Why we headed down to Charleston for good eats, posh digs, and an altogether leisurely weekend.
Stately antebellum mansions behind a haze of Spanish moss, walkable cobblestone streets, friendly waves from pillared porches … if you’re trawling for classic Southern charm, you can’t beat Charleston, South Carolina. Its house tours, beaches and historic inns have long been a formula for an easy idyll. These days, it’s also worth staying up for the burgeoning restaurant scene and nightlife. We headed down for good eats, posh digs, and an altogether leisurely weekend.
Catch a nonstop on US Airways; flight times are under two hours.
Previously the home of a 19th-century cotton mogul, the Wentworth Mansion still boasts the splendor of its original hand-carved marble fireplaces and Tiffany stained-glass windows. Unwind with an afternoon snifter of brandy in the library, or mingle at sunset over wine and hors d’oeuvres. The complimentary breakfast in the dining room is exceptional (149 Wentworth Street, 843-853-1886,wentworthmansion.com; rooms start at $355) .
Fall’s still balmy in Charleston, so make like the locals: Grab some beers and go shrimpin’ on a rented 21-foot skiff off nearby Wadmalaw Island (Bohicket Boat, 2789 Cherry Point Road, 843-559-3525, bohicketboat.com). Or hit any of the city’s three beaches with a custom-filled picnic basket from Ted’s Butcher Block (334 East Bay Street, suite K, 843-577-0094, tedsbutcherblock.com).
Scavenge downtown’s open-air City Market, a four-block-long plaza teeming with local vendors selling everything from funky handmade jewelry to sweetgrass baskets (Market Street between Meeting and East Bay streets, 843-973-7236). Or head to King Street and window-shop its designer boutiques, antiques and specialty stores.
Raval is an urban-chic tapas bar, with crowds of 20–somethings huddled around communal tables, passing plates of Spanish bocados. The back lounge feels like a dark-and-sultry Moroccan den (453 King Street, 843-853-8466, ravalwinebar.com). Survey Charleston’s own French Quarter from Vendue Inn’s expansive rooftop bar (19 Vendue Range, 843-577-7970, vendueinn.com).
For low-country cuisine — made with impressive French flair — visit the Fat Hen. Here, you’ll sip water from a mason jar, but humble surroundings belie serious cooking from chef Fred Neuville, who formerly helmed Charleston’s well-known 39 Rue de Jean (3140 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, 843-559-9090, thefathen.com) . Craving something like … country-fried seafood with a traditional side of boiled peanuts? Head dockside to the Wreck (106 Haddrell Street, Mount Pleasant, 843-884-0052).