It may sound crazy, but I fell in love with a lesser-known area of Charleston, South Carolina before we ever arrived on our recent family vacation. You see, we’d taken a quick spin through this upscale area while on a Charleston day trip many years ago and I’ve been dreaming of returning to explore it with my family since then. Now that I’ve found out NEW insider secrets to the holy city, here’s a bucket list of six experiences that you and your family MUST find on your upcoming Charleston vacation (I’m confident that you’ll start planning a family trip after reading this, so all helpful contact info is at the very end).
CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA BUCKET LIST WITH THE FAM
If you don’t explore the following six important Charleston South Carolina bucket list items for families, you may not really experience Charleston South Carolina and the lowcounty! Thanks to Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant for hosting our stay and breakfast and my southern opinion is all my own!
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina is a suburban-style town that once held summer homes for wealthy Charlestonians and is now a year-round destination for retirees, young professionals with their families, and wise tourists, and is only a short drive across a gorgeous bridge from Downtown Charleston.
#1 INDULGE IN SOUTHERN CHARM
You don’t have to wait until you reach Downtown Charleston to feel southern hospitality nipping at your heels, as it begins the moment you hit the marsh-lined stretch of U.S. 17 between Beaufort and Charleston and start seeing signs for the historic country store called Carolina Cider Company.
The epitome of southern charm, this unofficial welcome center to the holy city looks like a quirky roadside stand with an old general store style that’s complete with retro pumps appearing frozen in time, sporting 42 cents for a gallon of gas.
Inside, the store is brimming with samples of jellies, jams, and cider, and a multitude of southern foods like fresh pie to eat yourself or buy for others. There’s even a tiny retro coffee shop next door that served me up the best tasting caramel latte I’ve had in a long time!
#2 BOOK A FABULOUS CHARLESTON HOTEL
The phrase “boutique hotel” has been thrown around a bit and for Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant, it simply means a modern, one-of-a-kind hotel that displays all the charm of the lowcountry with luxe amenities.
What a wonderful combination!
Every Hotel Indigo reflects the culture and atmosphere of its location, and Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant did a lovely job with sweetgrass chandeliers and the deep color of indigo highlighted throughout the lobby, hallways, cozy corners, and guest rooms, reflecting the local history of the indigo-farming Pinckney family.
Can you get over the gorgeous king guest room and adjoining “kid’s” room pictured below, which were standard rooms with a gorgeous view of the pool area?! Both had refrigerators, big screen TVS, and large luxury bathrooms.
Having these spacious adjoining rooms where everyone could spread out was the best thing we did on this vacation!
By far, our favorite area of the hotel was this outdoor oasis. The resort-style pool area has amazing in-pool loungers within the kiddie pool, plenty of sunning chairs, shaded grassy picnic spots with cabana loungers, lawn games, fire feature, indoor/outdoor food, and drink bar.
“Always, as you travel, assimilate the sounds and sights of the world.” – Walt Disney
#3 GET ON THE WATER
Folks typically see popular images of Charleston’s Battery Wall, Waterfront Park near downtown, and the pineapple fountain that’s an Instagram hotspot.
However, just across the beautiful Ravenel Bridge to Mount Pleasant is another MUST-SEE area… Waterfront Memorial Park and the Charleston Marina.
Mount Pleasant residents are proud of their crown jewel, Memorial Waterfront Park, because of its proximity to the beautiful Ravenel Bridge that sports fantastic picnic lawns, a nautical playground, and views of the harbor from the 1250-foot-long pier. Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant is within walking distance to this beautiful area.
The Charleston Marina is where you’ll find the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, which is the home of the USS YORKTOWN, to get a hands-on peek into maritime and military life aboard a legitimate piece of American history.
My suggestion is to visit the area after dinner and near sunset one evening. The area is stunning at this time of day and very Instagram-worthy. There may be a small parking fee throughout the year.
#4 FOLLOW CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA FOOD
There’s certainly no shortage of great coastal cuisine in the lowcountry, but we never miss a quick stop right next to the Historic City Market (after our praline samples at Savannah Sweets) at Pizzeria de la Giovanni. Grab a huge slice of authentic Italian pizza and tell them we sent you!
We weren’t especially impressed with a BBQ joint near our hotel called Sticky Fingers. The service was great but the food was bland. What we DID enjoy was breakfast within Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant’s restaurant.
A hearty plate of traditional eggs, grits, and bacon at Hotel Indigo’s Eliza Restaurant got us off on a great start!
#5 BE BEACH HUNTERS
Sadly, we knew before this vacation that it wasn’t a beach vacation, per se, but one evening after dinner, we drove a little over five miles from our hotel to Sullivan’s Island beach and pulled into the petite Thomson Park, an American Revolution Battle Site, that is now a peaceful view of the water.
We suggest stopping into Beardcat’s Sweet Shop on your way to the sand. Isle of Palms is a nearby beach as well. Folly Beach, Kiawah, and Seabrook are Charleston beaches also but are further away.
#6 FALL IN LOVE WITH CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA HISTORY
You don’t have to look far to find and fall in love with the history of Charleston, South Carolina. Surprisingly, there is more history surrounding the American Revolutionary War than the Civil War.
As always, I suggest beginning the entire downtown trek with a fascinating tour. A historic tour of a new city always gives a big picture view and allows you to quickly decide the areas where your family wants to spend their time, AND will enlighten you on the amazing history around every corner here.
Charleston carriage rides are a favorite for families of all ages but walking tours (whether by daylight or spooky ones) depending on the age of the youngest in the group are a fun choice as well.
I’ve fallen in love not only with Historic Downtown Charleston’s cobblestone streets, confederate jasmine dripping from black, wrought-iron gates, and hospitable people, but also with Mount Pleasant, South Carolina area for her beauty and unexpected nature havens. I’m also taken with the thriving, yet small-town feel that includes plenty of upscale shopping, restaurants, beaches, and other family activities.
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CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA FAQS
What’s Charleston SC known for?
Charleston is probably best known as having a sea port called Fort Sumter where the Civil War began. However, there is an unending list of history from the American Revolutionary War, pirates, and other exciting things. Rainbow Row, the Historic City Market, and King Street shopping are well known areas as well.
What most people don’t realize is that there are five islands/beaches surrounding Downtown Charleston. There are two beaches I haven’t visited yet so I’ll let you know my fave when I do!
The most popular argument is that it’s because in the eighteeth century, “Charles Town” had a tolerance for all religions and because of that began to contain numerous historic churches.
How many days do you need in Charleston SC?
Charleston South Carolina is a fun city to enjoy as a day trip but it’s impossible to see all the facets this historic city has to offer unless you stay for several days. To experience downtown, waterfronts, Mount Pleasant, the beaches, and all the attractions, four full days would be ideal. If you can’t stay that long, pick and choose and plan to return very soon!
WHICH OF THE LOWCOUNTRY VACATION IDEAS ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO EXPERIENCE? DO YOU HAVE TIPS TO ADD?
MORE INFO FOR VACAY IDEAS
Hotel Indigo Mount Pleasant: 250 Johnnie Dodds Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC
Carolina Cider Company: 81 Charleston Hwy, Yemassee, SC
Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park: 99 Harry M. Hallman Jr Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC
Charleston Harbor & Marina/Patriots Point: 20 Patriots Point Rd, Mt Pleasant, SC
Pizzeria Di Giovanni: 40 N Market St, Charleston, SC
Thomson Park: 3217 Middle St, Sullivan’s Island, SC
Palmetto Carriage Works: 8 Guignard St, Charleston, SC
PIN FOR LATER:
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