Looking to spend a long weekend in Charleston, South Carolina? From beaches to colonial homes dating back to the revolutionary war era kept in perfect condition, world-renowned cuisine, Charleston has it all and more.
The city was voted the Best City in the U.S for the 8 straight years by Travel+Leisure magazine. Charleston allows you to travel back in time and experience sites, tastes, and sounds of the past while also being incredibly modern. In this 3-day Charleston itinerary, Sam and Courtney of Lez Travel For Life walk you through how to have a perfectly planned trip so you can experience all it has to offer.
Charleston has a unique charm that is ingrained in its culture and has lasted for hundreds of years and is perfect if you want to get away for a long weekend. It’s located in the South Carolina Lowcountry which means it’s right on the Atlantic ocean and is also surrounded by marsh which means it’s home to a variety of wildlife specific to this area.
Then there is downtown Charleston. Visitors from all over the world come here to experience the cobblestone streets, colorful ‘rainbow row’ which sits on the waterfront, spooky ghost tours, and incredible food.
This guide will show you a complete itinerary with things to do in Charleston in 3 days, with many hot and up-to-date tips on where to eat and drink, and where to stay in Charleston.
Getting To And Around Charleston SC
By Car: Will I need a car? It depends. Downtown Charleston is very walkable but if you are wanting to adventure to different beaches like Folly Beach or Sullivans Island having a car makes things easier. A lot of people fly into the Charleston International Airport and collect their rental car or just drive to Charleston!
Bike Taxi: If you see a bunch of college guys sitting on bikes with a little seated area in the back you’ve found the infamous bike taxi. A popular option for travelers who can’t be bothered to walk another step should definitely try out a bike taxi. Prices are reasonable and you can take a leisurely bike ride around the city without having to do any of the work!
Uber: If you don’t want to rent a car and have to constantly worry about parking, I suggest taking an Uber around to and from the beaches and surrounding areas when you want to explore. Uber is used frequently in the city and it is easy to find a ride.
Rent a Bike: Feel free to also rent a bike in Downtown Charleston! This is a fun way to explore the city.
The Perfect 3-Day Weekend In Charleston
Charleston Itinerary | Day 1
Once you have arrived in Charleston, let’s start our itinerary downtown. If you kick off the first of your 3 days in Charleston in the early morning, head over to Harken’s in the French Quarter for an awesome cup of coffee. Next head over to Poogan’s Porch for breakfast or brunch (the shrimp and grits are great). After you’re caffeinated and full of shrimp let’s get to walking!
Start Your 3 Days In Charleston With A Walking Tour
If you’re looking for a guided tour to help get you acquainted with Charleston there is nothing better than starting off with a walking tour! This way you can soak up all the history of the city and check out some hidden gems you may not even realize exist!
The tour will take you to all the popular spots where you can take pictures, learn about Charleston’s dark past with the slave trade, and even find some cool restaurants to check out later! Click here to book your walking tour.
Visit Rainbow Row
If you’d rather skip the walking tour, just head straight over to Rainbow Row. It is the most popular area that you can’t skip during your weekend in Charleston. Rainbow Row is a long street lined with brightly colored homes dating back to the mid-1700s most of which are still residences today.
These homes are located South of Broad Street and all line the waterfront known as “The Battery”. If you’re really like this area and want to walk down more streets check out Legare Street, which is where you’ll find the most expensive and extravagant homes in the city.
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Walk Through The Charleston Market
Formerly known as the hub of the slave trade, this market has been around for hundreds of years. Here you’ll find coffee, food, snacks, and a variety of handmade items from paintings, pottery, snacks unique to this area of South Carolina, handcrafted jewelry, and so much more!
Make sure to check out the locals making ‘sweetgrass baskets’ which are handwoven by locals who have been handed down this craft by their ancestors using local materials.
King Street, A Must On Any Charleston Itinerary
Next on your 3-day Charleston itinerary, is King Street, the center of Downtown Charleston. From high-end boutiques, art galleries, countless restaurants, and bars, this is definitely an area you have to check out. Walk around and enjoy King Street and stop in for lunch or dinner at O-Ku sushi. Then head over to the Citrus Club for rooftop cocktails at sunset.
Drink Champagne At The Pink Champagne Bar
Enjoy an experience unlike any other inside the Hotel Bennett at Camellia’s. The champagne bar is luxurious and offers incredible champagne options. Camellia’s is incredibly instagrammable and definitely something you shouldn’t miss while in Charleston if you enjoy getting dressed up and want to feel fancy.
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Finish The Night With A Ghost Tour
Charleston has been around for a long time. From slaves to diseases, soldiers returning from war, and more, this city is definitely haunted. Take a walk around to some spooky areas like graveyards or the old Charleston Jail and experience fun and fright. Book a tour here.
Weekend In Charleston SC | Day 2
Day two of this Charleston SC itinerary is all about the beach. From downtown Charleston, this area branches off into several different islands. James Island, Johns Island, Isle of Palms, and Sullivans Island to name a few.
Breakfast at Vicious Biscuit or Brunch at the Obstinate Daughter
Let’s head over to the Mount Pleasant area, which is about 15 minutes from Downtown Charleston. In Mount Pleasant, there are countless options for food, including the Shem Creek area if you want drinks and dinner by the water in the evening. Both Vicious Biscuit and the Obstinate Daughter have incredible food and drinks and both are close to the beach!
Head Over To Sullivan’s Island Beach
The next place you should visit on your weekend in Charleston is Sullivan’s Island Beach, one of my favorite beach spots. Most people would tell you to pick Folly Beach as their favorite. Folly beach is a cool surfer town with a few bars and restaurants but during peak season (beginning of May-August) Folly beach gets PACKED. If you try to get on Folly beach after 9 am it can take you an hour just to get on the island.
