Charleston, South Carolina is a wonderful place to spend a long weekend, which is exactly what we chose to do this Memorial Day! While we had some unexpected weather (it rained for 2 days straight!) we made the most of our time and checked a ton of things off our must-do list. In this post, I’ll round up a ton of spots for you to check out next time you’re in town, including restaurants, hotels, cafes, and only the most charming bars in town. Anyone can tell you to stop by Rainbow Row, see the Pineapple Fountain in the French Quarter, or take a carriage drawn-tour of the town; we prefer to dress up and sip champagne or coffee in the finest spots in town! Come with us…
Imagine if Urban Outfitters opened their own bohemian hotel full of natural wood, rattan & modern elements; this is exactly what you can expect at The Ryder Hotel. One of a kind in Charleston, this luxury boutique hotel is located right on Meeting Street, making it a prime location for travelers to book! One street over from the bustling shopping district on King, and a 5-minute walk to the daily Farmers Market, The Ryder is incredibly convenient for guests visiting without a vehicle. It is important to note that most hotels in Charleston, including The Ryder, charge a nightly fee for guests wishing to park a vehicle overnight. If you can avoid having a car, I highly recommend you do; most places are within walking distance and those that are not, are just a short Uber ride away. The Ryder Hotel has a pool, and bar service to the lounge areas around it, as well as Little Palm, its very own restaurant and bar. Reservations can be made for Little Palm via the Resy app for ANY visitors; you do not have to be a hotel guest to eat here! I highly recommend the Ryder Hotel, as our experience with the staff was always pleasant, and the room was clean and serviced daily. Little Palm is a great place to enjoy cocktails or an appetizer by the pool, but I do not recommend booking a lunch or dinner reservation there; the menu is extremely small and limited.
Hymans Seafood 2/10
In researching restaurants, I happened upon Hymans Seafood which seemed to be a hot spot that we needed to hit, however, they do NOT accept reservations. On the day we arrived, we dropped our bags at the hotel and walked down the street to Hymans for lunch. We ordered the crab tacos and flounder tacos, which both came with hush puppies & cole slaw. I ordered my tacos with no onions, and they came out with onions all over them. The soft taco shells were a little hard on the edges (so not fresh!) and the seafood had no flavor. Our server was nice and friendly, but that’s really all I can say about the experience. I don’t recommend this restaurant; skip it.
We happened upon Carmella’s by accident trying to get out of the rain, and what a happy accident it was! This little open-air cafe is located at 198 East Bay Street, within walking distance of all the main attractions in the downtown area. Tyler and I both got gelato and absolutely loved it. I highly recommend stopping in to cool off with complimentary ice water on the back counter & ordering a scoop of salted caramel gelato!
Little Palm 5/10
Located on the second floor of The Ryder Hotel, Little Palm serves poolside cocktails and tables both inside and out. (The inside is extremely small, so make a reservation via Resy if you absolutely want to sit indoors.) With a substantial cocktail list, the bar is most definitely the crown jewel of Little Palm; I recommend grabbing a pre-dinner drink here, or drinks and appetizers. We had the Crab Hushpuppies and the Smashed Avacado Tortilla Chips; both we delicious! The decor is so fun & retro, but the menu here is extremely small, so while it’s worth checking out, definitely pick somewhere else for your actual meal.
Hanks Seafood 7/10
Hanks Seafood is one of the restaurants we made a reservation for ahead of time on Resy. We picked this location as more of a fancier, date night out option, as the website boasts white-coat service. We both ordered one of the Southern Seafood Platters; I had the fried shrimp, while Tyler ordered the fried shrimp, oysters, and flounder platter. The breading was light and not greasy at all, we both really enjoyed our meals, which were served in sizeable portions. I recommend ordering the SJP cocktail (Ketel One Orange, Cointreau, Limeade, Cranberry). *Hanks is only open for dinner
Frannie & the Fox 7/10 (brunch)
Located inside Hotel Emeline, this is another location you absolutely need to make a reservation for on Resy. We chose to dine here for brunch, and while Tyler LOVED his food, mine was just okay. Tyler ordered the “Clock In Breakfast” which consisted of 2 eggs, toast, & a choice of sausage or bacon, and hashbrowns or fruit. I had the Cornmeal + Buttermilk Pancakes, which I had to drown in syrup to eat; they weren’t terrible, but I would not order them again. I do recommend ordering an unsweetened iced tea & asking for syrup for it; I made myself the best little sweet tea I had all weekend! I would go back to Frannie & the Fox next time for dinner, as I’ve heard their wood-fired pizzas are delicious.
