A 3-day weekend trip to Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston is a Southern staple, but surprisingly one to which I'd never been. But it's been at the top of my oldest sister's tr...

Charleston is a Southern staple, but surprisingly one to which I'd never been. But it's been at the top of my oldest sister's travel bucket list for as long as I could remember. So for her birthday, I figured it would a low-key and easy to travel to in the midst of a pandemic. And it was - there was lots to do outside and we were able to drive into the city in about five hours. It's a lovely little city, and I think many days could be spent there, but we were able to get in everything we were hoping to in just a weekend. I think next time I visit, I'd like to find accommodations on Folly Beach instead of the city-space. 

Friday we drove in from Georgia

We arrived at about 3pm and we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. The Charleston peninsula is pretty small - only a handful of miles wide and tall. We were able to walk places, if we wanted to, but we were on the far left side of the island, at the edge of the bridge that crosses over to James Island. 

4pm: After checking in, we walked over to Fuel, a Caribbean-inspired restaurant about three-quarters of a mile from the hotel. The walk was pleasant and the neighborhoods were all so wonderfully cute. And Fuel was really delicious. We ate outside, but the inside was darling - lots of plants! Outside was fun and trendy, with a fuel pump and other cute petroleum-related things. There were also some outdoor games, and the weather was so perfectly breezy and sunny. I had planned on the mahi mahi tacos, but they were out so I decided on the chicken tacos with street corn, as well as an island zombie cocktail and a house marg. It was (lucky for us) happy hour. The drinks were good, but not super strong. The straws were paper, which was nice because I was able to use the single-use paper straws for my cocktails, but my own reusable metal straw for my water. The tacos were so good, and I really enjoyed the corn too. It was just the perfect late lunch treat. Fuel has an option for reservations through RESY, but when we went they weren't accepting reservations, but we were able to easily get a seat with no wait.

6:30pm: After heading back to the hotel and getting ready for an evening "on the town," we headed over to Rainbow Row - a cute little strip of different candy-colored shops. From there, we walked straight over to the Pineapple Fountain, which is virtually right beside it (about one-quarter of a mile, if that). We looked out at the water and the sailboats and took some pictures with the fountain. It is open for wading, but there were lots of children playing in it and we had dinner reservations on King St, so we didn't get the chance to get our toes wet. We were able to find free street parking for Rainbow Row and the Pineapple Fountain, and both are more options for "sight-seeing" and photo opportunities, and neither actually costs anything. 

7:45pm: We had dinner reservations for The Ordinary. It was hard to get a seat, because it was booked out weeks in advance, so I had scheduled reservations elsewhere and then added us to the waitlist for The Ordinary, where we were able to get a spot about a week before. The Ordinary is a restaurant for "fancy seafood" and an oyster bar. It was unlike anywhere I've ever eaten before. I am a very casual dining type of girl from rural Georgia, and growing up, "fancy" meant Applebee's. The Ordinary has a true chef that creates dishes based on local produce and catch, and the menu is only a handful of items that I didn't even recognize the names of. Our waiter was great though, and talked us through the menu. I ended up getting a few different local and completely fresh oysters and a shrimp roll...  I know, I'm a child. My sisters got grouper and tilefish options, respectively. But seriously, that shrimp roll was incredible. I can't even describe it with words. I also got a cute little passionfruit cocktail appropriately named A Drake Song, and yes I ordered it because its name. My favorite thing about The Ordinary was the setting. It's located in an old 1920s bank, which was the number one thing that sold me on eating there. It's on King St, and parking costs, but there is an easily accessible parking deck directly behind the restaurant. There is no dress code for The Ordinary, however, I wore a nice dress and sneakers (for walking), which was appropriate but I felt pretty out of place. I'd encourage dressing up nice and expect to spend at least $50 per person for an entree and a drink.

Saturday was our only full day in Charleston

We were up with an early start. The first half of the day had a pretty tight itinerary, so we had to get up and at 'em early in the day.

8am: We woke up, got ready, and headed over to Vicious Biscuit so we'd be nourished for our busy day ahead. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day after all. There are two Vicious Biscuit locations (Mount Pleasant and Summerville), but we chose to go to Mount Pleasant, which is much closer to Charleston proper. It was straight across the Charleston peninsula and over the iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, on the Sullivan's Island side of the Charleston area. Vicious Biscuit didn't offer reservations, so I knew I wanted to get their early because I just had to have one of their biscuits while I was in the area. It was a quick drive over (less than 15 minutes), but VB was quite busy even though they'd just opened. They did have about five or so parking lots blocked off for an outdoor dining area. We ordered at the counter (the line was very long but moved fairly quickly), got our table number, and had a seat. It took a bit to get our food, which was understandable, but we had to be over on Folly Beach before 10 for our next activity, so we were in a bit of a rush. The food was worth every second and every dollar spent. I opted for the shrimp and grits with a cold brew coffee, while my sisters opted for The Vicious and The Mater. Holy crap, y'all. I can't even describe how perfect all the food was. The biscuits were large and fluffy, and so obviously handmade. We were all completely satisfied. They're only open until 3pm each day, so make sure you're able to stop by before then. I highly recommend if you like biscuits at all - they even have gluten-free options!

