One of the main reasons my girlfriend Taylor-Rae and I put together our southern road trip was to explore Charleston, South Carolina. I had never been before, but growing up in Dallas and hearing incredible things about this historical jewel of the South, I knew it deserved a top spot on my US travel bucket list! As I’m sure you would expect, Charleston is full of the most beautiful antebellum homes, painted an array of pastel colors paired with beautiful porches and flower boxes galore. But in addition to its cobblestoned streets, picturesque cathedrals, and rich culture dating back to the 1600’s this port city is also booming with modern must-see’s. Think new-age restaurants where urban design meets old-world charm. Beautiful boutiques with forward thinking fashion. And a low country lifestyle only found here.
Charleston is full of charming properties from boutique hotels to historical grand gems, so when searching through our options, I was so happy with our choice to experience Charleston like locals and stay at The INNS CHS. As much as I love living the “resort” life on a trip, some of my best memories and experiences have come from staying in VRBOs. And our stay in Charleston was definitely a locals retreat!
We drove in late Tuesday evening after an eventful day in Palmetto Bluff, but as soon as we pulled up to the Seafoam house we knew we were in for a treat! Everything about the property was quintessential “Charleston”. The bright exterior could have easily fit into Charleston’s Georgian Rainbow Row, and I immediately fell the for the adorable white porch. If you’re familiar with Charleston you probably know most of the original houses are built with a “mock” front door, that leads to a porch and additional entrance to the house. This was my first time experiencing this architectural style, and I was so glad we had the opportunity to stay at a property with so much historical character and charm!
After first walking in the front door, my jaw immediately dropped. There were only the two of us visiting Charleston this trip, but after discovering the size of this place we could have easily brought an entire crew. The house was HUGE! Unlike most luxury hotels where you pay a fortune for a single upscale room, we had an entire floor of a house with ample living space, 2 bedrooms, a dining area, and kitchen. When traveling with two girls, the first line of business is always the bathroom. There was plenty of room for each of us to get ready not to mention mirror space galore! The Master Suite was even more of a treat. We each had our own wardrobes on opposite ends of the bed, and the linens and master bed were as comfy as a resort. Exhausted from our day’s travels we each had no problem passing out as soon as our heads hit the bed but as soon as we woke up each day we were eager to explore more!
Our mornings in Charleston were definitely my favorite. We spent a lot of time out on the front and back porch, making our game plans and itineraries for the day. We had PLENTY of food recommendations, but it was nice to have our full sized fridge for leftovers and a kitchen, just in case! Our home away from home was in the most ideal location— just off King Street and a block away from Cannon, making it super easy to wake up early and explore Charleston each day. Pretending to be locals but still shameless, eager tourists, we hopped on our rental bikes, and hit up some of Charleston’s best just down the street:
BLACK TAP COFFEE
If there’s only one thing you drink in Charleston, make sure it’s Black Tap’s Ice Lavender Latte. Infused with homemade lavender syrup and the most delicious homemade coffee blend, I truly can’t describe a more ideal way to start off a day!
(Open 7am-7pm | Saturday & Sunday 8am-6pm | * 10 minute Uber from The Inn CHS)
This is a MUST when visiting Charleston if you’re on the hunt for good ole’ southern comfort food. I recommend a starter order of buttermilk pancakes for the table if your appetite can handle it, or at least a side of biscuits and gravy or grits to get a true southern fix. It definitely feels like a homestyle spot frequented by Charleston regulars, and just as enjoyable as the indulgent country flavors is the ambiance inside the historic Charleston House.
(Open 7:30am-9:00pm | Recommend coming here for breakfast or brunch! 5-minutete walk from The Inn CHS)
If you haven’t already spotted this precious bakeshop on Pinterest, a pit stop at Sugar is essential on your Charleston list. Quite small but big in flavor, Sugar Bakeshop specializes in small batch baking all made in house. The Vanilla Blueberry ended up being my favorite, but they’re all so yummy and fresh you can’t go wrong!
(Open 10am- 6pm | * 3 minute walk from The Inns CHS)
MAC and MURPHY
If you know me, you know I can’t resist an adorable paper store! This has been on my Charleston list ever since it opened and of course the space was even cuter in person than on Instagram. I left with thank you cards and a set of stationary, but this local gem also has greeting cards, gifts and accessories, wrapping paper, and all of your desk essentials.
