Quintessentially Southern, with its cobbled carriage roads and historic plantations, Charleston has captured the hearts of Travel + Leisure readers from around the world. Even if you’re only spending one weekend in town, make it perfect by checking off these top five can’t-miss sights and activities in one of the world’s number one cities.
It’s known for its incredible shopping (there are more than three dozen antique malls on King Street alone) and has no shortage of designer boutiques, galleries, and stylish jewelry storefronts. One of the most fantastic places in Charleston is the century-old Croghan’s Jewel Box. Come here for estate jewelry and glassware, or just to chat with the owners.
For the local take on what to do in Charleston, fill up on celebrated lowcountry fare. Hominy Grill is especially popular with the hometown heroes. Stephen Colbert wants their shrimp and hominy and Chef Nico Romo can’t get enough of the High-Rise biscuits with sausage gravy for breakfast. Poogan’s Porch (especially the Charlestowne omelet with fried oysters, cheddar, and applewood-smoked bacon) and the soul food at Jestine’s Kitchen are also favorites among residents.
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Catching a show at the Dock Street Theater, the first theater in the United States, is one of the most fun things to do in Charleston. If you’re not frightened by the city’s centuries-old ghosts (rumor has it the place is haunted) you can catch a classic performance of Marry Poppins this year.
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Architecture aficionados should spend time admiring Charleston’s French Quarter, where most buildings boast decks and piazzas. It’s not just these Parisian facades that are attractive, though. Charleston’s White Point Gardens have shells lined with crushed oyster shells, a promenade flanking the harbor, and breathtaking mansions.
Take it all in from one of the rooftop bars crowning the city’s best hotels, including the Market Pavilion Hotel and the new Restoration on King. The latter is decorated with vintage American amenities and boasts kitchenettes in the rooms, an Assouline-curated library, and that bar. You’ll love watching the sun set over Charleston’s steeple-filled skyline.