Charleston’s Charms – Where to Go, Stay & Dine!

A scent of sweet yellow jasmine caressed our noses as we walked down the centuries-old cobblestone streets in Charleston.  It’s May and the city smells like perfume. Mother Nature celebrates Spring here with blossoming magnolia trees, azaleas, wisteria, tea olive, camellias and gardenias.  A bead of sweat slid down my cheek and my skin felt dewy from the humidity in the air. 

We flew into this southern port city to tour the Antebellum mansions, plantations, wander through the gardens adorned with Spanish Moss and explore the historic streets.  Charleston keeps her charm in check and doesn’t allow buildings to built higher than the tallest church steeple.  With 126 churches dotting the landscape, this town is often called the Holy City

After four days of walking all over town, our eyes danced with delight seeing the mansions, the sweeping piazzas, vendor stands with sweetgrass baskets, and taking in the sights from our horse-drawn carriage ride. We dined at some of the finest restaurants, and our taste buds were celebrating the Southern cuisine.    At every turn, the title Miss or Maam was added before our name.  The locals raise the bar on how to be polite and mind your manners. We left enchanted by the gracious hospitality and Southern kindness. 

Find out our favorite places to stay, dine and where to go in this friendliest of American cities, voted #1 U.S Destination by both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

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Planters Inn – A uniformed doorman welcomed us at the 175-year-old grande dame hotel, a Relais & Châteaux property.  Planters Inn was named the #1 Best Boutique Hotel by Travel + Leisure.

Built in 1844, Planters Inn is centrally located on the corner of Meeting and Main St., across the street from Charleston City Market. The 64- rooms and suites have ten-foot ceilings, silk draperies, fireplaces, four-poster beds and are filled with Baker Historic antiques.  Our suite overlooked the garden courtyard lit by lanterns. 

Don’t Miss!  Breakfast in the courtyard – order the Southern Country Breakfast with farm fresh eggs, applewood-smoked bacon, country sausage patty and house-made buttermilk biscuit with a side of Low Country Shrimp & Grits – local shrimp, andouille, peppers, onions, tomatoe creole and stone ground grits.

Charleston Place, a Belmond Hotel – The Belmond’s Charleston Place is an iconic urban sanctuary.  One of Belmond’s larger properties, there are around 439 rooms and suites with original art and contemporary luxuries.  Italian Carrera marble vanities and elegant bathrooms enhance guests stay.

Add some decadence to your stay and check into a Club Suite for skyline views and VIP entry to the Club Lounge where guests find small bites and drinks for breakfast to lunch, afternoon tea and evening chef-d’oeuvres.

Don’t Miss!  Breakfast in Palmetto Café – order the Belgian Waffle with pecans and berries or the Lowcountry Shrimp & Grits with house-made Tasso Gravy.  My favorite is the Palmetto Omelet with fresh lump crabmeat, Lobster Knuckles, Mozzarella Cheese,  Spring Onions.

John Rutledge Inn – Check into a slice of history at the John Rutledge Inn, home to a signer of the United States Constitution.  This one-of-a-kind Inn dates back to 1763 and is a living historic site with its original period furniture pieces. 

The staff greets you with warm southern hospitality and ensures each guests is comfortable with modern day amenities.  Each room is unique and guests enjoy the intimate setting.

Antique shops, art galleries, historic buildings and some of the best restaurants are located within a few blocks.

Don’t Miss!  Afternoon Tea served in the ballroom and evening port, sherry and brandy are complimentary for guests, as well as a cooked breakfasts served in your room or on the patio.  Step onto the 2nd floor Terrace and view the city from the wrought-iron balcony.

The Dewberry – Bordering Marion Square, The Dewberry is a mid-century landmark honoring the history of the 1964 L. Mendel Rivers Federal Building. The hotel is a blend of mid-century with a modern edge.

The rooms and suites are simply decorated yet sophisticated. The Dewberry was restored over 8 years by a team of preservationists, designers, architects, artists and artisans.

Don’t Miss!  The Citrus Club, a rooftop cocktail lounge located on the 8th floor terrace – highest rooftop in Charleston.

Tip! The Dewbery offers complimentary House Car & Bicycles

Other Places to Stay….

We hope to check into these properties on our next visit!

  • Two Meeting Street
  • Post House Inn
  • The Restoration
  • French Quarter Inn
  • Market Pavilion Hotel
  • Grand Bohemian Hotel
  • Harbourview Inn
  • Hotel Emeline
  • Wentworth Mansion
  • Kings Courtyard
  • Zero George St.
  • Andrew Pinckney Inn
  • Hotel Bennett – check out Camelia’s, the champagne bar!


