48 Hours in Charleston

Rainbow Row Charleston

For my last spring break ever (!), three of my closest friends and I road tripped to Florida. We broke up the drive by stopping in Charleston for that first weekend. Katie’s cousins graciously hosted us and even prepared a delicious meal of homemade lasagna when we got there on Friday night! It was wonderful to meet her family that we hear so much about. Charleston is known as the city of hospitality, and they definitely embodied that.

We headed south just in time to escape a random snow storm that hit North Carolina (after weeks of an unusually warm winter, of course… #springbreak) So, while the whole trip was way chillier than expected, we were all grateful to have missed the snow! Saturday was forecasted to be the nicest day we had in Charleston. After a quick morning workout, we set off to see as much as we could. I say “48 hours in Charleston”, but we essentially did everything on this list on Saturday because of the weather. We still got to everything we wanted to do, and had a relaxing Sunday ending with my favorite meal of the whole week – lunch at Husk!

Charleston City Market

I’ve never owned a floppy hat and knew I wanted one for the beach, so I made it my mission to find one in Charleston. As luck would have it, the one I bought was found at the very last stall at the end of the market… And then we all ended up buying the same hat in different colors, ha. They were honestly so useful to have at the beach. Now I feel like I should attend one of those bougie horse races…

Charleston City Market

The market has all kinds of vendors selling arts and crafts, souvenirs, and of course, food. I loved the homemade dips from The Spice & The Spoon (Charleston Crab was my fave!) and the candied nuts at Delores’ Southern Delights. The street running parallel to the market also has a ton of candy shops that give out fudge samples – can’t say no!

Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe

We found out (the hard way) that oddly enough, a lot of places in Charleston are only open for dinner (even on weekends!) The Thai place we wanted to try was closed, so we stumbled upon Taziki’s on King Street and it ended up being the perfect casual lunch spot. There wasn’t a long wait, there were healthy options, and it didn’t break the bank. I was so hungry, I finished my entire meal!

Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe
Greek Salad Gyro with Chicken and Taziki sauce instead of Greek dressing

According to the Health app on my phone, we walked more than 10 miles that day (including running in the morning and dancing later that night), so I deserved it 🙂

Shopping on King Street

Floppy hats in tow (or on our heads), we walked along King popping into any stores that caught our eye. We (our group of 8 roommates, including the four of us on this trip) have a grad shoot scheduled for late April and we’re all wearing white. Sarah and Maleah found their dresses in Charleston! I’ll soon be on the hunt for one myself – does anyone have recommendations for places to look for a white dress?

King Street

King Street has everything from staple mall stores to tiny boutiques and high-end designers. One of my favorites that we walked in was Spartina 449. The brand is pretty new to me. I’d only seen the products carried in a few specialty boutiques (it’s definitely a Southern brand), so I was surprised to see a storefront. The interior is beautifully decorated with comfy furniture and a soothing sea-green theme (to match the mermaid symbol). Their patterns are so cute and I loved all the jewelry – it was so hard not to walk away with something!

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

I’ve been hearing about Jeni’s gourmet ice creams for years – Annie raves about it. When I realized there was a location in Charleston, I knew we had to go. It was the perfect mid-afternoon snack and boy, every flavor I tried was out of this world.

Jeni's splendid ice creams

Maleah and I split two scoops: Brown Butter Almond Brittle and Intelligentsia Black Cat Coffee. The coffee was hands down the best coffee ice cream I’ve ever had. It’s very pricey by the pint, but if you’re ever near a scoop shop you should definitely try their ice cream!

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Waterfront Park

Our first dolphin sighting of Spring Break happened along the Cooper River – we were walking out to the pier to take photos when we heard a dad shout to his daughter, “Look! Dolphins!” and ran over to see. There were several jumping in and out of the water, super close to the dock. It was amazing! On the way to the dock there’s several giant porch swings, which were super fun. We could’ve spent a long time chilling out by the water if we weren’t a) literally chilling/freezing and b) eager to get some photos at Rainbow Row before the sun set.

Waterfront Park Pineapple fountain
Iconic Charleston pineapple fountain

The walk from Waterfront Park to Rainbow Row is easy, and if you go through the little side-streets there are tons of cute houses with beautiful flower boxes and colorful shutters. We even saw a professional shoot going on in an alleyway. It’s hard to believe people actually live there, it’s so picturesque!

