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Exploring Charleston, SC – adult trip travel guide

Travel Guide: Charleston, SC

Have you ever visited a place, and just couldn’t wait to get back to visit again because that’s all you could think about? Well my friends, that place for me is Charleston, SC. I can’t say enough great things about Charleston, it’s charm, and pretty much everything else! It’s been ranked #1 City in the US, #1 Small US City, #10 City in the World, and one of the Top 10 Most Romantic Weekend Getaways. The list goes on and on, and I can totally see why. With the generosity and guided help of Charleston CVB, I’m here to show and tell you some of the highlights of our trip. 

Where to Start

Travel Guide: Charleston, SC - Charleston Visitors Center -

As you probably remember, this was a part of our #adulttrip to St. Augustine, FL, Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA. When we got into town, we went straight to the Charleston Visitor’s Center, which was probably the biggest and prettiest Visitor’s Center I have ever been to. Everyone was so friendly and we definitely got more than a few pointers. I wish we stayed in Charleston a lot longer because there’s so much to do and see!

Food & Drink

After the Visitor’s Center, we walked around King St, which is the main downtown area full of shops and restaurants. The smells coming from the restaurants were so good and inviting, but you know what? A girl needs a drink after a 4 hour drive from Florida. Luckily, there were plenty of happy hours around. My top picks were:

– Prohibition: The happy hour menu was awesome, and the food was really good too. I’d definitely recommend the Oysters and wings. 

The Brick: Great sports bar with quite a history. Ask the bartender about the bar. I ended up having a drink that I always have and thought I was so creative for having, but turns out, there’s a name for it – John Daly. Who knew?!?!? Mind Blown!

We received a lot of reccomendations for places to eat but our schedule was so jammed pack and the wait was longer than I wanted at most places, so we only visited a few. One thing I must say though – the food is great whereever you end up going!

Taco Boy (Folly Beach): Although this wasn’t in Charleston, it’s worth the short drive. By far THE BEST nachos I’ve ever had!

Page’s Okra Grill (Mt Pleasant): LOVED the Shrimp and Grits! Mt Pleasant is just a short drive over the bridge, and you will definitely get your fill of Southern Charm hot spots.

The Rooftop at the Vendue: I only have this on here because the rooftop bar is pretty cool. The service – TERRIBLE. The bartender made me cry. If you visit this bar, make sure you get the grumpy guy on a good day, and know what you want right away.

The Griffon: We actually headed here after the bartender made me cry. The food Ruben sandwich I had was awesome and the atmosphere was great. It’s more on the dive side, so no need to get dressed up here.

Smoke BBQ (Mt Pleasant): We stopped here our last day in town. We got quite the treat since there was live entertainment. Quite entertaining. I mean when you’re singing “Let’s Get It On” at a BBQ joint, how can you not get turned on by your… The collard greens where the best I’ve ever had in my whole entire life!

Where to Stay

We ended up staying at an Air BnB, which was on James Island. Our host was the sweetest lady, great with communication (even prior to our trip), and she was super accommodating. I’d definitely go back and stay at her place again. Once we were settled, we rearranged our plans because thanks to Charleston CVB, we now had access to so much more than what we had originally planned. Although we stayed at an Air BnB, I did do a ton of research, and here are my top places that I would’ve loved to stay: The Vendue, The Spectator Hotel, Zero George, and The Restoration Hotel.

What to Do (Free)

If you’re on a tight budget or just want to walk around, there’s still plenty to do and see. Shem Creek was our first stop. It’s a cute, romantic little stroll along the bridged path. You get a great view of the Arthur Ravenal Bridge, there’s plenty of photo ops, lots of pretty houses to look at across the way, and really awesome looking restaurants and bars at the end of the loop.

Sullivan’s Island is a cute beach town with cute restaurants and plenty of pretty houses to look at. It’s a bit of a drive, but still not that far.

