Charleston is a beautiful city on the South Carolina coast that is known for its food, shopping, history, and nightlife. With excellent weather, easy beach access, and plenty to do year-round, it’s no wonder Charleston is regularly mentioned as a top city to visit in the USA.
In this guide, we’ll cover exactly how to plan the perfect weekend in Charleston SC!
About Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is located on the southeastern coast of South Carolina and is one of the Atlantic ocean’s major ports.
Offering scenic ocean views, beaches, delicious food, and much more, this town boasts many activities that will delight architecture enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone looking for a relaxing city break on the east coast.
When I lived in South Carolina, spending a weekend in Charleston with friends and family was always a highlight. We often drove into town for the day to shop on King Street, sightsee around the harbor, or indulge at one of the many fabulous Charleston restaurants.
When we wanted to celebrate a special occasion, a Charleston SC weekend getaway was the top choice on everyone’s list.
Best Time To Visit Charleston SC
When visiting Charleston, you can expect mild winters and toasty summers. The weather in Charleston typically does not fall below the high forties, even in winter.
In the fall and spring, temperatures in Charleston are usually in the mid-60s to high-70s. In the summer, temperatures are usually in the upper 70s and 80s with high humidity. If you’re not a fan of cold weather, Charleston is the perfect weekend getaway destination for you!
Keep in mind that the southeastern USA can be notoriously hot in the summer months. The city won’t slow down because of the heat, but you might find that spring and fall are much more pleasant times to visit, temperature-wise.
You can also time your visit to coincide with one of the many festivals hosted by the city.
The Annual Festival of Houses and Gardens runs every spring when warmer temperatures bring an eruption of colorful flowers. Welcome spring in style with tours of magnificent private gardens and homes in the city.
In the fall, food lovers flock to the city for the Taste of Charleston where visitors can try samples from the best restaurants in the area, enjoy live music, and try local beers on the waterfront.
If you visit in the winter, you can catch the Holiday Festival of Lights in nearby St. James Island County Park. In the evenings from mid-November until the end of December, the park comes to life with light-up sculptures and plenty of fun family activities.
Top Activities and Restaurants for your Weekend In Charleston
Let’s take a look at some of the best activities and restaurants for your perfect weekend in Charleston SC itinerary!
- Walking Tour of Charleston
- Sunset at Waterfront Park
- Dinner at Queology, Charleston Crab House, or Co
- Dessert at Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe
- Rooftop drinks at Stars
- Breakfast at Toast
- Take a guided Charleston Harbor cruise or Visit Fort Sumter
- Lunchtime Charleston Food Tour
- Charleston Haunted Jail Tour
- Dinner at D’Allesandro’s Pizza, Bay Street Biergarten, or Eli’s Table
- Drinks at Uptown Social or The Rooftop
- Breakfast at Another Broken Egg
- Shopping on King Street
Weekend in Charleston Itinerary: Friday Afternoon
Take a Walking Tour
When you first arrive in Charleston on Friday afternoon, hit the ground running by taking a guided tour. I love taking a walking tour when I arrive somewhere new because I can quickly learn a lot about the destination… and it prevents me from getting lost, which happens a lot.
Walking Tours of Charleston will take you to famous sights like Battery Park, and the waterfront, and Rainbow Row, a line of 13 pastel-colored historical homes.
While strolling through the cobbled streets of Charleston, your guide will point out historic buildings, important landmarks, and share quirky stories that you might otherwise miss.
It’s a great way to check out the local gardens, houses, and gorgeous buildings in the Historic District all while learning your way around Charleston.
Watch the Sunset at Waterfront Park
As evening approaches, make your way to Ravenel Waterfront Park to watch the sunset over the water. There are plenty of benches and shady spots to watch the ships in the harbor.
If you walk out on the Charleston Pier, you might even see dolphins playing in the waters below! The main attraction of the waterfront park is an iconic pineapple-shaped fountain.
Dinner at Charleston Crab House, Queology, or Co
Charleston is a foodie city, so of course, your first meal should be something the city is known for! Being on the coast means you won’t have to look too hard to find incredible seafood, so many seafood lovers rave about Charleston Crab House.