(Open 10:30 am – 6:00 pm | Closed Sundays | * 3 minute walk from The Inns CHS)
KING STREET SHOPPING
When in Charleston you have to do a little King Street Shopping! Dating back to post-Civil war, this historic American street is home to some of Charleston’s Best Shops. After an entire afternoon of doing a little damage, some of my favorites were:
Beckett Boutique: Favorite for women’s contemporary clothing. | Open 10:30am-6:30pm; 12-6pm Sundays (Pictured top left)
Lilly: Luxury home, bath, fragrance and accessories. | Open 10am – 5:30pm; 12-5pm Sundays
Hamden Clothing: Very upscale clothing, shoes and accessories but worth a stop. | Open 10am -6pm; 12-5pm Sundays (Pictured Middle)
The Skinny Dip Charleston: Preppy Summertime clothing boutique also great for afternoon rooftop Frosé! | Open 10am-6pm Sunday- Wednesday, Open 10am-8pm Thursday- Saturday (Pictured top right)
One of my favorite, most memorable experiences from Charleston was our Candlemaking class at Candlefish on King St. My friend Jillian included it on her list of recommendations and I would 100% agree with her that it’s a must for any girls trip! We took the essential oil & fragrance blending workshop where we had the chance to hand mix our scents, pour and label two signature soy candles + it’s BYOB which makes any girls night even more fun 🙂
(Offered Wednesdays at 6pm | $65 | Reserve Online | *10 minute Uber from The Inns CHS)
DARLING OYSTER BAR
Starving from all of our candle making we wandered down King Street to the Darling Oyster Bar. Do yourself a favor and order a round of assorted raw oysters paired with the signature house punch. And while you’re at it don’t forget to snap a pic of the beautiful restored decor.
(Open 4pm-2am | Sundays 11am-2am | *8 minute walk from the Inns CHS)
JENI’S ICE CREAM
Also on Upper King Street is one of the most popular ice cream stops in Charleston. We each indulged in a single scoop waffle cone to top off our night and I definitely recommend doing the same at some point during your stay!
(Open 11am-11pm Daily | *9 minute walk from the INN CHS)
There are SO many yummy stops in Charleston, it’s near impossible to hit them all but breakfast at the Daily was a must on each of our lists. Before a full day of activities we each ordered a Stumptown Coffee latte and delicious hearty breakfasts. I stuck with my go-to, avocado toast, and Taylor-Rae had an insanely delicious Bacon English Muffin topped with smoked onion jam.
(Open 7am-5pm | Sundays 8am-5pm | Come here for coffee or a quick breakfast | * 9 minute walk from the INN CHS)
BIKING SOUTH OF BROAD
Whether permitting, it’s a definite must to bike through Charleston’s Neighborhoods, specially South of Broad. It’s here you’ll discover many of those traditional colorful houses and even get a glimpse of the water if you follow East Bay Street to Murray Blvd and back to Tradd. Some of my favorite homes were tucked along these narrow roads.
(If staying at the INN CHS, you can rent bikes for $24 a day right down the road at Affordabike)
While out riding bikes, or even later by foot, be sure you stop by Charleston’s “Rainbow Row” on East Bay Street. Similar to San Fran’s famous “Painted Ladies”, the 13 historical homes on Charleston’s Rainbow Row are definitely a travel must see. Come in the afternoon if you’re wanting indirect light or first thing in the morning for a bright, saturated view!
With Charleston’s intense summer heat we knew without a doubt we wanted to go sailing. It was 100% my favorite part of the trip and an incredible way to experience Charleston via the Harbor. After much research into Charleston’s charter/ sailing options, we booked the best of the best with Captain Paul Mitchell and Charleston Sail. We enjoyed the 2-hour private sailboat tour, also BYOB, and I could not recommend this one of a kind experience enough!
(Call Paul at 843. 345.7790 to book your charter and tell him Erica and Taylor sent you! | $274 for 2 hours (4 people) | Visit CharlestonSail.com for additional charters, sailing lessons, excursions, and larger groups)
BUTCHER & BEE
After days of indulging in classic Southern food, we were craving a delicious, nutritious meal. Perfect for our very last dinner in Charleston, we headed straight to the Butcher and Bee for a flavorful farm fresh meal. If you’re a fan of Mediterranean go with the chicken kabob platter and family style sides of beets, hummus, and beans. I also recommend leaving with a bag of their handmade granola. It’s the best I’ve ever had, and I eat granola almost every day!
(M & T Open 8am-9pm | W, TH, F- Open 8am-10pm | Saturday & Sundays Open 10am-3pm / 5pm-9pm* | * 6 minute uber from the INNS CHS)
Do not leave town without popping into this adorable, local antique shop right across the street from Butcher and Bee. We stopped in during a weekday event and found some of the most unique one of a kind pieces, from old school picnic baskets to the most perfect millennial pink lamps. Go explore for yourself, I promise you’ll love it!
(Open 10am-5pm | Closed Sundays | * 6 minute uber from the INNS CHS)
Let me know if you’re heading to Charleston and what your favorite spots are! We had such an incredible experience thanks to The INNS at CHS and I already can’t wait for my next Charleston stay! If you’re interested in booking a stay at this beautiful VRBO be sure to mention Erica and Taylor-Rae sent you! Rates start at $199 per night and range from 2 bedroom to 7 bedroom! We loved our stay in 71 A but you can also explore more of The Inns CHS properties HERE.