If you grew up in the South (or even if you didn’t), you know that Charleston is a popular vacation destination. It’s been on my list for a while, especially after Hubs and I visited Savannah several years ago during our first anniversary trip. So, when my sister moved down there, I knew this would be the year. When the same sister and her husband let us know they were moving in just a couple of weeks, I knew that this would be the week. Fortunately, my other sister was also free, so we packed the car, kissed Hubs and Little and made our way down to Charleston.
On Monday, I shared a little sneak peek of our trip, but today I have finally gotten through some of the pictures and want to share more of the details. As a fair warning, this is a photo heavy post, but Charleston is a beautiful city, so I’m good with that.
Weekend in Charleston
Ultimately, we only had a day and a half in the city so there are many things we weren’t able to get to. But, I think we made it through quite a bit in our short time. We also planned this trip really last minute and on budget, so many of the things we did were either free or really low-cost. If I could do it again with more time, I would definitely take more time to visit some of the historic home tours and try out more of the local food.
Angel Oak Tree on John’s Island
We got into town pretty late on Friday night and just met my sister at her apartment to catch up and get to bed. On Saturday, we all got up early, headed out to grab a quick bite to eat on our way to John’s Island to visit the Angel Oak Tree. This is a free park home to a massive oak tree (provides shade up to 17,200 square feet) with its longest branch measuring 187 ft. (source) It is truly an incredible sight.
Due to preservation efforts, there are signs posted all around the property asking that visitors refrain from climbing on any of the branches. We didn’t stay here long, but I’m thankful we stopped by. It is beautiful. Parking can be pretty limited and get crowded quickly, so you’ll want to be sure to go early, or be prepared to drive around a little for a place to park.
There is also a small gift shop on the property that has lots of souvenirs to help remember the Angel Oak Tree and Charleston. It’s such a beautiful thing, I really recommend you stop by if you haven’t been.
Angel Oak Tree: 3688 Angel Oak Rd, John’s Island, SC
The Waterfront Battery
Our next stop was to the historic waterfront battery, a fortified seawall right on the river. The streets here are lined with old, antebellum homes, and green spaces. From the wall, you can see Castle Pinckney, which dates back to the Revolutionary War and Fort Sumter. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a ton of great photos here, but did spend quite a bit of time enjoying the views. We parked right on the street and walked along the waterway. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful for our trip!
Historic Waterfront Battery: E. Battery St. at Murray Blvd, Charleston, SC
Up next, we headed just down the street to soak in Rainbow Row. These homes have been around since the 1800’s and fell into almost disrepair during the Civil War. I’ve wanted to see them in person since I was a little girl when my grandmother brought me a souvenir t-shirt with them on it from one of her vacations.
I loved all the beautiful colors and flower boxes full on each house. Parking is also available on the street and paid by toll, so be sure to bring change if you want to stop by!
It was actually a lot more difficult to get a good photo than I expected. Since the houses sit right on the street, there were always cars passing and parked in front. Even still, it was neat to be able to walk down the street and just admire all the lovely homes. It’s interesting to think about how they are each so different and still part of a whole thing. (I think there’s a lesson for us there.)
See? So beautiful.
Rainbow Row: 83-107 E. Bay St, Charleston, SC
We were able to do both the Battery and Rainbow Row in the morning and then headed over to the Market. On our way, we drove past King St, which was great for shopping, but frankly, there were a lot of high end stores there and chains so we saw it quickly from the car. We didn’t want to spend the limited time we had shopping. BUT, if shopping is your thing and you have time, you totally should take a stroll down King St. The street itself is gorgeous and there are lots of shopping options!
Charleston City Market
We ended up driving to the Belmond Charleston Place Hotel on Meeting St. (jaw dropping gorgeous, by the way) and parked in the parking garage for the rest of the day. (Note: Parking ended up being $16, but we thought it was worth it to be able to park easily and then walk around the city.)
