After spending a week in Charleston, SC I’m back home and missing this lovely city already. I definitely found it to be true, what they say about this charming southern city. Charleston is beautiful and perhaps one of the most photogenic cities I’ve ever visited! This vacation made me realize just how much I’ve missed traveling in my life too. It’s because of this that I’m planning more trips for the remainder of the year. So get excited, because the travel portion of my blog will be growing! Throughout my time spent in Charleston I took the time to see, do and eat everything most raved about in the city. So in today’s post, you can expect to see everything worth trying out in Charleston in the ultimate it girls travel guide to Charleston, South Carolina! Hopefully if you’re planning a trip there soon or in the future, this guide can get you prepared for an amazing stay in the beautiful, historic city. I promise it’s the only guide you’ll need to find the coolest places in town. 😉
The Ultimate It Girls Travel Guide to
Charleston, South Carolina
Where we frequent to eat:
Black Tap Coffee
A minimalist decorated coffee shop located outside the buzz of the busy King street, is Black Tap Coffee. With unique drink offerings and a modern design, any coffee lover will love this little coffee shop. My favorite drink I got there was the non alcoholic Mint Julep. If you love the taste of coffee this may be fine as is. I like a little cream in my coffee so I added a bit and a packet of Stevia, which made it perfect for me!
Vintage Coffee Cafe
I was in love as soon as we pulled up to this little cafe. Located just 5 minutes from Sullivan’s Island, Vintage Coffee Cafe is in a prime location. Stefan and I highly recommend stopping by this beachy spot for a quick breakfast before the beach! They have many menu options to choose from and would be a great brunch spot as well! The cafe is extremely photo genic for Instagram photos too. (Hello fellow Instagram friends! :D) We ordered the Roasted Vegetable Hash (which tasted out of this world good) and their famous toast. I recommend the strawberry toast but they have four other great flavors as well. You really can’t go wrong with any!
Center Street Coffee
What a little gem this coffee shop is, positioned on a busy and vibrant street across from Folly beach. We stumbled on it walking to the beach as I didn’t read about it in any travel guides. My favorite way to enjoy this coffee is while looking at the view on the Folly Beach pier with a camera and one of their delicious croissants. I highly recommend leaving your hotel early one day and spending your morning here, Stefan and I loved it! The best drink I can tell you to get, came by recommendation from one of the ladies that made my drink. Order the cold brew with both the coconut and vanilla syrup. It makes for an amazing combination. Totally worth every cent!
Eclectic Cafe & Vinyl
Funny story about this, one of our evenings in Charleston we decided to walk 40 minutes to this cafe. For some reason Stefan and I thought it wouldn’t be that bad. Tell that to our blisters. Yikes! 😀 Once we made it here however, it felt like I died and went to heaven. The workers here are very friendly and the vibe is low key and inviting. What’s really cool about this cafe is that they sell records and also have live artists play here from time to time. We got really lucky and stoped by when a local artist was playing, which we thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend spending a date night here sipping on a latte and listening to a live artist. It’s the cool, unexpected alternative to spend a romantic date night.
Queen Street Grocery
I was surprised to not really hear about this cute little grocery in any travel guides. One thing we definitely noticed, is that eating in Charleston can be quite expensive. I didn’t get to eat here, but the prices are really reasonable. Queen Street Grocery offers a nice low key spot right off of King street to enjoy a quick breakfast for a decent price. They offer coffee, smoothies and the other usual breakfast suspects. Enjoy a nice little breakfast on one of their tables right outside.
If you’re into eating healthy, you will LOVE this spot. Beech is a cool environment with both tropical music and menu options. Kind of like the type of place you’d expect to find in Florida or Hawaii! Beech has acai bowls, smoothies and pressed juice. It’s also located on King street, the most favorite place to shop in Charleston! So stop in for a healthy breakfast before a day of shopping. You can also snag a cup of coffee here too, making it the perfect spot to hit! And did I mention their bowls are very Instagrammable? 😉
Five Loaves Cafe
I only passed by this place, but heard about it from other bloggers like Gal Meets Glam. Five Loves Cafe offers a large variety of juice, smoothies, coffee, tea and much more! I think the exterior of the cafe really shows how charming and cute this cafe is! I mean its pink, need I say more? 🙂
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Sadly, we didn’t get to taste a biscuit from Callie’s. However I recommend not repeating our mistakes! This place comes highly recommended as we heard the biscuits are amazing. I believe it, considering they’re from the south, an iconic southern staple. The decor and style is also very impressive to an Instagram addict like me!
