How To Have The Best Squad Trip In Charleston

Photo: Getty Images
Charleston is having a moment: In 2016, the city was rated the number one city in the U.S. for the fourth year in a row — and the best city in the world — by Travel + Leisure. Be it the comfort food or Southern hospitality, people keep coming back for more. It's is an increasingly popular destination for bachelorette parties, weekend trips, or a plain stopover.
So, what exactly makes this place so irresistible? For Olivia Mitchell Brock, a locally-based interior designer and blogger at Lacquered Life, the reasons are threefold: The historic architecture and stunning landscape, the balmy weather, and the amazing Southern cuisine.
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"We are so lucky to be a historic city that is located on the ocean: In one day you can take a surf lesson at Folly Beach, visit an 18th century plantation, and be fed by a James Beard award-winning chef by night," says Brock. With postcard-perfect architecture and proximity to the beach, Charleston checks off all the ideal criteria for a girlfriends' getaway. To ensure you have a blast down South with your squad, we've tapped Brock to her her quintessential list of things to do in The Holy City.
Follow Olivia on Instagram here
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Photo: Courtesy of Park Cafe
The Perfect Morning Routine

Bordered by the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, Charleston is blessed with a stunning riverfront view. "I love taking walks with my girlfriends along East Battery and Murray Boulevard, an intersection that sits at the base of the peninsula," says Brock. "The street hugging Charleston Harbor offers beautiful views of the water and stunning historic architecture."

If you feel like kicking off your day by working out on the water, Brock recommends taking a SUP yoga class — a session involving basic paddle boarding and yoga breath work — at Shem Creek or Sullivan’s Island.

After an active morning, head to Park Cafe to sample their famous toasts: Locals rave about the ricotta, tomato, and avocado on sourdough. "Butcher & Bee is a great healthy breakfast option: Pair the juice menu with their banana bread for a delicious treat."

Park Cafe, 730 Rutledge Avenue; (843) 410-1070

Butcher & Bee, 1085 Morrison Drive; (843) 619-0202
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Photo: Courtesy of Hampden Clothing
Where To Shop

Recognized as one of the top boutiques in the country, Hampden Clothing is a fabulous clothing store on Charleston’s famed King Street. The owner and founder Stacey Smallwood counts fashion designers like Tibi’s Amy Smilovic among her friends.

Hampden Clothing, 314 King Street; (843) 724-6373
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Photo: Courtesy of Candy Shop Vintage
Where To Shop (Continued)

"Candy Shop Vintage is an extremely cool jewelry store: Owner Deirdre Zahl carries a curated mix of vintage jewelry and own her line of vintage inspired jewelry," says Brock. "It is not a trip to Charleston without purchasing some of her famed Charleston Rice Beads."

Brock recommends planning your visit towards the end of the day, so you can follow up your shopping spree with a cocktail at The Ordinary, a buzzy restaurant and bar on King Street.

Candy Shop Vintage, 9 Cannon Street; (843) 737-4289
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Photo: Courtesy of Candlefish
Make A Candle

"Candlefish is a really cool shop that sells the most divine candles," says Brock. "It also hosts candle-making workshops, which is something really fun to try with girlfriends."

Candlefish, 71 Wentworth Street; (843) 371-1434
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Photo: Courtesy of Chez Nous
Where To Dine

Tucked in a hidden alleyway, Chez Nous is a Mediterranean restaurant not to miss. The short and sweet menu pays tribute to fresh local ingredients and is updated every day: You'll typically find two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts. Brock's insider tip? "The chef posts the day’s menu on Instagram every morning, so be sure to follow along."

Chez Nous, 6 Payne Court; (843) 579-3060
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Photo: Courtesy of Leon's Oyster Shop
Where To Dine #2

Comfort food, oysters, and rosé on tap are only a few of the things that make Leon’s Oyster Shop so popular. The restaurant — converted from an old service station — is known for small plates and fried chicken. "The best part by far is the dessert menu, which features only one thing: soft serve ice cream," says Brock.

Leon’s Oyster Shop, 698 King Street; (843) 531-6500
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Photo: Courtesy of Minero
Where To Dine #3

Chef Sean Brock draws countless diners to his restaurant, Minero, through his take on traditional Mexican cuisine through a Southerner's point of view. Brocks' go-to food and drink order? "The fried catfish taco cannot be missed, and the Mexican Mule is always on point."

Minero, 153B East Bay Street; (843) 789-2241
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Photo: Getty
The Best Spots For Squad Photos

"Wandering the streets in Charleston's South of Broad neighborhood is something you just have to do," says Brock. "The neighborhood is a wealth of Instagram opportunities, where colored doors and creeping fig vines are found on very corner." The interior designer counts Church Street and Tradd Street as her favorite blocks to walk through. The multi-color Rainbow Row — the longest row of Georgian house in the country — is an obvious choice for cute photo backdrops.

Another one of Brock's favorite is Waterfront Park, where you can get a panorama of the Ravenel Bridge, Fort Sumter, and Charleston Harbor.
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Photo: Courtesy of Restoration on King.
Where To Stay

"The Restoration Hotel is an ideal place to stay for a large group of friends — most of the hotel rooms are rustic suites, which include multiple bedrooms, kitchens, sitting areas, and sometimes terraces," says Brock.

If you are looking for a beach getaway (and more of a brief visit to downtown Charleston), Brock suggests renting a house on Sullivan’s Island. "The island has some great little restaurants not to mention a beautiful beach – but keep in mind that it's a 25 minute ride downtown."
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