Highlights from a girls’ weekend in Charleston, South Carolina coming your way …
Last weekend, I went on a girls’ weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, and today, I’m going to share all about it. This trip was super fun, and it was my first time in Charleston. I had heard so many wonderful things about this Southern city, and nearly everything I heard was true.
I drove to Charleston from Charlotte, and it was a very easy three-hour drive both ways. I’m so glad I drove. Even though we didn’t use my car once in Charleston (in fact, we didn’t get in a car at all and walked the whole time), it was cool to arrive and leave when I wanted, because I find I’m almost always flying to the destinations I visit. My three girlfriends I went with all flew in from Florida, and we arrived in the window of a few hours of each other on a Friday morning, all departing on Sunday morning — so it was a quick trip.
In this post, I’m going to go through the highlights from this trip, and if you’re ever planning to visit Charleston, make sure you come back to this one for my recommendations. Also, I made a video about our girls’ weekend in Charleston, and you can see that here.
Highlights from a girls’ weekend in Charleston, South Carolina
Having a fancy tea at Camellias in Hotel Bennett
When one of my friends suggested we go to a tea service in Charleston, I agreed immediately. I haven’t gone to a tea service in a couple years, and it’s something I love to do. I love little finger sandwiches, I love tea, and I love the idea of dressing up too.
(Here’s my dress, and here are my metallic sneakers. Fun fact: The first night in Charleston, my girlfriend, Shannon, brought the exact same dress as I have on here in a different color to wear. Great minds think alike, because we both love the dress.)
Our tea in Charleston was located at Camellias inside the downtown Hotel Bennett (a luxurious and gorgeous hotel), and Camellias is an incredibly feminine, pink and decked-out lounge with diamond-encrusted chandeliers, lush chairs and the most beautiful setting. Just walking in the room felt festive, and then the tea production began. Our tea service included a tray of savory bites, a tray of sweet bites, a tea of our choice and a glass of sparkling rosé (it was $65 pre-tax/tip for this), which I thought was very reasonable.
However, I have to be honest and tell you that this was the least amount of food I’d ever had offered to me at a tea service. In fact, it wasn’t a lot of food at all. But the bites were so flavorful that somehow it was still satisfying. I enjoyed it all. Initially I thought I may need a full lunch after tea (we went from 11:30am to 1pm during what would have been our lunch), however, with some extra bites off my friend’s unfinished food, I ended up full enough.
All of the food at Camellias is made by a French chef, and it was truly yummy — yet it wasn’t the typical finger sandwich situation you expect to get at a tea — but it was still fancy and appropriate. (By the way, one of my friends is gluten free, and the kitchen was able to make her plenty of savory and sweet bites she could safely enjoy too. And she was able to get gluten-free options easily everywhere we ate in Charleston.)
For the setting alone, this tea is absolutely worth the experience. We saw multiple groups of ladies having tea (including a very classy bachelorette party with tiny pink tea hats), and this place definitely had a celebratory vibe. The light bites and beverages were just right too. I loved this activity and would definitely do it again upon another visit.
Camillas turns into a regular restaurant later in the day, and we went back for a fancy night-time cocktail on our last night too.
Walking and shopping on King Street in Downtown Charleston
There is a lot of great shopping in Downtown Charleston, and all of it was just a short walk from our hotel in the French Quarter. We walked up and down historic King Street a couple of times during our weekend in the Southern city, and we saw tons of stores — most of which are located in super-old buildings. (After returning home, I read that King Street is more than 300 years old.)
(Fun fact: We went into Sewing Down South on King Street, which is a pillow shop owned by a Bravo reality star. My girlfriend, Yolanda, and I didn’t buy anything, but we had to take a picture — shown above — to document it.)
There are high-end places to shop like Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and there are also touristy shops, swimsuit shops, adorable local boutiques, candy shops and even art galleries. We really enjoyed popping into the stores — not only for a dose of air conditioning because it was so hot out, but also just to enjoy in-person shopping. Many of the girly boutiques we walked through were pretty pricey, and the merchandise was not the regular stuff you see on sites like Nordstrom and Lulu’s, where I usually shop, and I loved that.
