Welcome to Charleston.
I know very well that I’m biased because I’ve lived here for more than 10 years, but the Lowcountry is a wonderful place to visit. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either, since it has topped Travel & Leisure’s Best U.S. City list for many (8!) years in a row now.
The Charleston area offers something for everyone – outdoor adventures, historical sightseeing, delicious food, terrific shopping, and unique nature landscapes. Whether you’re planning to spend time combing the beaches for shark teeth & shells, or downtown grabbing a breathtaking view of the Holy City from a rooftop bar, Charleston is ready to welcome you.
What to bring with you
Are you packing yet? I have a few things to recommend that you bring with your and/or buy while you’re here.
- Comfortable shoes. You will do A LOT of walking – probably much more than you think. Between the cobblestones, uneven sidewalks/pavement, and miles you will trek, shoes that support and protect your feet are a must. I have worn new, cute wedge sandals downtown and regretted it. So make sure they are broken in and sturdy. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
- On that same note, you will want a stroller that can handle narrow sidewalks (it gets crowded in some areas) and uneven pavement. Umbrella strollers are nice for packing, but make sure you have something that can handle well or else you will be lifting your kid up bumps and stairs a lot during your day.
- Sunscreen/sunglasses/hats/lip balm for the heat and sea breezes. Summer is H.O.T. and humid in Charleston, and even when you are by the water, it gets steamy. The more protection you have for yourself, the better off you will be. And don’t forget to reapply!
- Bug repellant. Whether it’s in spray or lotion form, you’ll want to keep this on you. We have all sorts of bugs in the South, and they’ll even swarm you downtown sometimes, so be prepared.
Besides downtown and the beach, what can we do?
If you have kids, Shem Creek Park is a terrific walk – it’s stroller-friendly boardwalk spans across the marsh and along Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant. Your kids can try to catch fiddler crabs, will likely see dolphins and the occasional manatee, wave to the boats & kayaks, and see all kinds of birds. Coastal Expeditions is a local business nearby that has kayak and paddleboard rentals, shark tooth tours, and other experiences that are absolutely worth booking, if you can squeeze it in. My son goes to camp there every summer and we have done several tours while living here. I highly recommend them, as a local.
For those who are interested in military and military history, you may enjoy exploring Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island, Patriot’s Point, Fort Sumter, or Charles Towne Landing. There is plenty for kids to explore and see on those tours as well. (Charles Towne Landing also has a beautiful avenue of oaks, marsh views, adventure ship, and animal forest. Something for everyone.)
If you’re looking for something a bit different, take crabbing lessons with Tia. I had the pleasure of documenting a family learning to crab with her and it was pretty awesome. If you have kids who really want to see an alligator in its natural habitat, Magnolia’s Audubon Swamp Garden is incredible. (Truly, I watched an alligator launch itself out of the water to snap at an egret perched in the low branches of a tree.) McLeod Plantation does a remarkable job of educating tourists on the real truths and history of plantation life, and the heritage of the Gullah/Geechee community and culture.
Are you hungry yet?
There are so many good restaurants in downtown Charleston. It’s hard to recommend a favorite, and you really can’t go wrong UNLESS you forget to make a reservation. So here is your reminder: make your reservations early! Keep an eye on the reservation requirements of all the restaurants you are interested in trying because they fill up quickly, particularly now with social distancing in mind.
…But if you are asking me for a few of my favorite restaurants, I’d say: Magnolias, 167 Raw, Cru Cafe, Home Team BBQ (don’t forget to check out their Beastie Boys mural), and Miller’s All Day.
And please, don’t be shy about emailing me if you have any questions or want other recommendations. I’ll do my best! And if you are interested in booking a photography session while you’re down here, I’d love to help you.