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Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

Boston
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Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

My family and I are planning trip to Charleston on the July 10th weekend. We are hoping to get to Charleston in the morning on Saturday (10/11am) and leave on Sunday evening/night spending one night at a hotel in/around Charleston. This is our first foray in to the area (indeed the South in general), so any tips/advice are more than welcome. A few specific questions:

(1) What area should we look to stay in? (we'd like to keep the budget as low as possible but still stay somewhere convenient to the local attractions) We will be driving to Charleston from the Atlanta area so we will have a car that will need to be parked overnight.

(2) We are interested in the historical aspects of the city and would probably like to visit a plantation home while we are there if possible. I've come across a few through searches like the Middleton, Magnolia Plantation, etc. but I was wondering if people have any recommendations on this front? How long would a tour of one of these homes take? And I assume these require a car to get to?

(3) Any recommendations for "must-do" things in the city? I've heard of the carriage tours which is something we might want to do. Anything else?

(4) We were also thinking of maybe combining Savannah, GA in to the trip since they are so close and maybe spending a day there and another day in Charleston. Is this feasible? Do both cities offer similar attractions/things to do?

Charleston, South...
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1. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

At the top right of this page is "Top Questions about Charleston" - start out by reading this, it will give you lots of info and tips. There is even a portion devoted to what to do on short trips.

You need to make a hotel reservation SOON. This is peak season in the Charleston area and on top of that we are getting many visitors who have cancelled vacations in the Gulf area, making things even more busy. For more budget conscious options, look for a hotel in Mt. Pleasant, an upscale suburb of Charleston and very convenient to get to the downtown historic attractions. Avoid the North Charleston area.

With the short amount of time that you have, I would skip trying to see a plantation also. It would take several hours plus the travel time of half hour or more, depending on what you choose. There are several historic homes downtown that you can tour for a similar experience. There is more than enough in the downtown area to keep you busy for 3 or 4 days, much less 1 or 2. I would also skip Savannah. Charleston has much more to see and do than does Savannah. Charleston was not burned in the Civil War and therefore has architecture that dates back to the 1600's. Unfortunately, Savannah was burned and lost many of their historic landmarks. If you were going to be here a week, I would say "by all means, take a side trip to Savannah", but with such short time you won't be able to do justice to either place. Plan a longer trip in the future for the plantations and for Savannah.

Carriage ride is generally considered a must do, especially on short trips.

Carriages leave from the Market area, each one holds approx 15 people and will leave when it is filled. The city operates a lottery system that determines what section of Charleston each carriage will go to. You will not know until your carriage leaves which section it has drawn. This is true of all carriages, but all sections are interesting. Carriage drivers must pass a history test on Charleston and the various routes prior to getting the job, so they are well informed. Go to the Visitors Center for discount coupons for the carriage rides. Each tour lasts 1 to 1.5 hour.

Kiawah Island...
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2. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

Agree w/Endo, look to Mt. Pleasant for most affordable, but you must reserve now, if you are able to find anything.

Beyond that, as stated above, you won't have time for much more than a carriage ride and maybe visit one or two of the historic houses in town. A quick visit to the Visitor's Center will help you w/info. Just wandering around the Historic District is fun in itself.

Enjoy your visit!

Charleston, South...
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3. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

The drive from Atlanta is at least 5 hours. With the limited amount of time, I would concentrate on just one town. Given the options, Charleston would be my pick of the two. You might find some good rates at The Marriott Riverview or some of the ones on the Ashley River. They are away from the historical district but ok if you have a car.

I agree to skip Middleton Place on this trip with the limited amount of time. Take the carriage ride, shop in The Market then head over to Waterfront Park and walk through it, walk past Rainbow Row then down to the Battery. Maybe tour a historic home. I recommend either the Edmonston Alston House or the Nathaniel Russell House then stroll through the residential streets south of Broad. Maybe shop on King Street and go through some of the art galleries.

When you get home, go ahead and make reservations to return and spend at least a week. You will want to come back.

Atlanta, Georgia
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4. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

The first time we came we took one of the tours- in the morning we did the city, homes, and market square then in the afteroon you could choose either Magnolia or Middleton. We did Magnolia plantation. That was a great way to see the main sites and get a feel for Charleston. We of course came back and spent much more time on our own doing other museums, more time at market square, the historic area, and touring the other plantations. Have a great trip.

Boston
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5. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

What tour company did you use? Any recommendations?

I think we will stay in Mount Pleasant - is there a recommended way to get in to Charleston? I've read about the water taxi, but I'm not sure how popular/convenient that is. If we drove in, how much would parking at one of the downtown garages be? Any weekend special rates? (I haven't been able to find specific parking rates anywhere)

Thanks everyone for the responses!

Greensboro, North...
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6. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

If you stay in Mt P you'll want to drive into Charleston. The water taxi is fine, but it's quicker just to drive.It's hot this time of year and you may want to go back to your room for a break.

You can get parking rates by clicking on the symbols on this link:

charleston-sc.gov/shared/docs/0/parking.html. Meters are free on Sundays, but I always park in the garage during summer.

Charleston, South...
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7. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

Regardless of which road you are on in Mt. P (Hwy 17 or Coleman Blvd.) both go directly to the Ravenel Bridge (Cooper River bridge) and from there into downtown, just follow the exit sign.

As a general rule, the traffic is much heavier on Hwy 17 than on Coleman.

Atlanta, Georgia
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8. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

Our hotel helped make the arrangements for a day tour of the city and plantations. I believe we used historic tours of Charleston

www.historictoursofcharleston.com

Williamsport...
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9. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

Thanks for all the info as I have the exact same questions. Hoping to spend a few day around Labor Day week.

Kiawah Island...
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10. Re: Advice for a 1-2 day trip to Charleston

To those of you who haven't booked accomodations, you need to get crackin'!!! The Charleston area (and all SC beach communities) are being filled up by refugees from the Gulf Coast. From what we're hearing there isn't much left if you have very specific desires (especially lower priced lodging).