How to Spend 48 Hours in Charleston, South Carolina

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The beautiful port city of Charleston has been named America’s #1 City for five years in a row by Southern Living Magazine and once you visit one time, you’ll understand why. This picturesque city is not only nice to look at, but is also full of fun and entertaining things to do from shopping, music and dining to history, culture and recreation. In fact, there’s so much to do here that you could easily fill at least a week. But, if you’ve only got 48 hours to see this Southern town, here are a few of the top must-do Charleston experiences.

Stroll Through the City Market
Charleston City Market

Stroll Through the City Market

On your first day in Charleston, make sure you get an early start and head downtown to the City Market – a Charleston tradition and one of the oldest public markets in the country. It opens at 9:30 a.m. every day and spans across three open-air pavilions, as well as a large, great hall. With more than 300 vendors set up every day, you’ll find all kinds of unique treasures here from paintings and photographs, to textiles and clothing, to food and wine. There are also lots of options for grabbing breakfast in and around the market, including Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, located inside of the Great Hall, where you can indulge in homemade, award-winning biscuits – plain, as part of a breakfast sandwich or with yummy toppings like homemade jam or flavored whipped butter.

Take a Bulldog Tour
Charleston, South Carolina

Take a Bulldog Tour

After you’ve explored the City Market, it’s time to explore the city itself. And there’s no better way to do it than to take a bulldog tour. Named after the mascot of the city’s famous military college – The Citadel, Bulldog Tours has more than 700 years of experience collectively between all their tour guides and offers a tour for every interest, whether you’re curious about the city’s history, its food or even its ghosts. Although all of the tours are walking tours and last about an hour and a half, there are many stops along the way and they are not considered to be strenuous.

Visit the Angel Oak Tree
Angel Oak Park on Johns Island near downtown Charleston

Visit the Angel Oak Tree

Now that you’ve explored downtown Charleston, it’s time to get in the car and take a short drive to the Angel Oak Tree, located on nearby John’s Island. This site is one of the most popular attractions in Charleston and is definitely a must-see attraction. The unique and massive tree is believed to be an amazing 1,500 years old and is thought to be one of the oldest living things in the country. It stands 66.5 feet tall, is 28 feet around and has branches that reach up to 187 feet, causing an expansive area of shade underneath. In fact, one of the best views to check out is standing underneath and looking up into the large network of branches. It’s free to explore, but you will have to park on the nearby side street and walk in since the tree is on protected property.

Take a Dinner Cruise
The dinner cruises include a 3-4 course meal, full bar and live entertainment.

Take a Dinner Cruise

After your long day of exploring, it’s time to go back to the hotel and freshen up before you head out to dinner. Although the city is literally filled with amazing places to eat, why not take your Charleston experience up a notch by going on a dinner cruise? SpiritLine Cruises offers luxury dining experiences on their yachts, which include a two and a half hour cruise, a three or four course meal that’s prepared onboard using fresh, local ingredients, a full bar, live music and amazing sunset views.

Go to the Beach
There's plenty to do on Isle of Palms including swimming, kayaking, biking and playing golf.

Go to the Beach

For your second day in Charleston, it’s time to head out of the city a little and check out the beautiful nearby beach, Isle of Palms. Located about 12 miles from downtown, this barrier island is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, offering amazing views no matter which way you look. Depending on what time of year you visit, there are lots of things to enjoy here including going for a swim in the ocean, a walk along the beach, hitting the water in a kayak or paddleboard, or enjoying a round of golf at the Wild Dunes Resort.

Eat Some Fresh Seafood
Acme Lowcountry Kitchen serves unique dishes, as well as old favorites like fried shrimp.

Eat Some Fresh Seafood

While you’re enjoying the Isle of Palms, make sure to visit one of the island’s delicious restaurants for lunch or dinner and try some authentic coastal cuisine, like the Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, where you can enjoy classics like fried shrimp and fried flounder, or unique dishes like the lobster burger, blackened shrimp and grits, or grilled short rib and cheese sandwich. Wash it down with one of their specialty cocktails like a gin mule or the “painkiller” – made with pineapple juice, orange juice, cream of coconut, rum and nutmeg.

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