Tell me about Charleston, SC (vacation recommendations)

I am considering going there in November for my anniversary. I have heard it is a nice, quaint town, but I don’t know much more about it.

What part of town should I stay? What is there to do? Any hotel recommendations?

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The Ukulele Lady and I were married in Charleston back in '89. We stayed at the B&B on the northeast corner of South Battery and Meeting Street, and were married in Washington Square Park on the corner of Meeting and Broad Streets.

I suggest staying as far “downtown” as you can…between Tradd Street and the water, preferably on South Battery or East Bay Street. You’re going to want to spend most of your time south of Market and Beaufain, at the very tip of the peninsula.

Charleston is a grand old city (“A Charlestonian is the only Southerner who doesn’t genuflect when a Virginian walks into the room”) that ran out of cash after the Civil War, and was preserved in an antebellum state primarily because the locals couldn’t afford to do anything else.

Spend your time wandering up and down the streets ogling the architecture and superb gardens. Eat “Low Country” cooking…shrimp and grits, she-crab soup, rice cooked every which way (“Why is a Charlestonian like a Chinaman? – They both eat rice and worship their ancestors”).

Get copies of DuBose Heyward’s Porgy and Owen Wister’s Lady Baltimore and read 'em before you go.

Learn to talk Gullah.

Born Downtown, raised in the North Area. November is a great time of the year to go; I don’t miss the summer humidity one bit. Charleston does not have many tall buildings, believing that its lowness is part of its charm.

Great info!

Keep it coming!

Charleston is also the largest city in the nation with almost no natural rock, another reason for its lack of tall buildings.

I’ve been there twice and loved it. As cheesy as it sounds, I recommend a mule and buggy guided tour (there are several) as you get some of the history of the place and see things up close. Take it early enough in the day to see the houses on the Battery.

Ft. Sumter is a must; even if you don’t like Civil War history, the ferry gives a guided a tour of the harbor and the tiny islands (Castle Pinckney, etc.). As I’m sure you’ve found by now, Charleston is nicknamed “The Holy City” because it seems there’s a church on every corner (not just churches- Reform Judaism was founded in Charleston). Many of them are beautiful and have free tours. There’s also a large museum in the train depot downtown as well as lots of open air markets (where by far and away the most outrageously overpriced items are the sea grass baskets woven mostly by elderly black ladies- a small one will run you $300).

I enjoyed the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. It’s a modest admission charge and one of the oldest buildings in the city (or the country, for that matter). It also contains Disney made animatronic figures that are a bit dated, but still help to convey some of the history of the region.Official Site

My favorite of the hotels I’ve stayed at was the Francis Marion. The rooms aren’t huge, but it has a lot of charm- it’s a reclaimed hotel from the 1920s.

Uh- the “official site” above is to the hotel, not the dungeon. I put it in the wrong place.

For a more intimate tour, you can take a bicycle rickshaw through old town. Those are fun (and since the drivers are students the view can be really cool).

There are all manner of home tours- individual and combo. There are also a lot of hotels on the water all around Charleston.

Oh well I just found out that the weekend I wanted to go , November 11, is Citadel’s homecoming.

Everyone is sold out.


There’s always Savannah 100 miles south. Very different city but still one of exceptional charm.

I’ve always thought of Charleston as the Boston of the South, and Savannah as the NYC.

Savannah’s got the neat grid pattern of streets, but Charleston, like Topsy, jest growed.

Try Mt Pleasant, across the river. short drive into town.

Like UkeIke, I got married there. Lovely city.

Any chance you could bump up your weekend?

A less-expensive option for a place to stay is the Elliot House Inn. I confess I haven’t been there in 7 years, but at the time it was a very nice B & B for a little less than the typical “going” rate.

Like Sampiro, I think the carriage rides are great; so what if they’re touristy. Youcan’t always guarantee where you’ll go, though. This is how things used to be, anyway–once you purchase your tour, the driver stops at a booth and is assigned one of four city-approved routes. This makes it so you don’t have 100 carriages all doing the battery.

At night, consider going on a “Ghost Walk.” A local guide will take you around and tell some of the city/areas best ghost stories. A fun thing to when most other attractions are closed down for the night.

My family goes back to about 1650 in VA, and my wife, while not born there, lived long enough in Charleston to think of that as her hometown, so this ought to be enliven tonight’s dinner conversation.
I’ll also ask her about suggestions for places to stay and see. She lived near Foley Beach.