3 Days in Charleston
Last month we took a short road trip to Charleston to celebrate our third anniversary. Growing up in Florida we both had visited as children but had little memory of what it was like. Part of me wishes I did because apparently it has changed quite a bit over the past decade. What once was a sleepy little beach town is now a thriving tourist destination that embodies southern hospitality at its finest. The quaint streets, the historic homes, and most importantly, the friendly faces are sure to make it a trip to remember.
We had three full days to experience Charleston and I’d say that’s an adequate amount to take in the highlights. The weather was absolutely perfect while we were there. It ranged from 70-80°F with plenty of sunshine and blooming flowers. I would highly recommend visiting during the spring, if possible!
Where We Stayed
86 Cannon. Since it was our anniversary I wanted to stay somewhere that was quiet and romantic with plenty of southern charm. After hours of looking to fit all of that criteria while still being reasonably priced, I stumbled upon 86 Cannon. There weren’t any reviews online yet but I could tell by the polished website and chic decor that the owners knew what they were doing. So I took a leap of faith. As it turns out we were actually the first ones to book a room at the property! I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
After over a year of hard work to restore the historic 1860’s single house, Marion and Lori were finally able to open the doors to a gorgeous boutique inn that feels like a little oasis in the heart of the city. Each room has a bright and airy feel with plenty of space and privacy to make yourself at home. From the adorable furry innkeepers (Sully & Gus) to the complimentary bicycles and the excellent location, there is so much to love about 86 Cannon.
Another perk is the awesome European-style breakfast served each morning. During the booking process I noted that we were plant-based so they made sure to have dairy-free yogurt, almond milk and vegan/gluten-free banana bread.
Complimentary wine and cheese is also offered during happy hour in the evenings and Lori was kind enough to replace the cheese for us with vegetables and hummus. Literally every detail was thought of!
Although 86 Cannon isn’t located right in the thick of it all, it is within walking and biking distance to everything. The surrounding neighborhood has a local feel with cute little independent shops and just a few blocks away is King Street with a plethora of restaurants and bars.
We had a great time just walking around and exploring the neighborhood. I can see why so many Instagrammers come to visit Charleston. There are so many pretty spots for photo ops!
Where We Ate
Huriyali Gardens. This cute little Hawaiian-inspired cafe serves light and healthy eats like smoothies, acai bowls, salads, and sandwiches. The back patio is lush and inviting. We each got an acai bowl and they were delicious. It’s the perfect place to cool off with a refreshing treat!
Butcher & Bee. If you like eating somewhere that supports local and sustainable farms then this is sure to please. It has a very hip vibe and features healthy seasonal fare with unique flavor combinations. The drink menu is especially interesting with options like charcoal lemonade and turmeric tang. You can’t go wrong with Butcher & Bee!
The Daily. This cafe is owned by the same people as Butcher & Bee but has a smaller menu. It’s a great spot for a light breakfast/lunch or to pick up grab-n-go goodies for a picnic. I went for the blueberry coconut smoothie with plant protein and tahini toast, and Brandon got the avocado toast and the Aztec Cacao smoothie with cold brew coffee, almond milk, banana, cacao nibs and cinnamon. So good!
Gnome Cafe. This was by far our favorite! Yes, because everything on the menu is vegan but also because the food is super creative, fresh, and packed full of flavor. It was also a 5-minute walk from our B&B which may or may not be why I booked a room there, teehee. For lunch I got the taco salad (keep an eye out for a recipe recreate!) then we went back for breakfast and had cinnamon pancakes with portobello bacon, a bagel breakfast sandwich with tofu scramble and cheese, and a hemp seed sausage biscuit with pepper jelly. Y’all, that biscuit was UNBELIEVABLE. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Vegan or not, you have to try this place if you’re ever in Charleston!
The Sprout Cafe. Another place with an entirely plant-based menu! We stopped off here on our way back from Sullivan’s Island and got tofu tacos and salad with walnut crumble. It was a tasty, feel-good meal.
Dellz Uptown. Also right around the corner from the B&B, Dellz offers a huge menu full of veggie-friendly options. The vegan nachos are insane. I devoured the whole plate!
Nana’s Donuts. Organic vegan donuts made with whole grain flour? Why yes. That does exist. In Charleston. Thank you very much.
