by Jonathan Baker - 319 Reviews - 185 List
Five hours due East lies Charleston, South Carolina, a charming port town that boasts cobblestone roads, James Beard-winning restaurants and more history than any other Southern metropolitan. It's like if a miniaturized Boston landed smack-dab in the low country. So from fine dining to sandy beaches: our advice on visiting this European-style city by the sea.
Updated: May 19, 2010
There are a few things that you absolutely have to eat in Charleston, and one is she crab soup. The best (read: most liberal with the heavy cream) is found at Eighty-Two Queen. Located in the French Quarter this cozy restaurant has killer courtyard seating and an upscale menu that's hard not to like.
For those who head out of town out to Folly Beach in the a.m. hours, the Lost Dog is the ideal breakfast spot. A surfer and hippie hang-out, kids and parents alike relax with their canine friends over breakfast and coffee. The must get item on their menu are the made-in-house cinnamon rolls.
Another Charleston specialty is bone-in, crispy flounder and you can find a reliable version at the Crab House. This whole fish gets scored in a diamond shape, fried, then topped with a sweet apricot glaze. The diamond scoring lets you eat the fish so in the end, all is left is the skeleton and tail!
Three words: James Beard Award. Charleston has taken the last three Southeast Beard Awards, and FIG is a deserving champion. An acronym for Food Is Good, wonderfully executed Southern cuisine lacks flash but yet is still quite stylish. When else can you combine a trip to the beach with the region's finest restaurant?
While it doesn't get the same buzz as McCrady's or FIG, don't underestimate Trattoria Lucca. Just off the beaten path of Downtown, this quaint Italian job boasts a moderately priced (but outstanding) menu that's based on two things: imported olive oils, cheeses and Italian sausages, and locally-sourced fish, meats and vegetables.
We told you Charleston has crazy-awesome history. This museum was America's FIRST museum, founded in 1773. With both, visiting and permanent exhibits, plus an additional two National Historic Landmark houses, it's easy to get lost in early American lore.
Yes, this is a bit of a tourist trap, but it still warrants at least a walk-through. Sitting a few blocks from the harbor, this 200-year old market boasts artisans and craft-makers, painters and basket-weavers. Ignore t-shirt and wallet dudes and keep an eye out to snag a few local items.
For those who dozed off in 10th grade American history class, this is site where the Civil War began. Which is kind of a big deal in the grand scheme of our country's story. Plus, not only are there cannons, but the fort is only accessible by boat, which only adds to the coolness.
Being a port town, you have to drive to one of the surrounding islands to hit a beach, and there's no better public beach than Folly. Center Street has a few dozen restaurants, shops and bars, and the beach is swarming with college kids, visiting families and hippy locals.
Matching the cobblestone roads and charming English gardens, Ben Silver is a men's haberdashery that fits in perfectly on shop-tastic King Street. From bow ties to unique eyewear, Ben Silver is a one stop shop for that Southern gentleman in your life. Just bring the heavy plastic, good taste can be expensive.