After close to a year and a half of not being on vacation, I was definitely excited to take a road trip to somewhere I had never been before - Charleston, SC. Below is a review of my trip, where I stayed, ate and entertained myself. I highly recommend going – especially if you can squeeze in 4-5 days.
South of the Border
Yes, I realize this isn’t Charleston. But, nostalgia got the best of me and I hadn’t stopped there, since my college days. Plus, it marked the time where I was able to put the top down on the car to enjoy the warm sun for the rest of the road trip.
For the next hour, the inner child got the best of me. I walked through the novelty warehouse, ate at El Sombrero in their patio room and got ice cream, before heading to the fireworks warehouse to check out everything you can’t set off in Virginia.
Accommodations – Market Pavilion Hotel
Once I arrived, I pulled up to Market Pavilion Hotel’s curb on East Bay St., and was greeted with very friendly valet staff. Since parking is scarce in Charleston, it’s best to valet it at $20 a day.
The Market Pavilion Hotel is the perfect blend of history, luxury and modern chic. Upon opening the door to my Luxury Level King suite, I was greeted with a modern entryway of wood flooring and lighting and a bathroom of marble with Hermes toiletries. The bedroom itself was decorated in common luxury southern charm.
But, what sold me on this hotel was the Pavilion Rooftop Pool and Bar. During the day, it’s a hip place to drink, listen to dance music, swim and lay out. At night, it transforms into a club with lights, a DJ and talented bartenders. Add to this a $50 voucher to spend at the bar each night and it made this the best hotel in Charleston.
As I heard from those who have been to Charleston before say, the dining is one of the best parts about visiting there. They definitely weren’t wrong. Below are a list of places I visited when I was there.
This was the place of my first celebratory drink. When entering this place, you can’t help but stare at the wall of 20+ frozen drink machines and want to taste each one. I ended up with a frozen white russian, which was amazing. I highly suggest a stop there – or two. Their site can be found here.
Tommy Condon’s is a rather large Irish pub with an expansive outdoor eating area. Having walked most of the day and early evening, I was starving. I wasn’t disappointed with the food, especially with the Baby Back Ribs – they melt right off the bone. I also suggest, for those who love beer, trying The Crown Float – a combination of Guiness and cider.
Having come highly recommended by a few people, I decided to try Magnolias for lunch. If you want a leisurely lunch with no time constraints, go there – it’s worth the wait for the food to come out. For an appetizer, I tried the pimiento cheese, which is a popular appetizer. If you like olives, you will love it. For my main course, I dined on the bacon cheeseburger (bunless of course), served with sweet potato fries. Everything is freshly made and so delicious.
After a long day of sight seeing, I decided to take a break and get a quick drink and snack. Social Wine Bar is a perfect spot for the young and hip after-work crowd. It’s a modern-day design with delicious bar treats, such as the Jasmine rice coconut balls I tasted. In my opinion, this bar is something we need in Arlington.
Named one of the Top 10 Steakhouses in America, Grill 225 rivals all other steakhouses I’ve ever been to – and is a tad less expensive than its competitors. My filet was cooked so perfectly that there is no need for any of the sauce options they offer. In addition, two sides is plenty for two people – I chose the asparagus and the scalloped potatoes to try. My suggestion, skip the potatoes. Otherwise, the meal was amazing. Expect (without wine) to pay around $150 for two people (does not include tip).
This was, by far, my favorite place to be. The vibe was hip and the drinks were perfect. $50 can get you two shots and four drinks there. See the photos below for pics!
Rita’s – Folly Beach
If you’re looking for an expansive dive bar and restaurant with an outdoor patio, Rita’s a great place to go. They serve traditional American fare, including a variety of salads, burgers and sandwiches.
Taco Boy – Folly Beach
Taco Boy serves great (and inexpensive) mexican fare with a great, small outdoor patio.
Sights and Sounds
There is so much to see in South Carolina, given its rich history that has been well-preserved within its buildings and grounds. Below are a list of places I visited. My suggestion, spend some time at one of the plantations, which I didn’t get to see. In addition, reserve a whole day for seeing some of the amazing historic homes (and their gardens) – many of them you can tour.
- Old Exchange Provost and Dungeon – 122 East Bay Street
- Nathaniel Russell Mansion - 51 Meeting Street
- Calhoun Mansion – 16 Meeting Street
- Aiken-Rhett Mansion – 48 Elizabeth Street
- Joseph Manigault Mansion – 350 Meeting Street
- Heyward-Washington Mansion – 87 Church Street
There isn’t one alleyway, driveway, park, garden, front yard or piece of a home that isn’t absolutely beautiful. This town is a photographer’s dream. See my photos at the end of this post to see why.
- Waterfront Park - one of few parks that allows you to play in the fountain
- Folly Beach - a great day to walk the expansive pier, the beach or down to the sections of the beach where there are tide pools. The best time to go is during low tide for some amazing nature discoveries.
There are two places that caught my attention, while strolling around Charleston – The Market, which brings in hundreds of local vendors to Market Street everyday and King St., which includes all the luxury shopping, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton and St. Johns.