A few months ago, I went to Charleston, SC for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but had always heard amazing things!
I headed down late on a Friday night over a long weekend and decided to fly into Columbia instead of Charleston (the rates were hundreds of dollars cheaper). We rented a car and drove the 2 hours to Charleston. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in the Historic District. It was perfect. Right in the middle of the action, near all of the restaurants, bars and main attractions. It was clean, the staff was welcoming and ready to answer any questions we had and they served breakfast every morning.
We had Saturday, Sunday and almost all of Monday there and it was more than enough time!
Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and walked to the local flea market that was in the park a few minutes away. Here, there was local made products such as soaps, lip gloss, ornaments, paintings, you name it.
Then we got on a tour bus and they brought us to every part of the city. We went through The Citadel, down to Battery Street and the park right on the water, past Rainbow Row and the 4 corners. The guide was funny and kept our attention the whole time. At the end of the tour we also got a tour of the Manigault House. That was fabulous. They showed us a free-standing staircase and told us about the family as well as the history of the house and how they would have lived back then. They also explained the architecture of the house and how they found a way to keep it cool in the summer.
Then we drove about 20 minutes to Boone Hall Plantation. If you ever watched the movie The Notebook you will recognize this house. This was probably my favorite part of the trip. We drove the long driveway that was lined with live oak trees covered in Spanish moss and parked. The grounds were so expansive with numerous activities. For example, we took a tractor tour of the grounds. They showed us the whole property and explained how they grow crops and what life was like back then. Then we took a tour of the house which was gorgeous. It was like stepping into a movie set. The family still lives there so we could only see a section of the house. From there, we went explored the Gullah houses that were on the property. They were currently excavating most of it so we could see what they found and how they lived.
At this point it was getting late so we ate dinner and headed to bed. The next morning we woke up early again and headed to Magnolia Plantation. This was so different from Boone. Boone Hall was manicured and very European style. You couldn’t even see Magnolia Plantation from the road and it looked like we were driving through a tunnel of bushes just to get to it. Once we got into the plantation however, there was a mansion, walking trails, a farm, swamp tour and train tour. We opted for the train and boat tour. The train tour was very interesting. We saw so much wildlife. We saw dozens of alligators and birds.
After this we went to the Calhoun Mansion. Again, fascinating. I can’t even think of how to describe this. It was classic Victorian style decorating where they think “more is more”. The place was covered with antiques and objects from all over the world. I do highly recommend visiting this house simply because it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
As you can see just 2.5 days was more than enough time to see everything we wanted to! Charleston is a historic city that is also beautiful and I highly recommend visiting. I would go back in a heartbeat.