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Southern Charm: Why Charleston is the Ideal Vacation Spot

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

A destination that combines history, culture, and charm: This summer, you might want to consider heading down south to Charleston, South Carolina.

In July 2023, I went on a road trip with some family from Toronto to Charleston (with stops in between, I’m not crazy) and had the time of my life.

I immersed myself in the city’s rich heritage, delectable seafood, and beautiful landscapes. With soaring temperatures and humidity in the air, Charleston welcomed me with open arms — the perfect city and beach getaway.

Despite only having two full days to explore (I need to go back to spend more time there), Charleston easily became one of the top destinations I’ve travelled to.

Here’s a glimpse into my short but memorable time in Charleston and why it should be on your travel list this summer.


In Charleston, history whispers from every cobblestone street and moss-draped oak tree — there’s really no shortage.

A visit to the historic landmark, the Charleston City Market, offers a look into the small city’s vibrant artisan community, where local craftspeople showcase their talents amidst a backdrop of bustling activity.

Pottery, jewelry, stationary, sunhats, fresh lemonade (I still think about this), and even shucked corn are just a few of the goods you can find at the City Market.

If you’re looking for souvenirs, I would recommend grabbing them here. You’ll find all sorts of cool trinkets.

There’s also no shortage of boutiques, galleries, and cafes to pop into, especially around the City Market. Sea Bags on Market Street sells totes and accessories made from recycled sail cloth and made in Maine, which is where they’re from. These are definitely worth taking a look at!

For a leisurely stroll or sunset view, Waterfront Park has the iconic Pineapple Fountain and picturesque views of Charleston Harbor.

Guided walking tours (found all over downtown) provide an immersive experience of the city’s architectural gems and history, while adrenaline seekers can embark on speedboat adventures on the inlet.

Looking for a lively atmosphere? Check out 2nd Sunday on King Street. On the second Sunday of every month, the “Main Street” of downtown transforms into a pedestrian-friendly tailgate, inviting locals and visitors alike to explore its eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, food, and art.

No visit to Charleston is complete without a glimpse of Rainbow Row’s pastel-coloured homes or a stroll along the Battery, where history emerges through the rustling palmetto trees.

But if you’re looking to drive out of the downtown core, Cypress Gardens (where they filmed the rowboat scene in The Notebook) offers magical, forested pathways and garden trails, as well as the opportunity to live out your Nicholas Sparks moment.


Charleston’s culinary scene is perfect for seafood lovers, especially if you like oysters! Indulge in freshly shucked oysters at the Oyster House Seafood Restaurant, located conveniently near the City Market or savour the flavours of fish tacos at Ru Ru’s Tacos.

If you’re looking to get the full Southern experience, be sure to sip on some sweet tea (you can get this at any restaurant!), but, in all honesty, I can’t say I’m a fan of it!

Now, when I travel somewhere new, of course, I want to try what that place is known for — and that I did! But sometimes, after a nice evening at the beach, watching the sunset, you’re just so hungry, and an extra cheesy pizza with breadsticks and marinara is all you can think about.

So, after your adventure-filled days, refuel with a slice (or a box) of New York or Chicago-style pizza from Famulari’s Pizzeria — it’s so worth the drive out of downtown (but that could also be the pure starvation talking from when I ate that pizza, so take what I say with a grain of salt).


There’s no shortage of good cafes to try in Charleston, but if I list every recommendation, we’ll be here for a while, so I’ll get straight to the point.

Sightsee Shop is not only a coffee shop, but it’s also a travel and surf-inspired retail store selling “beachy” items, ranging from apparel to home decor. This shop is a must-visit for good coffee and coastal vibes.

Another place to try is Bad Bunnies Coffee, where you’ll get specialty coffee and cozy vibes.

Right by the City Market, Benne’s by Peninsula Grill has a selection of coffee, pastries/bread and a cafe menu serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be sure to try a slice of their 12-layer Ultimate Coconut Cake while there!

As for dessert, try Carmella’s Cafe and Dessert Bar, where you can treat yourself to delicacies — sweet treats await! Indulge in a slice of cake, savour a scoop of gelato, or simply unwind with a cup of coffee in hand at this charming spot.


Escape the summer heat with a short drive to Charleston’s pristine beaches, where sun, sand, and surf await. Folly Beach, with its lively atmosphere and vibrant community, offers rocky shores and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure.

For a more tranquil experience, head to Sullivan’s Island, where charming beach towns and breathtaking sunsets await. Seriously, we went to the beach on this island both evenings in Charleston because of how beautiful it was.

Other beaches to visit are on Isle of Palms and Kiawah Island.

Keep in mind that if you are staying downtown, you will need a car to get to any of the above destinations because they are too far to walk to!

It’s been a few months since my trip to Charleston, and I can’t wait to eventually go back to visit. People who live by the water just seem to be so much happier!

The city has a classic and welcoming charm, with tons of stuff to check out, making it the perfect spot for a memorable summer getaway.

So, whether you’re exploring the historic streets, savouring culinary delights, or watching a breathtaking sunrise or sunset over the water, Charleston promises an experience that will make you want to come back for more.

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Raiyana Malik

Toronto MU '25

Raiyana is a third-year journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University completing a double minor in English and French. When she isn't writing, you can catch her with a camera or a book in her hand. Follow her photography on Instagram @raiyana.malik