Charleston Weekend Getaway

Dec 2014

I wasn’t prepared to fall so head over heels for this city loaded with southern charm. My Charleston Weekend Getaway proved there is good reason the Holy City has been voted #1 destination in America for travelers again and again by Travel + Leisure.

Charleston South Carolina Harbor View

To be honest, when my husband suggested we visit for a weekend getaway, the city was not at the top my radar screen. Since I am always up for an adventure, he didn’t have to do much arm twisting. Jet Blue has a direct flight from Boston; we arrived in just over two hours. After a little pre travel research, I knew we’d have to hit the ground running to take in as much as we could in this southern delight. The city is full of contrasts, and exudes historical content at every turn.
Impeccably manicured secret gardens hide behind decorative iron gates, colonial era restored homes line the streets and horse drawn carriages offer tours along the cobble stones. Combine that with low country cooking from award winning chefs, unique shopping experiences and a gorgeous beach within a short drive and you’ve hit a winning combination of a destination for me. Thanks goodness we packed our best walking shoes.
charleston weekend getaway

See + Do 

There are so many places of historical significance to visit, it definitely helped to have a game plan before we arrived. We planned a day of sightseeing outside the city limits, a day to explore the beach and to end, a day in the city. It was a great balance and gave us a taste for each of the areas Charleston has to offer.  The city is very walkable and there is much to keep you busy right downtown if you don’t want to worry about a car.
charleston rainbow row
charleston battery
Rainbow Row-It’s always good to stretch your legs after a plane ride. Since we arrived late afternoon, we took the opportunity to explore on foot along East Bay Street and walked around the harbor and down to Rainbow Row, the largest collection of original Georgian row houses painted in lovely pastel shades of the rainbow. The Battery is close by and is a picturesque promenade along the water with mansions, cannons and a park lining the road. Goat-Sheep-Cow {part 2} is a good spot to stop for a snack.
patriots point charleston
Patriots Point Naval and Maritime MuseumSeeing the view of The Yorktown across the harbor from our hotel gave us little indication of the massive size of this aircraft carrier. Never mind your views of the military, this was an eyeopening experience for myself and everyone I spoke to. The views of the city from the vessel are unparalleled and you have the opportunity to explore and experience life aboard three remarkable vessels {including a submarine named Clamagore-remember Clamalot? }. In addition there are 28 historic aircraft on board. The best part of all were the retired military volunteers, most of whom were about my  father’s age and enthusiastically made sure you enjoyed yourself. I get a tear in my eye just thinking about them and the stories they shared.
ravenel bridge charleston
Throughout  Charleston you can’t miss the sight of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge which was completed in 2005 and joins the city of Charleston with Mount Pleasant. This impressive piece of architecture is especially beautiful at night spanning over  the Cooper River.
charleston - middleton-place
Settled in the late 17th century, Middleton Place is strategically located on the Ashley River. This is the setting for America’s oldest landscaped gardens, and it must be spectacular when in bloom. Trees hang low with moss and small alligators can be seen lazing on the lawn. In my mind’s eye, this was what I pictured for parts of the south.
middleton place restaurant
The plantation crop was rice and the river setting made for easy transport. Focus of the exhibits is agriculture, heritage breeds and traditional crafts. The mansion is impeccably maintained and houses an incredible number of artifacts, furniture and artwork. {no photos allowed}. You’ll find it very kid friendly and allow several hours to explore and walk the grounds. The on site restaurant has delicious low-country food and a dandy bloody mary with pickled okra.
Close by is Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, a 17th century estate and Drayton Hall, the oldest unrestored plantation house in America still open to the public. We saved these locations for our next visit.
folly Beach Charleston
Charleston is deeply influenced by the surrounding beach and waterfront. It touches all points of the local culture. From the fresh seafood and shell fish to the traditional seagrass baskets in the marketplace, you can’t look far without feeling the effects of a salty spray. Islands hug the coastline and offer a myriad of choices, each with its own personality. From north to south you will find Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Folly Island, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island. Wide beaches and great surfing are just 15 miles from downtown Charleston. Folly Beach has a laid back atmosphere and outdoor activities ranging from bird-watching to kite boarding and fishing on the towns pier. If you’d like to get a behind the scenes look at the local flora and fauna at Folly Beach or Middleton Place, Charleston Kayak has tours in both of these interesting backwaters, and you’ll find them teeming with wildlife.
charleston museum south carolina
There is a wonderful free trolly that circles the city with three different routes, making getting around incredibly easy. Lucky for us it stopped right outside of our hotel-The Harborview Inn-and made a day of torrential rain a lot less painful. I was in heaven at The Charleston Museum. For an ephemera and craft enthusiast, I was in my element. It is filled with bits and bobs dating back to the the Civil War. The recreated Apothecary Shop was a period highlight.
The streets of downtown are filled with more than a dozen historic places of worship earning it the name The Holy City. Many have adjoining cemeteries and there are an abundance of ghost tours on most companies itineraries. The city proper represents over 400 places of worship of different denominations. Steeples and spires are visible throughout and the exteriors and offer a wide variety of architectural styles.
provost dungeon charleston
One of the most significant buildings used during the American Revolution is the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. Upper floors house period antiques and dress. American patriots were held in the dank dungeon that is a marvel in design. The structural arches have withstood all kinds of damaging weather. Guides in period costume do an excellentt job of recreating the era, and excavations have revealed pieces of the original 18th century wall of the Charleston Harbor.
sunset over charleston
Finally, you must catch a rooftop sunset over the city. The Harbourview Hotel had a lovely wine and cheese hour each night. Nearby, the Vendue and Market Pavilion Hotels both have wonderful rooftop bars open to the public. It’s a great chance to process all you have seen and relax for a bit before you start your evening of low-country eating.
Come Back next time to view Part 2 of My Charleston Weekend Getaway which will include places to EAT and SHOP.

  1. Good to know Charleston is such a charming city! We have a bit of a hankering to visit the “south” – sip mint juleps, wander through some of those gardens, and see alligators (which are kind of exotic for us, living in Canada).

  2. noel says:

    I love Charleston, so easy to walk around and the attractions are stunning, even in the residential district, the homes are glamorous and I’m sure quite pricey

  3. Parm says:

    I’m dying to visit Charleston, sounds fascinating. On my list for next year.

  4. Landed here on your blog from Triberr. Charleston was for me one of the best places I’ve visited in the USA. And your post brought up some great memories from my last trip there. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Charleston sounds a charming place to explore. I do love cities where you can walk to the popular sights and then get lost in the side streets which so often hold a few unexpected gems.

  6. I hadn’t heard of here until 2 weeks ago when chatting to the chap through the divide from me on the plane, he raved about it! Great to see and learn a little more, it looks stunning!

  7. You’ve made Charleston look like a very inviting place! I’ve been at the airport on a short layover, but have never had the opportunity to explore this intriguing city.

  8. Natalie says:

    Hey–it’s my hometown! 🙂 I’ve lived in Charleston for the majority of my life, and it’s not always been the travel destination that it currently is. I’m so proud of the changes that the city has made in recent years, and I’m delighted that you had such a great time! 😀

  9. Mig says:

    This seems to be a nice spot!