Charleston… also known as The Holy City!!! Here is your full travel guide with fav restaurants, activities, shopping and more–the best of the best that this city has to offer that are all family friendly and perfect when you head to this quaint, charming and perfectly pastel city for your next visit.
Charleston Travel Guide
Accommodations | We stayed at the Hyatt Place on King Street and absolutely loved it… perfect for kiddos, easily walkable to so many amazing King Street favorites, on-site breakfast that made mornings easier, indoor pool for the little ones to swim their hearts out and their workout facility was REALLY good as well!!
Restaurants and Eateries
Let’s just say we went ALL IN for the food and drink on our trip… known for SO many incredible options, we planned ahead with recommendations from all the locals and were beyond impressed with each restaurant we ate at… here are all the details of each:
Uptown Social | Brunch done right–this casual pub-style eatery was SO good for brunch. I had the avocado toast, while the girls indulged in their Cinnamon Toast Crunch French Toast and Cookies and Cream Pancakes and yes, it was ALL worth it–definite fun little hot spot everyone will enjoy!
Magnolia’s | The epitome of Charleston cuisine, this is our second time at this eatery and it never disappoints… it’s old southern style and the food is beyond incredible. I opted for their famous Shellfish Over Grits, while Jeff went for his favorite Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Oh, and don’t forget to order their Fried Green Tomatoes and daily-special desserts–they are always out of this world great!
Pearlz Oyster Bar | Now I have to preface this by saying that I am not an oyster connoisseur like my hubby, as I’ll try them every once in awhile, but my boy LOVES him some oysters so we hopped over to Pearlz for a late afternoon snack during happy hour and he went bananas over their assortment of options. The girls stuck to Fried Pickles and Shirley Temples and of course I went with classic rose… just as fancy ;).
Melfi’s | A new treasure for us this visit had to be Melfi’s… this little tiny hotspot was probably my favorite place we ate at this go-around and I could go on and on about the pasta!! It’s classic, but upscale Italian dining [still family friendly, as well] and if you go, you MUST get the Mafalde Pasta–basically Jeff said I out-ordered him yet again and I didn’t want to share because it was that amazing. P.S. they have homemade gelato for dessert and you know we had to sample all four flavors.
Poogan’s Smokehouse | Another new-to-me-find was the Poogan’s take on traditional BBQ. HOLY MOLY this lunch didn’t disappoint and the pork belly has to be some of the best I’ve ever had… add in some pimento cheese fritters, coleslaw and house made pickles, and you better believe we all needed a late afternoon nap!!
Millers All Day | The perfect breakfast and brunch spot, it’s just that–your morning staples all day long! The atmosphere inside reminds me of an old pharmacy/soda shop and the food was SO dang good… this recommendation came from a local and the Ham Biscuit–made with country ham, fig jam, and havarti cheese was absolutely DELISH!!! P.S. the pastries and muffins were crowd pleasers too.
Cru Cafe | OK hidden gem alert… I read about this quaint restaurant from another bloggers guide I found online and was overly impressed with Cru–it’s setup is in an old home in Charleston with just a handful of tables, so it’s a great destination for date night, but the service and food were INCREDIBLE. So many unique flavors and options on the menu and let’s not discuss how much of the girls’ mac and cheese I ate ;).
Poogan’s Porch | If there is a staple for me when I go to Charleston, it’s Poogan’s Porch… some might argue, but my mind is made up and this was my fourth time to eat here and I’ll continue to go back. Think classic southern food with the best service and tastiest cuisine, the seafood options are always the freshest, the she crab soup is out of this world amazing, and the kids said this was their favorite place too–I think because of all the endless amounts of bread and dessert-lol.
Callie’s Little Hot Biscuit | Scattered around the Holy City, this little walk-in eatery was a must on so many people’s lists that I knew it had to be great! There was one right down from our hotel on King Street, but due to the crazy line outside we opted to go to the one near the City Market and the line was much shorter… we each tried a different variety [be sure to check the daily specials] and all were SO dang good I bought the biscuit mix to take home with us so we could make our own!
