Travel Matters Ltd

25th January 2020

USA – Charleston is a real Southern Belle!

Charleston is home to rich history, well preserved architecture and one of the most exciting food scenes in the US. Church steeples not skyscrapers dot the skyline, the streets are cobbled and the buildings pastel coloured. The city oozes old world charm and is now much more accessible with the launch in April of a new direct British Airways flight. Petra was on one of the first flights out of Heathrow – here are a few of her recommendations of what to do and where to stay in and around this Southern Belle.

Experience Charleston’s rich history on a horse and carriage tour or sail aboard a three mast schooner
Experience Charleston’s rich history on a horse and carriage tour

Charleston exists as one of North America’s most architecturally significant destinations. The classic way of seeing the confection coloured homes of Rainbow Row and hearing a little more of the city’s history is in a horse and carriage tour. Palmetto Carriage Works is the oldest carriage tour company in Charleston using mule or horse-drawn carriages and operates out of the Big Red Barn – it also has an excellent record of animal care. If you’re visiting in the summer and want to escape the crowded streets and sweltering heat of downtown Charleston, then why not take to the water for an exhilarating daily sail or romantic sunset cruise on board The Schooner Pride, an 84′ tall ship, modelled after the 18th century coastal trading schooners that once dotted the harbour. On the peaceful 2 hour sailing tour, there’s also a chance to spot dolphins and pelicans.

Stay in Charleston’s latest historic hotel

Hotel Bennett, the South’s grandest new hotel, overlooks the iconic and historic Marion Square in Downtown Charleston carefully combining European architectural inspiration with classic Southern furnishings and details throughout. The 9 storey hotel features 179 stylish guest rooms and two signature restaurants, Gabrielle Charleston with an outdoor dining terrace and the French-style La Patisserie. However, no surprises what got the biggest thumbs up was the 35 foot-long rooftop swimming pool with sweeping views of Charleston’s cityscape and the enormous freestanding baths which you could also possibly swim in!

The Mcleod Plantation House
Visit a plantation house like Mcleod Plantation

Magnolia Plantation is one of the most visited plantations in South Carolina but we’d also suggest a visit to Middleton Place, a national historic landmark and home to the oldest landscaped gardens in America. Rare camellias bloom in the winter, while vibrant azaleas blanket the hillside in the spring. If you’re looking for the true Spanish moss, “Gone with the Wind” style plantation house, check out Mcleod Plantation, established in 1851 and also an important Gullah/Geechee heritage site.

Try some Lowcountry fair
Try some Lowcountry fair

If you want to really experience the heart and soul of Charleston, taste the local cuisine. Comprised of heirloom recipes proudly passed from one generation to the next, Lowcountry cuisine has evolved over the past 300 years with Petra’s top restaurant recommendation being The Charleston Grill. Diners travel far and wide for the Grill’s signature crab cakes, a long-standing fixture on the award-winning menu, this dish features a generously packed cake of fresh crab meat and a winning blend of herbs and spices. You should also sample a Low Country Boil, the south-eastern coast’s equivalent to a New England clambake – a large pot with shrimp or crab, along with a spicy sausage, corn, potatoes and plenty of seasoning. If you’re planning a visit, Charleston Restaurant Week is one of the most highly anticipated culinary events in the Charleston area.

Enjoy the beauty of Beaufort
Enjoy the beauty of Beaufort

Beaufort is the second oldest city in the state of South Carolina, a history buff’s dream and a romantic sanctuary. Just 70 miles south of Charleston, Beaufort was the backdrop to many iconic Hollywood movies including The Big Chill, The Great Santini and Forest Gump. The Beaufort Inn, a gorgeous boutique hotel in the heart of historic downtown, Beaufort would be our choice of where to stay, either in the historic mansion itself or in one of the lovingly restored cottages.

Relax on Hilton Head’s beaches or tee off on a golf course
Relax on Hilton Head’s beaches or tee off on a golf course

Located at the southernmost tip of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island is your quintessential holiday destination where you can enjoy over 12 miles of some of the best beaches in the US, kayak in the tidal waters of the coast, go fishing in the Atlantic or get up close and personal with a bottle-nose dolphin.  However, most people come to Hilton Head for the world-class golf experience and it doesn’t disappoint.  Each of the 24 golf courses has its own set of unique characteristics and challenges to keep even the most skilled player motivated. 

Charleston was named No.1 city in the US by the readers of Travel + Leisure and we agree, there’s much to love about the city. This is just a taster of what Charleston and the region has to offer and with plans underway to mark Charleston’s 350th Anniversary during 2020, there is a lot to look forward to.

To find out more about Charleston visit

We would be happy to arrange a visit to Charleston and South Carolina through our partner North American Travel Service – give us a call.

By Karen Simmonds
25th January 2020