Lunch & Dinner Places:
Obstinate Daughter is a sit down restaurant just a 5 minute walk from Sulivans Island. It’s definitely pricier, but splitting a pizza here is a great option! We split the Miss Carolina pizza and thoroughly enjoyed it. This restaurant has a cute nautical decorating concept that I found darling.
Rodney Scott’s BBQ
Looking for a place to get barbecue for little money? You’ll want to hit Rodney’s if that’s the case! Not only is the food cheap AND good, but the atmosphere is perfect too. I really appreciated the style and decor just as much as the pulled pork I ordered. The cornbread and hush puppies are very good and perfect for splitting!
Another place we didn’t get to try but recommend! Coastal Crust is owned (we’re guessing) by Vintage Coffee Cafe and located directly behind it. It looks like the perfect place to grab a slice while visiting Sullivan’s at an affordable cost. If it’s anything like Vintage Coffee Cafe’s food, it’s worth a try!
Ristorante Juliet is a modern italian restaurant with pizza that is out of this world good. Try the sausage and potato pizza, you’ll be in heaven. Guaranteed. The atmosphere is chill and creative. We love the plants on the wall and modern decor. We think you’ll like it too. 😉 Plus, during their happy hour they have Margarita pizza for $8! You don’t want to pass that up.
Butcher & Bee
A modern, beautifully decorated restaurant concept near the end of King Street, is Butcher and Bee. Expect to pay more here, as the prices are steeper. The food is well worth every penny spent, with amazing, unexpected pairings and offerings though. They offer breakfast here but we found the dinner to be top notch so I highly recommend this spot for a nice date night! Try the bacon wrapped dates and gnocchi to really be wowed.
Other places to try:
Leon’s fine Poultry & Oyster Shop
Sweet Shop Beardcat’s
After a nice day spent swimming on Sullivan’s Island, walk to Beardcat’s in the cooler summer evening. This place is pretty busy in the evening, so you know it’s good. 😉 Their signature flavor is sea salt and olive oil gelato. A flavor that may sound gross, but is surprisingly good! Stefan ordered it and definitely recommends, so don’t leave here without trying it!
A tiny, cute little bakeshop you’ll be sure to pass up without paying attention. Sugar is equal parts dreamy and a powerhouse in creating delicious treats. As I understand, it’s most famous for their cupcakes. We ordered the orange, lemon and blueberry cupcakes and weren’t disappointed. It certainly lives up to the praise and raving reviews. Make sure you get at least three, so they’ll be packaged in one of those cute little bakery boxes.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Jeni’s is exceptional. Cute decor? Check. Deliciously unique flavors? Check. If you take my advice and stop in, you simply must try the lavender flavored ice cream. I’ve resisted trying this flavor for a while but was sent to heaven by its delicious taste. Don’t forget to get a cute photo op of your ice cream too! They have nice marble tables inside, perfect for a good Instagram photo.
Things to do:
What’s the top place suggested to visit and take photos of in Charleston? Rainbow Row, hands down. I did enjoy visiting and taking photos, but feel it’s definitely a little over hyped up. My recommendation is to visit in the evening, snap a couple photos in the golden hour light and maybe pop over to Jenni’s for some lavender ice cream. You may find it a bit challenging to get a good photo with no one in the background, as it’s quite the popular tourist area. With a little patience though, you can get a couple!
Waterfront Park ft. Pineapple Fountain
My favorite park to visit, was the Waterfront one. It’s located near the Charleston City Market, which makes for the perfect location. Try walking through the market and then visiting the park after. The most popular place here to take photos is in front of the pineapple fountain. While quite cliche, (due to its popularity) it’s still worth the photo or two! No matter how popular it is to photograph, it’s a beautiful fountain. On hot days in Charleston it’s nice to take a break and dip your toes in! There’s also a beautiful view of the water you can walk alongside and rainbow row is within walking distance from the park!
South of Broad Homes
The top place I recommend to take photos, is on South of Broad. It’s a large neighborhood of homes that are huge and gorgeous. That southern charm everyone says Charleston has? It’s there. Flower boxes, cobblestone roads.. If you’re looking for that, bike through South of Broad and stop to snap a couple of photos here and there. You’ll get much further and be more likely to scout out a cool home if you travel through bike, rather than walking.
