EVERYONE seems to be doing Charleston right now. I can’t blame any of them, the Holy City is one magical place. But I do get a cringing feeling with some of the spots that are being hit up and some serious disappointment with the ones that are being missed.
So here’s my version of doing Charleston the RIGHT way. What qualifies me for this blog post? I am a PROUD College of Charleston alum and lived there again in 2014 before moving back to Greenville. We visit as often as we can, my sister is there as well as my bestie’s momma which is pretty much my momma too (love you, Vicki).
What most don’t realize is that the locals are running around trying to avoid the crowds and the ‘must do’ Google lists. To those, I pre-appologize for posting this. Hopefully our wait times won’t increase too much.
Charleston like a LOCAL:
Charleston has so many gorgeous boutique hotels and inns, so I highly encourage you to not stay with a big brand and support local. The newest on the scene opened in February. 86 CANNON is the quaintest of the bunch and I fell in love immediately. Innkeepers Marion and Lori bought this property and restored it to it’s 1860’s roots. Marion is an architect trained at Clemson, and knew the complete history of the home and who has done life within these walls. To watch someone speak about a passion is so beautiful, and you can tell that the couple loves this new venture.
Bikes are available to take to nearby spots like Sugar Bakeshop, Stella’s, and Goulette, a new restaurant by the owner of an old favorite La Fourchette . The decor of 86 Cannon is truly stunning, all curated by B. Berry Interiors. It’s like Restoration Hardware had a baby with some fabulously funky wallpaper and out came this boutique inn. Marion did an incredible job maintaining the character of the home with exposed beams and original fireplaces.
Oh, my favorite category. So much to say here. I could be in Charleston for a month and not hit up every place I love to eat, but here is a rundown of where I am when I reach our home away from home.
Chez Nous – Look twice and you will surely miss it. Chez Nous is a tiny French restaurant that has been around for years. The menu is hand-written each morning and there are only two options for each course. The atmosphere is just as charming as the handwriting – you truly feel like you’re in someone’s home.
Trattoria Lucca – Located on Bogard in a residential district, Trattoria is one of the best Italian meals I have ever eaten. The menu does change often, but all of the choices are incredible. It’s a smaller, cozy restaurant on a street corner that makes you feel like you’ve found a hidden gem in New York and not Charleston. Meals take longer here because of the experience, but I have a feeling there will be no complaints on hanging around.
Also try their Isle of Palms location, Coda del Pesce for a meal right on the water.
The Obstinate Daughter – Sullivan’s Island is our favorite place in all of Charleston, and this is one of the best meals on the island. From the decor to the drinks, you cannot go wrong. Try the William Moultrie, a cocktail on tap, and the flatbread with butterbean puree.
Leon’s Oyster Shop – Leon’s definitely has the ability to get crowded, but on a Wednesday right at 11:30am we had it almost to ourselves and it was awesome. Start with a glass of frozé or a mini High Life and as many chargrilled oysters as you can consume. Finish it off with soft serve ice cream and some rainbow jimmies.
Black Tap Coffee – Hard to find, even harder to leave. I can’t tell you how many times I was walking here after teaching at Pure Barre and cars would stop and ask which direction Black Tap was in. A small pink house that is clean and crisp on the inside – Black Tap has the best lavender latte I’ve laid my hands on. Hang out for a while and sit among the Charleston ‘work from home-ers’ that frequent this spot.
The Daily – Started by the owners of Butcher & Bee, I love stopping in to The Daily for a smoothie, juice, or a fresh snack. Their breakfast menu includes avocado toast and breakfast tacos (today that is!).
Queen Street Grocery – One of our musts every time. This corner grocery store is serving up breakfast sandwiches and omelettes that keep us coming back. (And to see you, Rob.)
The Wild Olive – Great option for an Italian dinner on John’s Island, enjoy calamari and octopus at one of the large community tables.
The Fat Hen – Another great option on John’s Island, this time for brunch! Bellinis for days people.
Rita’s – A new(ish) addition to the Hall’s family, Rita’s is a relaxed spot on Folly Beach that we also enjoy for brunch!
What’s on my list next:
As far as what to do when you’re not eating and drinking? Go to Sullivan’s Island. Walk around Old Village Mount Pleasant and the Pitt Street Bridge. Run the Ravenel Bridge (Ron, not me let’s be honest). Grab a class at Pure Barre Charleston with Jen and Jenn, Ride Revolution, or one of the many boutique workouts popping up on the reg. Shop at Hampden Clothing. Grab some chocolate at Christophe’s. Walk around my stunning alma mater, the College of Charleston and see Randolph Hall. Find hidden alleyways like Longitude Lane, Stoll’s Alley, and St. Michael’s Alley. Don’t shy away from a Charleston that you’ve never experienced before. As soon as you feel lost, you will stumble across something amazing like Mason Hosker‘s flagship on State Street. Charleston is new every time we go, and we never tire of exploring it. Cheers, Holy City.