There’s a reason why Charleston was named the No. 1 city to visit in the world by Travel & Leisure readers. There’s also a reason that it served as the foodie-heaven backdrop for the recent season of Top Chef. In fact, there are lots of reasons Charleston is so popular and keeps us coming back time after time. They include historic architecture, a thriving restaurant scene and those gorgeous streets to explore.

Filling three days in Charleston isn’t hard to do; fitting it all in within that time frame is the difficult part. Our itinerary may give you some new ideas, though, for how to spend 48 hours in the Holy City.

Friday

Spend the afternoon at one of the historic estates along the Ashley River, about 20 minutes outside of Charleston’s city area. The grounds at Middleton Place are distinguished by the remains of an 18th-century rice plantation and its 65 acres of rolling hills. Although the original big house is no longer standing, visitors can tour an antiques-filled guest house/museum, as well as outbuildings with a blacksmith, potter and buildings that pay homage to the African-American experience. SB TIP: Wear comfortable shoes for walking.

The gardens and grounds at https://www.middletonplace.org/ are some of the oldest in the country, and have been called “The most interesting and important garden in America” by The Garden Club of America. Image: Middleton Place.

The gardens and grounds at Middleton Place are some of the oldest in the country, and have been called “The most interesting and important garden in America” by The Garden Club of America. Image: Middleton Place

Check in to the new Beach Club at Charleston Harbor, located across the water from downtown Charleston with views of the historic area. In addition to its peaceful locale away from tourists, the resort setting gives visitors the opportunity to get the full coastal experience, with the Beach Club’s actual beach (with sand and fire pit), swanky pool area, marina and nautical decor. It’s already a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

Views from the The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor include the historic neighborhoods of downtown Charleston, as well as boats in the nearby marina. Photo: Lisa Mowry

Views from the The Beach Club at Charleston Harbor include the historic neighborhoods of downtown Charleston, as well as boats in the nearby marina. Image: Lisa Mowry

Rooms at The Beach Club come with a water view, and such upgrades as hardwood floors, marble bathrooms, and a variety of snacks made locally. Photo: http://charlestonharborresort.com/accommodations/beach-club/

Rooms at The Beach Club come with a water view, and upgrades such as hardwood floors, marble bathrooms, and a variety of snacks made locally. Image: Charleston Harbor Resort

The Charleston Harbor Fish House next door was voted “Best Water View Dining” in Charleston magazine for its striking location at Patriot’s Point, overlooking war ships and marsh views, so definitely make reservations there for dinner. Local favorites such as shrimp and grits are joined by catch-of-the-day specials.

 Sustainable seafood is served with a dose of war history at the Charleston Harbor Fish House, where guests overlook the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, as well as other vessels (all available to tour). Image: Charleston Harbor Fish House

Sustainable seafood is served with a dose of war history at the Charleston Harbor Fish House, where guests overlook the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier, as well as other vessels (all available to tour). Image: Charleston Harbor Fish House

Saturday

Relax in the beach setting to watch boats go by, or spend the morning at the Estuary Spa at Charleston Harbor Resort, where you have your choice of aromatherapy to accompany a wide list of massages, facials, body treatments and waxing services.

Time to get in those 10,000 steps a day by hitting the streets of Charleston. Start at The Battery, the historic promenade where two rivers come together, which is lined with gracious homes and parks. Don’t forget about the side streets, which sometimes offer a peek into courtyard gardens to see how the locals live. Then head to King Street to stroll the many shops along the way. Charming Virginia’s on King features old Charleston recipes with an updated twist, making it a good stop for lunch. Don’t forget to wander through the College of Charleston, the liberal arts school with a beautiful palm-tree lined campus.

The Ashley and Cooper Rivers come together at the seawall known as The Battery, popular with visitors because of the antebellum homes along the stroll. Image: Lisa Mowry

The Ashley and Cooper Rivers come together at the seawall known as The Battery, popular with visitors because of the antebellum homes along the stroll. Image: Lisa Mowry

As more parts of Charleston are revitalized, there’s now even more to explore along King Street, long synonymous with shopping and restaurants. Photo: Lisa Mowry

As more parts of Charleston are revitalized, there’s now even more to explore along King Street, long synonymous with shopping and restaurants. Image: Lisa Mowry

At Virginia’s on King (as well as other places around Charleston), lunch is called Dinner, and dinner is called Supper, fyi. The brick-lined former industrial space is full of regulars who crave the Southern-style fare. Don’t miss the tomato pie, full of gooey gruyere cheese and ripe toms. Photo: Lisa Mowry

