Ten Awesome Things To Do In Charleston - Skillful Cook
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Ten Awesome Things To Do In Charleston

Ten Awesome Things to do in Charleston, North Carolina with a photo of the street.

You knew it was coming, right? A bombardment of photos and food talk from our recent trip to Charleston?

Buckle up, friends, because Charleston took us by storm.

There are two things I'm going to do in this post: the first is share my ten favorite things slash recommendations for anyone traveling to Charleston in the near future. These are the foods, sights, and experiences worth finding. The second thing I'm going to do is just blast the world with vacation pictures, some of which relate to the top ten list and some of which are just regular vacation pictures, because looking at pictures is one of my favorite hobbies in all the land.

Thank you a million times over for all your recommendations for our few days in Charleston! I would be lying to say that I didn't have a full page in my planner dedicated to restaurant notes from all your comments and emails. Y'ALL ROCK.

Also, can I start saying y'all now that I've been in the South? Kthanks.

Ocean view in North Carolina.

Ten Awesome Things To Do In Charleston

1. Husk

Husk restaurant sign.

Easily one of the best meals of my life. We had homemade pimento cheese on crackers, crispy fried chicken skins with hot bourbon honey, cornmeal-dusted catfish with Carolina gold rice (ohmygosh) and roasted chicken with farro, squash, and the most incredible crispy kale I ever did eat. Bjork and I literally both started laughing when we took our first bites of food because IT WAS SO GOOD. Is that a normal reaction to really good food? Whatever.

For me, Husk was the perfect combination of extremely thoughtful and complex foodie flavors and a “fancy dinner” ambiance balanced with good old approachable, familiar, comforting soul food. It was a total stroke of luck that we were able to get in without a reservation. Thanks to Rachel for the phenomenal recommendation!

2. Charleston Sole Walking Tour

People walking on a sidewalk.

Thanks to this tour, we saw 99% of the major Charleston attractions within two and a half hours, all while walking around in the perfect 60-degree weather enjoying the sun and the nice Charleston breeze (related: go in the springtime). Our group was only about 6 people and our guide was super knowledgeable. Bjork stayed right up in the front near the guide at all times to learn and be a rule-follower, and I meandered around towards the back of the group to take pictures and daydream about the lives of people who live in this charmed city. Something for everyone!

This was hands-down one of our best decisions in Charleston. Charleston Sole Walking Tours - highly recommend.

3. Isle Of Palms

Ocean view during sunset.

We actually didn't stay IN in Charleston during our trip - we rented a little condo on the beach on Isle of Palms, about a 30 minute drive from downtown. We loved staying here - it allowed us to experience both the beach AND the city in the same trip. Since we usually work a little bit when we're on vacation, this was the perfect place to settle in and get some stuff done before heading in to the city to gorge ourselves on Southern food I MEAN UMMMM SIGHTSEE. Every morning we would get our work done while sipping on green smoothies and coffee and listening to the waves roll in. I won't even complain about it being 35 degrees (seriously) because it was still that wonderful.

Our rental condo was a part of Wild Dunes - and I think if we ever went back with a bigger group, we'd look at renting one of the incredible houses that are on the Wild Dunes property. We drove past these beachy mansions every day on our way “home” to the condo and just gazed at the old-fashioned balconies and big waterfront windows with dreamy eyes and our next vacation on the mind.

This place rocks the rentals.

4. Hominy Grill

This place was recommended to me by a few readers (thank you Amanda and The Mrs.) and it did not disappoint.

Did you guys know collard greens are SUPERDELICIOUS? Yeah. Hominy Grill taught me that. This is the perfect place for Southern food - we got crab soup, fried chicken and gravy, collard greens, barbecue ribs, cornbread, and fried green tomatoes. Because sometimes you just can't not.

5. Butcher & Bee

Butcher and bee sign with a woman pointing to it.

While on the topic of incredible food, you MUST MUST MUST go to Butcher & Bee if you are any percent hipster or foodie. And if you are both? Run. Run there right now. Thank you, Nik (and I think there might have been others but I can't remember?) for the stellar recommendation.