Peninsula Grill – Located in Planters Inn – one of the most romantic dining experiences in Charleston! At dusk, lanterns are lit and tea lights glow as the Palmetto lined pathway leads to a charming courtyard.

Executive Chef Ramon Taimanglo introduces platters with sophisticated takes on classic Charleston dishes.  Standouts include the Oysters on a Half shell, Lobster “3 Way” Lobster Ravioli, Lobster Tempura and Sautéed Lobster, Lowcountry shrimp and she-crab soup, Meyers Ranch Rib-Eye with Ginger-Lime Beurre Blanc and Field Peas & Butterbeans.

Don’t Miss!  The Ultimate Coconut Cake with 12 towering layers of cream and cake – it even has a registered trademark.  You can place a mail-order and have it delivered as a gift anywhere in the U.S.

Circa 1886 – Circa 1886 is nestled in the gardens at the Wentworth Mansion in an original carriage house.  Executive Chef Marc Collins features modern yet comforting dishes with a contemporary spin on South Carolina Cuisine.  The setting evokes the romance and old-world charm of historic Charleston.

Voted #2 Best Hotel Restaurant in the United States by USA Today 10Best and the Forbes Four Star Award. He and his team source from local farmers and fishermen to create a fusion of dishes focused on themes – Tastes from Native Tribes (Preserved Rabbit with corn cob bouillon, Seewee bean succotash, hickory nut oil), Influences from Europe (Loup de Mer with artichoke, fingerling potatoes, grilled oyster mushrooms, peas, saffron clam fumet, black garlic butter), Flavors Brought from Africa (Shrimp n’Rice Grits – cabbage leaves, goat cheese, smoked ham hock gravy), South Carolina Today (Sea Scallops) and a grand finale…the Apple Rum Souffle!

Charleston Grill – Award-winning Executive Chef Michelle Weaver presents local delicacies with inventive twists.  Dishes are divided into three categories – Roots & Stems, Waves & Marsh, and Field & Pasture.  Each dish has elements of Southern cooking.  The wine was perfectly paired and every dish was exquisite! The live jazz music adds romance to this extravagant dining experience.

The Vendue Rooftop & Revival Restaurant – located at the Vendue Art Hotel

We dined at Revival where dishes are served with a fusion of modern southern food like Burrata & Holy City Tomato Salad; Lowcountry Pirlou with Carolina Gold rice and Forbidden Shrimp and Grits made with forbidden black rice.

Don’t Miss! The rooftop bar is a local hotspot with views of the city, harbor and The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Here, you can dine alfresco and order craft cocktails, awarded “Best Rooftop Bar” By Charleston City Paper since 2007!

Handy & Hot – On the hunt for a decadent breakfast, healthy lunch or something for your sweet tooth? Grab a biscuit – twice baked fontina or sausage and pepper relish.  The bacon pimento & egg cheese biscuit is another popular choice.  Try the Shuai’s Pie with Szechuan pork, sea island red peas and smoked cheddar.

CHECK OUT! More dining recommendations by Ginny Severs at the Wentworth Mansion



  • Millers All Day
  • Fast and French
  • Slightly North of Broad  
  • Palmetto Café
  • Cru Café
  • Poogan’s Porch
  • Magnolia’s


  • Fleet Landing (only waterfront restaurant downtown)
  • Amen Street 
  • 167 Raw  
  • Tempest

Trendy and Farm to Table:          

  • Basic Kitchen

Other Assorted Favorites:

  • The Watch 
  • 5 Church



  • Magnolias
  • Slightly North of Broad  
  • High Cotton 
  • Husk
  • FIG
  • Cru Café
  • Poogan’s Porch

Upscale and Romantic:

  • Circa 1886  (located at Wentworth Mansion)  
  • Peninsula Grill 
  • Charleston Grill 


  • Fleet Landing  (only waterfront restaurant downtown)
  • Hanks 
  • Amen Street 
  • The Ordinary  
  • 167 Raw  
  • Leon’s      
  • The Darling Oyster Bar
  • Tempest
  • Trendy and Farm to Table With a Southern Influence:          
  • The Grocery 
  • Butcher and Bee (vegetarian options)

Other Assorted Favorites:

  • Halls Chophouse
  • Rutledge Cab Company
  • Indaco
  • Edmond’s Oast
  • Little Jack’s Tavern
  • Melfi’s
  • Frannie and The Fox
  • 5 Church


Get oriented!  Check with your hotel concierge on the neighborhoods – South of Broad, French Quarter, Charleston Village, Midtown, The Boroughs, Wagener Terrace, Hampton Park Terrace; and arrange your transportation to see the sites below.  Also, see our recommendations for transportation in this article.