Charleston Crab House has excellent reviews and it’s considered casual dining so no need to dress up. This restaurant features soft shell crab, shrimp and grits, seafood pasta, and many other delightful seafood dishes. They can even cook fish that customers have caught during the day!
If seafood isn’t your thing (no judgment, I’m not a big seafood person myself), head to Queology for some famous South Carolina BBQ. Queology is an award-winning BBQ joint with a relaxed atmosphere, an outdoor patio space, and comfort foods like Mac ’n’ cheese and potato salad.
Veggie friends, check out to Co on King Street for delicious Vietnamese dishes. Co has a special vegetarian and vegan menu and they also have a gluten-free menu.
Eat at Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe
After dinner, make sure you stop by Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe. I think I was speechless the minute the moment I stepped into Kaminsky’s.
This cafe has every kind of treat you could imagine, so if you have a sweet tooth (guilty), you might consider moving to Charleston just so you have direct access to this cozy chocolate heaven.
Grab a candy bar milkshake, one of the delicious freshly made cakes, pies, and cobblers, or an Irish Coffee to put a little pep in your step.
Enjoy the View at Stars Rooftop and Grill Room
Finish the first day of your weekend in Charleston itinerary with a visit to Stars Rooftop.
Part nightlife hotspot, part upscale dining, Stars is the perfect place to enjoy a few drinks on the rooftop while taking in the sweeping view of the city.
Charleston Weekend Getaway: Saturday Itinerary
Start the Day with Toast!
Toast is one of those restaurants that you’ll dream about visiting again and again. Best known for breakfast and brunch fare, Toast’s southern comfort foods and Lowcountry specialties have even been featured in The New York Times!
Explore the sights of the Charleston Harbor
After breakfast, we are taking to the seas. Charleston is a harbor town and going out by boat is a great way to enjoy the city from a new perspective. There are many types of tours available depending on your interests.
Charleston Harbor Sightseeing Tour: For about an hour and a half, you’ll cruise around the Charleston harbor with a tour guide. Prepare to learn about sights like the USS Yorktown, Castle Pinckney, and much more.
Visit Fort Sumter: If you’re interested in military history, you can also take a ferry out to Fort Sumter to learn more about where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. Your tour will include a 30-minute boat ride to the fort and then time to explore on your own. Tour guides will share stories all along the way.
Take a Charleston Food Tour
Charleston is so well known for its culinary creations and a food tour is an awesome way to try some local highlights.
The highly-rated Savor the Flavor Charleston Food Tour lasts two-and-a-half hours and you’ll learn the history of the Charleston food scene over the past 300 years, all while trying delicious local morsels. This is a walking tour so don’t forget to bring your walking shoes.
Check Out the Charleston Haunted Jail Tour
If you’re fascinated by all things spooky, a haunted Charleston tour is a must.
The Charleston Haunted Jail Tour takes place in the Old City Jail, which dates back to 1802. Over the years, this jail had held many infamous criminals and is believed to be one of Charleston’s most haunted buildings.
Learn about the history of the building, as well as the stories of those who used to be imprisoned there with a passionate guide on this creepy but super interesting haunted tour.
Have Dinner at D’Allesandro’s Pizza, Bay Street Biergarten, or Eli’s Table
After a day of walking, sightseeing, and learning about Charleston, you’ll probably be ready for some relaxing comfort food. D’Allesandro’s Pizza is easily some of the best pizza I’ve ever had!
I still have dreams about their Greek Pizza and yes, you for sure should also order a starter of garlic bread.
If you’re not in the mood for pizza, Bay Street Biergarten is also a great option for tasty local brews and pub food. This cozy German-inspired pub has a huge beer list and plenty of space outside to enjoy the fresh air.
If you’re looking for a casual but elevated dining experience, head to Eli’s Table. Eli’s Table is known for serving elegant southern favorites made with local ingredients. Don’t miss the Fried Green Tomato Napolean… yum! (Tip: They’re also open for brunch!)
Night Out on the Town
Wrap up your fun-filled day by exploring some of the best Charleston nightlife.
Uptown Social has a cool rooftop patio area and live music several nights per week.
The Rooftop Bar at the Vendue Hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a craft cocktail with a memorable harbor view.
