What if you could go somewhere with warm weather, fantastic food, on the water, with a bustling downtown, charming architecture and houses, history, and 15+ breweries. You can– it’s Charleston!
I visited Charleston for the first time last month and fell in love with the area. You know what I learned while planning the trip? Everyone you know who has been to Charleston will go out of their way to enthusiastically tell you their favorite places to go (thank you to each of you!!) Not once did someone say “eh, Charleston is ok”. No no, everyone I talked to said CHARLESTON IS AWESOME make sure you do <all these things>. Heck yes! My friend and I were so excited for our 5-day trip.
We received excellent recommendations for while we were there– some from our friends who had been before (see above); some from locals we met along the way; and some that we found on le Google.
And the result? A freaking fantastic trip!!
First, a summary. Here is where I’d recommend for eating, drinking, and exploring:
- Butcher & Bee — Brunch. Get Bloody Marys and sandwiches
- Husk — Dinner. Get biscuits and cocktails (among other things)
- Hominy Grill — Breakfast/brunch. Get the Nasty Biscuit
- Home Team — Sports & BBQ
- Pearlz — Happy Hour. Get the oysters
- Leon’s — Lunch. Get the hush puppies
- Artisan Meat Share — Lunch. Get meaty sandwiches
Beers / Breweries:
- Freehouse Brewery — organic beers. Sours.
- Ghost Monkey Brewery — relaxed vibe, pool table, couches, peanut butter porter
- Cooper River Brewing Co. — Barley Wine. Outdoor space.
- Revelry Brewing Co. — Huge rooftop, sports (tvs), locals spot
- Palmetto Brewing Co. — Big outdoor space, live music, friendly staff
- Lagunitas Brewery — HUGE. 3 stories. Live music daily. solid beers.
- Sushikon — Brewery sushi party bus
- The Battery — civil war history
- Rainbow Row — unique, colorful houses distinctive with Charleston architecture
- The Market — tourists but you should see it
- Waterfront park — big park on the water. Views. Green space.
- A plantation — we didnt actually get the chance to do this, but definitely on my list for next time
Now that you have the overall summary, I’ll let you know that my 5 favorites were:
- The biscuits at Husk Restaurant
- The beer and atmosphere at Revelry Brewing Co. & Palmetto Brewing Co.
- Walking around downtown, including Rainbow Row & the Battery
- Running along the water and around the town
Allow me to elaborate.
1. Sushikon. Hands down, my favorite part of the trip. What is Sushikon, you ask? It’s an all-inclusive, elevated culinary experience complete with amazing sushi and copious craft beer. In other words– it’s a party bus that picks you up downtown. It takes you to three different Charleston breweries, where you can sample any of the beers you’d like and drink 2 12-oz-pour beers at each brewery (you have about 45 minutes at each brewery). After each brewery (while you’re being driven to the next location) you enjoy a course of SUSHI! Yes, that’s right. It’s a beer & sushi party bus.
Our evening went like this:
Hopped on the bus with 15 other people at the bus pickup on Meeting Street. It was me and my friend; 2 couples around our age; and a big birthday party of people. So, you’ll likely walk away with some friends! So we’re on the bus. Hewitt, who also is the owner and chef, was super cool and welcoming. When everyone was on the bus, he asked if anyone had any particular breweries they wanted to go to– basically all Charleston breweries are fair game as options!! With his recommendations, we (the whole crew) settled on 3: Freehouse Brewery; Ghost Monkey Brewery; and Cooper River Brewing Co.
With our brewery plan in place, we were off to our first location– Freehouse! It was only about 10 minutes away. This is actually the only place where I didnt take a photo (oops). I was just so excited for some BEER 😀 Freehouse is an organic brewery that specializes in sours and saisons. I tried small samples of those, but went with a stout and IPA for the full pours. The brewery was cozy and on the smaller side, yet lively and full of people. It was raining when we were there, but it looked like they had a cool outdoor space too.
After we finished at Freehouse, we got back on the bus to head to Ghost Monkey. Upon walking onto the bus, we saw our first course ready to eat– sushi nachos!!
Oh man, these were incredible. Loaded with fish; avocado; and finger-licking sauce, we all gleefully chowed down on these, almost forgetting that we were on a bus being escorted to our next location of beer imbibing.
Which wassss Ghost Monkey Brewery!
This was my favorite of the 3 that we went to. The vibe was super chill. We could have just stayed there–relaxing on couches or playing some pool, and drinking beers. Why not right?? The highlight here was the peanut butter porter. If you like a unique dark beer, and you like peanut butter, don’t think, just do it. 😀
And finally, onto our last stop! Along the way, it was SUSHI TIME!! There was enough sushi for everyone to have plenty of each spicy tuna roll and salmon cream cheese roll. Plenty to go around, mix and match with your neighbor, etc. And of course it was serviced with the appropriate accoutrements of ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce. Perfection.
When we were finishing up sushi time, we arrived at our third brewery– Cooper River Brewing Co. The vibe here was edgy & bold. Bright red walls, a clear view into the brewery tanks, and some cool art on the walls. Here I had a nitro stout and a barley wine, and damnnnn they were good. Have you had barley wine? Do you like to try new things? Give it a whirl. It’s a strong, potent, dangerously amazing intense beer, that some say is reminiscent of wine. Try it, see what you think.
