With its Southern Charm, downtown Charleston, South Carolina is known for its scenic waterfront, rich history, and renowned culinary scene. Whether you're planning a wonderful weekend getaway for two or visiting with larger groups, it's a popular destination that seamlessly blends the past with the present!
About the same time last year, Jack and I ventured to Savannah, Georgia for a weekend away. It was clear to us that if we enjoyed Savannah, GA, we would absolutely adore Charleston. After all, it's known as charm of the South. The city itself is incredibly clean and well maintained. It's proximity to the ocean is necessary, especially if you visit in the summer months like we did!
The city has something for everyone: enchanting shops, live music on rooftop bars, delicious food, beautiful beaches, the list goes on and on. I do think it's a perfect destination for any kind of vacation or celebration! After attending multiple bachelorette parties, it's the perfect place for a girls adventure!
Getting to Charleston & Transporation
The Charleston Airport (CHS) is very easy to navigate. It has two terminals with 15 gates total. I booked a flight from Detroit, Michigan and stopped for a long layover in Atlanta (to meet a friend for lunch) and then took a short, 45 minute connecting flight to Charleston SC. I had a direct flight on the way home. Depending on what airline and time of flight, you may be able to find a direct flight in and out of the city.
Charleston International Airport is about 25 minutes from downtown Charleston and about 40 minutes to Folly Beach. There are plenty of ride share options available going to each area. Our group had a 6am flight out on Sunday morning so we booked two taxis through the airport for Sunday morning. It was more reliable than scheduling ubers and relatively cost effective for the early service.
Do you need a car to explore the city? Yes and no. I personally think having access to at least one rental car is very helpful. Our group had access to a rental car for the first day and it made it so easy to grab groceries and stock the house before everyone arrived. It's a great way to get around the city.
Best time of the Year to Visit
Though Charleston is visited year-round, it's best to go when temperatures are mild (it's the South, remember). Peak times to visit are between March and May or September to November. We went in the middle of July, which as you'd expect, was HOT and humid.
A lot of people carry mini fans while walking around to stay cool and I ordered one immediately. I'll spare you from the photos with sweat beads on my body, but just prepare to sweat and shower frequently. It made me exceptionally grateful for staying on Folly Beach. We swam in the Atlantic everyday!
Where to Stay
Our large group (14 ladies) stayed on arguably the best Airbnb on Folly Beach. It's adjacent to a market/beach convenient store and a great spot! It's walking distance to the beach (a 2 minute walk) or two blocks to town (perfect for walking to happy hour).
Folly Beach is incredibly laid back and a charming beach town. It has a lively pier, eclectic shops, and a variety of dining options. It feels like it could be a movie set because of how relaxing and picturesque it is! I can see why it's an attractive spot for locals and visitors alike!
If you're staying in downtown Charleston, I've heard it's best to stay near the French Quarter or close to King Street (Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood). If Jack and I were going together, I'd look into these hotels:
- The Hotel Bennett: (ideal location, on Upper King Street ), southern but updated furnishings and one of the newer luxury hotels. If you stay here, be sure to start your day at Patisserie which is known for their decadent pastries and coffee.
- The Loutrel: another hotel in ideal location (historic Charleston)
- Planter's Inn: the interior courtyard alone is worth the stay here
- The Dewberry: this would be Jack's pick, he loves modern, sleek design AND has some of the best rooftop views of the city
Wherever you stay, I think the most important thing is the location and then access to water (either a pool or the ocean). You'll be happy having access to water!
Things to do on a Charleston Bachelorette Party
This goes without saying, but the type of bride will depend on what activities the group does! The bride we celebrated wanted a mix of shopping, exploring, swimming, and partying, but I've read other travel blog posts that explore the historic district at length, Magnolia Plantation, and take a carriage tour. A Charleston bachelorette weekend can look whatever way you want it to!
- Explore King Street: I understand why everyone loves shopping here! There are a variety of shops, from designer brands to small boutique places, everything is so beautiful and curated. If you're there on the second Sunday of the month, they close King Street and it's open to pedestrians only - so fun! Pop into Kenny Flowers Flagship & Cabana Club - it has southern charm written all over it and something for everyone! Our Bride loves watching Southern Charm. They have a store in town and often you can spot their cast bopping around!
- Rainbow Row: Can you visit Charleston without looping by this charming street? 14 colorful, vibrant houses all situated in Charleston's French Quarter neighborhood. Be sure to snap a photo of the group here.
- Folly Beach / rent a boat: Our group used Flipper Finders Boat & Sea Kayak Tours in Folly Beach and it was a quick 10 minute walk from our airbnb. Note if you don't STAY on Folly beach, parking is a nightmare. It's best to get dropped off or be prepared to front $30 for parking. Other areas to explore: Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island.
- Historic Charleston City Market: open 365 days a year, this market features local talent and artists. Super cute to walk through and shop.