10am: The one thing that we had to get to at a specific time was our boat ride with Flipper Finders, a company specializing in boat and kayak tours. (They were kind enough to allow my sisters and I to jump on a morning boat ride free of charge, but all opinions are my own.) I initially wanted to go kayaking, but our whole party wasn't interested in it, so the boat tour was the best option for us all. It was simple, relaxing, and wonderful. The weather was honestly perfect. We thought it was going to be too chilly in the 70s, but it was the perfect mixture of breezy and sunshiney. We rode the boat over to Morris Island, where we saw dolphins all along the way. We had a little over 30 minutes to peruse the island, collecting seashells, getting our toes wet, and enjoying the view. We hopped back on the boat to see more dolphins, and made our way back to shore. It was a really pleasant experience - highly recommend. 

Noon: After arriving back to dry land, we stopped by a little touristy shop to browse for a while and collect some souvenirs for our loved ones back home. On our way out, we got stopped in an accidental May Day parade which was wonderful and had my sisters and me in tears we were so damned happy. 

1:30pm: We had reservations at Charleston Crab House on James Island. Unfortunately, we somehow got overlooked and ended up waiting for 30 minutes before getting seated, and that was only because we asked about it. They made it up by giving up some free hushpuppies which were really yummy. We sat outside, right on the water, which was super cool especially since there's a dock where some boats would shore up and folks would come up to eat too. We all went for snow crab and I added on some Dungeness crab legs too. The food and vibe was incredible, so I would definitely revisit when I go back to Charleston in the future. 

4:30pm: After lunch, we headed over to the Angel Oak. We had initially planned to go earlier in the day, but things all got slightly shifted so we had to push it. The Angel Oak park closes at 5pm, so we were unfortunately not able to visit the gift shop (which closed at 4:30), but we were able to spend 30 minutes with the tree, which is considered the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi. My sister had a completely spiritual experience and the tree truly was a magnificent thing to witness in person. No picture can truly do it justice, so I highly recommend seeing it in person.

7:30pm: We were hungry but had no plans, so we tried for a few different places. We were exhausted, so we tried out the hotel restaurant, but options were super limited, so we headed out and about to find something to eat. We tried out Lewis BBQ, and while we surprisingly found a parking spot in the parking lot, the line was literally the entire length of the building and then beyond throughout the parking lot. So we headed over to Edmund's Oast, where the wait was long and we weren't feeling the vibe of the food. The environment was cool though and I would've loved to spend time there for drinks and small plates. But we ended up walking down to the Tattooed Moose instead, and it was precisely what we were looking for - a grunge-y pub with traditional bar food with a twist and no wait. I went pretty traditional with a cheeseburger and fries. There was a lot of hoopla about the duck fat fries, and they were good, but honestly they didn't taste any different to me than typical homemade fries, and the garlic aioli just tasted like mayonnaise. But the burger was delicious and I got a sour beer from Prairie Ales called Rainbow Sherbet that was truly delicious. I really loved the vibe at the Tattooed Moose though, and I would definitely go back and honestly probably eat the duck fat fries again. 

After dinner, we headed over to Market St to try and treat my sister to dessert from Kaminsky's, but the wait was an hour and a half. So if you're planning to give Kaminsky's a try, I'd definitely recommend making a reservation. We ended up just getting some confections from River Street Sweets, which was super expensive, and the girls working killed a lizard with a trashcan, so that was an odd experience. Any of my sisters or I would've been happy to pick the lizard up and taken it outside, and I was really horrified at what they did but we'd already paid, so we left pretty abruptly and headed back to the hotel.

Sunday we drove out of Charleston back to Georgia

We woke up and got ready for a long day on the road. But first stop, breakfast.

9:30am: One place I really wanted to go was Millers All Day. Since we're the Miller sisters, all with new last names now, it seemed only fitting. Unfortunately, all day only means until 3pm and they weren't accepting reservations. So we booked it over to downtown and put our names on the list for a one hour wait. Since it was Sunday, many shops weren't yet open, but we enjoyed a nice morning stroll and reading many of the historical markers about the area. And when Buxton Books opened up, we stopped by of course. 

Once we got into Millers, it was so cute! I opted for the B.E.C with unicorn grits and was so truly satisfying. To drink, I just got a lavender cold brew with oat milk and the coffee was incredible and so smooth. Plus we picked up some shirts for ourselves and the parents - I got this super cute one! After eating, we got on the road to head home.

Have you ever been to Charleston?

Where we stayed 

Hilton Garden Inn

Where we ate

Fuel Charleston - Caribbean-inspired

The Ordinary - fancy seafood and oyster house

Vicious Biscuit - twist on traditional biscuits

Charleston Crab House - seafood and crab shack

Tattooed Moose - American pub-style with a twist

Millers All Day - low country brunch

What we did & where we went

Rainbow Row - photo op of rainbow-colored homes

Pineapple Fountain - photo op at the waterfront

Flipper Finders - boat rides and kayaking in low country marsh 

Angel Oak - oldest living thing on this side of the Mississippi, oak tree that's at least 400-500 years old

Buxton Books - bookshop and tour company

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  1. Loved this trip. Every second of it! Thank y'all for my big 40 surprise!!!

  2. I visited Charleston June/July. I had an awesome time. My granddaughter enjoyed her two visits to the Pineapple Fountain and the Spiral Sprinkler at the other end. We participated in the Gullah Tour and saw the Angel Oak. The Charleston Aquarium was unbelievable. We ate at Gnome, Fuel, The Belgium Waffle Shop on King and two other places. We had a Grab & Go Breakfast at the hotel every morning.