The Best Way to Spend 3 Days in Charleston, SC

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Key Points

  • With three days in Charleston, you’ve got time to enjoy the beach, take a plantation tour, enjoy a sunset cruise, and sample the city’s best food.
  • Some of the best places to eat in Charleston include 82 Queen, Taco Boy, Cru Cafe, FIG, and Magnolia’s.
  • Don’t miss out on walking around the downtown area and taking in the historic building as well as doing some shopping. The Battery, Rainbow Row, and the Market are all top places to stop. 

A weekend in Charleston is a great way to get a taste of all of the city’s charm. 

Staying in the heart of the city in the downtown area will be your best bet if you don’t have a car.  Downtown is very walkable and you’ll have easy access to plenty of wonderful sites. 

If you have a car and want to save a little money on your accommodations, stay right across the bridge in Mt. Pleasant. This is a lovely suburb and very close to downtown.

Once you’ve locked in your accommodations, it’s time to put together your itinerary. There is a lot to do for all kinds of interests, so feel free to tailor these suggestions to what will be most exciting for you and your traveling companions.

For more information on specific things to do in Charleston, check out our posts on the top walking and hiking trails, free museums, and beaches.

itinerary for 3 dasy in Charleston, South Carolina

Day 1

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Rainbow Row

Start off your trip with some delicious brunch at 82 Queen. I recommend the Low Country Bowl. 

Use your first day to get yourself acclimated to the city. You can book a walking tour or carriage ride if you want to learn about the city’s history. Or, explore on your own. 

Walk down the Battery and marvel at the antebellum mansions and the water. Then, stroll down Rainbow Row. Check out the Market and pick up some Charleston souvenirs.

Treat yourself to a nice dinner to celebrate the start of your Charleston vacation. Some great suggestions are SNOB, FIG, or Magnolia’s. You’ll definitely need to make reservations well in advance if you’d like to go to any of these classic Charleston restaurants.

I personally have loved everything I’ve had at SNOB. Their menu changes daily and is all freshly prepared. They’re super accommodating on dietary preferences as well. If you save room for dessert, order the chocolate mousse. SNOB may be pricey, but it’s well worth it. 

Day 2


Drrayton Hall

On your next day, take in Charleston’s history. But first, get some coffee to get you started for the day. The Harbinger is a fun coffee shop that also has amazing quiches, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches. 

Once you’re all fueled up and ready to go, it’s time for a plantation tour. Middleton or Boone Hall are great choices and not fair from downtown. Both offer a number of guided and self-guided tours, including tours of the house and gardens and tours highlighting the life and culture of those enslaved at the plantation. Middleton also offers a tour where you’ll learn more about the historic livestock breeds that were once raised there. Drayton Hall is another good option that is close to the airport.

After your tour, return downtown and walk down King Street. You’ll find boutiques, clothing stores, and plenty of restaurants here. Leon is a great place to grab lunch, especially if you are craving oysters and seafood.

Afterwards, visit Waterfront Park and snap a picture of the Pineapple Fountain. After dinner at Cru Cafe, grab some dessert at Off Track Ice Cream. They have dairy and vegan flavors and offer ice cream flights perfect for sharing or if you just can’t decide on a flavor.

Day 3

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Sullivan’s Island

Use your final day as a relaxation day by hitting the beach! Start by grabbing some breakfast at Toast All Day and then make your way to the coast. The closest beaches from downtown are Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, and Folly Beach. 

All have their own vibe, so pick the one that suits your preferences. If you go to Folly beach, have lunch at Taco Boy. On Sullivan’s Island (and also close to Isle of Palms), head to Home Team BBQ.

After your beach day, return downtown for dinner at Church and Union. This restaurant has a cool vibe, inside an old church. If you want to keep the night going, grab some drinks at Ritual Rooftop. Or, take a sunset sail on the Schooner Pride. This is a great way to get out on the water and enjoy the sunset on your last evening in Charleston.

The Bottom Line

Charleston is filled with historic sites, great places to eat, and beautiful beaches. With three days in Charleston, you’ll have time to take a tour of a Charleston plantation, visit the shops on King Street, and take a sunset sail on the water. You can also sample some of Charleston’s best restaurants, including 82 Queen, SNOB, and Cru Cafe.