Back to Sullivan’s Island and why I think it’s a great pick. If you choose Sullivan’s Island you’ll have plenty of popular restaurants, coffee shops, and bars to check out after getting a tan. The beach is beautiful with endless sand dunes and an old lighthouse in the background.
Frose From Co-Op Sullivans
Do you mean, frozen rose? Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. Take a break from the beach and grab lunch and frose at this awesome little shop. They have rotating flavors and they even offer frose flights! If you don’t want to stick around, just grab yours to-go and head back to the beach! Just know that drinking on the beach is prohibited and if you are caught you will be fined, so keep it on the down-low.
Rent Kayaks or Paddleboards In Shem Creek
If you’re looking for an activity to do on the water on your Charleston weekend, you could rent kayaks or paddleboards and explore around Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. It’s the perfect location for drinks afterward. This area is beautiful because it is surrounded by marsh. You’ll see waterfront homes, wildlife, and simply enjoy relaxing on the water.
Seafood Dinner At A Hidden Gem
It wouldn’t make any sense to spend 3 days in Charleston and not eat seafood. So why not head over to an awesome place that is literally off the beaten path. It’s hidden in a neighborhood and tough to find, but once you do you will love it. The building is old, but it is right on the river and has the perfect sunset views. You’ll see boats coming in and out all while enjoying some of the best seafood in the city. Oh, did I mention it was featured in the popular show Outer banks?
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Head Downtown For Drinks
Downtown Charleston has tons of bars and rooftop spots to enjoy a perfect night out on the town. Start at The Gin Joint for a strong yet perfectly crafted cocktail. Then head over to Felix for French appetizers and a handcrafted cocktail based on your taste preferences. If you’re looking for a rooftop experience then head over to The Cocktail Club. If you prefer vegan food then head over to the Neon Tiger for awesome vegan food and amazing cocktails.
If you’re ready to dance the night away walk over to Republic and enjoy the indoor/outdoor venue.
3 Days In Charleston SC | Last Day
Coffee At Second State
Start day 3 of your long weekend in Charleston at Second State for coffee and a breakfast sandwich if you aren’t looking for a heavy meal. It’s located right across from the Old Charleston Jail which is spooky to look at even first thing in the morning. The surrounding streets are lined with old colonial homes if you’re looking to take a stroll.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is something you absolutely cannot skip out on while in Charleston. This tiny shop offers a variety of breakfast biscuits ranging from sweet and savory flavors. Their bacon egg and cheese biscuit with pimento cheese on is a great choice. Callie’s has two locations, one on King Street and the other inside the Charleston Market.
Know that Callie’s is super popular so lines out the door aren’t uncommon. They are open early and close late in case you need to soak up some of that booze. There is no inside seating, it is only to-go orders. You can even buy frozen biscuits to take home with you!
Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens
Who doesn’t want to go to a plantation that was featured in The Notebook? Aside from knowing Ryan Gosling was once here, and Ryan Reynolds got married here, this place is full of history. Taking a tour at Boone Hall allows you to see and experience what life was like for rich plantation owners, and slaves back in its peak. It has been around for over 300 years and is still a functioning plantation. That’s right! They are still producing crops every year.
Surrounded by gorgeous oak trees covered in Spanish moss it’s definitely worth checking out.
End Your Weekend In Charleston Visiting The Angel Oak Tree
Located on John’s Island, the Angel Oak Tree is estimated to be over 400 years old. Its massive branches cover the sky above you and consume the ground around the tree. It’s one of the oldest trees east of the Mississippi River and breathtaking to experience in person. Take time to enjoy walking around the area and take pictures of this beautiful tree!
Where To Stay In Charleston
Remember that this is a big city. That means there are tons of options for places to stay in Charleston. The best area to stay in Charleston is Downtown, so here are my recommendations.
The Dewberry ($350+)
Also located in the center of Downtown Charleston, The Dewberry is where modern design meets vintage Charleston SC. The Dewberry has an awesome rooftop bar called The Citrus Club that you should definitely check out during your visit whether you’re a guest at the hotel or not. There is an onsite spa that is conveniently located within the hotel so you can pamper yourself during your stay in Charleston.
Hotel Bennett ($500+)
Named Best Luxury Hotel in USA 10 Best in 2021, the Hotel Bennett is also home to the Champagne Bar Camellia’s and is in the perfect location downtown, making it a great place to stay in Charleston. It includes a beautiful rooftop pool where you can sip on cocktails, take a dip and enjoy views of the city all around you.
Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant ($150+)
Hotel Indigo is located in Mount Pleasant which means you’re only 15 minutes from the beach and 15 minutes from Downtown Charleston. It’s one of the best places to stay in Charleston because you can get the best of both worlds. Enjoy the outdoor pool or the restaurant/bar located inside the hotel.
Not So Hostel ($75-$170)
There is a cute hostel located Downtown with two locations that offer reasonable prices compared to some of the Luxury options in other parts of town. They have dorm rooms and private rooms. Both locations are convenient for walking to and from restaurants, bars, and other areas you may want to visit and take pictures of!
3 Days In Charleston Itinerary: Wrap Up
Whether you’re visiting Charleston for its food, its beaches, or its history I can promise that when you leave you will have learned something new about this city and fallen in love with its charm. Charleston is the type of place that keeps you curious and makes you want to come back to it time and time again. I hope you enjoyed this 3-day Itinerary for Charleston SC and feel free to comment below with questions or comments.
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