Updated May 2020.
Headed to Charleston? You’ll love it! I got to take a quick trip to the Holy City recently, and it was just the breath of fresh, Southern air I needed. To make sure you can make the most of your trip, here are some things to know before you go!
First of all, big thanks to Kevin McQuade of Secret Charleston for his help with this blog post! He is the absolute best concierge in Charleston, and he can plan your whole Charleston trip for you. Check out his website and give him a call!
Dress to Impress
Charleston is upscale, and they like it that way! When choosing what to pack, toss in an extra sundress or a polo instead of that t-shirt. You’ll be glad you did! Keep it classy. And maybe pack a hairbow. Pastels and seersucker are also a good idea!
More here: A Girl’s Guide to Solo Travel in Charleston
You Can Soak Your Feet in the Pineapple Fountain
That’s right! Many city fountains around the country frown on that, but Charleston knows how hot it can be. So if you’re a bit warm and want some cool water on your feet while enjoying a sea breeze, pay a visit to the Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park.
There are Three FREE Area Shuttles
Charleston is not a Beach Town
It’s true that Charleston is close to the Atlantic, but you’ll have to drive, Uber, or take a taxi if you want to get to a beach! Sometimes people are disappointed when they arrive and realize Battery Park is not made of sand and you can’t surf to Fort Sumter!
More here: FREE Things to Do in Charleston
Schedule Your Carriage Ride in the Morning
Many people think the way to beat the heat is to schedule their carriage ride in the evenings, but that is not so. Plan that for first thing in the morning (I took my ride at 9:00am!). If you wait, you won’t be able to see the residential area with all the beautiful homes, since carriages are not allowed there in the evenings.
You Should Make Restaurant Reservations about 2 Months in Advance
If you don’t get a reservation, you will not go hungry—you just may not eat at your first choice of restaurant! That goes for lunch and supper, my friends. If you’re not sure you’ll need a reservation, just give them a call or get in touch with them via social media and ask whether or not they recommend a reservation for the timeframe of your trip. But generally, when in doubt, make a reservation!
Keep eating: What to Eat in Charleston
The Plantations are Not Walkable
No “far” as in you need an airplane to get there, but you will need a car, taxi or Uber! Renting a car for the day just to get out to the plantations can be pricey, however. And an Uber driver in Charleston advised me that you can get an Uber to take you out there, but you may be waiting 40-60 minutes for an Uber to get out there to you to bring you back! If you need a ride, there are companies that provide day trips, and they will pick you up, wait for you to take the tour, and drive you back.
In short, you can’t walk there, so getting to the plantations takes a bit of advance planning unless you already have a rental car in your plan!
… And They May Look Different than You Expect
Seventeenth and eighteenth century plantation homes are not the grand Civil War-era homes you might be imagining; that was not the style until the ninteenth century! Some people are disappointed when they don’t see large columns and double front porches, but don’t be disappointed—Charleston’s plantations are still lovely!
Can’t make it to the plantations?
Take Charleston’s Gateway Walk instead!
Those are Palmetto Trees
And actually, they’re technically shrubs, not trees! They look similar to palm trees, but they’re not. The palmetto “tree” is the state tree of South Carolina, and one even graces the South Carolina flag.
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