At Virginia’s on King (as well as other places around Charleston), lunch is called Dinner, and dinner is called Supper, fyi. The brick-lined former industrial space is full of regulars who crave the Southern-style fare. Don’t miss the tomato pie, full of gooey Gruyère cheese and ripe toms. Image: Lisa Mowry

Thirsty? It might be time to stop at a chic rooftop bar. You can’t go wrong with the elegant bar on top of the Market Pavilion hotel, which overlooks the Charleston City Markets, which themselves offer a touristy but pleasant stroll past several hundred vendors. Another option is the rooftop bar in the new Grand Bohemian Hotel, with its funky boho vibe. That hotel is a good option for those wanting to spend the night in the city but away from hordes of tourists. (The King Charles Inn next door to the Grand Bohemian offers the same location on a budget, by the way.) And Mad Men fans will want to spend time at the Dewberry Hotel, a chic destination in a repurposed mid-century modern office building.

The cheeky Pounce (a “cat café and wine bar,” the first in the south) http://www.pouncecatcafe.com/ lets you grab a beverage while hanging out with their house cats. A sign out front says: “Live nude cats! Purr-fect Kitties, $15 lap dances.” Image: Lisa Mowry

The cheeky Pounce (a cat café and wine bar, the first in the south) lets you grab a beverage while hanging out with their house cats. A sign out front says: “Live nude cats! Purr-fect Kitties, $15 lap dances.” Image: Lisa Mowry

Courtyard gardens are usually stunning all year-round, and best discovered while walking side streets. Image: Lisa mowry

Courtyard gardens are usually stunning all year-round, and best discovered while walking side streets. Image: Lisa Mowry

Stroll East Bay Street to see “Rainbow Row,” a cluster of colorful Georgian row houses, some as old as the 17th century. Image: Lisa mowry

Stroll East Bay Street to see “Rainbow Row,” a cluster of colorful Georgian row houses, some as old as the 17th century. Image: Lisa Mowry

Pop in to The Victor Social Club http://www.holycityhospitality.com/victor-social-club/ for a quick beverage and the ambiance of a social club from decades ago. The vibe is Hemingway-esque, with art depicting “The Old Man and the Sea,” and bar bites such as a Cuban sandwich. Image: Victor’s

Pop in to The Victor Social Club for a quick beverage and the ambiance of a social club from decades ago. The vibe is Hemingway-esque, with art depicting The Old Man and the Sea, and bar bites such as a Cuban sandwich. Image: The Victor Social Club

An interior shot of Victor's | Image: Victor's

An interior shot of The Victor Social Club | Image: The Victor Social Club

For dinner, if you’ve gotten reservations for such Zagat favorites as Peninsula Grill and FIG, go for it. Other options include the farm-to-table Butcher & Bee, with fusion-fueled items such as Moroccan fish & grits or a kebab platter. Coast Bar & Grill is located down a vine-covered alleyway and will satisfy any sort of seafood craving.

Chefs at Coast meet with fishermen every day to get the freshest fish possible, one reason it was named one of the best restaurants in Charleston by USA Today. Image: Coast

Chefs at Coast Bar & Grill meet with fishermen every day to get the freshest fish possible, one reason it was named one of the best restaurants in Charleston by USA Today. Image: Coast Bar & Grill

Want to bet where Carrie Bradshaw would hang out in Charleston? The rooftop bar and restaurant at Grand Bohemian hotel, indulging in a Sunday Brunch and mimosas. Image: Lisa Mowry

Want to bet where Carrie Bradshaw would hang out in Charleston? The rooftop bar and restaurant at Grand Bohemian Hotel, indulging in a Sunday brunch and mimosas. Image: Lisa Mowry

Historic houses are best discovered on foot, so you can peak over the fences and get a closer view. Photo: Lisa mowry

Historic houses are best discovered on foot, so you can peak over the fences and get a closer view. Image: Lisa Mowry

Sunday

Learn about the history of Charleston with either a Sandlapper Water Tour or a walking tour, such as Charleston Footprints. The visitors bureau is handy to check ahead of time, in case one of the many festivals — the Wine & Food Festival, Fashion Week, Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival or Fall Tour of Homes, just for starters — is going on.

 

 

Historic covenants prohibit buildings in Charleston from being taller than church steeples, but the relatively high perch at the Market Pavilion’s rooftop bar offers a great birds-eye-view. Image: Lisa mowry

Historic covenants prohibit buildings in Charleston from being taller than church steeples, but the relatively high perch at the Market Pavilion’s rooftop bar offers a great birds-eye view. Image: Lisa Mowry

Enjoy your fun-filled 48 hours in Charleston!

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