I ordered some kind of a pita sandwich called a Sabich - which I definitely called Sah-beech like a total nerd and was promptly corrected to Sah-beeeeeh, thank you very much - loaded with roasted potatoes and eggplant, pickled cabbage, eggs, harissa, tahini, and Israeli salad. It was so bizarre and wonderful all at the same time. Is it weird to say this? -> I didn't even necessarily love it the same way I might love, say, a cheeseburger, but I thoroughly enjoyed eating it to experience all the flavors and textures. It was an incredible food experience.

Bjork, predictably, ordered a cheeseburger, and it was, predictably, really really reeeeeally good. And I, predictably, ate half of it as well as a few fistfuls of his fries. We seriously love cheeseburgers.

Go to Butcher & Bee and be your Happy Hipster self! It's a local, veg-friendly foodie paradise that's just way too cute.

6. Charleston Waterfront Park

Woman walking down the boardwalk.

Since by now we've had enough to eat for a few hours, let's go to the Waterfront Park.

This includes a pier where you can watch the ships and sit on the bench swings (!), lots of cute coffee shops and regular shops in close vicinity, several old and fancy-looking fountains, and a walking path that leads you along the waterfront to the White Point Garden Park from where you can find yourself wandering the most charming cobblestone streets and admire the historically beautiful houses. I WANT TO LIVE HERE.

7. Toast

Table with plates of food.

Back to food! Toast was recommended by Mary and Maia, and it made for a perfect brunch spot.

Details: I ordered a crab cake benedict-type thing with crab cakes and fried green tomatoes and poached eggs and remoulade sauce which came with the most buttery, pillowy biscuit with orange marmalade and beautiful cheesy grits (it really didn't seem like that much at the time?) and I ate most everything on my plate. Ohmygosh. Bjork ordered the French toast made with currant bread and topped with an apple and peach sauce, plus a mimosa for good measure.

We ate our food next to an old-school picture window and looked out at the people of Charleston being adorable. Hello Charleston brunch, we love you.

8. The Historic City Market / Shopping On King Street

Man holding food.

If we would have had time, I would have loved to make it to the Farmer's Market about which I have heard many incredible things.

But since we didn't have time on Saturday, when it's open, we walked King Street instead and admired all the fancy shops - I even went into Anthropologie for like five minutes - and then meandered our way down into the Historic Charleston City Market. King Street has a touch of class and the Historic Charleston City Market has a touch of kitschy, so it all made for an entertaining lil' walk that ultimately brought us directly to the famed Caviar and Bananas cafe (recommended by sweet readers Meg and Mary Ann - thanks y'all!) where we then ordered coffees and a raspberry lemon bar.

All's well when the story ends with a good, strong, steaming hot Americano with a shot of cream. Ahyes.

9. Poogan's Porch

Man eating.

Also recommended to me by a lovely reader (heyyyy Laura!), Poogan's Porch was our last meal in Charleston and it gave us the perfect Southern food farewell. I ordered shrimp and grits and Bjork got the chicken and waffles, but the thing that really made me swoon was the biscuit. Just a plain, buttered biscuit. What kind of food voodoo is this?

10. Savannah

Street view in North Carolina.

Kind of a cheater move, for sure, to include a different city on the list of ten things to do in Charleston, but it's worth the cheating because A) Savannah is a short two hour drive from Charleston, and B) Savannah is beautiful.

I left Savannah with serious plans to come home and put Spanish moss all over our trees. We spent half of our time on the waterfront (Huey's for lunch! shrimp and grits again!) and half our time sipping coffee and watching dogs and squirrels in Forsythe park. It was totally idyllic and magical.

If you're going to Charleston, if you have a car, and if you have at least one extra day, Savannah is calling.

And now, we move on to picture overload.

Enjoy the virtual recap of lovely Charleston!

