By Sandy Lang
August 19, 2014
Credit: Courtesy of The Cottages on Charleston Harbor

I was two mimosas into a friend’s baby shower brunch at the Old Village Post House when someone asked if I’d ever toured the tavern’s rooms upstairs. That’s how I first saw the charms of the inn that feels almost like a secret in Mount Pleasant’s most historic neighborhood. I bet other locals may not know about some of these nearby gems, all within a short drive from downtown Charleston, where most visitors want to spend at least some of their vacation time. If you’re the type who wants to stay somewhere less predictable, or you prefer to be closer to the beach or other scenery, here are a few ideas. Lodging in this list ranges from big resorts familiar to most—Wild Dunes on Isle of Palms and the Sanctuary on Kiawah Island—to that comfortable tavern, private cottages on the harbor, and a mod inn on a centuries-old plantation.

Wild Dunes Resort

When I was a teenager, everyone came here for tennis, and they still do, along with golf, paddleboarding, bicycling (fat-tire beach cruisers), and swimming in the pools and the ocean. The Boardwalk Inn, condos, and beach house rentals are big enough for groups and families, and I love that they still offer free shag lessons (the state dance) in the Grand Pavilion.

The Sanctuary at Kiawah

Getting a gate pass to drive onto Kiawah likely means you know someone who lives in one of the island’s multi-million-dollar homes, or you’ve got a tee time on the Ocean Course, or reservations at The Sanctuary, the grand oceanfront hotel and spa where a new guest perk is use of a Mercedes Benz for an afternoon (first-come, first-serve).

Old Village Post House Inn

On Pitt Street in Mount Pleasant’s harbor-facing Old Village neighborhood, near a terrific bakery and a couple of boutiques, sits a cozy tavern bar with a great wine list, a dinner menu by Frank Lee (among Charleston’s most treasured chefs) and a six-room inn outfitted with antique pine floors and white linens.

Cottages on Charleston Harbor

The line-up of 10 seaside cottages and a clubhouse pool make up a nearly hidden, mini-resort in the palmetto trees that’s right on the Charleston Harbor. I’ve spent a few breezy porch days here, and it feels like you could reach out and touch Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, and Fort Sumter.

Inn at Middleton Place

The first time I saw this elegant inn on the Ashley River, I was wowed by the simple architecture wrapped in trees and vines. It’s just not what you’d expect. Locals love to get away here. You’re at a 17th century plantation of well-landscaped gardens, but the design is intentionally minimal and modern, connecting you to the Lowcountry outside with naturalist guides and kayak rentals at the ready.