Ever since its founding in the late 1600s, Charleston has been known for its Southern Hospitality-- the land for the city was even a gift from King Charles II to his friends. In more recent years, it's been repeatedly named "America's Friendliest City" and the country's "most polite and hospitable" city. Feel this city's unique brand of Southern charm, low-country style, as you explore its history, culture, and coastal views!
Angel Oak Park is located on the gorgeous Johns Island, and its main feature is an enormous old oak tree. Estimates of its age vary wildly, with some saying it’s been growing for 1,500 years, and others guessing that it’s as young (well, comparatively young) as only 400 years old. It stands at a stately 65 feet tall (!), and is 28 feet around (!!), with branches up to 187 feet in length (!!!). That all adds up to 17,200 cubic feet of shade— perfect, given Charleston’s sweltering Southern heat. And how did something known for living so long come to be called the Angel Oak? There are several legends— some say the sprawling limbs resemble an angel’s wings, while others tell tales of seeing the angels of local slaves around the tree. The most likely story, however, is that the oak got its name from its former owners, the Angel family.
While you're on this side of town, visit some of the best gems near Folly Beach. Lost Dog Cafe is great for a casual breakfast, brunch or lunch. Southern staples like fried green tomatoes and shrimp and grits are on the menu, but you can't go wrong with their massive pancakes or huevos rancheros, either! If it's a weekend, get a mimosa, or if it's a weekday, grab some coffee to wash it all down.
As you head from Folly Beach into the city, make a pit stop at Tradesman Brewing Co. for pre-dinner drinks. Expect to find industrial vibes, games in their retro "employee lounge" (everything from checkers to Battleship), and a roster of really unique brews here! Think, a sweet potato pie-flavored brown ale, a rich coffee stout, a red ale brewed with ginger, and a refreshing agave wheat.
Edmund's Oast is one of Charleston's most sought-after dinner spots. Come with friends, an open mind, and an appetite, because you're going to be ordering a lot of sharable plates here. The cornbread, charcuterie, pickled shrimp, fresh ricotta, and house-brewed beer are the perfect beginnings to a meal that will definitely leave you mind-blown, and utterly stuffed full of delicious food.
With games like shuffleboard, foosball, and pool, plus plenty of beer, wine, and booze to keep the fun going, Warehouse is another great bar to spend the evening in. They also have sandwiches, snacks, sides, and entrees, plus some tasty-looking desserts, as well... but their house cocktails are the real reason to stick around!
The Vendue Inn is an incredible, art-filled boutique hotel right on the city's Waterfront Park. Rent a free bike, take a tour of their massive, 300-piece art collection with a docent, or enjoy a drink at their famed rooftop bar when you're not relaxing in your elegantly-appointed and totally comfy room.
Start your next day off with a good, home-cooked meal from Page's Okra Grill. If you're going to go all out and order the most decadent Southern meal possible, this is the place to do it. Shrimp and fried grits, chicken and jalapeno-corn waffles, biscuits and gravy, fried chicken livers, crab cake eggs benedict, the pimento cheese and fried green tomato sandwich... seriously, just reading the menu will make you feel stuffed. And the best part? Everything here is delicious; you really can't go wrong ordering any of it.
Next, immerse yourself in history at Fort Sumter National Monument. Famous for being the site of the Civil War's first battle, you can take a ferry from Patriot's Point out to the island where the fort is. Along the way, you'll find tons of interesting tidbits about the Civil War and some one-of-a-kind views of the city!
Fun fact: Edgar Allan Poe spent time on Sullivan's Island in Charleston as a private in the Army. Thankfully, Poe's Tavern isn't nearly as dark or brooding as the writer for which this restaurant is named! Their burgers (all named after his poems and stories) are renowned, but they offer seafood and salads (and booze) as well.
Explore downtown Charleston to see its distinctive architcture, Spanish moss-laden trees, and quaint shops. Afterwards, a stroll along the city's Waterfront Park is the perfect way to cool off. Swinging benches, docks offering breezy ocean views, a splash pad for kids, and, of course, that famous pineapple fountain, can be found here!
For dinner, head to the quaint Leon's Oyster Shop. It's an old mechanic shop-turned-restaurant with fried chicken, Southern sides, cocktails, and, of course, oysters prepared every way imaginable. They come raw, fried, char-grilled, oysters casino, in sandwiches, in fry-ups, in wraps... and that's about all the kinds of oysters they have. Finish it all off with a bowl of soft serve ice cream with sprinkles!
End your day by "drinking proper" at the Gin Joint. Their menu is sorted into seasonal, strong, sharable, and "outside the box" drinks (which use ingredients like pistachio orgeat, roasted poblano honey, and duck fat powder.) Or, go with a bartender's choice drink: they give you a list of adjectives like "vegetal", "refreshing", "fizzy", "bitter", and "sweet", among others; you pick three, and the bartender will make you something totally unique!
Spring is the busy season, but it's busy for a reason: mild temperatures and blooming magnolia trees make it perfect. Fall is also nice, with cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. Prices are cheapest in the winter, and the temperature usually stays around the 50s, so it's not a bad time to visit, either. Summer does get stifling hot and it can be rainy and humid, but at least there are beaches where you can cool off!