Speaking of stores, I hardly ever get to go in stores and try things on and take my time touching fabrics, because I always shop online. Sometimes I miss the ability to stroll through stores leisurely like this — so it felt like a real treat to do that in Charleston with my girlfriends. And even when you aren’t buying a lot of fancy stuff, it’s always fun to look at it. (The clientele at many of the stores was so well dressed too. Tourists in Charleston, on a whole, do not look very touristy, because I’m pretty sure a lot of the people we were seeing in the hotels and restaurants had to be tourists.)
While I loved so many of the bright and colorful Southern dresses, jewelry and bags we came across on our shopping adventures, I settled on just one very reasonably priced dress, one t-shirt and one clear plastic purse (to use for future sporting events, because many sports venues require a clear bag now). I was happy with these purchases, but of course, I wanted just about everything. One of my girlfriends made a big shoe purchase at Gucci, and even though it was for her and not for me, that was exciting for us all.
On the Friday we were in Charleston, shopping on King Street was totally manageable. But on the Saturday, it seemed very crowded on the streets. The older sidewalks heading down King Street are narrow, and at times, we were actively trying to avoid groups of people just to get down the street. That being said, if you’re a shopper, King Street is a great place to spend a day. In between the stores are bars and restaurants, and we cooled off inside of those here and there too. Did I mention how hot it was in late August in Charleston? So very hot!
We also walked through a cool market and found some inside shopping connected to The Charleston Place hotel — once again, another chance to get inside the air conditioning.
Exploring the South of Broad historic neighborhoods of Charleston
Charleston is walkable, and walking is something we did a lot of during our girls’ weekend in Charleston. Even in the heat it was fun to explore everything on our own two feet.
We walked by a lot of horse-drawn-carriage tours taking place, but we opted to self explore this cute city. From our hotel in the French Quarter, it was only a 15-minute walk to the South of Broad historic neighborhoods of Charleston and about a 20-minute walk to the harbor, and I loved exploring these areas. This part of Charleston is unlike any other historic area I’ve seen near a city, actually. It’s just so charming.
The historic homes in Charleston are amazing, and they are all totally different — with grand entrances, huge balconies, intricate window treatments and landscaping, all mostly multi-level with shared walls to the adjacent homes. We kept wondering who lives in these luxurious homes, and we were lucky enough to see one man pop out to pick up his Target and DoorDash deliveries from his mansion’s front step — that was so funny.
On our first day in Charleston, we walked down to The Battery, where the harbor is, and on the second day, we walked through South of Broad and by the colorful historic homes of Rainbow Row. And if you’re visiting Charleston, you’ve got to make time to walk around these areas for a while. There’s a lot to see. It’s a little strange that you’re basically walking by the front doors and windows of people’s real-life homes, but it’s also super fun to do. We even walked by a building where George Washington stayed.
My friends and I stopped at several homes to look up the listings on Zillow, and most of the properties were multi-million dollar buildings that had been around for hundreds of years. And yes, it may have been cool to have gone on an official tour to get more insider information, but we also liked to chat a lot while doing our foot tour, and so it all worked out that we had our freedom.
The Preservation Society of Charleston seems to have a lot of say in these beautiful historic areas, and we saw their sign on many buildings and on historic Rainbow Row. On a future visit, I’d definitely want to do one of the Society’s official tours. I’ve done one of those tours in the Fourth Ward of Charlotte, and it was very interesting.
Staying at the French Quarter Inn and enjoying the hotel’s Southern hospitality
I loved our hotel! We stayed at the French Quarter Inn in the French Quarter area of Downtown Charleston, and it was such a sweet place. While we walked through many hotels with grand entrances and courtyards, ours was a bit more understated, but it was still perfect for us.
We got two regular rooms, and I stayed with one friend, and the other two ladies had the room right next to us. Our rooms were perfectly appointed, and the beds were very comfy. The location of our hotel was convenient in that we were just a short walk from everywhere we wanted to be.
And for the best part: Not only did our hotel offer an excellent complimentary breakfast spread, but they also offered wine and cheese around 5:30pm every day, which we observed both nights we were there. The French Quarter Inn even has a free candy bar and a cookie hour later in the evening. We missed cookie hour both nights, but we did snag some leftover cookies on one of the nights.
These special touches were such a surprise, and we all truly appreciated them. I couldn’t tell you the last time I stayed somewhere (other than the all-inclusive resort during my recent Dominican Republic trip, of course) where I felt so taken care of.