Conveniently located inside the Charleston City Market, this is the perfect place to grab breakfast, or a snack while browsing the shops! I recommend doing the 3 mini biscuit bundle, this way you get to try 3 different kinds of biscuits at once! We sampled the sharp cheddar, ham and cheese, and cinnamon (which was definitely our favorite one!) I also ordered the Mint Sweet Iced Tea which I can’t recommend enough! There are 2 locations in Charleston, as well as Callie’s food truck!
Thoroughbred Club 9/10
Nestled within the beautiful lobby of Charleston Place, the Thoroughbred Club is a cozy, equestrian-themed location to grab a drink or even a light lunch. The dimly lit atmosphere and oversized furniture make it the perfect spot to grab a nightcap or spend a rainy afternoon. The cocktail & mocktail menu is uniquely themed to the location which I love; Tyler and I both actually ended up ordering mocktails & absolutely loved them. The Endless Summer (strawberry, rhubarb, lemon) and The Outfield (ginger beer, basil, mint, lime, cucumber) are both noteworthy. I also ordered a Caesar salad, while Tyler enjoyed the bar snack assortment that came with any drink order.
The Living Room 7/10
Pull up a wingback chair and order a glass of wine in this distinguished, vintage-vibe bar located on the first floor of The Dewberry Charleston. Tyler and I spent several rainy hours sitting in The Living Room, relaxing and sipping on mimosas! We ordered the “Warm Marinated & Crispy Fried Olives” appetizer which I absolutely loved; I had never seen fried olives before! (When in the South, I suppose!) Eventually, we ended up staying for dinner, and both ordered The Dewberry Burger which was delicious and came with the best-seasoned french fries! Definitely recommend. The Dewberry also has a rooftop bar called The Citrus Club, which I’d love to scope out next time.
Pronounced “Bennie’s”, this little cafe can be found right across from the Historic Charleston City Market, making it a great spot to pop into before or after shopping! While Benne’s offers a bakery selection, a full lunch menu with many specialty sandwiches, as well as a full-service bar & happy hour, I can only speak to the cocktail menu. This was our last stop of the evening, and we were SO full that we decided to stick to drinks this time around; I ordered the Espresso Martini (which was served with a smoke bubble on top we got to pop!) and Tyler had the Charleston Mule. We both really enjoyed our drinks, the atmosphere, as well as the super-friendly service.
La Pâtisserie 9/10
Bonjour & welcome to this lovely little French cafe inside Hotel Bennet! Located on King Street, this makes a perfectly sweet ending to a day of shopping. We were out on a particularly chilly, rainy day, which called for English Breakfast Tea and coffee, of course. Naturally, I had to try one of their delicious-looking pastries; the Camellia pastry was scrumptious with lemon & strawberry cheesecake inside a pink mousse, topped with mini macrons! Still dreaming about this one!
I’ve saved my favorite spot for last…
Did someone say PINK? Camellia’s is located in the lobby of Hotel Bennet, and is absolutely stunning inside! Guests can book an Afternoon Tea experience in advance on the Resy app, or they can come back at 4 pm or 5 pm (depending on the day) for full bar service and a light refreshment menu. We were first in line (& thank goodness!) when the doors opened for bar service in the evening; there were many people waiting in line, and within 10 minutes of opening, the tables were all full! Double-check what time they open on the day you plan to visit, and make sure you arrive early! Tyler enjoyed a glass of red wine, (which the waiter allowed him to sample first) and I sipped on a glass of champagne! We shared the truffle fries appetizer, and soaked in the huge stunning crystal chandelier & pink velvet furniture! The food & drinks were great here, as was the service; it was most definitely my favorite little spot in town!
Have a wonderful trip to Charleston, South Carolina!