The Gin Joint. Okay, this is more drinks than food but it fits into that realm. If you like to relax with a fancy drink on occasion, this is the perfect spot to do it. Everything is so creative and they even have an option for you to choose two words and have the bartender come up with a drink for you. So much fun and such a cool atmosphere too!
Other Places We Tried
Xiao Bao Biscuit. Very trendy place offering Asian-inspired eats with LOTS of spice. I would have preferred less spice and more flavor, to be honest.
The Rarebit. Known for their Moscow Mules and uncomplicated southern food. We had the veggie burger and the veggie plate. Both were meh.
The Park Cafe. This cafe is super cute with a bright and airy feel. They source all of their ingredients locally and offer a few plant-based options. We weren’t blown away but overall it was a good meal.
Places On Our List We Didn’t Get to Try
Co. Modern Asian food with a separate vegan and gluten-free menu. Kinda wish we would have went here instead of Xiao Bao.
Lotus Vietnamese Cuisine. More Asian food with lots of delicious sounding veggie options.
SNOB. While I read that many of the fine dining restaurants will prepare a veggie plate if requested, this was the only one that actually listed it on the menu. I debated eating here but ultimately decided against it because I didn’t want to shell out a bunch of money for a plate of vegetables. A plate of vegetables is delicious and all but it’s not a complete meal. It’s frustrating because I find that the nicer restaurants lack creativity when it comes to plant-based meals. It would be so easy to incorporate legumes, grains, nuts or seeds. The south has a long way to go in this area.
Zero George. I didn’t discover this until after our visit but the chef at Zero George will prepare a vegan meal upon request. Just be prepared to drop your wallet like it’s hot!
Where We Played
One of the best ways to explore Charleston is by bicycle. The side streets are shady and quiet without too much traffic and the city as a whole is relatively flat. We rode from the inn to Colonial Lake, down to White Point Gardens and all around the South of Broad neighborhood. The homes in this area are truly magnificent. There is so much effort put forth to preserve the history and it makes you feel like you’re taking a step back in time.
Walking Photo Tour
Another fantastic way to take in the city is with a walking tour. The carriage tours are also popular but it’s very unnatural for horses to walk on paved streets surrounded by motor vehicles, carrying enormous amounts of weight all day long. Please avoid those if you can and use the opportunity to get in your steps for the day. End rant. :)
There are a handful of highly rated walking tours on TripAdvisor to choose from but I went with Say Charleston because it includes photography and I thought that would be a fun way to celebrate our anniversary. Liz is a wedding photographer who also worked as a tour guide for several years before starting her own business combining both talents into one. We lucked out and had her all to ourselves for the 2-hour tour and it was such a treat. She is full of knowledge regarding Charleston’s history and delivers it in a way that’s humorous and entertaining. I can’t recommend it enough!
About a 30-minute drive from downtown Charleston is Middleton Place Plantation. The garden here is enormous and makes for a great place to stroll around and appreciate the beauty that Henry Middleton created over 200 years ago. The mossy oaks, the lakes, it’s all very picturesque and romantic. There’s also sheep, horses and other animals (including gators!) to interact with as you explore. It’s definitely worth a visit if you have time!
Drayton Hall Plantation
Just a 10-minute drive from Middleton Place is Drayton Hall, the oldest preserved plantation house still open to the public. They offer tours every hour (which is the only way you’re allowed in the house) and it’s fascinating to step inside and imagine what life would have been like in the 1700’s. I would consider this a must if you’re into architecture.
Boone Hall Plantation
Boone Hall is on the opposite side of the city and is also about a 30-minute drive. We didn’t hang out here very long but it was worth it to see the magnificent oak-lined driveway.
I’m so sad I didn’t take any more pictures while we were at the beach! I don’t know if you can see it but Brandon wrote B+S Charleston 2017 in the sand. Awwww… ;)
I have to admit being a Florida girl makes me a bit of a beach snob. Like I won’t go in the water if it’s brown which is how the water is here. But swimming aside, it’s still a nice place to enjoy the sounds of the ocean. We grabbed an acai bowl then walked up and down the coast to feel the sand between our toes.
I hope you enjoyed the recap of our time in Charleston! If you have anything to add to the list, please share!