This hotel was not cheap, and for two nights, and while splitting a room with a friend, I paid about $675 for my portion. However, because I drove to Charleston, we walked everywhere, and I didn’t do a ton of shopping, I feel like this trip didn’t end up being that expensive. I spent quite a bit of money on food and drinks, but as a foodie who loves to eat, I feel like all of that was absolutely worth it. More on the food and drinks in the next highlight from our girls’ weekend in Charleston.
Eating and drinking at delicious restaurants and bars
So many people told me that the food in Charleston would be excellent, and I was skeptical.
You see, as much as I love living in Charlotte — well — I don’t always love the food here. Over our two years in Charlotte, we’ve become less adventurous with meals out, having had some disappointments at nice places, so we go to the same few spots over and over again now. But I’m happy to report that nearly every bite I had in Charleston was excellent. I love to love my food, and food matters to me.
Here’s where we dined, and here’s what I ate:
- Poogan’s Porch — Lunch: Buttered biscuits and a shrimp Caesar salad. Very casual Southern vibe and truly excellent food.
- High Cotton — Dinner: Salmon, veggies and potatoes. Fancier white-tablecloth situation with delicious food. They even gave us free champagne because we were celebrating some past and future birthdays.
- Camellias — Tea service: Smoked salmon bite, cheese puff, scone, chicken salad bite, tea, etc. Very girly, fancy and yummy, but not a lot of food.
- Virginia’s on King — Dinner: Salmon, collared greens, mashed potatoes and biscuits. Very casual vibe with good Southern food and well-priced cocktails.
- La Pâtisserie — Super tasty hazelnut iced coffee in an adorable French setting.
- Mudhouse — Delicious lavender iced coffee in a cool coffee-house setting.
I was so happy with our meals and wish we had more time to go to more restaurants.
In the evenings after dinner, we went to a couple bars and lounges (I don’t remember the names of all of them, but we hopped around quite a bit and even did two roof-top locations, which were nice). One thing that was surprising was this: On the first night, we couldn’t find a bar with live music. But on the second night, we at least found a good deejay and settled on that for much of the time. Most of the good bars were back on King Street near the shopping, by the way. We heard there was a really cool place called Uptown Social, but we never made it there, so that’s on the list for a future visit.
I would say the night-life in Charleston (based solely on my personal experience from one weekend there) is much more tame than other bigger cities I’ve visited, but that worked for us on this trip.
Spending quality time with some of my dearest long-time friends from high school and college
So what was the best part about my girls’ weekend in Charleston, you ask? It was definitely spending time with my girlfriends!
We could have fun anywhere we go, but something about the charming and chill vibe of Charleston lent itself well to having amazing conversations all the time, and just hanging out. And we chatted and chatted and chatted everywhere we went, and I loved it. We covered every topic under the sun, and it felt so good to do that with these ladies who I’ve known for forever. We don’t see each other very often, and we don’t even get to talk that often, but we always pick right back up where we left off — and that’s true friendship.
(Here’s my dress, which is one of my favorite dresses I’ve ever owned.)
I don’t remember the last time I talked about some of the memories we had from high school and college, and it was a blast to do so. And I don’t remember staying up super late in a hotel room talking until I fell asleep, like I did both nights with my girlfriend, Judy, in my room.
We saw a lot of groups of girls (and some couples, to be fair), and I feel like Charleston is definitely a girly place to visit — maybe not quite as much of a family place, if you’re interested in the downtown where we were. But for a girls’ weekend? Yes, indeed!
My group of ladies had done a girls’ weekend in Nashville this same time last year, and that was maybe a little more lively and full of action, but yet, I liked our Charleston trip just as much. We’re absolutely going to make time for another girls’ trip next year, and we’re thinking of heading out of the country. We’d like some cooler weather, knowing we’ll be traveling in the summer again, so we may head north. Can’t wait for that!
That covers the highlights from our girls’ weekend in Charleston. Check out my Charleston video, if you haven’t seen it yet. Have an amazing day, friend!
Other posts you may like
- One amazing girls’ weekend in Nashville
- Highlights from our adults-only all-inclusive vacation in the Dominican Republic
- Vacation attire: Five things I’m looking forward to wearing on my vacation
- A look at two years of living in Charlotte (after moving from California)
Questions of the day
Have you ever been to Charleston, South Carolina?
When was the last time you took a trip with friends for fun?