More Revolutionary War battles were fought in South Carolina than in any other state, and some of the first conflicts occurred in or around Charleston. If you needed another reason to visit the world’s top tourist destination … well, there you have it.
One could spend weeks taking in all the monuments, battlegrounds and forts in the area, but in a three-day visit, you can hit the highlights – and some other great places to explore and eat. Here’s an itinerary for a Lowcountry Revolutionary War getaway.
DAY ONE - Mt. Pleasant
Where to stay. Charleston and nearby Mount Pleasant have dozens of hotels in all price ranges. For an experience befitting a history-themed visit, it’s hard to go wrong with the 1893 Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel or the King Charles Inn, both located in Charleston’s historic district.
What to see. Start your adventure by heading across the soaring Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge (US 17 North) to Mount Pleasant and the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, named for the four-term South Carolina governor and one of the state’s signatories of the Declaration of Independence. Continue to Sullivan’s Island and Fort Moultrie where Patriots held off a 1776 attack by the Royal Navy and British troops. Finally, drive up US 17 to McClellanville and the Hampton Plantation State Historic Site, a refuge for women and children and a hiding place for Francis Marion, aka the "Swamp Fox."
What else to do. Since you’re already on the Mount Pleasant side of the city, take in the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, which includes the US aircraft carrier Yorktown, a veteran of World War II, and an extensive naval history museum with a WW II submarine and flight simulators.
Where to eat. Enjoy Mount Pleasant’s smaller, but impressive food scene. For breakfast, make a stop at Page’s Okra Grill, a local favorite. For lunch on the go, check out Burton’s Grill & Bar or Coleman Public House. If you're a pizza lover, try Andolini’s. Linger over dinner at Old Village Post House, Grill 225 or Graze.
DAY TWO - Charleston
What to see. Stay in the city and visit the Old Exchange & Provost Dungeon where Americans were imprisoned after the British occupied Charleston in 1780, and the Powder Magazine, the oldest public building in the Carolinas. You can also check out the South Carolina Historical Society and its trove of Revolutionary War artifacts. After lunch, head down US 17 South to the towns of Hollywood and Rantowles, site of the Battle of Stono Ferry.
What else to do. Historic downtown Charleston offers a plethora of tourism options, including walks through the city’s open-air market, horse-drawn carriage tours and the famed Rainbow Row of pastel-painted antebellum homes. If there’s time, book a cruise to visit Fort Sumter, site of the start of the American Civil War.
Where to eat. Start your day at the famed Hominy Grill or Mercantile & Mash. Lunch offerings include 82 Queen, Magnolias or Butcher & Bee. Dinner in Charleston is a culinary experience at any of its many award-winning restaurants, including Charleston Grill, Peninsula Grill, Husk, Fig or Slightly North of Broad. For some truly outstanding barbecue, try Rodney Scott’s BBQ. In 2018, Scott became only the second pitmaster to win a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest.
DAY THREE - Charleston
What to see. On your final day, head north of the city on I-26 to Summerville, site of the Colonial Dorchester Historic Site, a fortified post once commanded by Francis Marion. Then head over to Moncks Corner, where preservationists in 2016 unearthed Fort Fair Lawn, described as “the most pristine, intact, original American Revolutionary War fortification in South Carolina,” ranking with Ninety Six National Historic Site for its well-preserved condition.
What else to do. It might be a tight squeeze time-wise, but if your schedule allows, a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium is well worth the effort. It’s not historic – the aquarium opened May 1, 2000 – but has become a favorite family destination for locals and visitors alike.
Where to eat. Before departing the city, stop at The Junction Kitchen & Provisions or Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit for a hearty breakfast. In Summerville, stop for lunch at Five Loaves Cafe or Swig & Swine if you crave barbecue. For dinner, try one of the Charleston restaurants you didn't hit on Day 1 or 2, or venture to a new spot like Renzo, Melfi’s or Chubby Fish.