The world is bigger than we could ever possibly imagine, and it’s scary to think we will never even scratch the surface in this lifetime. Even if we do travel to the same places, we see the world through different eyes, creating a unique experience. As I dive head first into travel, I am inspired by each of your adventures and am starting Sonderlust Secrets as a series showcasing this. Interested in being featured?
I may not be as much of a world traveler as I’d like… YET. But I have done my fair share of traveling around the good ol’ U.S. of A. In fact, when I was just 10 years old, I planned an entire month-long, cross-country trip for my whole family.
Yes, I wrote letters to all of the travel bureaus (because that’s what you did back then), I went through all of the travel brochures and I made up the itinerary. It’s actually kind of funny now that I think about it, but really not all that out of the ordinary because 1) I’ve always been manically organized (even as a child) and 2) I LOVE to travel and see new places.
So, even though I’ve only made it out of the country three times so far, I have made it around the country a LOT. Especially the east coast. I’ve been up and down it more times than I can count. And there are always a few places that stand out to me the most.
Including, my favorite city in the Southeast – Charleston, SC.. Charleston is the best of many worlds, all rolled into one. There’s a beautiful historic district, modern shops and restaurants, unique attractions, natural parks and even a gorgeous beach. What more could you ask for?Charleston Properties
Charleston has been around since the 1600’s, but it wasn’t until the mid-eighteenth century that the small seaport grew into a wealthy city. Although it suffered some damage during the Civil War, the city recovered in a way that now makes it famous – by repairing their existing buildings instead of building new ones, they now have an abundance of historically significant structures within their limits.
The city was also home to the South Carolina’s first State House, although the South Carolina Assembly voted to move the state capital to Columbia, since it was more geographically-centralized.
Charleston is now the second largest city in South Carolina, narrowly behind Columbia, with a population of 137,447 and covering 112 square miles.
HOW TO PACK
With such an array of things to do, you might want to pack a little of everything, if you have the room! Weather-wise, Charleston maintains an average annual high of 76 and an annual low of 55, so the moderate temperatures are perfect for taking a stroll, a horse-drawn carriage ride or even a dip in the ocean.
Winter: You definitely want to pack jeans or pants and bring some long sleeves, since temperatures can get down into the low 40’s or high 30’s. But you may want to wear a short sleeve shirt with a jacket or sweater over it, because temperatures during the day can still reach the 60’s, especially on sunny days.
Spring: You may still want to wear jeans or pants, but bring along a few pairs of capris and some short sleeve tops as well, because temps will get up in the high 70’s/low 80’s already by the spring. Make sure to also pack a hat and sunglasses, so you can walk around town without squinting or getting sunburned!
Summer: Summers can get HOT in Charleston, so make to bring plenty of shorts, t-shirts and tank tops! Again, don’t forget your hat and sunglasses, and be sure to throw in a swimsuit and a beach towel, so you can visit Charleston’s gorgeous beaches!
Fall: Fall is my favorite time of year to visit Charleston, with their perfect temperatures in the 70’s. Bring a light jacket or sweater for the evenings and some comfortable walking shoes, so you can enjoy all that downtown has to offer.
Plus don’t forget: sunscreen, a camera, bug spray, a cross-body bag (for the ladies), sunglasses and a hat!
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Charleston is overflowing with great places to eat, with everything from steaks and seafood, to authentic Italian and Irish fare, to delicious brunch food. There is something available for every palette, but here are a few of my favorites: Vincent Chiccos – I have to admit, when I found out that my former favorite Italian restaurant in Charleston, Boccis, went out of business, I was heartbroken. But it wasn’t broken for long, because Vincent Chiccos is every Italian food lovers’ dream. Whether you’re in the mood for a steak, fish or pasta, you are in for a treat. But of course, the real star of the show here is the handmade pastas. And don’t forget to try one of the masterful desserts!Vincent Chiccos
Caviar & Bananas – I almost considered moving to Charleston just for this place. Yes, it is THAT good. They offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as an espresso and tea bar, pastries, chocolate, nuts, wines and packaged specialty foods. Their sandwich and salad selections are amazing, but my favorite is the design-your-own, which allows you to choose from an extensive list of unique toppings like pickled green tomatoes, roasted shallots, sautéed broccolini and smoked cremini mushrooms. But make sure you don’t leave without trying one of their coffee drinks or smoothies as well. The Nutella frappe is one of my personal favorites!
Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub & Restaurant – If you are looking for a casual, laid-back atmosphere to grab a bite or just have a brew and listen to some live Irish music, Tommy Condon’s is the place to go. Their family-friendly menu has both southern favorites like fried green tomatoes and shrimp & grits, as well as Irish specialties like fish & chips, corned beef & cabbage and shepherd’s pie. They also serve up mixed beers and feature live music Tuesday through Sunday nights.Charleston CVB
WHAT TO DO
There is no shortage of things to do in Charleston. With a multitude of shops & boutiques, museums & art galleries, the Citadel, ghost tours, walking tours, cruises, historic plantations and more, you could easily spend a month in the city and do something different every day. But if you only have a few days, here are my top 3 favorite things to do:
The Charleston City Market – It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been, I ALWAYS go to the City Market every time I am in Charleston. And once you’ve gone there, you’ll end up doing the same. The market, which stretches across four city blocks, features goods from hundreds of artists, craftsmen and entrepreneurs. You will find everything from soaps to baskets to clothing here, plus some wonderful food and interesting people. It’s a must see when you visit the city.CharlestonCityMarket.com
South Carolina Aquarium – The South Carolina Aquarium is home to over 5,000 animals and features a variety of special exhibits like Shark Shallows – where you can “pet” sharks and stingrays, the hands-on Animal Care exhibit – where you can learn about what it’s like to be the on-site veterinarian, and Backyard Habitat – where you can learn ideas to replicate at home in your own backyard to attract a variety of butterflies, insects and birds. And don’t miss the tour of Sea Turtle Hospital where you’ll learn all about their efforts to save the endangered species.Angel Oak Tree – Although this amazing site is technically located on Johns Island, it is still considered one of the top ten “must see” attractions when visiting Charleston. The massive oak, which is estimated to be anywhere from 500 to 1,500 years old, stands 66.5 feet tall, reaches 28 feet from side to side, and its longest branch measures a whopping 187 feet long. It is truly breathtaking in person, so make sure you get out of your car and walk around… the best view is from underneath its canopy, looking up!
WHERE TO STAY
Charleston has a variety of accommodations for every style and every budget, but some of the most unique places to say in Charleston are the bed & breakfasts and historic downtown hotels. There are also lots of beautiful rooms available for rent on AirBnB, so be sure to check their site before you book your reservation. You can also find a list of available hotels, inns, cottages and B&B’s here.
No matter where you stay, what you eat or how you spend your time, I promise you will love Charleston so much, you will keep coming back again and again. Hopefully, I will see you there soon!
Jenn is a freelance writer and blogger in Charlotte, NC. She loves writing about her own adventures with downsizing and tiny houses, clean eating and what she likes to call, “bucket list living.” She hopes to inspire others to live a “cleaned up” life as well, that is fabulous, abundant, simple and tiny! Follow her at Live a F.a.s.t. Life, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!