Sweet, soulful Charleston has all the trappings of a girls' getaway: great shopping, red-hot restaurants, historic hotels, and a vibrant nightlife. Here, we've put together the ultimate girls' weekend guide to the Southern town, complete with all the attractions and activities sure to please your BFFs.
If you and the girls aren’t opposed to a wait, get in line for 167 Raw, a tiny, Nantucket-style restaurant whose freshly-shucked oysters and buttery lobster rolls are considered among the best in the city. It’s perennially packed (hence the hour-plus wait), but once seated, you’re in for hours of food-related fun. A chalkboard menu on the tiled wall lists oysters by region, size, and salinity; after you’ve had your fill of the raw bar, tuck into the mouth-watering carnitas taco, slow-cooked for ten hours, or the legendary tuna burger, washing it all down with a local craft beer.
For an authentic taste of the South, look no further than Sean Brock’s Husk, a pilgrimage-worthy foodie destination housed in a historic 1800s Charleston mansion. Start at the bar, located in a separated brick warehouse, and sample your way through the extensive list of bourbons, including its own barrel of the rare Pappy Van Winkle. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head back to the restaurant, where every single item on the menu, from the salt to the olive oil, has been sourced from below the Mason-Dixie line. Your order: shrimp and grits with smoked sausage; cornmeal-dusted catfish with Sea Island red peas and butterbeans; and a praline tart with Asian pear and candied pecan ice cream.
Blending Old World elegance and Southern charm, The Vendue is a historic, art-filled hotel in the city’s French Quarter. Sparkling marble hallways, hardwood floors, chandeliers, and original wood beams nod to the property’s 18th-century roots, while the eccentric collection of modern art keeps the hotel from feeling staid. For dinner, make reservations at the intimate Library Restaurant, a swanky spot with Lowcountry cuisine, then keep the good times rolling at the rooftop bar, where there are 360-degree views of the Charleston Harbor and nearby Waterfront Park.
The Cocktail Club
Getting the girls together calls for a big celebration. Cheers to the occasion at The Cocktail Club, an upscale drinking den with creative “farm-to-shaker” beverages, made with ingredients sourced from the bar’s rooftop garden, and speakeasy-inspired interiors (think: exposed brick walls, salvaged wood doors and beams, and sleek leather furnishings). Order the Right and Wrong (local hat Trick Gin, Cocchi Americano, honey, sage, and tonic), or split a boozy punch bowl with one of your girlfriends.
At this boutique shop on buzzy King Street, you’ll browse investment-worthy pieces from designers like Isabel Marant and Rick Owens in a charming storefront dating back to 1993. Have limited space in your suitcase? The shop also carries plenty of small gifts and collectibles, from candles and books to Laboratory perfumes.
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Zero George Street
For an introduction to Charleston’s genteel history and contemporary charm, head to Zero George Street, an understated boutique hotel that occupies five 19th-century buildings. The 16 guest rooms are the picture of subtle refinement, with heart pine flooring, Frette linens, and marble countertops. The hotel's best selling point is the culinary offerings: a custom Lacanche range dominates the front room of the 1804 carriage house, where chef Vinson Petrillo hosts cooking classes and prepares an ever-changing menu of Low Country specialties with a modern twist.
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Fritz Porter Design Collective
Don’t leave the city without doing a little souvenir-shopping at the Fritz Porter Design Collective, a 6,500-square-foot emporium highlighting Southern brands, dealers, and artisans. We picked up one-of-a-kind vintage finds, jewelry from designer Heather Key Tiller, and beautiful ceramic vessels and glassware from Charleston-based The Shelter Collection.
The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
Take a break from all the eating, drinking, and shopping with an edifying stop at The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. One of the city’s only institutions exclusively devoted to contemporary art, the museum brings in artists from around the world for temporary exhibits. Currently on view: Aurora Robson’s The Tide is High and Christ Jordan’s Midway, which explore the effects of plastic waste on aquatic ecosystems.