How to Experience Charleston, South Carolina in 48 Hours

Rachel HannahMarch 25, 2021

This post is about everything I did while in South Carolina for 48 hours. I also spill on which beach I enjoyed more- Folly Beach or Sullivan’s Island Beach. After reading this you’ll know where to go in Charleston!

My road trip continued in Charleston, South Carolina after leaving from Gatlinburg, Tennessee (if you missed it, check out my Tennessee recommendations!). I was really excited about this stop because this was my first time visiting SC! I had just watched Outer Banks which is set in NC but was actually filmed in Charleston. The marshiness depicted on the show is also quite evident in real life which was a cool change of scenery.

1. Ravenel Waterfront Park: Pineapple Fountain and Waterfront Pier

We made this stop before checking in to our Airbnb since we were a bit early. This was the perfect place for a quick stop to stretch our legs after a long drive.

Lots of close places to park including street parking and garages. I parked on Concord Street at a meter. On the pier, there was a solo musician and locals making and selling roses out of palmetto grass. It had a well-shaded area with swinging benches- I was low-key jealous they were all taken, lol.

Reasons to visit:

short walk to the waterfront pier and pineapple fountain

shade on the pier with a views of the bridge

easy parking

relaxed atmosphere

walking distance to downtown shops and restaurants

Reasons not to visit:

Overall, not many complaints here. I would just take a few points away because of the several homeless sitting on benches adjacent to the grassy park area near the fountain. Not a big deal, they were keeping to themselves!

2. Rainbow Row on East Bay Street

I only walked on the streets directly west of the waterfront park which has some colorful buildings and architecture to offer. It’s funny because I actually just assumed we had found Rainbow Row, lol!

We didn’t have time to walk all the way to east bay street to Rainbow Row and since we already went through the parking process for the waterfront park I didn’t find it worth it to visit this exact row of houses for a couple of minutes.

Reasons to visit:

If you have extra time to kill it wouldn’t hurt to check it out

If you are nearby

They are historic buildings

Reasons not to visit:

Seems likes any spot in downtown is a great place to walk to get similar views

Not a lengthy activity if you’re driving to this specific destination

Not as close to restaurants and shopping so you might want to re-park after

3. My Thoughts on Folly Beach

The only things I knew about Charleston before visiting was that it had a lot of historical charm and was home to Folly Beach. To be honest, I wasn’t overly impressed by Folly Beach… The beach was narrow, there seemed to be a lot of debris and chunky rocks and shells, and there were these tiny biting flies that were horrendously annoying while we were trying to watch the sunset.

I did a little googling and it seems that they could have been “deer flies” which are common along the east coast (so not just specific to Folly Beach) when there is little to no breeze. Ummmm no thanks… They tend to come out during the morning and evening so this shouldn’t affect a midday beach day!

All the negative being said the pier was a nice landscape for the sunset- we just had to keep moving so we could actually enjoy it! So my tip would be to bring some DEET with you to avoid this experience if you’re planning to go for sunset.

Reasons to visit:

If you’re coming to Charleston you’ll probably want to experience this beach for yourself at least once.

Super quick walk to a lot of restaurants and sports bars

Small town vibe

Reasons not to visit:

Narrow beach (could get easily crowded)

Biting flies at night

Folly Beach pier in Charleston, SC

4. Bohemian Bull

Bohemian Bull is a MUST TRY! This was recommended to me by my Airbnb host. She and her husband went there often and it was close by. Regardless of where you stay, add Bohemian Bull to your route before or after a trip to Folly Beach (it is on the way, in or out!)

I WISH I could’ve tried more from the menu… it had a lot of unique apps and entrees with a cocktail list. The bar was half inside, half out which I found intriguing.

They offer happy hour and half-off appetizers from 4-7 on weekdays (excluding the premium ones). We got the Boho Devilled Eggs and the Black Bean Hummus as beach snacks. Both amazing. The bacon and parm topping on the eggs was top-notch. Portions were plenty which always makes me a happy customer.

5. Loggerhead’s Beach Grill

Loggerhead’s is a quick walk from Folly Beach, varying only by where you park. The live music drew us in (which I believe is most nights). I didn’t recognize the instrument (I was informed later it was steel drums), very boho sounding. Food is nothing fancy but it tasted good. I had the cajun tacos and a couple of drinks. I’d definitely recommend this spot for dinner if you want something lively!

5. Black Magic Cafe

On our second and last day in Charleston, we decided to grab some breakfast at Black Magic Café. Loved this option because it was more healthy than a greasy American breakfast. Cute inside with a lot of bright colors. Lots of fresh options, a lot of which were sandwiches or wraps. Thumbs up for offering actual espresso drinks and not just black coffee!!! I’d come back!

6. Sullivan’s Island Beach

Sullivan’s Island is definitely a spot I wanted to highlight. I loved everything about this beach. Along the coast are gorgeous plantation-style beach homes. All of the beach grass and distance from the homes give it a private feel because you have to walk a little way to reach the beach. There is a lighthouse in view which is cool. We soaked up the October sun for a few hours before heading to dinner.

Reasons to visit:

Private feel with spacious beach

Views of the historic style beach homes

Reasons not to visit:

40 minutes away if you’re staying near Folly Beach

Small selection for food in walking distance

Limited parking

Sullivan's Island walkway with view facing plantation style homes on beach
Sullivan's Island sign in front of the beach access

7. Grumpy Goat Seafood Cantina

The last restaurant we tried was Grumpy Goat Seafood Cantina! I discovered them through which I always check out first thing whenever I’m in a new city for dining deals. I got $25 off of a $50 min so we tried a lot of things! The nachos were excellent and had a lot of toppings. I hate BARE chips, lol. We also sampled a lot of mix and match tacos all of which I enjoyed. Again, another restaurant win.

The next morning we left South Carolina and finished up our road trip to Florida.

Comments (2)

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  • 11 Cheap things to do in Gatlinburg for adults

    October 5, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    […] Things to do in Charleston […]

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