Advance Planning

Three months before Make reservations for a room at a top hotel and for top restaurants, particularly if you're hoping for a table at FIG, Husk or the Charleston Grill.

One month before Check online listings for upcoming theater, music and comedy performances.

One week before Book historical walking tours, carriage rides and harbor cruises.

Resources

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/the-south/charleston) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveler forum and more.

Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (www.charlestoncvb.com/) Lists hotels, dining and nightlife, itineraries, events and packages. There's also a handy and inspiring guide for first-time visitors (www.charlestoncvb.com/itineraries/first-timers-guide).

Charleston City Paper (www.charlestoncitypaper.com) Alt-weekly newspaper website, with food, music and entertainment news.

Post & Courier (www.postandcourier.com) Charleston's daily newspaper.

Top Tips

  • Pack a bathing suit, particularly if you're visiting in the spring, summer or fall. And hey, maybe even in winter. There are five beaches within an hour of Charleston's downtown.
  • Prepare to do a lot of walking. It's the best way to experience the city, and sometimes parking can be a bummer downtown. The city is pretty small and unless you're staying on the outskirts you'll be near plenty of attractions and restaurants.
  • If you've got your own shucker, bring it, and try to get involved in an oyster roast; they are ubiquitous and good fun.

What to Take

  • Comfortable walking shoes – Charleston is best appreciated on foot
  • Sunscreen and hat in the warmer months; jacket and hat during the winter
  • A good camera to capture moments in this distinctive and gorgeous city
  • A genteel manner, if you want to fit in

What to Wear

There are no hard and fast fashion rules in Charleston, but it's good to layer up, and the locals tend to don their Sunday best whenever they're on the town. The most important sartorial matter is actually your shoes. The peninsula isn't particularly large but it will seem enormous if your feet hurt when walking everywhere.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Reserve hotel rooms and fancy restaurant tables.
  • Figure out if a rental car might be more economical, based on the activities you're planning (for instance, if you want to visit Folly Beach, Wadmalaw Island, Edisto Island etc). Reserve one, if so.
  • Research upcoming events and purchase theater or concert tickets.