Charleston City Market Charleston City Market – shop the covered 3-block market in the heart of town.

Visit Plantations – Magnolia & Boone (be sure to walk the Avenue of Magnolias as filmed in many Hollywood movies).  Drayton Place & Middleton are near Magnolia so try to plan to visit all three in one day. Note:  Stay on trails – alligators have been sighted in the ponds.  You’ll experience the grandeur and elegance of these beautiful southern homes.

Walking Tours Bulldog Tours – Sign up for a 2 hour walking tour and explore Charleston’s rich history on an engaging, insightful stroll through vibrant neighborhoods, historic sites, architecture, art with a licensed guide.

Other tours offered…Ghost, Food & History Tours. Bulldog’s Team of Licensed Tour Guides has More than 800 Years of Combined Experience. Voted Charleston’s Best Walking Tour.

Don’t Miss!  Rainbow Row and see the Pineapple Fountain at Waterfront Park.

Cooking Classes – In the Kitchen with Chef Bob

Palmetto Carriage Works  – one of our favorite ways to see Charleston is in a horse-drawn carriage.

 Boat Tours / Boat Charters – we took the Harbor Tour on Carolina Belle – sit on top level in open-air or downstairs in air condition to see the sights and learn about the history of the area.

  • Fort Sumter  
  • The Carolina Girl     
  • Charleston Sailing Adventures
  • Aqua Safaris
  • SpiritLine Cruises (dinner cruise / private event cruise)

Historic Home Tours

  • The Joseph Manigault Home, The Charleston Museum, and The Heyward-Washington House
  • The Calhoun Mansion
  • The Edmondston-Alston House
  • The Nathaniel Russell House & The Aiken-Rhett House Museums

More architecture…

  • Bethel ME Church
  • Cabbage Row
  • Rainbow Row
  • Heyward-Washington House
  • Historic Charleston Courthouse
  • Aiken-Rhett House
  • Fireproof Building

Historic Charleston Foundation will be offering the spring Festival of House and Gardens.

Beaches – Relax on a beach – my Uber driver Christopher shared insights and best beaches:

  • Charleston Beaches- Sullivan’s Island, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms
  • Sullivan – beaches access, food
  • John – remote, rural farms – gateway to Kiawah & Seabrook
  • Isle of Palms – retail touristy
  • Folly – locals, family beach  – Rita’s for fish tacos

Parks & Gardens – Sit and laze away the afternoon in one of these waterfront parks.

  • Hampton Park
  • Whitepoint Gardens
  • Cypress Gardens
  • Angel Oak
  • Waterfront Park (see the Pineapple Fountain)


  • The Gibbes Art Museum
  • Charleston Museum
  • Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry
  • Best Friend Museum
  • Joseph Marigault House
  • Old Slave Mart Museum
  • Karpeles Manuscript Museum

History Sites

  • Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
  • Patriots Point
  • Charles Pinckney National Historic Site
  • Charles Towne Landing
  • Charleston Library Society

Other Activities

  • South Carolina Aquarium

Boutiques – There are so many shops on King Street and you will start at the lower end and can work your way up.  Check out some local favorites below:

  • Berlin’s
  • Roller Rabbit
  • Charleston Shoe Co.
  • Shirtini
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Candlefish
  • Croghan’s Jewel Box – a must see!
  • Finicky Filly
  • Copper Penny
  • Hampden
  • Shoes on King St.
  • Gretchen Scott
  • J McLaughlin


  • Urban Nirvana Spa at Wentworth Mansion
  • Woodhouse Day Spa – WestEdge
  • The Spa at Charleston Place
  • Earthling Day Spa
  • Dewberry Spa
  • Spa at Hotel Bennett


Airport Transfers and Tours in Charleston & the Area:

Charleston Black Cab Company  – One of the oldest transfer companies in Charleston known for their promptness, professionalism, helpfulness, accommodating guests. We highly recommend them for airport transfers, tours and parties. Their company has the largest fleet of luxury vehicles in Charleston, including limousines and party buses. Vehicles are clean and comfortable. Toan Dao is the owner of this family business and notes – we are “Committed to Serving You.”

If you want to take a bike taxi, contact one of these companies:

  • Charleston Rickshaw – 843-723-5685
  • Charleston Bike Taxi – 843-532-8663
  • Charleston Pedicab – 843-577-7088

Acknowledgements:  Global Adventuress thanks those featured in this article for hosting us during our stay.  Special thanks to the Charleston Tourism Office for sharing helpful information, resources.