Power and Glory sign and a man standing next to a car.
Bridge in North Carolina.
Feet on the sidewalk.
Sidewalk in North Carolina.
Street in North Carolina.
Beautiful buildings.
Cobblestone sidewalk.
Table with plates of food.
Pink trees and a woman sitting on a bench.
Beautiful tree during sunset.
Man walking up stairs.
Man sitting on a bench.
Street with a car.
Restaurant with wooden tables and walls.
Table with plates and trays of food.
Tiny person standing on the ocean shore.
Slices of pizza on a plate.
Man and woman sitting at a table.
Porch view of ocean.
Ocean shore during sunset.
Glass of green juice.
Sandy shoreline.
Man walking on the beach.
Man working in a resort room.
Woman standing on a boardwalk.
Man and woman wearing sunglasses.
Sidewalk with trees and buildings on either side.
Sparkling water bottles.
Woman at a table eating.
Men cooking.
Man and woman smiling with sunglasses.
Woman standing on a porch.
Birds on the shore.
Man and woman on the beach.
Sunset on the ocean.
Man and woman on an airplane.

Have a favorite place in Charleston that I didn't mention? Please share! Because WE WILL be back.


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      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hey Lindsey! Love thst I found y’all! You have great ideas for Charleston. We also vacation here & was wandering where you had the pizza! Looks deliciuos & we haven’t found a good spot. Also would like to follow you on your blog. I cannot find where to do that. Help please.

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        I just found out that you are a fan of aldis…I love their cheese, fresh veggies , pasta sauces (with my additions,) and fruit..I have a quiche that is to die for with gruyere..I have made for your mom…friends accuse me of being a stockholder in aldi’s! Ha ha.. before aldis arrived in our town…my friends called my quiche: the “million dollar” quiche because of ingredients! Oh.our favorite place to vacation: hilton head! (Close to savannah! HAPPY New Year! Rox D

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    You take the most beautiful vacation pictures ever!

    Poogan’s Porch is one of my favorite places in the world because they’re so welcoming to my pit bull baby girl who travels with us- maybe because I buy her her own cheeseburger when we go there… 😉 And 39 Rue de Jean for the same reason.

    If you are a foodie with a dog, Charleston is the place to be! Or a shopper with a dog! Kismet has also been inside all those fancy stores on King Street… Try doing THAT at your local mall J. Crew or Lilly Pulitzer store! Or fancy Charleston Place Hotel? Yep, dog (and pit bull!) friendly. 🙂

    But dog or no dog, we’ve traveled extensively and never have we found a city with the same food options that ALSO has the charm & friendliness & beauty as Charleston.

    We ADORE Charleston & have started looking for property to build on when my husband retires. Your post has made me want to hurry up & find something!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey, Dharma! I so normally wouldn’t do this (and Bjork & Lindsay please delete if this is inappropriate), but I’m a Charlestonian and just so happen to be a real estate agent too. I live in NC now, but if you don’t already have an agent you know and trust, please email me ([email protected]). I would be happy to refer you to a local agent there if you’d like. I have several friends from several different facets in the area who would be able to help you narrow your search.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I loved this post too and am actually heading to Charleston in 3 weeks….yay!!! It’s like our first vaca since having kids (so yes, we’re hyped) and I probably won’t be able to go to all the places on the list with kids, but I’m excited to take all your advice anyhow! Hoping to find a few kid friendly restaurants so that we don’t get thrown out with all the food they plop on the floor. SO excited about the Isle of Palms, never heard of it, great tip. Thanks.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        PLENTY of Kid friendly places to eat all around the area. Just go over the bridgr to Mount Pleasant!

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      This is great news! We’re heading to Charleston & Savannah with our pooch. I was worried about finding dog friendly patios and shops 🙂

      Do you know if dogs can go on walking tours? I plan to call and ask but thought I’d ask for a recommendation.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Magnolia Plantation is dog friendly. Even the house tour is pooch friendly. What a great town to explore with mans best friend!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing your vacation with us- I especially loved all your mega gallery of photos. They make me want to book a ticket!

