Summer is for sunning at the beach, traveling, romantic sunsets and all-around relaxation. This summer, however, was my busiest yet. With little time to enjoy the perks that come with summer’s sunshine, I thought the season would be lost on me completely. However, when Ryan and I miraculously found time to take a long weekend trip, we jumped at the opportunity.
With little time to choose a destination and even less time to plan a trip, we quickly decided on Charleston, South Carolina. With the exception of a few locations (Maine, Cape Cod and London), Ryan and I don’t like to visit the same place twice. We knew it would be hot and humid, it was August, but based on word of mouth and quick internet searches, it seemed like Charleston was the place to be.
There’s nothing we love more than getting lost in an unknown city. As always, we learn along the way. We ask locals for restaurant recommendations and non-touristy haunts that can’t be missed. We talk to other tourists about their experiences thus far (we usually take these with a grain of salt, but look into them regardless). As we hit the streets of Charleston, we discovered old, narrow streets reminiscent of small European towns and delved into the immense history that exists in Charleston and its surrounding area.
While the majority of the hotels and inns in Charleston lack the amenity, I was adamant about staying at a property with a pool. As I previously mentioned, it was August, it was hot, it was humid, and I’d rather not divulge the number of times we had to change clothes due to sweat . Ryan thought I was being dramatic, but ultimately he was grateful. We needed, and I mean needed, to take a dip at least twice a day. The following includes my top picks for hotels with pools.
Horse & Carriage Tour
It came highly recommended to explore historic Charleston via the city’s traditional horse and mule-drawn carriage tours, which have been clip-clopping their way through the city since 1945. Whenever I take part in any activities including animals, I always do my due diligence. Charleston Animal Society “is not opposed to working animals and has not called for a ban of the carriage industry.” However, they are calling for a study to determine whether Charleston’s animals are working in a safe and humane environment. Further research led me to Palmetto Carriage Works, a company that considers animal welfare paramount. The tour, led by two mules, Harley and Margaret, was both extremely informative and highly entertaining. We took the residential route learning about the city’s historical mansions, grand gardens, and the renowned people who took up residence in Chucktown since before the Revolutionary War.
While visiting Charleston, a visit to a plantation is an absolute must-do. Founded in 1681, the Boone Hall Plantation has an extraordinarily deep history. The frequently visited establishment offers several tours and presentations including plantation coach tours, house tours, garden tours, and my personal favorite, the presentation titled, “Exploring The Gullah Culture.” During this live presentation, we learned about the unique culture adapted by African slaves at Boone Hall. The presenter was the great-granddaughter of a slave who lived to be 117 years old. She was able to relay first-hand accounts of what life was like for slaves bound to a plantation. It was a truly invaluable experience. Today, Boone Hall’s beautiful setting serves not only as an educational site, but also as a working farm, a popular wedding venue, and as a location for countless television shows and films. You may recognize the plantation from the critically acclaimed film, The Notebook.
Also make sure to check out the following while in Charleston:
THE CITY MARKET:
The famed City Market was constructed in the 1800s. The shopping hub, originally known as the “Slaves’ Market,” served as a marketplace for slaves to sell their wares for their own profit. The market now serves as a venue for tourists to shop for souvenirs, jewelry and traditional sweetgrass baskets, among other things.
Rainbow Row simply cannot be missed. While almost every street in Charleston is charming and beautiful in its own right, Rainbow Row consists of a series of wildly colorful houses, the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States.
History buffs must visit Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired. Hop on a ferry to the historic island housing the fort and explore the grounds where American history was made.
RENT A BIKE:
Charleston is easy to explore by foot, but if you want to zip around town with the wind in your hair, renting a bike is a great way to see all the sites. Bike shares are available for as little as $8/hour, and worth every penny!
VISIT A BEACH:
While my trip was too short to visit one of Charleston’s renowned beaches, if you have time, get out of the city and sink your feet in the sand! Some of the area’s most popular beaches include Folly Beach, Kiawah Isalnd, Isle of Palms, Seabrook Island, or Sullivan’s Island.
When traveling to the South from New York City, eating like a Southerner is beyond vital. From traditional shrimp and grits to seafood and even Mexican food, everything has a Southern twist to it.
What are your favorite things to do in Charleston? Need tips? Let me know!