Travel

Boston Traveler: Sample Delicious Lowcountry Cuisine in Charleston

Searching for the perfect post-vaccine getaway? A dose of this port city’s southern hospitality may be just what the doctor ordered.


A view of downtown Charleston at dusk. / Photo by Traveler1116/Getty Images

If someone held a beauty pageant of U.S. cities, Charleston—with its oak trees dripping in Spanish moss, babbling fountains, and gracious antebellum architecture—would stand a good chance of winning.

Its culinary scene, meanwhile, could win a competition of its own. While not exactly heart-healthy, Lowcountry cooking is one of the most mouthwatering cuisines known to man, and the city is packed with top-notch variations on it. Nationally acclaimed restaurants include 167 Raw, the southern equivalent of a high-end New England clam shack; Hall’s Chophouse, famous for its Sunday gospel brunch; and Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, whose founder won the James Beard Award for best chef in the Southeast in 2018.

When you’ve finally had your fill, there are plenty of ways to get moving again. If it feels like there’s a house museum on every street corner in Charleston, that’s because there pretty much is. Two can’t-miss spots are the Nathaniel Russell House, with its exquisite spiral staircase, and the Joseph Manigault House, featuring a superb collection of 19th-century antiques. Bring home your own memento from quintessentially Charleston shops such as Sapphire Boutique, known for its Kentucky Derby–worthy hats, and Grady Ervin, which has the Tensaw hunting jackets and sterling silver belt buckles to outfit yourself or your SO like a southern gentleman.

Of course, not everything in Charleston is romance, charm, and good eats. Once America’s biggest point of entry for enslaved people, the city is attempting to come to terms with this history by acknowledging it and educating visitors at former rice plantations such as Middleton Place (home of America’s oldest landscaped gardens), Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, and the Old Slave Mart Museum.

A sunset harbor cruise is an ideal way to reflect and unwind at the end of the day, with the bonus of frequent bottlenose-dolphin sightings. For those who can’t get enough aquatic life, the South Carolina Aquarium offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with alligators and sea turtles. Ultimately, though, the best thing to do in Charleston is simply to wander. No matter where you go, you’re guaranteed to bump into something of extraordinary historical importance and unparalleled beauty.

The glamorous pool at the Charleston Place hotel. / Photo courtesy of Belmond

Getting There

JetBlue and Delta both fly nonstop from Logan to Charleston International Airport, which is a 20-minute drive to the heart of the city. Pro tip: Pack comfy shoes, preferably waterproof ones. Charleston is one of the most walkable cities in America, but its elevation of a mere 20 feet means it floods more often than Venice.

Staying There

A serene oasis in a superb location, Charleston Place is a Belmond property, with all the luxurious elegance that implies, from the iconic horse sculpture in the courtyard to the marble lobby to the meticulously appointed guest rooms. We suggest springing for a room on the Club Level, which encompasses the hotel’s top two floors and boasts the best views of the city.