With its vibrant culture, rich history, exquisite architecture, celebrated dining scene and friendly locals, it’s no wonder Charleston has become one of America’s best loved travel destinations. And there is no better time to visit the Holy City than just before the holidays when temperatures are still mild. Join us for a trip that will showcase Charleston from in insider’s perspective. This trip is sure to hit all of your senses including beautiful historic homes, meticulous private gardens, world-class cuisine, rich history, and holiday cheer at every turn.
Here's a day-by-day itinerary of the schedule.
Fly into Charleston in the morning (or the night before). Make your way to the historic Francis Marion hotel for check-in. The hotel offers spectacular views of Charleston’s steeples, historic mansions, and famous harbor. Located downtown on Marion Square, the hotel is ideally located within walking distance of magnificent gardens, house museums, antique shops, local boutiques, restaurants, and nightlife.
Around 6:00pm, we'll enjoy a welcome meet and greet with a welcome toast at the hotel bar.
Then we'll dine at one of Charleston's favorites, Slighty North of Broad (SNOB), a short walk from our hotel.
Today, we will start with a private guided tour of Charleston and hear the stories and traditions of Charleston’s rich history and colorful past. The tour will highlight the vibrant neighborhoods, historic sites, architecture, and art including Rainbow Row, The Battery, White Point Garden, and some of Charleston’s most beautiful churches. Visit the Four Corners of Law and The Battery while also seeing private neighborhoods dressed in their holiday finery.
We will also make it ouside of downtown Charleston and visit Morris Lighthouse, Folly Pier and the Citadel with lots of opportunities for pictures. You will end this day with a glimpse of the many gems that Charleston has to offer. You'lll then have some free time as the day winds down to walk back to the hotel, shop or continue to explore before dinner.
For dinner, get ready to step back in time, You will enjoy a 7-course authentic 18th and 19th century dining experience from a culinary historian and chef. With narration throughout the evening, you will see that food by itself can tell a story of Charleston history.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will then take a guided walking tour of the Charleston’s enchanting alleys and hidden passages. Distinguished by their beauty, Charleston’s alleys occupy spaces that blur the line between public and private areas and offer remarkable insight into the history of the Holy City. Typically, inaccessible to cars and often overlooked, walking along these cobblestone, brick and stone pathways offer an opportunity to step back in time.
After lunch at the wonderful Basic Kitchen, explore historic downtown Charleston on a private and memorable horse drawn carriage ride. Run by a family-owned and operated carriage company, the tour will be led by a certified guide and one of their more than 30 horses. With Belgian and Percheron breeds from Amish working farms, each of these incredible horses live at a peaceful, 65-acre farm and pasture sometimes referred to as "horse heaven"
You’ll have time at the end of the day to discover more of Charleston on your own. With the holiday season in full swing, there will be many options from which to choose.
For dinner this night, we will be making the short walk to a hidden gem, Stella’s Charleston for a delightful change of pace.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive to the Middleton Place, a National Historic Landmark, home to the oldest landscaped gardens in America and an enduring, vibrant, and essential part of the Charleston and American experience. We will enjoy lunch at the Middleton Place restaurant, a James Beard award winning restaurant Inspired by the recipes and spirit of former resident chef and renowned southern chef Edna Lewis.
After lunch, we will drive to Wadmalaw Island to experience the Charleston Tea Garden, America's only farm to table tea growing & production plant. The trolley tour around the tea garden is included, as well as all you can drink tea.
After returning to the hotel to recharge, we will walk down King Street to the special Christmas on the Battery at the historic Edmondston-Alson House. Sure to be a highlight of the trip, we will tour the festively decorated house by candlelight and hear the Charleston Caroling Company. Warm up in the courtyard with a glass of wine or hot cider where local storyteller, Fouché Sheppard, will perform Gullah Christmas stories.
Today will begin with a walk across the street for a quick visit to the renowned Charleston Farmers’ Market during their annual Holiday Market. During December, the market is filled with many local artisans and crafters alongside local farmers. After, we’ll meet up with one of Charleston’s best chefs for a visit to another neighborhood market to observe how a Chef shops. Using the ingredients, we select at the market; the Chef will create a one-of-a-kind farm-to-table dining experience for us at a local restaurant.
This afternoon we’ll have time to spend as you please. Holiday shop on King Street, a spa treatment at the hotel or discover more of Charleston. The choice is all yours.
Our final evening, we will have dinner at the celebrated restaurant FIG. A favorite of locals and visitors alike, FIG has a passion for pure flavor, quality ingredients, and for creating an atmosphere that is convivial, approachable, and a haven for people who simply love food.
After a hearty breakfast, we’ll say our goodbyes and Happy Holiday wishes, with a promise to stay in touch with our new friends.
Named for Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion (the “Swamp Fox”), the Francis Marion Hotel became an instant Charleston landmark when it opened in 1924. Rising 12 stories above the Historic District, the hotel offers spectacular views of Charleston’s church steeples, historic mansions, and famous harbor, providing easy access to the wealth of Charleston’s attractions.
Robin Leonard, an experienced navigator who loves uncovering the unexpected in every location. After spending years in the corporate world as a consultant, Robin joined the travel industry with a goal of helping other women dream, explore and discover through travel. With a passion for all things Charleston, Robin is excited to share the magic of Charleston at the holidays with you.
The Holy City
Charleston expresses an enchanting blend of opulence and intimacy, history and hospitality, culture and cuisine, and art and architecture.
All ground transportation (excluding airport transfers)
GG2P Welcome Gift
All meals plus wine or beer at dinner
All guides, experts, and entry fees for tours, museums, and plantations on the itinerary
Your stay at the Francis Marion hotel
Roundtrip airfare to Charleston
Additional wine, beer, or spirits beyond what is offered at meals.
All personal souvenir purchases
Travel and Medical Insurance (required)
Hotel spa treatements and other incidentals
The trip officially starts on the afternoon of December 5th, so make your travel arrangements to Charleston accordingly. If your flight doesn't arrive until later in the evening, or you'd like to have time to relax in Charleston before the trip starts, just send an email to email@example.com and we'll take care of booking your room for an extra night.
We will have a zoom call about 8-10 weeks before the trip starts to discuss all that information and give you a packing list. Here is a great website that we love that will help you with packing and travel trips.
The weather in Charleston in December is usually lovely. You can expect day-time temperatures in the mid 60'sF (approx 17C-18C) with lows in the evening of 50°F (10°C).