Travel Advice: Charleston, S.C., A Top Destination For Many Reasons

Q: I just read that Travel + Leisure picked Charleston, S.C., as the nation's friendliest city. The wife and I were looking for a nice Southern getaway. What do you suggest for places to stay and things to do in Charleston?

A: Travel + Leisure also picked Charleston as No. 1 for bed-and-breakfasts, inns and antique stores. Conde Nast Traveler magazine readers ranked it behind only San Francisco as a top U.S. destination this year.

As you plan a trip, visit the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau website at or call 843-853-8000 to request a visitors' guide.

Most visitors opt to stay at a bed-and-breakfast or inn with a little history, most of them in Federal-style houses with piazzas. You can search the options at or try one of these:

The Phoebe Pember House dates to 1807 and is billed as a personal retreat. In-room breakfast and private walled gardens are available. Rates from $140. Details:; 843-722-4186.

The 1837 Bed & Breakfast is intimate with nine rooms, each featuring a canopied queen bed. Afternoon tea is a hallmark here. Rates from $119. Details:; 843-723-7166.

If a luxury hotel is more your style, the new Restoration on King features 16 suites with kitchens, living rooms and separate bedrooms. Rates from $249. Details:; 877-221-7202.

As for activities, Charleston is known for its abundance of antique shops and art galleries. You can search by the type of antique or art at Charleston's Finest ( Also of note are the half dozen nearby beaches and an array of highly regarded golf courses (request a guide at or call 800-774-4444).

Keeping with the history theme, take a 30-minute ferry to Fort Sumter, where Confederates opened fire on the federal fort in 1861, launching the Civil War. General tickets are $16. Details:; 800-789-3678.

See the most photographed plantation at Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, eight miles from downtown. For $17.50, you can tour the house, slave street, garden, butterfly pavilion and plantation, the latter by open-air coach. Details:; 843-884-4371.

The holidays are a festive time to visit — which is why Travel + Leisure named Charleston one of the "Best Places for Holiday Travel." The Parade of Boats runs Dec. 4, followed by a street parade Dec. 5. The Holiday Festival of Lights runs through Jan. 2 in the Low Country.

From March 3-6, the city also hosts its annual Wine & Food Festival.

Great Southern cooking and seafood are big in Charleston — be sure to ask the locals for their favorite restaurants.