We actually spent quite a bit of time walking through the Market. The City Market contains several blocks of vendors selling all sorts of things – food products, souvenirs, t-shirts, clothes, shoes, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, toys, beauty products, home decor, etc. You name it, you can probably find it in the City Market. Of course, you want to be sure to at least watch some of the vendors working. Charleston is famous for its sweetgrass baskets and several vendors are busy making the baskets right there in there in front of you. The same is also true of many of the jewelry artisans.
Just above the Market, you’ll find the Confederate Museum, which contains many artifacts from South Carolina during the Civil War. The museum is pretty small and run by volunteers, but it’s a quick stop (and the air conditioning doesn’t hurt either) if you’re interested in some of the battle uniforms and old military artifacts.
Charleston City Market: 73 N. Market St, Charleston, SC
Savannah’s Candy Kitchen of Charleston
While we were in the Market, we called to make lunch reservations (just a tip – places fill up quickly in the city and most of them are small, so if you can call ahead, or make a reservation, I recommend it!) before heading across the street to a candy store.
Basically, I wanted one of everything, but ended up only getting the praline sample since I wasn’t sure how the sweets would fare being carried around all day since we hadn’t had lunch yet. I know, it’s not like me to pass on sweets, but I didn’t want to ruin lunch since it was the one meal we had planned to eat out in Charleston.
But, see what I mean? I want so much of it. My mouth is watering just looking at it again. That said, there are lots of local candy stores along Market St. and almost all of them have free samples. I really don’t think you can go wrong with picking a store if you want to buy candy.
Savannah’s Candy Kitchen of Charleston: 32 N. Market St, Charleston, SC
Fleet Landing Restaurant
For lunch, we headed down to the waterfront to eat at Fleet Landing. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t look like much from the outside. It is an old naval fleet landing, hence the name. The food was delicious though and the views were beautiful. It’s located right on the harbor and an easy walk from the Market.
Fleet Landing is a “nice casual” place, but it seemed really laid back around lunch time. You can dine inside or out, which I thought was nice. We were luck to get a window seat indoors.
We didn’t get reservations until 2:00 pm and it was still packed when we got there (and when we left). That’s always a good sign as far as I’m concerned. We got a delicious crab dip appetizer that came out really quickly and each got a different fried seafood platter. I decided on the shrimp basket with a cucumber and tomato salad, pictured below. It was the perfect amount of food for a late lunch.
Fleet Landing Restaurant: 186 Concord St, Charleston, SC
Waterfront Park & Charleston Pineapple Fountain
Right next to the restaurant is Charleston’s Waterfront Park and iconic Pineapple Fountain. Frankly, I should have gotten WAY more pictures here, but it was the end of the day and we were really just relaxing by this point. BUT, this park was beautiful. Like, I cannot emphasize how beautiful it was. There were kids playing in a splash fountain and wading in the pineapple fountain.
The sky was the perfect blue and the breeze from the water was keeping the temperature just lovely. If you’ve got time during your trip to Charleston, plan on taking a rest or just a stroll through this park. I loved to see all the people relaxing, playing, walking, running, picnicking, all around the park.
Waterfront Park: 1 Vendue Lane, Charleston, SC
Arthur Ravenel Bridge
Before leaving on Sunday, we decided to walk the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, home of the famous Cooper River Run. It had been on my sister’s Charleston bucket list before moving, and so we agreed. We parked nearby at Mt. Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park to access the bridge. There are pedestrian and bike lanes beside the traffic lanes that are safely blocked away from cars that made for a really great walkway.
The bridge is 2.5 miles one way and looks over the Chareleston Harbor between Mt. Pleasant and downtown Charleston.
This was definitely the least glamorous part of our trip, but I’m really glad we did it. The views were really wonderful!
Mt. Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park: 99 Harry M. Hallman Junior Blvd, Mt. Pleasant, SC
Finally, we spent lots of time just walking around town and soaking in the beautiful old streets and buildings. I think these photos speak for themselves. I don’t really have anything to add other than just how beautiful the whole city is.
And that’s it. I think we got to see quite a bit in such a short visit, but I know there are so many things that we missed. Have you been to Charleston? What were your favorite parts of the city?
To see more posts on Charleston, see here & here!