Help a Reader Travel: Charleston

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to Maui, The Greek Islands, Pacific Coast Highway, Argentina /Buenos Aires, Costa Rica, Cape Cod & The Islands, Iceland, Geneva, Canadian Rockies, Rome, Israel, Peru / Inca Trail , Stockholm, Chicago, Paris, Hanoi, Austin, Puerto Rico, Bruges, Salzburg, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Jamaica, India/Golden Triangle, Auckland, Singapore, Moscow, The Oregon Coast,Seattle, Portland, Hawaii Islands, Alaska Skiing, Brazil, Prague, Budapest,Paraguay, Cabo San Lucas, Edinburgh, San Diego, Hilton Head, Dubrovnik, Tanzania, The Seychelles, Belize, Miami, Vienna, London, Tahiti, and Mt. Kilimanjaro.

So this weeks travel destination includes Charleston, South Carolina. As Mr. Deals wrote about yesterday, my parents are headed South. Here is an email from my dad, Rich:

“We have a quick trip planned to Charleston and want to see all the highlights. We have some free nights we are planning on using at the Marriott at the airport (darn category 1-4 limitations), but in case we decide to splurge and stay in the downtown area, any recommendations? Or, is it really that bad staying at the airport as it seems to be only 20ish minutes away. In Charleston, what are the areas my wife and I must see? Any areas outside of Charleston you’d recommend as well? I’d also love some restaurant recommendations. We got cheap Southwest flights using points, have the Souhwest companion ticket, my son has a bunch of Marriott category 1-4 free nights expiring, and I have a Hertz voucher. Thank you to all my daughters readers for helping me out.”

If you’ve ever been to Charleston and have any recommendations, let’s help out my dad by commenting below. I was only in Charleston for a few hours, so am not much help, but I remember eating on the water in Mt. Pleasant.

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at dealswelike@gmail.com to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

Comments

  1. Stay downtown; parking is fairly limited downtown.. it’s so convenient to be able to walk back and forth easily. In terms of MR there’s a Renaissance downtown that’s fairly well located. Hilton has a very well located Doubletree and the Embassy suite’s ain’t so bad… Walking around is my favorite activity, but consider visiting the old houses around the battery as well. A trip out to Fort Sumter isn’t a bad way to spend a day as well, as well as a visit to a local plantation. But, my favorite activity in Charleston is without a doubt eating… try FIG, Cru Cafe, SNOB, Hominy Grill, Husk, and the Ordiniary, just for starters.

    FDW

  2. DON’T stay “downtown”–stay in the “Historic District”. Downtown is much more expansive than you’d imagine, and staying “downtown” could put you anywhere from the ghetto to the courthouse (not the pretty one, either).

    I lived in Charleston for 6 years. My word of advice: this is not a town where you stick to a loyalty program. (1) The airport area is truly bad; (2) Stay independent. What’s your budget? There are plenty of gorgeous options downtown. To maximize the points angle, just use your Chase Sapphire!

    Other observations:

    1) High Cotton for brunch (NOT the Marriott!)

    2) Walking the HD is the best use of your time (if you’re able to walk)

    3) Check out the residential area (Gibbes; Limehouse; South Battery; Colonial Lake; Lower Rutledge; etc)

    4) Park the car in the garages, not on the street

    5) Eat, then eat, then eat some more

    6) If you’re able to walk, I’d ignore tours, unless you’re a history buff (I love history, but Charleston is so much better seen at a relaxing pace without someone yacking your ear off)

    7) Try the corner stores (Bull Street Gourmet; Queen Street Grocery)

    8) Pack a lunch from Caviar & Bananas (George St) and have a picnic at any number of the HD’s parks

    More to come. Email me if you need to.

  3. Also, you don’t really need a car (if you’re staying in the HD).

    Can’t stress this enough….unless you’re staying at the Marriott at the corner of Meeting and Calhoun, skip the loyalty shtick. Vouchers won’t be worth the paper they’re printed on.

  4. I have to agree with FDW above – the food is outstanding! I haven’t eaten as extensively, but many of those places were on my list (and came highly recommended). Hominy Grill was my favorite during my recent visit to Charleston, and I actually just wrote a post about it: http://first2board.com/foodwineandmiles/2013/10/19/heavenly-brunch-hominy-grill-charleston/

    We also ate at Hall’s Chophouse, 82 Queen, and Eli’s that weekend. I would recommend all of them.

    RE: hotels, we were staying at the airport Aloft, but the DoubleTree did look to have a great location downtown.

  5. FlyingDoctorWu is crazy. Parking downtown is super easy. There’s a garage a block off of Meeting/Market street… Walk around Market Street at night. Go to Hymans (touristy but still awesome). Folly beach. Sullivan’s Island. Lots to do all over. Was stationed there for a bit and went back last August because I enjoy it so much.

  6. I was there over Labor Day weekend. Agree with FDW 100%, dont get a rental and do stay downtown. The ride back and forth to the airport are will eat up any savings, spend that extra money staying in the historic district. It’s all walking, to see the good stuff. Had the 6 yr old with us, so no good restaurants. I’d do the horse drawn cart tour, it’ll get you oriented quickly. Dont buy the baskets! You can find them on ebay at 10% the cost! Enjoy!

  7. I am from Charleston and have lived here (nearly) all my life. I’ve helped tons of friends visit the city and could probably write a travel guide at this point. But what you SHOULD try and do on any given trip is mostly determined by two things: how long will you be here and how much money would you like to leave behind?

    As others have correctly pointed out, you want to stay downtown, without a doubt. Pull up a map and stay somewhere within these four major streets (from N to W): Calhoun, East Bay, Broad, Coming st. As long as you are within (or close) to those, you are within walking distance of just about everything. Avoid staying at anything close or north of Cannon. st. (this area is quickly improving, but not there yet–300 room Hyatt being built).

    King st (between Cannon st and Market st) is main street with tons of shopping and food/drink. Market st (btw King and East Bay) is a historic market (touristy, but still a need to see). East Bay (between market and broad) is another food hot spot.

    If you stay downtown, within those bounds, nearly everything you walk by will be historic and worth seeing. Walk to Waterfront park (corner of Vendue range st. and Concord st.) if you want a harbor scene. Then keep walking south down East Bay st. till you hit the point of the peninsula. That is the battery and worth seeing if you like history. Then just walk around this area (south Battery) if architecture is your thing.

    For concrete food suggestions: Hominy grill for breakfast. Hall Chophouse for steak or brunch (expensive, but fantastic). Husk for trendy uber-local (everything they serve is from the state of SC)–call ahead. Monza (King st.) if you just want pizza. Blossoms or Magnolia’s (same owner and right next to each other on East Bay st.) for lunch or dinner. High Cotton or SNOB (East Bay st.) both excellent choices for “high-end southern”. Virginia’s on King (on King, st.) good choice for more homestyle southern. Point is, you almost can’t go wrong with food in CHS.

    If you like cocktails, hit the Gin Joint on East Bay st. or Proof on King st. (both are smaller places).

    That should take up a few days time. If you want to hit a beach you’ll need a rental car. But, unless you are a die hard beach fan, you should focus on the downtown experience on your first trip (you will be back). Do a walking tour if you like them. Carriage tours can be fun/informative, but are so touristy they should be a “one and done” ordeal (they are also randomized, so you can’t pick the route you go on). If you like Naval history, hop a water taxi over to Patriot’s Point and tour the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier.

    Enjoy.

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