If you’re looking for the perfect weekend getaway, Charleston, South Carolina should be at the top of your list. Charleston is an east coast city rich in history, with beautiful buildings, shopping and amazing food. 3 days in Charleston is ideal, whether you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway in Charleston, SC, a girl’s weekend or a weekend with family.
Charleston 3-Day Itinerary
For a long weekend in Charleston, SC we have you covered with the perfect itinerary based on our last two trips to the area. While this itinerary is based on a couple’s trip/ romantic getaway in Charleston, South Carolina, it can easily be adapted for a group of friends or families.
- Arrive in downtown Charleston in the morning
- Shopping on King Street
- Lunch at 167 Raw
- Sunset Cruise with Charleston Sail
- Late Dinner at Charleston Grill
- Charleston Carriage Tour
- Charleston City Market
- Brunch at Poogan’s Porch
- Tour the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
- Rooftop Drinks at The Vendue at sunset & dinner at Revival after
- Breakfast at Miller’s All Day
- Walk around Charleston- Waterfront, Rainbow Row & College of Charleston
- Visit Magnolia Plantation or Boone’s Hall (if time allows)
- Leave Charleston
Best Time to Visit Charleston, SC
Figuring out the best time to visit Charleston is a great place to start when planning a weekend getaway. The spring and fall are milder weather-wise and are perfect for visiting. After two separate weekend trips to Charleston in April, we’re convinced it’s the best time to visit Charleston. The weather in Charleston in April is usually low to mid 70s, breezy, sunny and the humidity hasn’t yet set in.
A lot of people visit Charleston in the summer to take full advantage of the beaches and warm weather. Keep in mind, however, that Charleston summers can be very hot and humid. Just be prepared with light clothes and plenty of breaks in the air conditioning!
Getting to Charleston
When visiting Charleston from Pittsburgh, we drove the first time and flew there the second time. The drive to Charleston can be pretty scenic depending on where you’re coming from, and it’s a great option if you’re planning a stop in Richmond, Washington, DC or Baltimore. It’s also helpful to have a car if you’re planning to explore some of the plantations and towns surrounding Charleston.
In recent years there have also been several more nonstop flights to Charleston added as the city has grown in popularity. Planning a weekend getaway from Pittsburgh, for example, there are nonstop flights from PIT to Charleston via Allegiant and Breeze Airways.
Things to do in Charleston, SC for a Weekend
Between the rich history and idyllic setting, there are so many fun things to do in Charleston. Whether you’re looking for things to do in Charleston, SC as a couple, friends or family, there’s a variety of things for everyone to enjoy.
Charleston Sunset Cruise
One of the absolute best things to do in Charleston, SC for couples is a private sunset sailing cruise. We sailed with Charleston Sail on our first trip to Charleston, and it’s definitely an experience I’ll never forget. If you’re looking for places to see dolphins in Charleston, the Charleston Harbor was full of dolphins on our cruise. We were lucky enough to have them swim alongside us the whole time. The couple who runs the sunset tour are very sweet and knowledgeable about the city as well.
The cruise is also BYOB, so be sure to bring some champagne while you watch the sunset!
You can search for more options for a sunset cruise in Charleston here.
Horse and Carriage Tour
One of the most popular ways to see the city is by horse and carriage tour. There are dozens of horse and carriage tours in Charleston, and we went with Charleston Carriage Works through Viator. The guides are knowledgeable, and they walk you through the history of Charleston dating back to the city’s origins. At one point, Charleston was the wealthiest city in America, and with the beautiful homes and buildings throughout, it’s easy to see why.
If you want something a little more romantic or personalized, you can also find private horse and carriage tours in Charleston for an additional charge.
Book a Charleston horse and carriage tour here.
Shopping in Charleston
Charleston is known for its abundance of shopping throughout downtown. The best place for shopping in downtown Charleston, SC is on King Street, and it offers almost every store you can imagine. Whether you’re looking for a bargain or for a high-end retailer, you’re bound to find it on King Street. There are several locally owned stores as well as known brands like Lilly Pulitzer, Vineyard Vines and more. Most of the shops on King Street can be found from Marion Square down to Queen Street.
If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, one of the most popular things to do in Charleston is to visit the Charleston City Market. It’s full of local vendors and a great way to support the city and shop from local artists. The Charleston market first opened in 1841, and it’s amazing that the tradition still exists today. While there, you can find anything from children’s toys to pottery, local foods and more.
Walk Around Downtown Charleston
Charleston is a very walkable city, and one of the best ways to experience it is by foot. The historic buildings are beautiful to see, and you can’t miss the waterfront either. Some things to make sure you see when walking around Charleston include:
- Waterfront Park in Charleston and take a picture at the pineapple fountain
- Rainbow Row, series of brightly colored houses
- Historic homes including the Isaac Jenkins Mikell house owned by Patricia from Southern Charmed
- The dozens of old churches that gave Charleston the name “Holy City”
- The beautiful College of Charleston campus
Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon
While not the most romantic, the Old Exchange building in Charleston dates back to the 1770s and is such an important part of Charleston’s history. Not only is the building a beautiful piece of architecture, but it withstood wars, political unrest and many more hardships the city faced.
The Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon are available as a joint ticket. The top floor of the Old Exchange walks through some of the history of the building and pivotal events that shaped US history. Downstairs in the Provost Dungeon, there’s a guided tour that walks you through the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon’s history in more detail. The staff wear clothing from the period and are very knowledgeable about the history surrounding the building.
The Powder Magazine in Charleston is another historic building that’s recommended if you’re interested in learning more about the city’s impact on US history.
Additional Ideas for Charleston Things to Do
If you have more time and/or want to venture out of the city, below are more ideas for things to do in Charleston.
- Visit one of several plantations in Charleston including Middleton Place, Magnolia and Boone Hall
- Take the ferry from downtown Charleston to Fort Sumter
- Go golfing on Kiawah Island
- Visit the Angel Oak Tree at John’s Island
- Go to the beach at Sullivan’s Island or Isle of Palms
Charleston is known as one of the best cities for foodies in the US, and there are amazing food options throughout the city. With the mix of southern staples, fresh seafood and innovative chefs, it’s hard to have a bad meal in Charleston. Below we’ve included some of the best Charleston restaurants to try out if you’re planning a Charleston weekend getaway.
Poogans has some of the best brunch in Charleston, SC and it’s a great option for dinner too. The fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and bacon jam are a must, and the chicken & waffles and shrimp & grits are also yummy for brunch. Be sure to sit on the porch if you have nice weather!
167 Raw is the best place for oysters in Charleston, with a variety of options to choose from. The fish tacos, shrimp po’ boy and lobster tostada are also so good and super fresh. 167 Raw doesn’t take reservations, buf you can put your name down earlier and shop on King Street while you wait.
As the restaurant inside the trendy Vendue hotel, Revival Charleston and is considered a “modern southern eatery.” The Lowcountry Pirlou is an amazing seafood dish, and the duck is great as well. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Vendue rooftop bar. (One of the best rooftop bars in Charleston!) The lobby is also full of curated art pieces as well.
If you’re looking for romantic restaurants in Charleston, SC, Charleston Grill is a great option. The scallops with corn are SO good, and the restaurant is also known for its lamb and filet dishes. Charleston Grill is also known for its extensive wine menu and pairing options. The dress code at Charleston Grill is business casual, and it’s recommended that men wear a suit jacket.
Slightly North of Broad (S.N.O.B.)
If you’re looking for another great option for dinner or brunch in Charleston, be sure to add S.N.O.B to your list. The shrimp & grits at S.N.O.B. are some of the best, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu! It’s also a great option if you’re looking for live music in Charleston to go with dinner.
We also dined at Coast & Grill and Magnolia on a prior trip to Charleston and recommend both restaurants. Callie’s Hot Biscuits, Fleet’s Landing and The Ordinary are a few restaurants on our list for the next Charleston weekend trip!
Coffee & Dessert in Charleston
Charleston also has a lot of great options for sweet treats or coffee if you need a pick-me-up while you’re exploring. Be sure to check out the following cafes in Charleston as well!
- Rise Coffee Bar is located right off King Street and a great place to stop for coffee while you shop. The Rosemary Rise Latte or pour over coffees are both great.
- Second State Coffee is another cute coffee shop in Charleston. We recommend the brown sugar latte with oat milk!
- Off Track Ice Cream is a must visit if you’re looking for ice cream shops in Charleston. They have a large menu full of regular and vegan ice cream flavors, and the freshly made waffle cones are so good.
- Byrd Cookies originated in 1924 with a Scottish Oatmeal cookie the company made from a little shack. It’s a fun stop near the Charleston Market, and you can sample dozens of flavors and pick and choose which ones you want to buy.
We planned to stop at Carmella’s Dessert Bar for dessert in Charleston as well, but the line was super long at the time. It comes highly recommended, and it’s definitely on our list for next time.
Where To Stay in Charleston
The city offers an array of hotels for all budgets and interests for a Charleston, SC weekend getaway. One of the most beautiful and romantic hotels in Charleston is The Charleston Place. While it’s great for families, it’s especially perfect for a romantic getaway in Charleston, SC. The rooms at Charleston Place are beautifully decorated, and the amenities there are top notch.
Some of the highlights of staying at The Charleston Place include:
- Club Level Rooms offered for an additional charge to include food and drinks all day long
- Huge indoor pool, hot tub and full service spa
- Beautiful lobby (which included a fun ball pit full of tennis balls when we were there)
- Shopping without having to leave the hotel + easy access to King Street
- Restaurants including the upscale Charleston Grill and Palmetto Cafe, which is more casual.
- Rooftop bar offered to hotel guests only
Head here for current pricing and availability for The Charleston Place.
On both of our Charleston weekend trips, we spent 3 days in Charleston. We offset the cost of staying in Downtown Charleston by staying near the airport in North Charleston on our first night. The Hyatt Place Charleston Airport and Tru by Hilton are two hotels by the Charleston airport that aren’t far from downtown. If you want a more budget-friendly hotel in Charleston, the Homewood Suites Charleston Historic District is great.
Have you been to Charleston, SC? What else would you add to this list for a long weekend in Charleston?
More Ideas for Kid-Free Trips from the US: