As the snowstorms continue to crush New York, there is no better time to jet away… somewhere warmer of course! With new nonstop flights offered by JetBlue to Charleston, South Carolina from NYC’s JFK airport, I decided to research flights. Call me a lucky lady, but I found roundtrip flights for $148 each! Booked.
Once flights were set, I asked Charleston natives about the new hotspots and cultural developments in this vibrant southern city. Have you heard about Charleston lately? The word is out – this is one of the most spectacular American cities and hottest destinations in the world! Incredible culture, personality, food and fun to the backdrop of historic southern charm — does it get any better, ladies? The array of pastel color homes and palm trees make a gal feel like she is living in a Life Size Barbie dream world.
Have “y’all” seen this article illuminating the recent hype on Charleston? Talk about the big leagues — Conde Nast Traveler ranked this South Carolina gem NUMBER 2 in “Top 25 Cities in the World”… So what does Ladyhattan love about Charleston? Where do I even begin? Charleston is one of my favorite cities in the world and I hope to become a more regular visitor – or perhaps a part-time citizen of this magical community! Here are some of the highlights of my recent venture down to Charleston illustrated with personal photographs taken throughout the trip.
A STROLL ALONG THE BATTERY
What? A Battery? Yes, the Battery – a beautiful neighborhood of Charleston. The Battery is a landmark defensive seawall and promenade in Charleston, South Carolina. Named for a civil-war coastal defense artillery battery at the site, it stretches along the lower shores of the Charleston peninsula, bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, which meet here to form Charleston harbor. Although historically known as a landmark defensive seawall, most visitors come to walk the Battery for the pleasure of viewing elaborate mansions along the oceanfront. Well, that’s why I come to walk the Battery at least! I mean, look at these homes! They are spectacular in every way – color, size, design, charm…
WANDER THROUGH TOWN
From the Battery, the most southern tip of the Charleston peninsula, make your way up the city through charming neighborhoods. Who really needs a map when you can get lost in the pastel colors and old oak trees? An eighteenth century church, a colorful door, and a piazza porch – you will see it all – and it all is so very beautiful! If your feet start to hurt you from all the walking, no worries – just take a horse-drawn carriage tour around town! There are several companies that offer rides every 10-15 minutes with an expert tour guide who shares fun stories and tidbits of information about the city. Certain times of the month, King Street shuts down the street for “pedestrian only” traffic. Restaurants and shops bring their business outside as people and pets flood the space – it’s such a lively sight! In case you feel really uncomfortable free styling around town without a map, I have shared the best map of town for you below along with snapshots of my personal wanderings.
TIME TO EAT
After you’ve worked up an appetite from walking, there are tons of great spots to enjoy a delicious meal. My philosophy is that you should always try to enjoy the local foodie favorites when visiting a new place. So when in the south, eat some good ole southern soul food! Shrimp n’ Grits, Oysters Rockefeller, Chicken Fried Steak, Gumbo… and the list goes on…and the pounds pack on. YOLO, right? For something sweet, I discovered a fantastic little bakery shop on King Street that specializes in the most creative cookies you have ever tasted. I even found a chocolate chip cookie that was baked with an oreo inside. Don’t believe me? See my photograph below. And for a savory southern steak, don’t forget to make a reservation at Hall’s – one of the best steak houses in America.
Ladyhattan’s favorite bites in Charleston:
- Halls Chophouse – be prepared for a family style hug when you enter this place, the friendliness of the staff is on another level – plus the steaks and sides are some of the best in the nation!
- Cru – the perfect lunch hotspot, but make a reservation as this place fills up quickly with crowds – can’t go wrong with the baked brie or wine truffled mussels!
- HUSK – probably Charleston’s most charming restaurant in town, if you can’t get a reservation try sitting at the bar and ordering some food – this place is a must! Be gutsy and try the Garlic BBQ Pig’s Ear Lettuce Wraps!
- FIG – a foodie favorite for dinner, specializing in local and sustainable foods, there are too many treats to choose from but I went with the Carolina fish stew!
- LowCountry Bistro – although a bit touristy, this place did boast the best shrimp n’ grits I tasted while in town – so I must give it a thumbs up!
- King Street Cookies – for my lady cookie monsters out there, this place is AWESOME! They have over 100 different flavors of cookies to choose from, including my personal favorite, a chocolate chip cookie with an oreo baked inside!
HAVE A COCKTAIL
At the end of your blissful day in warm southern sunshine, put on your party dress and head to a swanky Charleston bar to enjoy a mint julep or two. Upper King Street has developed into quite the happening bar scene – especially with College of Charleston just steps away. But don’t worry, it’s no keg party here! Classy, sophisticated and cool lounges are filled with an eclectic mix of people – young and old. What I liked most about some of the bars I hopped, is the outdoor scene with live music playing – what a nice break from the indoor crowds of NYC. Try an ice cold HopArt IPA (local Carolina brew) – I don’t even like beer that much, but yum, was that delish! For a lady drinking atmosphere try one of my favorite spots: The Gin Joint, The Rooftop, Social Wine Bar or the Blind Tiger Pub.
WHERE TO SLEEP
There aren’t a million hotels to choose from in Charleston, but there IS a great selection! From high-end to more modest hotels, you can likely find a place that is both comfortable and fits your budget. For a splurge ($300+), Zero George is the place to stay. On a budget, look for rooms starting at $129/night at a bed and breakfast like Barksdale House Inn. I wanted to find something with a standard price point ($200-250/night) located in a central part of town so we could walk to everything. The Andrew Pinckney Inn was perfect and they treated me not like a lady, but a queen! They upgraded us to the “townhome suite” and made sure we took advantage of all the hotel perks. I loved this little hotel not only for the great perks and extras, but because the staff was the epitome of southern charm! They were all extremely accommodating, friendly and informative with making reservation selections or directing us to nearby activities. A big thank you to the Andre for his kindness and hospitality at this hotel. What do you mean by perks and extras, you ask? In the late afternoon, the hotel serves complimentary wine and cheese on their gorgeous roof deck. Also, the lobby is stocked with cookies, coffee and teas at all times of the day. And yes, the hotel serves a complimentary southern style hot breakfast for all guests.
From what to do, where to eat, where to sip and sleep – I hope these travel tips on Charleston, South Carolina were helpful for your next weekend adventure! Just a short 1.5 hour flight from Manhattan, there is no better city to visit for a quick escape from frigid temperatures! Happy travel planning, y’all! Until the next sweet escape.