Charleston evokes the past—wait until you see the horse-drawn carriages—with Southern charm balanced by contemporary boutiques, hotels, art galleries and some of the most highly rated restaurants in the country.
The city is divided into several different areas, each with distinct offerings. There’s Mount Pleasant with its award-winning eateries and craft breweries; North Charleston, thriving with museums and historical sites, and West Ashley’s scenic vistas featuring the Ashley and Stono rivers’ ancient moss-draped oak trees.
Charleston’s beaches are also popular. Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island and Isle of Palms offer perfect waterfront escapes with peaceful shorelines and coastal activities only a half hour from the heart of the city.
There’s so much to discover in Charleston that it’ll take more than one trip. The area stays relatively warm all year, so it’s always a good time to visit.
The colorful 300-year-old King Street is, after Meeting Street, the most historically and architecturally significant street in downtown Charleston. The multi-block stretch includes a variety of shops over three districts: Lower King Street Antiques District, offering antiques from all over the world; Middle King Street Fashion District, featuring both local boutiques and brand-name stores; and Upper King Street Design and Dining District, where you’ll find sleek interior decor and some of the city’s best restaurants.
Ranky Tanky Concert at The Bend
The Bend, in partnership with the Charleston Music Hall, is using its 20-acre venue along the Ashley River to host socially distanced concerts throughout the fall. Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets, coolers with beer or wine, and snacks to make the most out of the experience. On November 14, The Bend will host Ranky Tanky, a local Grammy-winning quintet that performs Gullah music. thebendcharleston.com
Boone Hall Plantation
Two rows of massive moss-covered oak trees line the entrance to the historic plantation, offering the perfect photo op. Boone Hall was founded in 1681 by Englishman Major John Boone, whose family was influential in South Carolina. While you’re there, take a tour of the house, visit the Black history in America exhibit, take a tractor tour of the entire 738-acre property and stroll through the garden. boonehallplantation.com
Handy & Hot
Shortly after closing her famed oyster bar, The Boiler Room, in Kinston, award-winning chef and TV personality Vivian Howard opened Handy & Hot, a cafe featuring “handy” breakfast and lunch items to take on the go. Think biscuits and sandwiches—air dried sausage with grape mustard is one unique option—yogurt bowls, fruit and cheese-filled hand pies and salads paired with hot coffee drinks, iced tea, juice and lemonade, or bite-sized pieces of fruit infused with liquor. handyandhot.com
Vibrant flavors and a colorful atmosphere define Ma’am Saab, Charleston’s first Pakistani restaurant founded by teacher-turned-chef Maryam Ghaznavi. Located in the Workshop, Charleston’s exploratory food court, Ma’am Saab’s menu features traditional Pakistani and Indian street food such as chicken pakoras, Bihari beef kabobs, butter chicken and masala aloo tikki—fried mashed potato cakes, along with mango lassi, a refreshing smoothie-esque drink. The spacious patio, dotted with palm trees, provides sunset views while you dine. maamsaabchs.com
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ
James Beard Award-winning pitmaster Rodney Scott cooks whole hogs the traditional way, burning oak and hickory wood down to glowing coals that get shoveled under meat in a smoky barbecue pit. Scott serves the pork as a sandwich—open-faced on white bread and topped with Rod’s sauce and skins—or as a plate with two classic sides, including potato salad, mac and cheese, collard greens and cornbread. Smoked chicken wings, spare ribs and Southern fried catfish round out the menu. rodneyscottsbbq.com
Built inside three reconstructed shipping containers and an old auto body shop, Container Bar is owned by renowned actor, comedian and writer Bill Murray and the team behind Rutledge Cab Co., a local, retro burger-and-sandwich shop. The cocktail menu includes drinks made with strawberry-infused vodka and champagne or tequila and lavender simple syrup, as well as beer and wine. Food trucks come by every day offering munchies that pair perfectly. containerbarchs.com
Known for one of the best rooftops in Charleston, Revelry specializes in small batch beers that rotate often on tap. Along with classic IPAs, pale ales and porters, you’ll find unique styles such as a rice lager and a folder-aged sour ale with blackberries and beets, along with other sours and saisons. Be sure to check out Revelry’s new barrel-aging facility and tasting room, The Hold, just around the corner. revelrybrewingco.com
Kudo Coffee and Craft Beer
Before starting the day, enjoy a cup of joe under the twinkling string lights on Kudu’s outdoor patio. The coffee bar offers cortados, macchiatos, mochas, chais and lattes. For breakfast Kudo sources fare from three local bakeries. Head back in the evening for craft beer on tap. kuducoffeeandcraftbeer.com
Located in the historic French Quarter district, The Vendue offers an arts program and rooftop restaurant. The hotel—which is split into two boutique hotels (19 Vendue and 26 Vendue) located across the street from one another—showcases more than 300 works of art and features two to three exhibits every year. Amenities include complimentary coffee and pastries in the morning, afternoon wine, evening cookies and complimentary bike rentals for exploring the city. thevendue.com
The Restoration Hotel
The Restoration’s outdoor spaces include a rooftop pool, The Watch Rooftop Kitchen & Spirits and a picturesque courtyard, located between the hotel and private suites in The Residences. Located on King Street, The Restoration is within arm’s reach of the city’s best restaurants, galleries and boutiques. On your way out for the day, stop by the hotel’s convenient Rise Coffee Bar for some fuel. therestorationhotel.com
Zero George Street
An 1804 building restored into a quaint hotel, Zero George Street offers 16 cozy guest rooms and studios along with two brick carriage houses surrounding a private garden courtyard. The building’s original architecture remains, with timeless design, heart pine floors and contemporary art balancing the old and the new. Amenities include a glass of bubbly upon arrival, a European continental breakfast, evening cheese and wine pairings and a 24-hour espresso bar. zerogeorge.com
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