If you follow me on Instagram, then you'd know I was in Charleston with my husband last weekend. To be honest, we will likely be back again very soon because there is so much more to see and simply not enough time!
I always knew I was going to enjoy a weekend in Charleston but I never expected myself to fall so in love with the charming city from day 1. In case you're wondering what's so great about the place, here's why.
1. Friendly, Hospitable People
I think a place is only truly beautiful when the people are as well! Every single Lyft driver (you can get $20 Lyft credit in Charleston here) and tour guide we came across, as well as the service staff at the multiple restaurants we went to, were nothing but fantastic! They were professional, considerate, and extremely warm and friendly. Many went the extra mile, too!
The nice Lyft driver who took us to the airport, for example, learned about my husband's interest in planes and made a special detour just to show us the Boeing assembly site whilst telling us about the Boeing Dreamlifter. It doesn't sound like much but it really made my husband's day because it wasn't exactly somewhere we'd make a special stop for.
2. An Impressive Food Scene
Charleston is small but filled with a large number of great restaurants. We made sure every meal we had in the city was at one of the top-rated restaurants. And I have to say, all of the meals were amazingly tasty and memorable! The places we went to included:
- FIG (Dinner): By far our No. 1 out of all the restaurants we went to. We ordered the Beef Tartine & Preserved Tuna and White Shrimp Spaghetti to start and shared the Golden Tilefish as our main. We ended the meal with Warm Apples and Frangipane. The dishes were unique, well-flavored, and really sumptuous. Unfortunately, we went late at night so I couldn't get good photos in the dark.
- HUSK (Lunch): Chef Sean Brock of Husk has appeared on Iron Chef America and won several culinary awards! We ordered Glazed Pig's Ear Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp and Edisto Grits and the Fried Chicken from his menu. My favorite was the pig's ear; I loved how there were so many layers of flavors and texture in one single wrap.
- Rodney Scott's BBQ (Early Dinner): Visited and tasted by Anthony Bourdain, Rodney Scott's BBQ was on the top of our list. We went early on Saturday to avoid the crowd and ordered half a slab of BBQ Spare Ribs that comes with two sides, a quarter pound of Pulled Pork and a quarter pound of BBQ Chicken. And yes, we totally over-ordered (it was the amount for a family of four). But heck, it's not like we get to come every day, right? Everything, except for the Mac & Cheese, was delicious in my opinion. The meat was really tender and I loved the vinegar-based sauces.
- Poogan's Porch Restaurant (Brunch): For Sunday brunch, we shared three dishes: Lump Crab Cake, Chicken & Waffles, and Pulled Pork Benedict. Chicken and waffles were the best I've ever had! Plus, the service was amazing.
3. A Whole Lot of Interesting History
I wasn't always into history but my hubby is a history buff and enjoys a good o' tale. So naturally, with all the stories that Charleston has to offer, it was the place to be. From the initial physical settlement in the 1660s to the American Revolution to the Civil War, Charleston's history is one of the longest and most diverse of any community in the U.S.
Charleston grew wealthy through exporting rice and was the richest of the 13 colonies. The wealth was visible throughout the city, with many, many mansions built within a rather small area. And this actually leads to my next reason why I adore Charleston!
4. Rows of Beautiful Houses
Colorful houses and beautiful mansions occupied one street after another in Charleston, especially in the Historic District and the French Quarter. I don't think I've ever found so many photogenic spots all in one place before. I was constantly woo-ing and ahh-ing.
I, of course, stopped by Rainbow Row, where you'll find over a dozen historic pastel-colored Georgian houses all lined up one next to the other. The sight was too adorable, and I like it so much I bought a mini Rainbow Row magnet to bring home with me.
5. Abundant Carriage & Walking Tours
A fun way to tour and learn about Charleston is hopping on a horse carriage ride! Tickets can be bought on-site near the intersection of Market Street and Church Street. There are a lot of different companies that offer the tour, but we went with Palmetto Carriage Company.
Our tour was one hour long and tickets cost $26 per person. Despite having visited museums already, we still learned so much from that our tour guide! (For instance, he showed us which house The Notebook was filmed at! I love that movie!)
If you prefer walking, there are several free walking tours, too. We decided to go on the carriage tour because it was different, but for the rest of the time, we walked our way around the city. We also went on tours offered inside some of the mansions and other tourist sites like the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon.
6. Different Scenery
It was amazing how many different sceneries were available in Charleston. You can go from shopping in the city market to enjoying an oceanview in less than 20 minutes. I think this is precisely why there wasn't enough time to really explore every corner of Charleston!
7. A Quaint Personality
In my eyes, Charleston is a very elegant city. And that is certainly due to the combination of the rich history, the beautiful houses (and the horse carriages), etc. But there are less visible factors that together create that quaint personality, too. For instance, the city's effort of preserving (and not touching) anything that is over 75 years old! Here and there, you'll find authentic wall murals or old step stools for people to get on carriages right where they were found. The really clean streets and well-kept facades also played a huge role. And another thing: the city is so, very quiet. I did not hear any car honking or people shouting during the entire time I was there.
8. The Art of Keeping the Old New
I'm so impressed with how well Charleston has been able to maintain its original look through all these years, after so many wars, earthquakes, and hurricanes! I don't know what all the regulations are, but one thing for sure is that they are really good at repurposing old buildings and mansions. The restaurant Husk I dined at, for example, is housed in a historic 1800s Charleston mansion. Many nice hotels used to be mansions in the past, too, like The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel and Wentworth Mansion. Although apparently, they both have some sort of ghost stories (*shrug*).
So if you're looking for a destination to go away for a weekend, I say definitely check out Charleston! From New York, it is only a 2-hour flight away and can be reached by train, too!
Thank you for reading!
Tricia Chen is co-founder of Key To Radiance. She loves having fresh flowers in her apartment, putting on face masks, savoring cupcakes and a daily cup of grande almond latte. She works in PR and Marketing, and is currently based in New York.
Skin Type: Combination skin with an oily T-zone area (forehead and nose). Changes in climate, diet and/or lack of sleep irritates skin and causes inflammation, which then leads to large pores. High moisture level required on dry cheeks.