Tavern and Table | If you head over to Shem Creek, I would HIGHLY recommend this waterfront restaurant–probably my favorite eatery we just happened to stumble into during our trip. It’s fun to see all the boats coming in and out and seriously they had the best Black and Blue Moscow Mule I have ever had [you know I am serious about my cocktail love!]. Be sure to sit outside and enjoy a pretty day and order some of everything off the menu… the soft pretzel, dynamite shrimp and bison burger were all incredible.
Poe’s Tavern | Of course we couldn’t go to Sullivan’s Island and not eat at Poe’s. Everyone said it was a must and I love that it had a truly local, beach scene vibe to it… understated with classic pub/bar sandwiches and burgers, it made for the perfect lunch destination and I loved seeing all the history within its walls and learning more about the poet’s story of why he chose there to live and how it shaped his writing career.
Attractions and Things to See + Do
Shopping on King Street | Oh yes, one of my favorite shopping avenues, King Street truly as it all. From your local hat shops like Goorin Bros to Skinny Dip [the coolest restaurant + wine bar ever] to Savannah Bee Company and more, seriously you’ll knock out all your souvenir shopping here. SO many local gems so walk the entire street and be sure not to miss a thing! Other must-stops include Lake Pajamas, Pink Chicken, Grady Ervin and Hampden Clothing.
Charleston Carriage Works Tour | If you’ve never been to Charleston, this is an absolute must to check off your list… taking a carriage tour through downtown and the battery was definitely a highlight for the four of us–the girls loved the horses, while I loved listening to our tour guide to learn more about the history of the town… plus you get all the local insider tips and tricks and it’s a fun way to spend the afternoon sitting back and relaxing, too.
Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry | If you’ve got little ones, you definitely need to spend a few hours at the children’s museum. It allows them to get creative, explore inside and out and you might get to rest a bit as well… my girls are closer to the older end of the spectrum on this activity, so I would recommend this for kids 1-6 due to the activities they offer, play equipment, etc–BUT having said that, they have an interactive Publix display set up so we played grocery store check out over and over and over again…
Charleston Harbor Tour | Another exciting activity we checked off our list, we had picture perfect weather and the girls LOVED getting on a boat and seeing all the sights of the city. The boat goes out to Fort Sumter, the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, the Battery and all around the perimeter of the city with so many sights to see. It’s under two hours as well so you’re not having to give up an entire day–apparently I am turning into a history buff because I can’t get enough of the history behind Charleston… it’s truly fascinating!
South Carolina Aquarium | Yes yes yes you need to go here and visit all the marine life and sea turtle care center… such a fun thing for families to see up close, they also let you feed sting rays and they have an albino alligator, as well as interactive exhibits we all enjoyed–plan to spend at least 2+ hours here!!
Sullivan’s Island | A proper stay in Charleston isn’t complete without a trip to the beach, right?!?!?! I’m so jealous they have both Sullivan’s and Folly so close to their backyard and it made for a fun little daily excursion to hit up the surf and sand during our stay. Jeff loves those east coast beaches–perfect for seashell hunting for our girls to bring home some new “treasures” too.
The Battery and Pineapple Park | The number one thing the girls wanted to do when we arrived in Charleston was see where mommy and daddy got engaged all those years ago–I remember it like it was yesterday and it was fun to take Caroline and Carson back to where it all started… the fountain in Battery Park!! Such a sweet reminder of where we’ve come in life and a thrill to let our daughters see this piece of our family’s history, too.
Charleston City Market | Looking for souvenirs?? Head to this historical hotspot, packed with local artisans, craftmakers and shops and leave room in your suitcase for new finds… I love finding new brands and so enjoyed grabbing goodies from Old Whaling Company and Sweetgrass Baskets.
Can you tell we SO enjoyed our Spring Break in Charleston travel guide?? I love that we changed it up a bit this time and headed east with the kiddos — such a short flight from Nashville via Southwest and I know we will most certainly be back for more soon!!! Hope this travel guide to all things from the Holy City is helpful–cheers to new and more adventures just around the corner.