But wait, Sushikon isn’t done yet– there is still one more course– Dessert!
As we popped donuts into our mouths, we were chauffeured back to the same location we were picked up– right in Downtown. Everyone emptied off the bus full, buzzed, and beaming with smiles.
And that, my friends, is how you do a Saturday night. That is Sushikon. *Mic drop*
Favorite part of the trip #2: The BISCUITS at Husk Restaurant
I love a good biscuit. A warm, fluffy, flaky, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth biscuit. Husk served these to us in the form of mini biscuits (so cute!) alongside country ham, dijonnaise, and pickles (which they make in house).
Can we talk about this presentation?? The only downside was that there were only 3 biscuits… but 5 pieces of ham. What’s a girl to do with fewer biscuits and ham roses?! Well, we ordered more, duh 😀 They did charge us extra, which surprised me. But, oh well, 1000% worth it. I’ll order a dozen more, please. KTHX. Yum.
Favorite part #3: Revelry Brewing Co. & Palmetto Brewing Co.
These were my two favorite breweries of the trip. Both were places I feel like I could become a regular. You could just spend a whole day at either one. Hanging out, sipping beers, playing with other people’s dogs (too bad Pippa wasn’t with me..), listening to live music…are you sold?
We went to Revelry Brewing Co. on the rainy Sunday of our trip. I would love to go back on a sunny day, because they have a huge beautiful rooftop that looked CLUTCH. But alas, le rain. So, we went inside. The place is relatively small. All in one room you can see their brewing tanks, the bar, tvs, and a small empty spot where they’ll have live music. Like I said, it was Sunday, so we watched football while enjoying flights of beer, followed by….a lot of other full beers.
We spent the whole day there. Gabbing, drinking, relaxing. If I lived in Charleston….this would be one of my regular spots.
Palmetto Brewing Co. was the sixth and final brewery that we went to on the trip, on our last full day. HAHA yep you read that right. Over the course of our 5-day trip, we went to 6 breweries. All the beers. But Palmetto had my favorite vibe. The outdoor area is spacious and equipped with picnic tables, bar stools, and heaters. When you walk in, you notice a stage in the back where they have live music. Just inside is the bar, where you can order flights or full beers. My friend and I each got a flight to start, and then a full beer after of our favorite. We took the beers outside and posted up at a high-top with stools, next to a heat lamp (it got just a smidge chilly as the sun went down, but the heat lamp (and alcohol blanket…) was/were perfect.
The beers were exceptional. I particularly liked the Juice Monster IPA and the Quarter Past Bourbon– a nitro bourbon barrel-aged porter. As we sat their chatting and sipping our beers (and charging our phones, because there were outdoor outlets – win), the open mic night started! I mean, I’ll say it again, what more do you need?? We would have stayed for hours longer if we didn’t have a dinner reservation (at Husk…you know, the place with the biscuits–see above) 😀
BONUS– Revelry and Palmetto are a mere half-a-mile away from each other. So when you go to one, you might as well swing by the other. Beer double-feature.
Favorite part #4: Walking around downtown, including Rainbow Row & the Battery
Charleston is a historic town. You could spend days taking tours and absorbing the history. We did some of the highlights.
First, Rainbow Row
Rainbow Row is located on East Bay Street along the waterfront. These houses originally (hundreds of years ago) were owned by merchants who would have their business on the first level and live in the rest of the house. These homes are also quintessential of Charleston architecture. And, if, nothing else, makes a really cool picture. 😉
The Battery, located just a bit down the road from Rainbow Row, where the Ashley River meets the Cooper River, is the site of a coastal defense artillery battery from the civil-war. It’s a fortified seawall. Today, it looks mostly like a small park, but you can walk along the seawall and see the cannons and memorial that represent the history.
Favorite part #5: Running along the water and around the town
Running around Charleston was amazing. And I mean like, laced up my sneakers and went jogging in the mornings. The weather is so beautiful and the area is fun to run around! I went up and down King Street, around the Battery, and to Waterfront Park.
While these were my top 5 favorite parts of the trip, there was no part that I didn’t enjoy. In other words, I freaking loved it here. Some other recommendations….
Leon’s– go here for lunch (or dinner)
Butcher & Bee— we went here for brunch. I definitely recommend it. Go here for brunch, and then walk over to Revelry Brewing for the rest of the day (like .3 miles down the road)
Hominy Grill. Go here for breakfast/brunch. They do not take reservations, so be prepared to wait a bit. For two of us on a Saturday at 11am, we waited about 30 minutes, so not bad. Cute patio!
Pearlz. On East Bay street– right next to Lagunitas Brewery (see next item). Pearlz happy hour is the shit. 1 dozen oysters for $10.95. And $3.50 oyster shooters that were DELICIOUS. $3 champagne, $4 wine. CHyeah– go there for happy hour.
Lagunitas Brewery. This place was huge!! Three levels. Live music every day at 4:20pm. Pretzels and peanuts at the table. Delicious beers. Super relaxed.
Husk. I know, I’ve already raved about their biscuits, but everything here really was fantastic.
And that, my friends, is a Charleston wrap! Just my opinions of course, but if you’re thinking about going to Charleston, I hope you find this helpful. And, there is so much that we didn’t do. More food to be had; beers and craft cocktails to be sipped; and sites to be seen. I can’t wait to go back. If you have any Charleston favorites, feel free to leave them in the comments!