Last week I had the pleasure of spending 4 glorious days in Charleston, SC courtesy of Volvo. Well, it was more like 48 hours but who’s counting. It was one of the funnest, most whirlwind trips I think I have ever been on and it was absolutely amazing. And when I say whirlwind I mean it. I got the email about this trip on a Tuesday for a flight that was leaving that Thursday and there was no way I was going to turn this down!
I was invited to Charleston to experience the new Volvo S60 along with a chance to check out the new S60 factory. While we were there Volvo let us take the new S60 for the longest test drive ever! Who wouldn’t love a 4 day test drive in a brand, spankin’ new car all around one of the most historic cities in America? We were literally the only people driving these around, that’s how exclusive and new they are!
Let me tell you, we packed in so many fun things in our 2 full days! I’ve compiled a list of my absolute favorite things to do in Charleston whether you have a week there or only a couple of days. Just think of this post as your mini travel guide to Charleston!
The Dewberry is a historic piece of Charleston settled right in the center of downtown. This hotel was once a Federal Building commissioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson that opened in 1965. The building remained vacant for years after sustaining damage from Hurricane Floyd. John Dewberry purchased the property and created a beautiful Southern hotel while still preserving the original mid-century modern feel.
The Dewberry is a few steps away from the beautiful Marion Square or as others refer to it as Citadel Green. We had the most spectacular view of the sunrise over the park each morning. From someone who had never visited Charleston before, this hotel was the perfect location for a newcomer like me. The location was within walking distance of some amazing restaurants and activities. Even though we chose to cruise around in the new S60!
Make sure you check out the Charleston Farmer’s Market – Every Saturday, from April through December in Marion Square.
Where to Eat –
Henriettas – This is your most convenient Southern brasserie style restaurant and bar/lounge if you are staying at The Dewberry. We actually only had drinks here but the atmosphere in the entire restaurant was everything I had imagined. The bar reminded me of the bar in The Shining. Not in a scary way. It was beautifully decorated and the lighting was moody and inviting.
The Darling Oyster Bar – Our flight got into Charleston pretty late in the evening so we wanted to find something semi-close to The Dewberry. The Darling Oyster Bar was only 4-5 blocks away from the hotel so we decided to walk. If you love seafood and oysters this is a must-try restaurant. I don’t know if you can really go wrong with any of the restaurants in Charleston but this was one of our favorites.
We wanted to try as much as we could so we decided our dinner should be family sharing style. The oysters were absolutely to die for. They have a house-made salsa that is very similar to Tabasco but even better. For our main meal we shared the Lobster & King Crab Roll along with the Seared Diver Scallops.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit – We stopped at this little gem the morning we were heading off to Hilton Head. Rhonda and Brooke had found this cute spot so we followed them for a quick breakfast on the road. Let me tell you, this place was packed! Its a super small and quaint shop and the line was out the door and down the sidewalk.
Niki and I ordered the yummiest bacon, egg and cheese biscuit. The other gals ordered one of Callie’s famous cinnamon biscuits along with a bag full of other yummy biscuits!
Hanks – This was probably our most unplanned, random restaurant choice the last night we were in Charleston. We had just wrapped up our helicopter tour over the city and the pilot started giving us his favorite restaurant recommendations. Hanks came up and we were hooked on the menu. At this point, it was Saturday at 6pm and we knew it would be packed.
Thankfully, we were able to sit at the end of a large communal dining table and it was perfect. Of course, we started out with the Oyster Sampler. I can’t even remember what types of oysters were included but they were all so amazing! I think the local selection was the best! We still wanted to share everything so I ordered the Flounder and Niki ordered the Bouillabaisse. The atmosphere of Hank’s was so inviting and it is in such a beautiful building. Definitely one of my favorite Charleston food experiences.
For future reference, make reservations if you want an actual table!
Duck Donuts – This is a must visit whether you love donuts or not. Duck Donuts is not your typical donut stop. Their donuts are made fresh to order. And when I say fresh, they are so fresh they melt in your mouth. Duck Donuts is a fun stop if you have kids too! They have a donut assembly line so you can see the donuts made and topped from start to finish.