- Other things to do/see: walk through Waterfront Park/Historic District, and White Point Garden, take a Ghost City Tour, explore Magnolia Plantation or Fort Sumter or take a horse drawn carriage tour
Our weekend itinerary
I always think it's helpful to see other itineraries, so here is the one the Maids of Honor put together. It's also so fun when there is a theme for the weekend. This one was the bride 'found her honey honey'! We were given a packing list on how to coordinate best! This streamlines the packing process and makes each picture aesthetically nice. I highly recommend creating a theme for the weekend.
- Thursday: Everyone arrive to airbnb around 4pm (check in). Set up the decor while some have drinks on the pier with the Bride. We ate dinner at the house, had homemade signature cocktails, and played drinking games/hot tub while others arrive (everyone had different flights into CHS).
- Friday: Morning hot girl walk on Folly Beach, brunch at 11am (uber) to Church & Union. Shopping at Charleston Market, Kings Street, and exploring before heading back to airbnb late afternoon. Quick swim in the ocean. Mexican night at the airbnb, get ready to go out, uber back to Kings Street: party at Republic and other bars. We were one of like 12 bachelorette parties at Republic LOL. It's a common place to go! Note: if you are traveling with minors, they won't be able to get in. They are strict on IDs.
- Saturday: Morning hot girl walk, brunch @ the airbnb, pick up Publix Subs for lunch on the boat, private boat charter from 1-5pm with Flipper Finders Boat & Sea Kayak Tours (FAVORITE PART OF THE TRIP), walk back to airbnb and stop at The Pineapple Hut, shower, relax, walk to pick up pizza at Woody's Pizza in Folly, slumber party + game night, clean up from the weekend.
- Sunday: Early morning departure, everyone leaves! If you have later flights, keep exploring! Pop into brunch at one of the restaurants listed below, spend some time in the water, or just relax in the gorgeous airbnb.
General rule of thumb is to have one scheduled activity at least once a day to keep the group entertained, but not tired! Overall, I would do this trip again in the same way. If anything, I would go out Thursday night instead of Friday, as it was a lot of back in forth in the same day. Or just stay in Charleston for a happy hour/early dinner and then uber back to Folley Beach and go to some of the dive bars in the area.
Even if you live in Charleston, it's impossible to try every restaurant. There are too many good ones! I always poll my Instagram community to get the best spots. Here's what they said:
Rise & Shine
- La Patisserie: arguably the MOST Instagrammable coffee shop
- Palmetto Cafe
- Callie's Hot little Biscuit: it's one of the BEST late night available in all of Charleston
- Church & Union: Make a reservation! Over 100 year old church that is turned into a restaurant. We ate here Friday morning for brunch (along with 8 other bachelorette groups :P) and it was delicious! Be sure to grab their signature mimosa flight and the Kung-Pao Wings as an appetizer.
- SNOB (one of the most recommended)
- Darling Oyster Bar (great Bloody Mary)
- High Cotton
- 167 Raw
- Carmella's for dessert
- Fleet Landing
- Peninsula Grill
- R Kitchen
- The Obstinate / Daughter
- Lost Dog Cafe (in Folly Beach)
- The Pineapple Hut -- it's like dole whip, but better! Super refreshing after a day on the water.
- Drop in Bar & Deli
- Leon's Oyster Shop - fried chicken AND oysters? talk about reppin' the Charleston brand.
Drinks & Happy Hour
- Rooftop at Vendue
- Ritual (start your evening here, grab a drink before heading out)
- Bay Street Biergarten
- Citrus Club
Charleston is a college town and has a large population of young professionals. It makes it a great place for night life, with so many great options for much fun!
- Republic Garden (we went here. It is a club. Chic dress code, bottle service, and of course, every other bachelorette party 😛 It's not surprising to run into the Southern Charm cast here)
- Prohibition on King Street
- Stars rooftop (also wonderful to start your day here: frozen bellinis, mimosas, and Bloody Marys. incredibly popular so arrive early)
- Cocktail Club
- Uptown Social
Things to know
A lot of amazing restaurants in Charleston do not take reservations OR book up quickly. Consider this when planning for a large group and try to make dining reservations in advance!
And unlike Savannah, Georgia, it is illegal to drink on sidewalks, beaches, or in the city. Keep that in mind as you explore the Charleston area!
Whether you're planning a week vacation to Charleston or just popping in for a special occasion, this blog post sums up the best of the best travel recommendations and areas to explore! If you are a local to the area or have a hidden gem that I glossed over, be sure to leave your recommendations in the comments for readers to utilize. Enjoy your time in beautiful South Carolina!
More places to explore
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It’s my passion to share about traveling that can aid your experience or be shared with others. Let me know if you have any questions; happy to answer them below! Safe travels! XO Courtney Paige