Charleston flower boxes

Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row is made up of the historic houses on East Bay Street. The homes along there, as well as in the surrounding neighborhoods on the way to Battery Park are just stunning and begging to be photographed. We oohed and aahed left and right at the pastels, two and three-story wraparound porches, and stone arches lined with palms and cobblestone streets…So Charleston. So cute. Sigh.

Rainbow Row

It was funny because the whole time, cars were going by on the street and they would have to stop or slow down for people crossing the street to take photos from the other side. I bet that would get annoying real fast if I lived there…

Rainbow Row

Here’s where I would normally have a dinner recommendation, but this is more of an anti-recommendation. We wanted to go to Butcher & Bee but the wait would’ve been an hour, so we got seats at the bar at Xiao Bao Biscuit nearby. It has great reviews online, but we had a terrible customer service experience. Hipster is one thing, rude is another. The food was also definitely not worth what we paid for – the pork and rice dish was way too salty, dumpling portions meager, Sichuan chicken was mostly inedible peppers…The restaurant is in a converted gas station that looks cool from photos, but it was so dark inside at night that we literally could not see the food on our plates.  I suspect the experience could’ve been better during daylight. Its only saving grace was the tasty Okonomiyaki cabbage pancake. For a place called Xiao Bao Biscuit though, we were all surprised that they served neither Bao (buns) or Biscuits. I would’ve gone to Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit instead, if they were open for dinner.

Midtown Bar

When I think of Charleston, nightlife is definitely not what comes to mind first. King Street was poppin’ on Saturday night, though! At the recommendation of Katie’s cousin and her fiance, this was the place for college/twenty-somethings to go dancing. (be warned: not ritzy or sophisticated) We had a blast, which could have been partly because we ran into like 10 other people from UNC. Everyone and their mother was in Charleston for spring break! There was a live DJ and violinist on stage, which was pretty cool.

We got a late start because of our long day so we didn’t go out anywhere else, but I’ve also had people recommend Republic (one of the more upscale lounges), The Gin Joint (fun cocktails), and Stars (rooftop bar). I guess I’ll hit those up the next time I’m in Charleston, when “college bar” becomes too ratchet for me 😉

Husk

Saved the best for last: Husk, for me, was the highlight of our girls’ weekend in Charleston! It’s a well-known restaurant by Chef Sean Brock, famous for its Southern cuisine and revered by foodies everywhere. It’s so well-known that the next available reservation when I looked two weeks beforehand was in April… until I randomly checked the Thursday before Spring Break and there was one open reservation for a late lunch on Sunday. It was meant to be.

Husk Charleston
Wood fired buttermilk pancake with chocolate sauce, peanut butter mousse, roasted peanuts, and coffee crumble

Katie and I split the pancake (above) and omelet (below) because my perpetual brunch struggle is deciding between salty and sweet. Best of both worlds – the pancake was thick and enormous, probably equivalent to at least six regular-sized pancakes. The thought of its crispy outside, fluffy inside, and peanut butter mousse with the crunchy toppings is making my mouth water as I type.  I’m usually a proponent of not ordering things at restaurants that I can make at home. While omelets seem basic, this one was full of flavor and fresh ingredients that I definitely could not replicate.

Husk Charleston
Fili-West farms egg omelet with braised pork, peperonata, TN cheddar, and rapini

Maleah got the famed shrimp and grits. She says this was the best restaurant meal she’s ever had. Sarah got a cheeseburger with the best potato wedges on the side. If you follow my Instagram (@forks_intheroad), you may have seen this chalk board menu on my story: it’s a list of where the restaurant’s ingredients are sourced from locally. The menu changes twice a day, and I’d bet money on every single menu item being phenomenal.

Husk's locally sourced ingredients

The outside of the restaurant itself looks like a beautiful Southern plantation home – if it hadn’t been so cold and gray out, I would’ve loved to sit outside on the patio or the porch upstairs. Even with the cloudy day, inside the restaurant was bright and inviting because of the mirrored walls. If you can’t get a reservation, you can put your name on the waitlist and have a drink next door at The Bar at Husk. I’ve heard they are known for their whiskey, if you’re into that.

Husk charleston

Our Husk reservation was the last thing on our itinerary for Charleston before driving down to Florida, which was perfect because it was cold and blustery all day Sunday.  We had a relaxing morning after our night out and left for Florida from downtown. I can’t say enough good things about the food, atmosphere, and service at Husk! If there’s one thing from this list you do in Charleston, definitely eat here.


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