There were quite a few movies that were filmed here. Most notable for me and probably a lot of you, is The Notebook. If you’re like me, all you want to do is get the picture to say you’ve been there. If that’s the case, then you’ll be able to see a few places where the movie was filmed. The American Theatre is where Noah and his friends tricked Allie into a movie date, The William Aiken House is where Allie was trying on dresses and saw the paper with Noah in it, and High Cotton is where Allie got Engaged to Lon. There are a few more locations where the movie was filmed, however, they were a bit further of a drive. The one I really wanted to see was Cypress Gardens, but it’s closed because of flooding. 

Walk around and explore. If you’re with your significant other, a stroll around can be quite romantic – from the Pineapple Fountain and swings at the Waterfront Park, to strolling around looking at mansions you can imagine yourself living in. If you’re a Southern Charmer, drive by the Mikell House, and not that far is Colonial Lake. Here’s the route we took walking around SNOB (Slightly North of Broad): Start at Broad and King towards Tradd,  turn on S Battery, turn on E Battery, turn on E Bay, make a Left on Tradd, then to Church St to St Michael’s Alley, then end back at King. This is where you’ll find Rainbow Row, White Pointe Garden, all the nice houses and mansions, and the typical touristy spots.

What to Do (For a Fee)

Old South Carriage Tour is a great place to start. You get to see the city from a different vantage point and you get to learn all about the city and the different buildings and places. Our tour guide was amazing and I’m sure yours will be too, so be make sure you bring cash to tip them.

Charleston is loaded with beautiful plantations to visit. There were about 3 on our list, however, they were further out and we were limited on time, so of course we had to hit up Boone Hall Plantation. I needed to live out my fantasies of Noah and Allie. The grounds are beautiful, but I was a bit disappointed with the house itself. There are several tours you can take once you’re on the grounds, but we opted for the house tour. There was a wedding taking place as well, so we didn’t want to get in their way. **Bonus tid bit – Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds got married here as well!

Now here’s a place I wish I would’ve started out at and spent more time exploring. Charles Towne Landing is huge! There are trails, museums, a zoo, and so much more. There was a wedding going on as well, so some of the areas were blocked off. You can rent bikes to ride around, so do think about that when you visit.

Whenever we travel, we like to do some type of water activity. The Sandlapper Water Tours was it for us in Charleston. It’s always a neat experience seeing the city from the water. We even got to see dolphins swimming in the bay!

We also did a ghost tour with Ghosts of Charleston Tour. I think I put a little too much hype on the tour and scared myself shitless before the tour even started because it wasn’t as scary as I was making it out to be. The graveyard was probably the scariest part of the whole tour. I opted not to take any pictures because I wasn’t trying to spot an orb or anything my shots.

What to Pack

Although we came in October, it was set to be some crazy weather. Crazy as in us San Diegans don’t know how to deal with anything other than 72 degrees weather. There was rain, sun, not too much humidity, and then cold. I’d suggest lots of layers, an umbrella, dress shoes, walking shoes, and galoshes. Definitely pack some nicer looking clothes because everyone is definitely dapper out here.

Again, I’d like to thank Charleston CVB for their awesome hospitality, giving me the VIP experience and the opportunity to visit some of Charleston’s best attractions. I really think this is in my top 5 cities to visit in the US, and can’t wait to go back to visit. Have you been or are you planning a visit? I’d love to hear what you’ve done or what you’re planning on doing.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this post, however I did receive compensation in the form of access to attractions c/o Charleston CVB. As always all opinions are my own.


  1. I visited Charleston several years ago and fell in love with it! I have intentions on traveling back there, and will have to check out the restaurants you suggested. Great post on what to do there!

  2. I absolutely love Charleston and all of the fabulous restaurants. I actually stayed at the Vendue hotel my last visit but I didn’t make it up to the bar. Sorry you had such a bad experience. When I stayed they had a fire and we had to be evacuated!

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