While Charleston does have outposts of familiar national and international brands, those aren’t what make the city a shopping destination. Instead it’s only-in-Charleston stores like antique shops on King Street, run by the same families for generations; the Charleston City Market where, for over 200 years, residents and visitors have shopped for produce and crafts; and newer stores that celebrate all things artisanal, from clothing to gourmet products. Of course, even the most serious shopper can’t spend all their time in search of one-of-a-kind finds, and so Katie Cadar of Travel Store, a member of AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council, includes plenty of other distractions from spa visits to walking tours.
Begin your visit to Charleston by checking into the Belmond Charleston Place and getting settled in your room. (An alternative hotel option is at the Mills House, at the corner of Meeting and Queen streets.) You have three full days ahead and Katie will arrange for you to ease into it with a visit to the hotel’s spa for a massage, facial or other treatment. Before or after your visit, take time to enjoy the two rooftop pools and views of Charleston.
When you are ready for dinner, float out your hotel for a short stroll to the Cru Café on Pinckney Street. Chose from appropriately light post-spa options like the Chinese chicken salad or turmeric-spiced local fish, or indulge with a rib-eye steak or the poblano and mozzarella fried chicken.
While you could head out on your own in search of one-of-a-kind finds in Charleston, Katie will arrange for a personal shopper to meet you and take you to the stores best suited to your interests and tastes. Your shopping expedition will concentrate on Market Street, right outside the front door of the Belmond Charleston Place and anchored by the Charleston City Market, and the city’s most famous shopping strip, King Street. There you’ll find everything from stores like Ben Silver, an old-world emporium with classic clothes for both men and women, to Ibu Movement, a boutique that features designs by women artisans around the world.
Just around the corner from Ibu Movement is 82 Queen, where you’ll have lunch. Located in three historic buildings, choose from the menu of Lowcountry cuisine salads and sandwiches as you eat in the shade of a magnolia tree.
In the afternoon, Katie will arrange for another private guided tour, though this one with a local historian who will provide insights into Charleston’s long history. The city predates the United States itself by almost a century, having been founded in 1670 by settlers from Bermuda. You’ll visit one of the city’s restored mansions—the Nathaniel Russell House Museum, Aiken-Rhett House Museum, or the Edmondston-Alston House—where perhaps you’ll find some decorating ideas for your own home.
You’ll dine tonight at the Charleston Grill, at the Belmond Charleston Place, one of the city’s most elegant restaurants with a menu that ranges from international dishes to Lowcountry favorites.