3 Days in Charleston
Only have three days in Charleston? No problem. It’s easy to spend a long weekend in the Holy City, exploring Charleston’s Neighborhoods and history. We recommend budgeting one day for Downtown, one day to explore Charleston’s plantations and one to spend exploring east of Downtown.
Day 1: Downtown Charleston
Start off your three days in Charleston with a tour of Downtown’s most iconic attractions. Charleston is all about history, so you’ll want to get familiar with the city’s backstory when you get here.
One of the most iconic attractions in Downtown Charleston, the Historic Charleston City Market has been around since the 1790s. This year-round indoor market features food vendors as well as arts-and-crafts and souvenir shops.
One of the market’s most coveted wares is the sweetgrass baskets, handmade in the Holy City. The market is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. seasonally.
Charleston was the port of entry for thousands of enslaved Africans in the 1700s and 1800s. The Old Slave Mart is a museum that educates visitors on the slave triangle, conditions on slave ships and slave life in the lowcountry.
This museum paints an accurate portrayal of what it was like to be an enslaved African American in both the city of Charleston and South Carolina plantations.
Charleston Historic Walking Tour
Get a historic overview of the Holy City on our two-hour historic walking tour. You’ll see most of the major sites in Downtown Charleston, including Rainbow Row, the Battery, St. Michael’s Church and the French Quarter.
Quench your thirst at one of Charleston’s most historic inns. This hotspot is known as the birthplace of Planters punch, a lowcountry cocktail with rum, juice, sugar and grenadine. It certainly pays homage to Charleston’s sugarcane history.
End your night with dinner at the Charleston Grill, one of Charleston’s famous historic restaurants. Set in the Charleston Palace Hotel, this restaurant serves lowcountry fare (crabcakes and sea scallops) in a fancy setting.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual, we recommend Poogan’s Porch, which features Charleston’s down-home cuisine, like shrimp and grits, fried chicken and pimento cheese fritters.
Day 2: Charleston Plantations
On day two of your three days in Charleston, head out of the city proper to one (or more) of Charleston’s iconic plantations. There are several Charleston plantation tours to choose from, but we recommend either Magnolia Plantation or Boone Hall — two of the largest plantations in the Charleston area.
Of all the plantations in Charleston, Boone Hall does an especially great job of educating visitors about slave life in the 18th and 19th centuries. While some of the plantations in South Carolina gloss over this part of history, Boone Hall has dedicated an entire section of the grounds to slave life.
If this plantation looks familiar, it’s because its exterior was used in scenes from the movie “The Notebook.” This plantation is also known for its world-famous gardens.
Magnolia Plantation is possibly one of the most picturesque plantations in all of South Carolina. It’s Charleston’s most-visited plantation and sits on 464-acres of picturesque riverside land. The plantation dates back to the 1600s, though most of the current structure was rebuilt after the original structure burned down in the Civil War.
To round out a fancy day visiting Charleston’s plantation, head to the Cocktail Club for a classy cocktail. This stylish speakeasy serves prohibition-style cocktails in fancy glasses in an upscale setting. Bring your whole crew and order a punch bowl, or a cocktail that serves four-to-five people.
Head here at sunset to catch some of the most beautiful views from the rooftop lounge.
Husk Restaurant is possibly one of the most talked-about eateries in Charleston. Owner Sean Brock was featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table and has created an elevated menu based on lowcountry favorites. The menu changes daily, but some of the favorites that make the cut almost every night include Heritage pork rinds, pimento cheese and the Husk cheeseburger.
Day 3: Across the Ravenel Bridge
On day three, head across the Ravenel Bridge to explore a few quieter neighborhoods.
Just across the Cooper River from Downton is Mount Pleasant. You can get here by driving across the Ravenel Bridge or taking the ferry. This neighborhood is known for its shopping and eateries.
Got kids? Happen to be a history buff? Head to Patriots Point! This naval and maritime museum features tours of the USS Yorktown, a naval aircraft carrier, the USS Laffey Destroyer and the USS Clagmore submarine. Kids can now even sleep overnight on the USS Yorktown!
Sullivan’s Island and Shem Creek
Sullivan’s Island and Shem Creek are Charleston neighborhoods beloved by nature-lovers. Paddle a kayak around the creek, head to the beach or just enjoy a walk in the marshland of Shem Creek Park. Take the ferry to Fort Sumter to tour the spot where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, or visit Fort Moultrie, the first fort built in Charleston.
Happy Hour at Poe’s Tavern
When you’ve had your fill of nature and history, head over to Poe’s Tavern for a drink and a snack. The theme here is none other than Edgar Allan Poe, who called Sullivan’s Island home when he was enlisted in the army.
The menu is full of casual favorites, like nachos and cheddar cheese fries.
Dinner at Obstinate Daughter
When you’re ready for dinner, head over to the Obstinate Daughter, a restaurant that showcases some of the state’s fresh seafood. The menu features geechee fries, frogmore stew, oysters and a lowcountry shrimp roll.