A 3-Day Itinerary for
Charleston, South Carolina
If southern charm, historical sites, and great food sound like the perfect recipe for a spectacular weekend, then look no further than Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston has everything you're looking for, whether you're planning a family outing or a girls' weekend.
Arrive and check-in at Hotel Bella Grace. We chose Hotel Bella Grace because of the rave reviews they have received on Tripadvisor. Nestled in Charleston's historic neighborhood, Hotel Bella Grace is away from the hustle and bustle, making it a quiet spot to begin and end each day. But it's also just a short walk to the places I'll be listing in this post.
If you're arriving by air, you'll be glad to know that the Charleston International Airport is just a 20-minute drive to Hotel Bella Grace. If you're arriving by car, you can safely leave your car in their parking garage as most of this itinerary is possible on foot.
Once settled, put on some comfortable walking shoes and head for the Historic Charleston City Market (a 10-minute walk). Take a stroll through the market from one end to the other. Get a chance to see the local handicrafts, sample some goodies, and get an idea of the souvenirs you'll want to buy before your weekend is over. From there, head outside and join one of the Carriage companies along Market Street or Church Street to tour the city. Getting a lay of the land by horse-drawn carriage is the way to begin! You can book this tour in advance or choose a company based on availability. There are so many companies providing this service that prices and quality are pretty equal across the board. I liked doing this tour on the first day we arrived because it offered an excellent overview of the city with interesting facts about famous people, architecture, and history.
Once your tour is complete, it's time to grab a bite for dinner. If you've arrived early enough in the day and have time for a museum visit before dinner, choose from one of the museums listed for Day Two.
If a before-dinner drink is your thing, check out these highly-rated bars for libations in swanky digs:
The Cocktail Club
Bourbon & Bubbles
The Gin Joint
Now for dinner, choose from Poogan's Porch for traditional southern cooking served in a historic house or Fig for a more upscale take on southern classics (reservations required).
Today is all about exploring museums, churches, and historic squares. It's also a big walking day! The map below shows the suggested loop which ends up being around 3 miles, taking you by Charleston's most spectacular sites. Put on your comfy shoes and get started!
The route begins at Hotel Bella Grace and ends at the City Market (perfect for picking up those souvenirs at the end of your day). You'll see numerous historic houses, outdoor spaces, stately churches, and three museums. You can try to visit all three museums or pick one or two that interest you most. Check their websites in advance for opening hours and times for special-led docent tours.
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
(historic building and multi-level museum)
(colorful row houses)
Robert William Roper House
(waterfront green space with statues)
Nathaniel Russell House
(historic house museum with docent-led tours)
Robert Brewton House
Heyward Washington House
Saint Michael's Church
Old Slave Mart Museum
(a museum devoted to slavery, the actual location of slave mart)
Saint Philip's Church
If you've reached the end of your walking tour and still have time or energy to see more, visit King Street, an exciting boulevard with lots of shops and restaurants. Our top picks for where to eat on King Street: Hall's Chophouse, Callie's Hot Little Biscuit, and 167 Raw.
Tips for getting the most out of this walking tour:
Screenshot this map.
Use a Google search for quick facts on each of the locations as you visit them.
For today's itinerary, choose between Fort Sumter or Middleton Place. Both are steeping in historic grandeur, but decide if you would rather spend your day on the water exploring a Civil War site or out in the countryside at a plantation house.
Details for visiting Fort Sumter
Tickets for Fort Sumter tours are available through the National Park Service and depart several times a day from Liberty Square in downtown Charleston (near the Pineapple Fountain). The tour begins with a 30-minute cruise to the island. Once you arrive, you will be greeted by park rangers who will provide details about the fort's pivotal role in the American Civil War. The tour lasts approximately one hour.
Details for visiting Middleton Place
The drive to Middleton Place from Hotel Bella Grace is approximately 35 minutes. If you do not have a car, hire a taxi or Uber to take you. For a complete write-up on visiting Middleton Place, see Middleton Place, South Carolina; A Guide to Visiting this National Historic Landmark.
That completes the 3-day itinerary for Charleston, South Carolina. You can catch an afternoon or evening flight home, or jump in the car and head out.
If you've spent time in Charleston, let us know what we missed. What are your favorite sites?
PIN FOR LATER
We would like to thank the following museums and historical sites for providing complementary access to visit them: Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon, Nathaniel Russell House, Old Slave Mart Museum, and Middleton Place.