When planning a weekend getaway, the mind likes to go to warm weather, cocktails, and someone waiting on you for a change.
But sometimes the best vacations are found in small towns with real people and big charm that hasn’t been bought and sold for the price of mass-produced t-shirts.
Heading down the east coast you will find Charleston, South Carolina – a city void of blinding lights but beaming with history, art, and modern tastes.
A fast-growing trend of the city is the “eats scene” – as the connoisseurs call it –where some of the greatest chefs have put their mark on the small town.
Your first stop when you get into town should be Doar Bros., a luxe craft cocktail bar that likens to the inside of “a velvet-lined jewel box,” as Condé Nast Traveler puts it.
The banquettes in dark green contrast against the marble tabletops and navy blue walls, feeling as though you’ve stepped into a royal room in Dubai.
Order a Boulevardier or a Negroni as recommended by the locals and enjoy it with their renowned caviar service or truffle mac-and-cheese.
Doar Bros. is led by Megan Deschaine and two Charleston native brothers who run the staff.
Conveniently located on Meeting Street, you’ll receive a swanky introduction at the place that makes every cocktail enthusiast’s dream-destination list.
You don’t want to eat at a run-of-the-mill American restaurant when vacationing at this “foodie” epicenter, so make reservations at Kwei Fei for an authentic and utterly mouth-watering experience.
A big, wooden bar facing a large wood-framed mirror is the staple of the eating area, but the chic accents throughout this popular eatery will definitely catch your eye.
The dinner crowd will be arriving prior to the 10pm concert at the adjacent Charleston Pour House, so going early will allow you to take your time and eat in peace.
Chef David Schuttenberg has his hand in every aspect of Kwei Fei, including their one-of-a-kind Western Chinese dry-rubbed wings and sea island noodles.
Pair your spicy meal with a glass of local beer, a tasty ginger beer, or the healthy probiotic kombucha.
If you want accommodations that are truly Charleston charm at its best, you must stay at Hotel Bennett.
When you walk in, it feels like a breath of fresh air. Every piece of décor, chair, and exquisite artistic expression is purposeful.
You will be ushered in by a doorman into a hand-painted rotunda featuring a depiction of colonial Charles-Town’s 18th century harbor and skyline.
Making it to your room will take some time because you won’t be able to help but stop and listen to the grand piano playing jazz music in the reception hall and marvel at the unique chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
Your room is no less amazing with built-in bookcases packed with reading material and fur-lined bathrobes to snuggle up in after a bath under yet another chandelier that hangs over a pedestal tub.
Things To Do
After waking up refreshed, head to the “Edge of America” where the popular barrier island on the Atlantic, better known as Folly Beach, gives you everything you’d expect from a beach – only without the vexatious, crowded boardwalk.
This beach has “maintained its small-town character,” boasts Condé Nast Traveler, allowing places like Lost Dog Café to thrive and fishing off the pier to still be a relaxing past-time.
Shop the Charleston Farmers Market before dinner to get some great local fruit to snack on and some artisan crafts to take home as souvenirs and gifts.
Beginning in April, you can catch vendors at Marion Square every Saturday in Charleston showcasing the best of the town.
If you want to dig a little deeper into the soul of the city, check out Proud American Traveler’s laidback guide to some of the best home-strung joints.
Charleston, South Carolina is a gem, and one of the few towns in the nation that’s kept its culture and character with the best chefs, the most elaborate hotels, and featuring its own unique art and architecture.