Guest blogger Randi Mazzella recently visited gorgeous, historic Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and son. Here’s her guide to a weekend of food and fun in Chucktown.
Having family who moved to Charleston, South Carolina a few years ago gave us the perfect excuse to visit the historical beauty with our 12-year old son on a recent long weekend. We learned that Charleston offers families rich historic charm, fun activities, gorgeous beaches, and a food lovers destination.
Plus, with direct flights from Newark, NJ that are less than 2 hours, we were able to leave on a Thursday after school and make a 7 pm dinner reservation in Charleston the same night.
Where to Stay
If you are going for a weekend getaway, I suggest staying in Downtown Charleston. We stayed at the Belmond Charleston Place (see the gorgeous lobby above) which offers a very convenient location, but is on the pricey side. The Hampton Inn Charleston and the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel and Suites Charleston, both located in the Historic District are more economical options in the area.
If your trip to Charleston will be for more than a few days, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island looked amazing, especially if you want to do some golfing or spend some time on the beach. In our location we found it easy to walk or take an Uber to go sightseeing, but if you stay in Kiawah it would be more practical to rent a car for excursions into Charleston.
What to Do
Walk the Waterfront and Historic Downtown Charleston’s downtown is just made for leisurely strolling. From our hotel we walked over to the Charleston City Market and then to the Charleston Waterfront Park where the famous Pineapple Fountain is. The Battery and White Point Gardens is another beautiful place to explore. Don’t forget to check out nearby Rainbow Row with the multicolored homes. For those that don’t want to walk, there are many horse drawn carriage tours.
If you are visiting mid may April through November, check out the Charleston Farmer’s Market open on Saturday’s from 8 am to 2 pm.
Visit Patriots Point
We took a 15-minute Uber ride to Patriot Point Naval and Maritime Museum that is located at the base of the Cooper River in Mount Pleasant. Patriot Point is home to three museum ships including an aircraft carrier, a destroyer and a submarine. It was like being in a real life version of the board game Battleship. The museum has incredible exhibits and memorabilia. Being able to walk through these ships and get a feel for the way our military live was eye opening for all of us. There is an educational Vietnam Experience Exhibit.
Bike or Walk the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
The 3rd longest cable bridge in the Western Hemisphere, crosses over the Cooper River and offers beautiful views. The 2.5-mile bridge has a designated pedestrian pathway making it perfect for walking or biking with kids. You can also view the bridge lit up from Battery Park at night.
See a Charleston Riverdogs Game
For sports fans, the Riverdogs are a minor league affiliate team of the New York Yankees.
Go to the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
Full disclosure, we probably wouldn’t have gone to the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon if we it wasn’t pouring outside, but it was a nice surprise. You’ll learn a little about our nation’s journey toward independence.
Spend the Day at the Beach or playing Golf
There are many beautiful beaches in Charleston including Folly Beach and Kiawah Island. There are also great golf courses including Patriots Point Links where my son and husband played.
What to Eat
We did a lot of eating in Charleston and it was all pretty amazing. Fair warning – butter is a mainstay in Southern cooking and most of the vegetables we consumed were deep-fried. Bring your appetite!
- Hominy Grill – We had to wait 30 minutes in the rain for breakfast at Hominy Grill, but once we got inside we all agreed it was more than worth it. My son is still talking about his “Charleston Nasty Biscuit” — fried chicken tender, cheddar cheese and sausage gravy served on a fresh, buttery biscuit (he ordered the gravy on the side which I would advise.) It was decadently delicious! I enjoyed cornmeal blueberry pancakes that were out of this world and my husband’s egg special was also incredible.
- Jestine’s Kitchen – We stumbled across this place while we were walking in town and the 11 am line outside the door convinced us to give it a try. Inside we found a menu of traditional southern home cooking including gumbo, fried chicken, meat loaf and fried shrimp po’boys. I am sure no one ever leaves Jestine’s still hungry!
- Husk– On the Husk website, Chef /Partner Sean Brock says, “If it doesn’t come from the South, it doesn’t come through the door.” Luckily he is just talking about the food they serve and not the patrons. It would be a shame for Northerners to miss this beautiful restaurant that features a modern twist southern cooking prepared with all local ingredients.
- FIG – The acronym stands for Food Is Good and it certainly is at this unpretentious, popular restaurant. Reservations can only be made by phone one month in advance so do call ahead. The menu is eclectic and changes daily. We almost didn’t go because we were unsure our picky eating son would find anything to eat. But the kitchen was able to accommodate him with some plain pasta. Glad we took the chance. From the fun cocktails to the main course, the food was interesting, innovative and amazing.
- Halls Chophouse – Why go to a steakhouse in Charleston when there are so many steakhouses in the Metro area? For the southern charm and hospitality as well as the steakhouse staples infused with a southern twist, that’s why! The owner greets every customer at the door as if you were guest in his home. The wait staff continues this attentive service throughout the meal. Meal highlights included the mac and cheese, corn skillet, chopped salad and the caramel cake. Y’all will have a great meal at Halls!
- Hyman’s Seafood – We did not eat a full meal here but we did enjoy samples of their hush puppies every day. There is a waiter serving them outside to the people waiting for a table as well as hungry people passing by like us. So yummy – so my guess is that the rest of the menu is too.
And if you have room for Dessert…
- Peace Pie – A peace pie is an ice cream sandwich with a layer of pie filling. Not sure who thought of it, but it’s genius.
- King Street Cookies– We discovered this adorable shop, complete with a milk station, on our first night and visited several times after that. These are cookies fit for a king…or a 12 year old boy.. or his mom. The large selection of cookie flavors made it hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to, I would pick the George Washington’s Revenge, an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chunks, toffee and tart cherries.
- Market Sweet Treats– Cute candy shop with fudge, candy apples and barrels of candy. Perfect last stop to pick up some treats for the plane ride home.