    I was chuckling over your overhead photo of Bjork drizzling sauce on to his food at the restaurant. I had this mental image of you standing on your chair, getting the shot, while all the other eaters gawked. TOTALLY something I would do!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    We just visited Charleston for the first time this past fall. It was amazing!
    But I need to add that it was not as great as I hoped because we brought the kids. It didn’t seem like a family friendly place but maybe we went to all the wrong places.
    Hubby promised to bring me back again, just the two of us so we can really soak up all the awesome things to see and do! Looking forward to it. 🙂

    Thanks for all the great recommendations. Will pin for next time.

    Love all the pics! Looks like you had a great time!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Charleston and Savannah have been on my vacation wish list for awhile now. So glad to hear you had such a good time. BTW, you two are ridiculously cute! Hopefully next spring we’ll make it down there. Instead this year, we’re headed to Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon National Parks in May. Super excited to explore that area of the country!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Sounds like you hit all the great spots! We were married in Savannah and on the food side, The Florence, Old Grey, and Pacci are standouts! And isn’t Husk just the best?! We’re making a return trip to Charleston and Savannah in a couple weeks and can’t wait to be back!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post, and beautiful, beautiful pictures! If Charleston didn’t pay for you to go there, they should! I think they will have lots of people wanting to visit after seeing this- including me! 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Charleston is one of my favorite places to visit, too! We usually go to the Isle of Palms for the beach (and of course we have to ‘stop by’ the Ben and Jerry’s on the walk to it)
    A favorite little bar&grill we like to visit is Coconut Joe’s; it’s right on the beach and such a quirky little place. Love their tropical wrap! 🙂

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve never been to Charleston, but this post substantiates everything I’ve ever heard about it. Will have to try to get there.

    If you make it to Savannah again, Moon River Brewing is a nice restaurant with excellent craft beer. That (and our motel for the night) is all we’ve done there, but would go back again for Moon River. 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    We got married in Charleston in April 2014! Must go to McCrady’s next. DELICIOUS. Great cocktails, too. It’s off Unity Alley. Love the pictures and your recommendations – couldn’t have said it much better myself. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ahh yes! We walked right by it! That was our backup if we couldn’t get into Husk, but then, by some miracle, we got in!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just visited Charleston and Savannah and had a great time. I’m glad to see I went to a few places on your Top 10!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    This was such a wonderful trip recap! I never thought about vacationing in Charlestown, but now *really* want to go!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks like such a fun trip! So jealous and wanting to plan my own getaway! Thanks for sharing the pics!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for the great post on Charleston – so timely as I’ll be there in a few months and can’t wait to try your recommendations! And, fantastic photos, as usual!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Awesome photos – looks like you had a wonderful trip! I’ve already informed my husband that we are going to Charleston for our 2016 vacation after reading this post – nothing like Southern charm!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Loved this post and the pictures! You went to three of my recommendations: Husk, Toast, and Poogan’s Porch, so fun to hear about what you ate! I want to be in Charleston right now. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      And I didn’t even credit you! I’m the worst. I dug around for all the names of readers who recommended each place but I must have missed yours (and I’m sure a few others). All that to say, THANK YOU for the recs, Paige! You seriously nailed it.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great pictures! Looks like a really nice and tasty trip! I’d love to eat my way through Charleston 🙂 Also super jealous of the weather…it looks like fall!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay I am so glad you and Bjork loved Charleston! I have been lucky to be a frequent visitor to Charleston over the last 4 years while my son Sean is in college there! Every time I visit I sample some of the best foods from all different types of places! Husk is unbelievable! I have become hooked on pimento cheese (recipe coming to my blog eventually) and tried the BEST grilled pimento cheese, bacon and tomato sandwich EVER in Charleston!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Charleston…..my favorite city! I was fortunate to live in Charleston for a couple of years in my early to mid 20’s (my single days) right over the connector to Isle of Palms in Mt. Pleasant. I dream of one day returning to live there again but in the meantime travel there as much as I am possibly able. Your blog and pictures brought back some great memories. I am so glad you and your husband enjoyed your visit.