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Southern charm: Our Charleston vacation

We recently visited one of my absolute favorite cities for a week-long family vacation for my sister's wedding, and during one quiet drive through Sullivan's Island ("quiet" meaning, we were trying to be as quiet as possible while our daughter napped in the backseat), my exact words to my husband were, "If we don't ever have the chance to relocate here someday, we are definitely retiring here!" This was my fourth time visiting Charleston, South Carolina, and I fell in love with the city's coastal charm all over again. Between the palm trees, beaches, rich American history and culture, fresh seafood, and abundance of southern, plantation-style architecture, Charleston is truly a dream city. If you haven't experienced it for yourself, book yourself a trip, and check out some of these highlights from our recent stay.

Rather than staying at a hotel, we found this newly constructed home by CKC Properties on Airbnb. Built right next to what used to be an old chapel, it has a full kitchen, 4 bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), and outdoor patio area with Adirondack chairs, grill and a hot tub! The house is less than a 10 minute drive to downtown Charleston, making it super easy and convenient to get around:

Photo: CKC Properties

Photo: CKC Properties

Photo: CKC Properties

Because we were traveling with our daughter (and let's face it, toddlers and babies need lots of things!), we wanted to make it a little easier on ourselves and carry as few big ticket items with us as possible on the plane. Charleston Baby's Away was a lifesaver! We rented a crib and highchair from them, and they provided us with a complimentary sound machine (one less thing to remember and pack). They coordinated drop off with our property manager, so everything was all set up for us when we arrived. They even offer other essentials, like beach toys and umbrellas. We definitely recommend them if you're traveling with little ones.

Photo: Charleston Baby's Away

During a walk around our neighborhood, we stumbled upon Sugar Bakeshop, and just had to go inside because it was such a cute storefront. We ended up sampling some mandarin almond sugar cookies, which were amazing, and brought home an assortment of cookies for our family to enjoy. Sugar Bakeshop is also one of the highest rated bakeries in Charleston, and also made my sister's wedding cake:

Photo: Sugar Bakeshop

Photo: Sugar Bakeshop

Tiger Lily florist shop has gorgeous free stems, full arrangements, and these sweet little mason jar flower arrangements! I picked one up as a gift for my sister on her rehearsal, and also in honor of her own mason jar wedding centerpieces:

Photo: Tiger Lily

132 Spring (simply named after its own address) is where I went every day for my cold brew coffee fix. A coffee shop by day, a bar by night...what more do you need?

Here are a few more restaurants we ate at, that I totally recommend:

Tavern & Table is right on the water in Shem's Creek. They have incredible Southern style food and fresh seafood, and I loved the industrial farmhouse vibe:

Photo: Tavern & Table

Edmund's Oast Brewing Co. was such a relaxed, chill, family-friendly atmosphere. We shared an assortment of pizzas and sides, and the food was so good, even our daughter cleaned her plate!

Photo: Edmund's Oast Brewing Co.

Bay Street Bier Garten was the place for the rehearsal dinner, and the food, service, and atmosphere could not have been better. Such a great spot for socializing with family and friends, and this definitely seems like one of the "places to be" in Charleston:

Photo: Bay Street Bier Garten

Photo: Bay Street Bier Garten

Because I love old architecture, and American history was one of my favorite subjects in school, I just had to go on a historical walking tour of this charming coastal city with Charleston Perspective. Learning more about how Charleston gained its independence from Britain (and the cultural effects still present today), plus the stories behind the different architectural features: earthquake bolts, gas lamps, historical plaques, arched front doors, porches as entryways...I was soaking it all in! And we walked through the infamous Rainbow Row, and saw the second oldest house in Charleston (nicknamed "the pink house," built between 1694 and 1712). I'm so inspired to bring the coastal design elements back home with me, and am already infusing them into my own designs.

After our walking tour, we stopped through downtown Charleston and came across Old Whaling Company. Not only does the store smell beyond amazing, but they make their own soaps, lotions, and bath bombs in coastal-inspired scents. They also have cute gifts, like these oyster candles...and the shop owner is a Cleveland, Ohio native:

Photo: Old Whaling Co.

Photo: Old Whaling Co.

Photo: Oyster Candle Company

Cocktail hour for the wedding was on a private chartered sailboat, the Schooner Pride. It was so fun being on such a tall sailboat, and so relaxing and peaceful to spend a few hours sailing around the harbor:

Photo: Schooner Pride

Me & my husband sailing around the harbor

We celebrated my sister and new brother-in-law at Magnolias, a restaurant in the heart of downtown Charleston. Situated right next to a cobblestone street, the restaurant was like stepping right into southern hospitality, and the food was beyond delicious too:

Photo: Magnolias

Photo: Magnolias

Photo: Magnolias

Finally, we were also able to fit in a beach day at Isle of Palms. After driving through Sullivan's Island and IOP (and daydreaming about living in one of the stunning harbor-front homes), we spent time at the family-friendly beach on Isle of Palms, splashing in the waves and looking for seashells:

Photo: Wild Dunes Real Estate

Family beach day

I'm so thankful to have celebrated my sister's wedding in such a beautiful, charming city...and that I was able to share the magic of one of my favorite destinations with my family. If you've experienced it too, share your favorite Charleston places in the comments!

*This post contains affiliate links to places visited and mentioned in this post.