5 Things: A Travel Guide to Charleston


In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the country to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Olivia Rae James shows us around charming Charleston, South Carolina.

5 Things: Charleston
Olivia Rae James

I first visited Charleston when I was in middle school, and immediately knew I would live here one day—it’s such an easy place to fall in love with. The peninsula on the South Carolina coast is small and walkable, but chock-full of amazing gems. To experience all the incredible food and drink here you’d have to stay weeks (or eat twelve meals a day), and there are constantly new alleys or secret gardens to be discovered. It’s a charming little city that’s perfect for getting lost in, but just in case you’re more of a planner, here are a few favorite must-see spots.



Chez Nous, 6 Payne Court, (843) 579-3060

Located in a tiny house tucked away in an alley, Chez Nous‘s small daily menu (two appetizers, two entrees, two desserts) never fails to amaze. Exquisite French food, intimate setting, charming people—I’m sold.






The Commons, 54 1/2 Broad Street, (646) 408-3447

The Commons is a little shop filled with the most amazing collection of American-made treasures. Hidden away on Broad Street, it shares a space with Heirloom Book Company, where you can find unique cookbooks, both new and old.



Zero George Street, 0 George Street, (843) 817-7900

Zero George Street is a bed-and-breakfast made up of five restored historic houses. With its contemporary decor, delicious breakfasts, gorgeous courtyard, and ideal location for walking anywhere in the historic district, it’s my favorite hotel downtown.


Hither and Thither-1-3



My favorite thing to do in Charleston is to walk around the southernmost part of the peninsula, also known as South of Broad. It’s home to the most gorgeous houses, gardens, oak-shaded streets, narrow alleys, and endless water views. Battery Park is a perfect destination for running around with kids or dogs, and enjoying the stunning surroundings.

Hither and Thither-1-2

If you feel like getting off the peninsula and heading to the coast, the drive to Sullivan’s Island is short and scenic (and the beach is beautiful).




A sun hat, $98, and a light-and-easy dress, $80

Charleston gets very hot and very humid. Unless you’re visiting in the short winter season, prepare to bring cool clothes and sun protection. I love this straw hat from Accompany and this breezy white dress from Proud Mary.

Thank you so much, Olivia! And thank you to Shoko Wanger for her help with this series. I’ve only spent a couple of days in Charleston, for a wedding—but I just loved it! I hope to return soon and put these tips to use.

P.S. Olivia wrote a lovely guest post here while I was enjoying my first days home with baby Hudson. Seems like ages ago!

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