Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Weekend Guide to Charleston

Well, in case you couldn't tell, we freaking loved Charleston. We went a few weeks ago for a long weekend for my birthday, and it was one of the better decisions I've made. We were there for four full days, and filled them with lots of wandering and, of course, eating and drinking and eating and drinking ;)

A Long Weekend in Charleston

Where we stayed: 

The Belmond Charleston Place
Honestly, by the time we booked a lot of hotels and basically every B&B were sold out! So I really only considered a handful of hotels in the historic downtown area. I'm so glad we went with the Belmond, even though it was a little more than we really wanted to spend. The property itself is gorgeous and our room was huge with the marble bathroom of my dreams. We paid an extra ten dollars a night for a balcony, which could have been silly but the weather ended up being beautiful so we opened up the doors whenever we were in the room. Oh, and the best part? The rooftop pool and bar!! The weather was unseasonably warm, so it was so nice to be able to sneak in a little pool time and have a fun drink in the sun.

Where we ate: 

My cousin lives in Charleston and her husband is a chef at one of the restaurants downtown, so we mostly stuck with all of their restaurant recommendations. I mean, can you get any better than a chef picking out his favorite restaurants?! Really, we only had one non-amazing meal the whole trip and it was not actually in Charleston. Some of our favorites?

The Ordinary
Amazing and really inventive seafood dishes. Our favorites were the triggerfish and the ceviche - so freaking good!! The Ordinary is the kind of place where you could have a casual meal or go all out. Just definitely make a reservation - it was packed on Saturday by six.

Zero George Restaurant
We went for my fancy birthday dinner, and it definitely lived up to my dreams. We started with a drink at the bar, which is definitely something you should do too. Partially because they're great cocktails, but really just because the bartender was so passionate about mixology - it was so fun to chat with him! The dinner itself was a tasting menu that was amazing but not overly pretentious. Oh, and they somehow actually made me like lamb, normally the one meat I refuse to eat. Definitely make a reservation here too, their dining room is tiny!

We went here for a fun southern brunch, and Husk delivered! Really, I'm still dreaming about the brisket breakfast tartine I ate, and I basically had to drag Jeff away from the fried biscuit starter we ordered. You can choose dining room, bar, or porch when you make your reservation. I picked dining room because I figured the weather would be bad (hint: it wasn't) so I was definitely jealous of everyone sitting outside - it looked beautiful!

The new restaurant by the Xiao Bao Biscuit team, this was definitely the most inventive food we tried - it was described as Asian-Latin-Southern fusion small plates. Jeff and I have a hard time with small plates restaurants because we both order too much and we forget about vegetables, but this is actually the restaurant where my cousin's husband works, so we had him pick some dishes for us and help us balance things out. All of the veggie dishes actually ended up being our favorites (what?!), along with the agua chile and crudo - so good!!

We only got to have snacks and drinks here, but everything was. So. Freaking. Good. I could have eaten a hundred of their grilled oysters. And that's not just the drinks I had talking ;)

Where we drank: 

I mean, cocktails were pretty high on our to-do list for Charleston. On my birthday we basically just bar hopped with my cousin from brunch through dinner, because it was my birthday of course! Here were some of our favorite places:

The Belmont
This is not, repeat, NOT in the Belmond hotel haha. I thought people kept telling us to have drinks at our hotel, but no, no they were not ;) The Belmont is a dark, intimate little bar on Upper King with an impressively long cocktail list. Definitely a fun date spot!

Living Room in The Dewberry 
This is a fun retro spot, with classic and funkier cocktails. Plus we had a fun time chatting with the bartenders about how they were all Fraternity great-great-grand nephews of the guys from Southern Charm.

The Watch in The Restoration
This place had a fun cocktail list as well as beer and wine, but really? We came for the views! The bar is on the rooftop of The Restoration, and you can see the Arthur Ravenel Bridge on one side and the Ashley River on the other.

The Palace
A super divey, local place on Upper King that my cousin recommended for a fun night out - little did we know it's owned by Shep from Southern Charmed! Unfortunately according to Instagram, the boys all went there the night after us - which is fine, because then we ran into one of them at brunch ;)

Revelry Brewery 
This place has such a cool rooftop space and a beer list after my own heart. Chicago breweries are all in a competition to see whose beer can be hoppiest, but all of these were light and flavorful without being over the top, and they actually had an IPA I liked - maybe the first ever!

What we did: 

Took a photo tour
I really wanted to sign up for a walking tour in Charleston to learn a little history and so we could get our bearings. I was waffling over which company to go with, when I stumbled upon Say Charleston! Photo Tours. It is such a freaking good idea. You go on a walking tour through the South of Broad neighborhood, learning about history, just like any other tour. But as you go, Liz, the guide, stops to take photos of you! Every time we take a trip I get home and realize we forgot to take any pictures (ahem: except for Paris) so it was nice to know we'd have at least one good photo from Charleston. Jeff said had there been any more photos than there were he would have gotten annoyed, but I thought it was just the right balance of photos to tour. Plus, on top of the photos, the guide Liz was so fun and knowledgable!

Wandered through the South of Broad neighborhood
We ended up taking a few more walks in this area after our tour, and I swear, there was so much to explore I could seriously go every day! The houses in this area are all historic and beautiful, and there are hidden little alleyways everywhere. Plus a row of rainbow colored houses, appropriately named Rainbow Row.

Shopped on King Street
I usually don't subject Jeff to shopping on vacation, but in this case I had to make a few exceptions. All of the boutiques on King Street are so cute - my favorites were Candlefish and The Impeccable Pig. If you're looking to shop, I would say stick to King Street from Broad up to around Wentworth - further north than that it turns into all chains and then into a super college-y/tourist-y area. We also walked through the Charleston City Market, but really, if you're short on time, I would skip this. The local baskets were cool, but a lot of it felt pretty generic.

Visited a plantation
We ended up spending our final hours before hopping on a plane home at Magnolia Plantation. We loved the nature tour and saw an incredible number of alligators, including tiny little babies(!!!), and one alligator was RIGHT next to the open cart we were in - I pulled my feet all the way in haha ;) If you're going in February though, you may want to choose a plantation with more formal gardens. Magnolia is supposed to have a stunning free-form garden, but since nothing was blooming yet it really was just like walking through the woods.

Are you planning a trip to Charleston? Any questions? Just let me know!

Follow along with everything Kristina does via Bloglovin!

No comments :

Post a Comment