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We suggest a walk down Rainbow Row, a stroll down the Battery, and if you desire, a carriage tour. (Photo: CVB)

The Great Escape: Weekend in Charleston

Pass on Nashville. Forget Brooklyn. Say “later” to Charlottesville. Charleston is your best bet for a weekend escape. Just an hour’s flight from D.C. (with daily directs on major airlines ranging from Southwest and Jet Blue to American and United), you can head south and be on the beach or at the shops by noon – making it even easier to access than Dewey Beach.

Recently voted the top city in the country, there’s no doubt why the Holy City is hot, hot hot. We show you how to do it in D.C. Refined style.

Stay Here

Whether you’re on a girlfriend getaway or a romantic weekend with your sweetie, there’s no better place to stay than the perfectly positioned and newly-renovated The Restoration, a hip re-interpretation of southern culture. Each of the 54 rooms boasts suite-style accommodations with kitchenettes or full kitchens, plus perks like a 5th-floor pool, curated breakfast basket delivery, daily wine hour, and more.

Gotta Eat It All

This is one trip we center around food – plan your meals immediately after booking your hotel to score a table.

As such, it only makes sense that the first thing you should do upon arriving is eat!

We’d start at Charleston staple SNOB, where you can settle in with a proper sweet tea and the best shrimp and grits you’ve ever had.

Shop Til You Drop

Walk it off with some shopping. Just down the street, browse the baubles at new boutique Maris DeHart before taking in a dose of history – we suggest a walk down Rainbow Row, a stroll down the Battery, and if you desire, a carriage tour.

As you stroll back to the hotel, pause at City Market, one of the country’s oldest public markets, and pick up a souvenir – grits or a signature sweetgrass basket, many of which are woven on site, are our picks.

As the sun starts to set, start your cocktail hour at The Watch, inside The Restoration. Their outdoor patio is the perfect place to watch the sunset. From there, pick your preference. Sean Brock, the chef behind McCrady’s, is practically southern royalty, while both The Ordinary specializes in seafood and The Macintosh has some of our favorite farm-to-table fares. If it’s steak you prefer, hit up the popular Hall’s Chophouse, where you’ll enjoy a top-notch martini and a great ribeye. Want something more casual? We love the cocktails – and the fried clam strips – at The Darling, a new oyster bar that’s perfect for date night or bachelorette parties alike.

The next morning, you’re up and about early – head to Folly Beach to watch the surfers or try your hand at the waves, try a plantation tour (we’d suggest Middleton Place, with its stellar formal gardens, or the architectural marvel of Drayton Hall) or more shopping along King Street.

Browse high-end designs at Worthwhile, Finicky Filly, and Hampden, find home goods at Ro Sham Beaux or peruse antique jewels and silver at Croghan’s.

Relaxation Station

Come afternoon, retreat for a spa treatment to soothe your weary feet. We’d suggest mani-pedis at the Amethyst Spa at The Restoration or a massage at the intimate Wentworth Mansion Spa, a gilded age mansion with a boutique spa in what was formerly the stable building.

By night, pick another of the great meals suggested previously, this time ending the night with a drink at the speakeasy-style The Gin Joint.

Go Now

Summer rates mean prices are at their lowest, but it also means that steamy temperatures are at their highest. Wait until early fall for slightly better temperatures (Charleston Restaurant Week starts September 7th) or even plan a visit around the holidays, when the homes and streets are decked out for the season. There’s really no bad time to visit this southern gem.

We’d suggest an easy flight, often as little as $100 roundtrip, but you can also make the 8-hour drive if you prefer to road trip it.