With its many historical sites, activities, shopping and terrific food scene, Charleston has a lot of interesting things to see and do. If you only have three days to get your fill of the Holy City, deciding where to stay, eat, and play can be difficult.
To make things easier on you, we have a few suggestions on how to spend your precious 48 hours in the Holy City. Without further ado, here is our three-day itinerary that will give you a taste of everything that Charleston has to offer.
Day 1: Check in, Explore Historic Homes and Buildings
For a true weekend getaway, consider booking a Charleston vacation rental. That way, you’ll have a quiet oasis after a long day exploring the Holy City.
Once you’ve settled into your accommodations, it’s time to hit the town. If you don’t have a rental car, take a quick Uber or Lyft — or try Charleston Green Taxi as another option — into Historic Downtown Charleston.
Lunch at 167 Raw
Hungry for impeccably fresh seafood? Grab lunch at 167 Raw on East Bay Street. This local favorite offers a raw bar, fried oyster tacos, and a decedent lobster roll. Once you polish off the perfect meal, you’ll be ready to hit the cobblestone streets to explore the peninsula.
Charleston City Market
Once you’ve had your fill of seafood, it’s time to visit the Charleston City Market on Market Street. Although you won’t find many bargains at the City Market, it’s the perfect place to discover authentic souvenirs handcrafted by vendors. Plus, who could possibly leave Charleston without sampling and buying some mouthwatering pralines?
The Museum Mile
Charleston is an extremely walkable city, and the Museum Mile makes it easy to explore the city’s 18th-century buildings on foot. Stroll along this one-mile section situated on Meeting Street and discover an array of historic homes, museums, scenic parks, cemeteries and places of worship.
Dinner at Poogan’s Porch
The Museum Mile can easily gobble up an entire day. After spending a couple hours touring the historic homes and museums, you’ll likely have worked up an appetite. Poogan’s Porch will satisfy your cravings for Lowcountry cuisine.
Take a tip from the locals and make a reservation in advance. Tucked away on romantic Queen Street, this Charleston institution always has a wait time during the dinner hour. With a little planning, you can secure a spot to enjoy some of the best food in Charleston.
Day Two: Marion Square, Rainbow Row, Harbor Cruise
Wake up feeling rejuvenated at your cozy vacation rental and head out to attend the Charleston Farmers Market at Marion Square. This Saturday morning market has a superb selection of local vendors offering handcrafted wares, art, fresh produce and much more.
If you don’t find enough to eat for breakfast at the farmers market, head a few blocks north on King Street and grab a gourmet donut at Glazed.
Charleston Harbor Cruise
After breakfast and coffee, make your way over to the Charleston Maritime Center. This is where you will depart for a Charleston Harbor Cruise. You can book a combo tour for both a Charleston Harbor Cruise and a tour of Boone Hall Plantation — and don’t worry because the tours can be taken on different days.
Enjoy this relaxing opportunity to hear fascinating stories as you view more than 75 landmarks, including Fort Sumter, the stately homes on the Battery and the USS Yorktown. When the cruise returns to the Charleston Maritime Center, head over to The Gin Joint on East Bay Street to enjoy one of their signature cocktails.
Rainbow Row and The Battery
Charleston’s famous Rainbow Row is one of the most iconic sites in the city and one of the most photographed. This series of colorful historic homes on East Bay Street never fails to delight both locals and visitors to the Holy City.
Make your way down to Battery & White Point Garden. Commonly referred to as simply “the Battery,” this scenic park provides a stunning view of Fort Sumter and the Charleston Harbor.
Dinner and Drinks at The Rooftop Bar at Vendue
This lively rooftop bar is a fun place to grab a light dinner and a few drinks while taking in stunning views of the Charleston Harbor, Waterfront, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and more. Don’t forget to take in the beautiful art gallery at this boutique hotel.
Day 3: Boone Hall Plantation
Head over to Mount Pleasant and get a tasty breakfast at Paige’s Okra Grill — you’ll need the fuel for touring Boone Hall Plantation.
If you opted for the combo tour with the Harbor Cruise, you can use the voucher from it for admission into Boone Hall Plantation. This gorgeous plantation has much to offer, so be sure to carve out at least two or three hours to get the full experience.
If you’re ambitious, you can squeeze in a trip to Patriots Point, which is also located on Mount Pleasant. Home to three famous warships including the USS Yorktown, the USS Laffey and the USS Clamagore, Patriots Point is a must-see for lovers of maritime history.
Grab lunch at nearby Charleston Harbor Fish House before making your way back to downtown Charleston.
Shop and Dine on King Street
With much of the weekend dedicated mostly to history, it’s time to explore the impressive shopping and dining opportunities on Charleston’s vibrant King Street. Divided into three sections — Lower, Middle and Upper King Streets — where you begin will depend on what you’re in the mood to shop for.
Lower King Street is known for its antiques and was voted “Best Antique Shopping in the U.S.” by Travel + Leisure magazine. Middle King is the fashion district, which includes not only world-famous brands but local designers as well.
Finally, Upper King Street is the Design and Dining District. Here, you’ll find unique art galleries and James Beard award-winning restaurants.
For dinner, you can’t go wrong with FIG. Although it’s pricey, the refined Southern-cuisine restaurant is a top destination for foodies. Plus, FIG just won the James Beard award for Outstanding Wine Program.
Once people visit Charleston, they often don’t want to leave. There is so much to see and do in this charming city that one can’t possibly do it all in one visit.
That’s why many visitors find themselves returning to Charleston again and again. Whether this is your first visit or your 20th, you’ll always enjoy your time in the Holy City.
About the Author:
Traci Magnus is a realtor for Dunes Properties located in Charleston, SC. She was born and raised on the Charleston coast and attended the College of Charleston before obtaining her real estate license. When she’s not working, you can find her writing, spending time with her husband Glenn and son Max or wandering the historic streets downtown.