Holy City How To

Spend a weekend getting reacquainted with Charleston.

Whether you’ve lived in Charlotte for 10 years or just moved into town, Charleston should be top on your list of weekend getaway locales. It is, after all, consistently named the top city in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure and is oft considered one of the best culinary destinations in the country.

So how does one do Charleston when there’s either so much to cover in a first-time visit, or you’ve been there what feels like countless times? Heed this advice and experience the Holy City with a fresh set of eyes.


Back in Time

Venture just outside of Charleston to explore the Lowcountry way of life in the 19th century. From moss-draped oak tree entrances to opulent interiors, there are a variety of former plantation homes to tour. Top of the list is Boone Hall, whose gardens are especially beautiful during the spring months.


Stay

There are numerous places to stay in Charleston, from cozy bed and breakfasts to larger hotels. Turn your visit up a notch and book a room at The Spectator Hotel. This 41-room boutique hotel located just south of the historic city market boasts all the coziness of a B&B, but with a sophisticated yet relaxed urban style. Designed by Charleston-based designer Jenny Keenan, the hotel and its lobby are a nod to 1920s glam with a mirrored ceiling, jewel-toned accents, and a gilded elevator. Dark hardwood paneling gives way to a dramatic and stunning hand-painted silk de Gournay wall covering and oversize seating, ideal for aperitifs and gourmet complimentary afternoon snacks such as cheese and charcuterie plates. The rooms are equally elegant and offer ample room for lounging and enjoying a glass of wine on the balcony with a view of one of the city’s biggest landmarks, the Arthur Ravenal Jr. Bridge.


To Market

The Charleston City Market is one of the oldest—and most vibrant—markets in the country. From specialty shops to art galleries to its famed sweetgrass baskets, the market is a dynamic blend of history and shopping.


Dine

The beauty of Charleston is that, as a culinary destination, the options are frequently evolving, which means the foodie scene is constantly debuting new, emerging chefs who are eager to experiment and please new patrons. Such is the case with 492. This Upper King Street spot is housed in a magnificently restored circa-1800s building that oozes charm and character. Inside, enjoy the swanky, modernized décor, which pairs well with Chef Josh Keeler’s modern American cuisine. You’d be remiss if you didn’t also head to Husk, which, for the last seven years, has been cranking out some of the best food in the country. If the restaurant, located in a two-story porch Charleston-style home (and an adjacent carriage house perfect for pre-dinner cocktails), wasn’t charming enough, you’ll certainly be smitten with Chef Sean Brock’s menu. Southern Fried Chicken Skins with Pimento Cheese “Ranch” are, quite possibly, the best thing on the menu—that is until you dive into the Carolina Heritage Pork with field peas and butterbeans, collard greens, and house-smoked Kielbasa.


Colonial Style

The ultimate way to soak in the city’s history is on one of its famed carriage ride tours. Palmetto Carriage Works Tours, which carries guests down cobblestone lanes past historic homes, mixes humor and storytelling on the informative scenic tour.


Play

Head to goat.sheep.cow and peruse the specialty meat and cheese selections. The staff will help you create a flavor-packed tray of goodies for a picnic at Middleton Place. Home to the country’s oldest landscaped gardens, this 65-acre former plantation is stunning year round, but especially so in the spring when everything is in bloom. Find a grassy knoll overlooking the Ashley River and spread out your punch while taking in the picturesque scenery. Afterwards, stroll the property or take a horse-drawn carriage ride to get a quick history lesson on the plantation, Middleton family, and how the National Historic Landmark functions today. 


Getting There

Charleston is an easy three-hour drive south from Charlotte. Or, if you’d prefer to skip the drive, American Airlines offers direct 50-minute flights from Charlotte to Charleston.