Visit a Plantation –
Middleton Place – This was the only plantation we made it to during our trip to Charleston. We got there pretty early on Friday morning and we were the only people there. It was amazing to be able to experience the grounds with no one else around. We ended up taking so many photos I am going to be doing a separate post on Middleton Place.
Middleton Place is full of activities for all ages too. Find tranquility in the sprawling green gardens, explore their working stable yards, take a carriage ride, go back in time in the House Museum and then take a break for a tasty lunch.
There were fields of sheep grazing across the entire property that loved to be the center of attention. We spent the majority of our time in the stable yards with the sheep, yaks and horses. It was such a beautiful day we ended up spending hours at this plantation.
Other plantations to visit – Magnolia Plantation & Gardens and Drayton Hall are extremely close to Middleton Place. They are all on the same road and can all be visited in one day. Keep in mind, there is an entry fee for each. Boone Hall is another gorgeous plantation that is located a little further away but definitely worth the visit.
Take a Helicopter Tour with Holy City Helicopters –
The helicopter tour with Holy City Helicopters was definitely one of the best parts of the trip. We were actually scheduled to take flight on Friday but they ended up having to cancel because of the stormy weather. Being pretty bummed that we missed out helo trip, we drowned our sorrows in lots of sushi.
Thankfully, the Volvo team was absolutely amazing and accommodating and got us in Saturday afternoon. Talk about a jam-packed day. We had an event 2 hours away in Hilton Head and had to be back for the helo tour by 4pm but we made it! And boy was it worth it!
We had the most gorgeous day for a helicopter tour. Not a cloud in the sky, we took off to explore Charleston from above. Our pilot, Hayden, first took us to the giant, and I mean giant, Volvo factory. Volvo had even created their logo out of cars just for us! After we circled the sprawling property we headed back into Charleston to explore the city.
The helicopter ride was the absolute best way to see the true history of Charleston. I would have had major regret if we had missed the tour after all. If there is one thing you choose to do while you are in Charleston make sure you book with Holy City Helicopters.
Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival –
If you are visiting Charleston in the Fall the Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival is a must see if you have a love for vintage cars. The event takes place at one of Hilton Head Island’s first golf courses, the Port Royal Golf Club’s Planter’s Row Golf Course. The property is strewn with vintage and modern cars along with some beautiful boats.
The drive from Charleston was only a couple of hours and was made even more fun in our new Volvo S60! This is when we really got to see what this car was all about. If y’all didn’t know, the S60 has been completely redesigned from the outside all the way to the tiniest details on the inside.
When we arrived to the Volvo tent we were greeted by the head designer of Volvo; Robin Page. Talk about the nicest and one of the most intelligent people I’ve had the chance to talk to. We also had the pleasure of meeting iconic shoe designer, Stan Smith.
Other Fun Activities –
Rainbow Row – Talk about the cutest little row of houses. Rainbow Row is a must visit if you love true Southern Charm. It is definitely how the name sounds. A row of houses near the historic water front painted beautiful, bright pastel colors!
Angel Oak – This was one thing I wanted to see during our trip but we ran out of time. Angel Oak is on Johns Island so it was a little far for us. If you have longer than 48 hours it is a must see. Angel Oak is over 400 years old and has a sprawling canopy of over 2,000 square yards. Epic.
The Battery – Not ever visiting Charleston, I always wondered what The Battery was and how it got the name. Here’s a quick history lesson – The Battery is a historic, landmark defense seawall in Charleston. It is named for a civil-war coastal defense artillery battery at the site. It is an absolutely beautiful site to visit.
Ghost Tours – Did you know Charleston is considered one of the most haunted destinations in America? If you love dark, ominous and creepy you must check out the Charleston Ghost Tours! This was another thing we weren’t able to do but it is definitely on my list when I go back!
Carriage Rides – Another great way to experience Charleston is with their carriage rides. This is probably one of the best ways to hear and see the history of Charleston in addition to the helicopter tour. They make their way through the historic districts so you can experience Charleston’s history first hand.
This trip would not have been possible without Volvo, their amazing team and the new S60. Even though we only had a few days to experience we definitely made the most of our trip and covered a lot of beautiful ground!