Sullivan’s Island Beach
My favorite part about Charleston, minus the food, is the beaches! During our time here, we visited two different beaches. Among these were Folly beach and Sullivan’s Island. We loved Sullivan’s so much! It’s a pretty chill beach, located 20 minutes from Charleston and incredibly photogenic. Not to mention there’s a small strip of delicious restaurants nearby and you can park here for free! Theres a lot just a minute down the road from the beach. My suggestion is to go to the beach around 4, swim for a little, take advantage of golden hour and get a good Instagram photo, then head on over to Beardcat’s for some ice cream! It’s kind of the perfect night in my mind.. 😀
Looking for a beach with a little bit more going on? Say no more, Folly beach is where you want to go. Also located 20 minutes from Charleston, with a long pier and great restaurants and surf shops. We recommend going in the morning when it’s not busy, grabbing coffee from Center Street and sitting on a bench on the pier. You can enjoy a gorgeous view and maybe get a nice photo! What’s also nice is that it’ll be nice and cool out. Once you’re done enjoying the view, you can go for a swim! Parking here is usually $10 for the day. Pack an extra bag of clothes and trace back into town for a nice late lunch at Leon’s when you’re done!
Bike with Holy Spokes through town
Think Charleston is a gorgeous city? Bike through it. Your mind will be blown, it’s like seeing the city through a different lense! If you’re in the city with a significant other you HAVE to bike ride one evening through the streets. Stefan and I usually like to spend most of our spending money on food but this was worth every penny. We ate dinner at Butcher & Bee then rented bikes through Holy Spokes bike share. It’s a really amazing way to spend the evening. The morning may also be a great time to bike ride as well!
Charleston City Market
Alright, I’ll be the first to admit it.. The market isn’t the funnest thing in town to do, but it’s free and pretty photogenic! Located just a couple minutes from Waterfront Park, the market is great for browsing through local goods. My favorite part? A portion of it is air conditioned, so it’s kind of the perfect way to cool off if you’ve been walking around the city a lot. I thought the handmade baskets where very cool as well!
The Mills House Hotel
If you’re into photography, this hotel is a must see! Like pink a lot? Bonus! This place is Instagram gold and kind of mandatory to photograph if you’re visiting. Fun fact, I got up on Stefan’s shoulders to get a higher up view for a photo. I know, relationship goals right? lol 😀 It’s also quite close to King st. a popular hub for shopping. Try stopping by before or after doing some damage to your bank account.
Other Highly Recommended Places/ Activities:
Located on Johns Island and a beautiful, perfectly photo worthy tree! There’s not really anything else to do on John’s Island, so you’re better off planning to get photos here and then going elsewhere. Perhaps a 20 minute drive over to Folly Beach?
Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge
This big and beautiful bridge takes you to the historic Charleston city. It’s great to photograph and you can walk the entirety of it through the pedestrian walkway on either side of the bridge. It’s quite the popular spot to get a good run in for locals. If you’re into working out, pack some workout clothes and run on it one morning. You’ll be in for an amazing view and with some good music, you’ll be in heaven. Go to Beech on King st. after for a great post workout smoothie or acai bowl! 🙂
Shopping on King st.
Home to the big retail heavy weights Vans, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and much more! You could spend almost an entire day shopping here. Grab a snack at Glazed Gourmet Donuts when you feel a little hunger coming on. Also, pro tip, don’t waste money on a parking garage! We managed to find a parking meter on the street every time. The meters are 50 cents an hour cheaper than the garages.
Battery Park and White Point Garden
At the end of rainbow row and a wonderful place to relax and cool off. Parking is also free for two hours! (Yay!) Pack a nice picnic one day to enjoy on one of their pretty benches.
Where we Stayed:
If you’re looking for affordable accommodations, I highly recommend browsing through Airbnb. There’s a lot of amazing places to stay and for severely cheaper prices. We managed to get away with spending $275 for the both of us, for 6 nights. Just make sure to be smart and research a place you’re interested in staying at. I also don’t recommend trying an Airbnb yourself. Make sure you’re with other people, in case a lister was dishonest and you don’t feel comfortable. Saving money isn’t worth your safety. With that being said, we were however very happy with our Airbnb. They were very friendly, kind and helpful! It was a win win all around for us.