Charleston, South Carolina, was founded in 1670 as Charles Towne, Carolina. Today, this beautifully preserved American city is home to charming bed and breakfasts, boutique shopping and world-class restaurants; it's a perfect stateside getaway for a long weekend.
Where to Stay
Charleston Place Hotel
This Orient Express property is an 8-story landmark hotel in Charleston's historic district. It looks like a postmodern French chateau, where castle-like elegance meets the creature comforts of a country cottage. The rooms are stately, modern and beautifully furnished. It's home to the award-winning Charleston Grill, with a menu based on the idea of four culinary quadrants: lush, pure, cosmopolitan and Southern. It's a unique balance of the lightness and rich indulgence of Southern cooking.
36 Meeting Street
This 1740 pre-Revolutionary War home offers three elegant suites in Charleston's historic district. Each suite has its own private entrance and is stylishly furnished with antiques. The Moultrie Suite is a 2-bedroom, 1-bath on the ground floor of the carriage house and used to be the kitchen in the 1800s. This hotel is rich with history and the perfect accommodation for those looking to soak in some Americana.
Old Village Post House
A quiet and romantic bed and breakfast, the Old Village Post House was built in 1888 and has only 6 rooms for let. Situated minutes from downtown Charleston in a quaint and historic fishing community, the best part of the Old Village Post House is the food. The nationally recognized Southern bistro at Old Village features 2 dining rooms, a tavern and a beautiful courtyard.
Where to Eat
Coast Bar and Grill
Located in a former indigo warehouse, this casual eatery is recommended by locals because of its open oak grills and tin-roofed booths. The menu specializes in local seafood and we recommend the shellfish and watermelon ceviche and the daily catches grilled and served to your liking.
Slightly North of Broad
This casual and intimate restaurant is better known by its erroneous acronym SNOB. The ingredients at SNOB are incredibly fresh, supplied by organic farmers on nearby Wadmalaw Island. Try the local shrimp and grits, made from heirloom corn grown and milled nearby.
Breakfast doesn't get any better than the fare offered at Tropical Toast. Its plain exterior belies the tropically designed interior; the thatched hut bar and palm trees are straight out of Margaritaville. The currant French toast is stuffed with apples or peaches and the Eggs Meeting Street is an amazing stack of poached eggs, fried green tomatoes, crab cakes and remoulade, a French condiment similar to tartar sauce.
What to See & Do
Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge
This bridge is a 3.5-mile, 8-lane architectural wonder on the greenway named after its champion, the former Senator Arthur Ravenel. Strolling across this bridge -- a massive combination of beauty and strength -- is a Charleston must.
The Charleston Farmers Market
If you are visiting Charleston between April and December, make sure to spend some time on Saturday morning at the festive Farmers Market. The 2008 Charleston Farmers Market was rated as one of the Top 10 Best Farmers Markets by Travel and Leisure magazine. Enjoy fresh crepes, omelets, donuts and po'boys while you shop for fresh produce.
Take a Carriage Tour
A fun and relaxing way to enjoy the sites and history of Charleston, carriage tours are offered by several Charleston companies. Old Towne Carriage Company offers ghost tours while Old South Carriage Co. will cover 30 blocks of the historic district in about an hour. At Middleton Place, a national historic landmark and carefully preserved 18th-century plantation, carriage tours cover the beautifully landscaped grounds and surrounding forest.
Located on the rooftop of the Market Pavilion Hotel, Pavilion Bar is the perfect place for a scenic nightcap. Indulge in the signature Paviliontini made with Absolut Citron, fresh pineapple and orange juices. Order one while gazing at historic Charleston and the illuminated Ravenel Bridge above the Ashley River.
Kaminsky's Most Excellent Cafe
This stylish bar offers a wide selection of wines and a sinful selection of desserts. Everything is prepared fresh daily by some of Charleston's most talented pastry chefs. Their rich menu changes daily and the dessert case at the front door is scandalously tempting.
Charleston's premier martini and cigar bar features a unique drink menu, delicious desserts, cozy lounge seating and a state-of-the-art Smoketeer ventilation system. Light up a stogie in this 200-year-old establishment brimming with old-world class.
Travel Channel Insider's Tip:
A perfect vacation can be gained through perfect planning, so visit Charleston's official tourism site to request a Charleston Visitors Guide. It allows you to customize your guide based on your interests.