One of my biggest regrets from my six years living in Atlanta was never hopping in my car and making the drive to Charleston. And last year, after T+L readers voted the charming Southern town the best city in the U.S., I started feeling that pull again and decided to take action, convincing two girlfriends to join me on a weekend getaway. Stephen Colbert recently shared his top picks from his hometown, so I thought I would do the same. My biggest regret now? Only staying for three days.
Related: Hotels in Charleston
As I mentioned in a recent Twitter chat, I’m a sucker for hotels that include complimentary touches like wine-and-cheese hour and welcome drinks. The 50-room French Quarter Inn, ideally located in the historic district, offers these in spades: an amazing breakfast spread, fresh-baked cookies and milk at night, and—my favorite—canisters of M&M’s and jellybeans 24/7. The hotel also provides bicycles for those who want to get around on two wheels.
Stocked with everything from soy candles and ceramic mugs to small-batch tonic, Two Boroughs Larder is part modern-day general store, part restaurant. Exposed brick and wooden tables set the stage for the farm-fresh, ever-changing menu. It was worth the wait on Saturday afternoon for a soft egg scramble with kimchi bologna, garden herbs, and toast buttered with a heavy hand. (Note, like many places in town, it’s closed Sunday and Monday.)
Razor clams, peel-and-eat local shrimp, jumbo lump blue crab, oysters—The Ordinary is the latest spot in town to get your seafood fix. From chef Mike Lata and the Fig team, it occupies a former bank building, with white tiled walls, a soaring ceiling, and tons of natural light.
In addition to the highlights (carriage ride, historic home tours), we walked, walked, and walked some more. The best way to see the city is on foot; my friend tracked our steps, and we covered 24 miles in just three days. A few highlights from our strolls: wandering around the College of Charleston, one of the oldest in the country; gazing in awe (and envy) at the beautiful homes along King Street; and stopping to rest at the Battery, a waterfront promenade where you can see Fort Sumter in the distance.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.