Weekend in Charleston SC: Sunday Itinerary
Even though your Charleston SC weekend getaway is coming to a close, we’ve still got a few more fabulous things to do before heading home!
Brunch at Another Broken Egg Cafe
Pretty much every time I visited Charleston, I insisted on visiting Another Broken Egg. It’s truly a brunch-lovers paradise and there are so many breakfast options that picking just one dish is nearly impossible.
Seriously. How is anyone supposed to choose between blackberry stuffed French toast, sunrise spinach scramblers, and huevos rancheros? They also have gluten-free and vegetarian menus!
Shopping on King Street
No trip to Charleston is complete without a bit of shopping on King Street! King Street is one of the main roads through Charleston and it’s lined on both sides with Palmetto trees and every store you could dream of.
Take some time to wander among the shops and enjoy the high-energy atmosphere.
What To Do If You Have Extra Time
If you have a bit of extra time on your weekend in Charleston itinerary, head to one of the nearby South Carolina islands to experience more of this beautiful region.
Folly Beach, South Carolina: Folly Beach makes a quick and easy day trip from Charleston and is perfect for adventure lovers! You can rent kayaks, sup boards, and surfboards, or just relax on the white sand beaches.
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Head north about twenty minutes and you’ll reach Mount Pleasant, an island community that totally lives up to its name.
Here, you can visit the Patriots Point Naval Museum, stroll through the Mount Pleasant memorial waterfront park, and take in the view from the Mount Pleasant Pier. If you’re there at lunchtime, make sure to stop by Graze!
Charleston Savannah Road Trip: If you’ve got an extra day, you can even take a road trip to Savannah Georgia! If you drive straight through it takes about two hours but you can also take the scenic route, stopping at coastal islands and historical landmarks along the way.
Transportation Around Charleston
Because of its compact historic district, Charleston SC is an easy city to get around. There are buses, water taxis, shuttles, and services like Lyft and Uber, but you’ll probably be able to get to most attractions on foot.
Parking in one of the city parking garages is relatively painless. Parking costs $2 per hour with a daily cap of $18 per day and you cannot leave and return on the same ticket.
The Queen Street parking lot and the Charleston Visitors Center parking lot both offer discounted rates if you enter after 3:00 pm. Learn more about parking in Charleston.
Where To Stay in Charleston
If you’d like to be close to the action, I definitely recommend staying in the Charleston Historic District. If you’re looking for a more relaxing Charleston SC weekend getaway, head to Folly Beach for a slower beach town vibe with easy city access.
Related Post: 14 Best Places To Stay In Charleston SC!
Staying in the Historic District of Charleston
The Historic District of Charleston is the best place to stay for sightseeing and nightlife because you’ll be within walking distance to almost everything on this list.
No need to waste time driving back and forth to your accommodation and you’ll find plenty of highly-rated hotels and B&Bs with memorable touches.
The Meeting Street Inn is located on Market Street and rooms have amazing historic details. Guests also have access to a breezy garden courtyard, complimentary breakfast, and wine and snacks in the evenings.
The Hyatt Regency Savannah is a modern, upscale accommodation option in an excellent downtown location. It has a spacious outdoor patio space, onsite dining, and amazing views of the Ravenel Bridge.
Staying at Folly Beach
If you’re looking for a quieter stay during your Charleston weekend getaway, you can check out accommodations on Folly Beach. This area is located just twenty minutes south of Charleston and is known for offerings of all kinds of water sports like fishing, kayaking, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
You can easily drive into town for sightseeing and restaurants, but you’ll have the added benefit of waking up to the sound of the ocean. The best of both worlds!
Tides Folly Beach is located right next to the Folly Beach fishing pier and offers an oceanfront swimming pool, a fabulous onsite restaurant, and rooms with sea views.
Final Thoughts: The Perfect Weekend in Charleston SC
After a weekend trip to Charleston, it will be difficult to go back to the regular grind. With postcard beaches, delectable restaurants, top-notch shopping, and pretty much any kind of tour you can imagine, it’s no wonder so many travelers can’t get enough of Charleston!
What are you most excited to see in Charleston, SC?