Have you ever traveled somewhere that you instantly connected to and never wanted to leave? Possibly even dreamed of buying a second home there if you ever won the lottery? Well, I get ya, because that’s how I feel about Charleston, SC + Savannah, GA. A vacation house between the two would be my cup of tea! These charming southern getaways have so much to offer, and in this city guide, I’ve packed in the tips so that you can enjoy it to the MAX like I did!
My husband and I visited just last month, in January. We’ve been to Charleston before during April, and loved it so much that we made an excuse to go back again! This time, we decided to go during their “winter” season… which simply felt like a beautiful springtime in Nebraska! The 50’s-60’s weather was perfect for biking around on the marina, right behind our hotel, The Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina.
Tip: Visiting during the “winter season” saves you lots of $$$ since it’s off-season for tourists… but, if you come during April/May, you have the chance to get in on tons of summer events that are going on, plus warmer weather!
After you take a brisk bike ride, grab lunch @ Hyman’s Seafood for the most popular and delicious seafood destination in town. The fresh catch-of-the-day tacos (I had Mahi-Mahi) are out of this world! Be sure to look at the name plates on your table.. you might be sitting in the same seat that a star once sat in.
To walk off your full bellies, take a walk together down Folly Beach. As a Nebraska native who jumps at the chance for a trip to the lake, the ocean was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip! The vast expanse of rolling waters as far as the eye can see is a sight for sore eyes. Be sure to hunt for seashells, splash around to suffice your inner 5 year old, and just simply relax. 🙂
For dinner, hit up the fresh seafood restaurants that are within walking distance from the beach, like the Folly Beach Crab Shack. This was my FAVORITE meal on the trip, because I’m a sucker for fresh seafood, especially when it’s crab legs! Derek got the fried tilapia and chips, which was also unbelievably good (stealing bites from your spouse’s plate is a given).
Start Day 2 by livin’ the Beech life with an acai bowl from Beech on King Street. I was a first timer, I had never had one before… and I fell in LOVE with acai bowls, wowza! If anyone has their own recipes to make these bowls of heaven at home, send them my way puh-leease!
Continue to enjoy your morning downtown by wandering the beautiful and popular King Street. From the unique shopping atmosphere to the pastel buildings, to the friendly Charlestonians and live music on the street, this is a morning stroll you won’t want to miss. There are tons of amazing food options on King Street to grab lunch at, too! Nearby is one of Derek and I’s favorites, 167 Raw.
Up next, you’ll want to check “fishing in the ocean” off of your bucket list!
Spend your afternoon fishing off of one of the many charter boats in Charleston! There are lots of fishermen in this area who charge a flat fee to take you out fishing for the day. We went with a local captain that someone had referred us to. Our in-shore fishing experience was unplanned and last-minute, but it was by far one of our most memorable experiences on this getaway. Plan for at least 4 hours on the waters, or more if the fish are bitin’!
We caught a flounder, a speckled sea bass, and a stingray! Don’t forget to look for the friendly dolphins that could be following your boat!
Take a pit stop @ Lewis BBQ, hands down some of the best barbecue I’ve ever had in my life. I tried the pork sandwich with fries and a side of kale coleslaw, with green BBQ sauce (weird, I know, but it was the best dip ever), and banana pudding for dessert. Not only was the food out-of-this-world, but the atmosphere was an inviting, modern/industrial hangout that I think Joanna Gaines would be proud of. I could easily pitch a tent and live in that place.
To end your day on a high note, walk around Charleston’s Historical District around sunset and take in all of the quaint pastel buildings that are rich with history and immaculate details. Be sure to check out the famous Rainbow Row while you do so, one of Charleston’s oldest blocks of houses that hide their years of history with black shutters and windowsill flowers, and are painted with a rainbow of colors.
Day 3: Pack your bags for a short 2 hour roadtrip… Hello, Savannah, GA!
Welcome to the city they call America’s most romantic! Once you arrive, make your way to Bay Street and find a parking space near The Cotton Exchange (orange building pictured above) to start your day. In this area, you can grab a coffee and a pastry, do some antique browsing, and hop onto a city tour on either a trolly or horse-drawn carriage.
Cafe M (or should I say Cafe Mmmmm) is where we stopped for our morning fuel, which is also on Bay St. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I found this Parisian-inspired cafe with yummy macaroons and decadent croissants!!
Now it’s time to dive into the rich history of Savannah. Walk about 1 minute further down Bay St., and you’ll see a small business offering guided city tours. We decided to take the hop on/hop off trolly, where there are 15 stops around the city that allow you to get off and explore. It comes back every 15 minutes, which was very convenient!
We actually ended up utilizing the hop on/hop off trolly ALL day, since our tickets lasted until 5pm. It took us through the heart of the city, with restaurants, shopping, and history galore, which made it so easy for us to get around this way, without having to worry about parking!
Throughout the day, we saw all of the city “squares” containing low-hanging live oak trees and historical statues/dedications, and we saw gorgeous churches such as the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and the First African Baptist Church, including a glimpse into their safe haven for the Underground Railroad and the quilts they used as maps for those escaping.
After traveling around town for awhile, we decided to “hop off” and eat at The Lady & Sons… Paula Deen’s famous restaurant known for it’s mouth-watering southern cuisine. We chose the buffet for lunch so that we could try a bit of everything, from collard greens to fried chicken, to the peach cobbler for dessert! Man, was it delicious.
Time to check inn, and sneak inn a quick afternoon nap. Welcome to the minimalist’s paradise, The Alida. This brand-new, cozy boutique hotel was perfect down to every last detail! I longed after their gorgeous aesthetic, which fit my taste to a T, and the service that they provided was also outstanding. We were greeted with a valet, refreshments, and the choice of sparkling or still water in a custom water bottle. I sure felt like a princess in my castle!
The refreshingly modern and clean aesthetic of The Alida caused it to surpass all of my hotel expectations.
Time for dinner! Here is my outfit look for our last night on vacay. I’m wearing a locally purchased sweater (shoutout to LynneMorgan Boutique in Scottsbluff), trousers from Mango, hair barrettes from Pixie Market, and these fun boots from Asos.
We tried dinner at The Treylor Park, which had a very unique hipster vibe and menu! Derek tried the chicken strawberry pancake tacos (LOLLL these sound so gross but they were pretty good) and I had a chicken pot pie that was cooked like a fried burrito. Yum!
For the last night of your adventure, be sure to take your sweet time enjoying the last delicious southern meal you’ll have in awhile. Soak up the last bit of vacation you have left and enjoy each other’s company! Or maybe you just need a little extra time to digest those interesting tacos. 😉
If you’re like me, you’ll find that both Charleston and Savannah are a home-away-from-home because of the friendly, hospitable people that live there… it was striking to us that everyone was SO kind and didn’t act like “city folk”. These two locations have so much to offer, much more to offer than I was able to put together on this city guide. I hope that someday, you are able to get away to these charming cities and love it as much as we did!
Thank you for reading my first city guide, I hope to do more of these in the future.