Charleston is one of my new favorite places ever. Everything is so pink (so me!) and the setting is like a movie. Willow trees and lush greenery at every turn, and also the nicest people you’ll meet.
I wanted to provide the 411 on what to do, where to go, and all of the food and drink details.
Only 21 miles from Charleston, Kiawah Island is so luxurious full of pristine, white sand beaches and lots of shopping and dining options. The 2016 Condé Nast Traveler Magazine named Kiawah Island No. 1 Island in North America in its latest Readers’ Choice Poll. When you visit, note that the only public beach is at Beachwalker Park. We visited during the week, and had the place just about to ourselves. Being the silly Californian that I am, I was shocked that the water temperature was in the 80’s (I looked it up after feeling it). At Beachwalker Park, you can rent chairs and an umbrella and relax all day.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Wow, wow, wow was this place just gorgeous. The garden is the largest romantic style garden in the United States. Unlike most of America’s gardens, which are formal and seek to control nature, Magnolia cooperates with nature to create a tranquil landscape like Eden where humanity and nature are in harmony. “Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth Magnolia
Magnolia Plantation was selected as one of “America’s Most Beautiful Gardens” (Travel + Leisure Magazine) and that is not a surprise at all.
The plantation was founded in 1676, having been right in the thick of both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. The Plantation sits along the Ashley River in Charleston and boasts plenty of swamp land, including some in the garden area. When we visited, we saw a sign for alligators, saw lots of butterflies, and a snake (to my horror – you can see more on my saved Instastories under ‘Travel’).
I highly recommend doing at least one of the tours there in addition to walking through the garden, which takes about an hour. We toured the Plantation home and learned about the family history.
King Street Shopping
We stayed at Hyatt Place on King Street, which was such a treat because the entire street is lined with amazing restaurants and shops. What I loved about King Street shopping was that there were a limited number of touristy shops. You know what I’m talking about – those stores that carry cheesy T-shirts and ball caps. Instead, many of the shops were boutiques with unique items. My favorites were:
Skinny Dip carries such cute clothes, candles, and art. Upstairs, there is a coffee and wine bar that is just the cutest. We enjoyed a frozé on the porch in between shopping stops.
Lily is a beautifully curated Parisian style boutique. Lily carries beautiful stationery, jewelry, accessories, and bath and home provisions directly from the makers. Kevin, the owner, was so kind to explain who made certain items in his store and it was fascinating to learn about his travels to purchase bespoke items for his store.
Hampden is a gorgeous, spacious boutique carrying women’s designer clothing and accessories. Some of the fabulous designers include Ulla Johnson, Carven, and Vivetta among many others.
The Darling Oyster Bar
This might be a weird recommendation from someone who does not eat oysters, however, I am big on seafood and this place is amazing. The Darling Oyster Bar is glamorous yet modern, everything is fresh, and the drinks are on par too. If oysters are your cup of tea, you can choose from an array of oysters from the Lowcountry. If you visit for dinner, you can’t go wrong with ordering the scallops or the shrimp. Jeff loved their grits too.
The Battery runs along East Bay Street. Right before the Battery, you’ll see a long row of pastel-colored houses known as Rainbow Row. The pastel colors were originally intended to match a Caribbean color scheme. So fun, right? As you continue walking, the homes get bigger as do the southern style porches. It is such a beautiful walk as the homes face the Cooper River.
Isle of the Palms
While you’re in Charleston, you must take a trip to the beach (if you don’t get to Kiawah Island). Isle of The Palms is only about 15 minutes away from downtown Charleston, and it is the cutest vacation spot. The beaches are beautiful.
We’re working on editing a Charleston vlog this weekend with lots more on where we went, what we did, and where we ate. Stay tuned for it to go up next week on my YouTube channel!