When talking about amazing destinations close to home, Charleston easily provides the answer for that quick and easy getaway, thanks to its beautiful hotels, gorgeous scenery, amazing food, and plenty of southern charm.
For some insider knowledge, we look to our client and friend, #TeamHanks‘ Owner and Head Stylist, Erica Hanks to provide her favorite places to drink/dine/shop/play in Charleston.
Erica is one of the most sought-after wardrobe stylists for the country’s top athletes, executives, and high-profile personalities. When she’s not prepping clients’ wardrobes for an international stage, she’s based in Charlotte and a frequent visitor of Charleston.
Why do you keep returning to Charleston?
The slower pace and beautiful historical setting! With its rich history, great food and the fact that it’s on the water, it really makes me take it all in. I love to walk my dog early in the morning and just explore South of Broad. He and I always seem to find something new down the alleyways or narrow streets that gives a nod to it’s French and English roots. And the restaurant scene is so good, I’ve yet to have a meal under an hour, it’s such an experience.
Where do you like to stay?
The Spectator Hotel is edgy, sleek and right in the middle of Charleston’s famous Market Street. It’s a great mix of the Charleston flapper era with modern flair. I love the old school hotel room keys, and the bar is gorgeous and always full of fun people. I also love the Grand Bohemian Hotel, it’s a block from King Street and they have a fun rooftop bar with views of the city.
What’s the Charleston foodie-must?
This is tough to narrow down! A foodie must would have to be Fig. Call in advance for reservations as this restaurant is notoriously booked, but the food is an experience. The ricotta gnocchi with lamb bolognese is one of my favorites. If you are more of a steak and potatoes person, Halls Chophouse on King St. is another must. The steaks are always perfection, and they’ve got a great selection of wines for even the pickiest of palettes (that would be me).
Other dining spots we just HAVE to try?
I absolutely love Cannon Green, the interior and courtyard is instagram worthy and the food is just as good. If you’re up for something off the beaten path, I love The Park Cafe; another gorgeous little restaurant and their Fried Egg with Avocado sandwich is my absolute favorite. If you love seafood, check out The Ordinary, it’s the same owners of Fig; my favorite is their oysters. The building used to be a bank, and the kitchen is inside the old bank vault.
Where’s your Charleston sweet-spot?
My Charleston sweet spot has to be Christophe. It’s a little French patisserie in an unassuming purple, stand-alone house with a flying French flag you can’t miss. They do everything from baguettes to macaroons to chocolate artisanal works of art, but they have the best coffee. I like iced coffee, so I get the Stella, which is a French pressed iced mocha. It’s not on the menu but they always have it ready to go. I will usually grab an iced coffee and a croissant and walk the shops nearby.
Favorite spots for libations?
For early drinks, I love Bin 152. They have an extensive Charcuterie menu (the chorizo is addicting) and can suggest wines to go perfectly with your pre-dinner assortment. For a nightcap, I love The Cocktail Club. With its reclaimed wood and exposed brick and beams, you definitely get the Charleston speakeasy/prohibition era vibe here. I’m usually a wine girl but their “After the Disco” cocktail is just delicious (and potent)!
What are some of the most unique shops you like to frequent when in town?
Hampden Clothing is a great shop on King Street for fashion. The owner, Stacy, is a dear friend of mine and she has amazing designers carried in her store, from Simone Rocha to Rag and Bone and more. For home goods, I love Ro Sham Beaux, but it’s always fun to peruse the markets as well. You can’t leave Charleston without getting your own straw basket. For some really neat finds and historical maps, visit the “map lady” at Carolina Antique Maps & Prints. She’s one of our favorites and only carries original prints and maps, so if you want to take home a true, authentic piece of history, you’ll find it there.
What kind of wardrobe are you packing for your Charleston trips?
When I pack for Charleston I pack super easy, fun, lightweight pieces as it’s pretty warm there year round. Sandals, easy dresses, cropped jeans and tops are what I pack, as well as a dress or two for nights out. Leave stilettos at home though, the cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks don’t mix well with a skinny heel! Trust me, I’ve done it and almost wiped out!
What are the top three things we can’t miss in the city?
If you’ve never been, you should do a walking tour or carriage tour; there is so much history to take in, and it’s a good way to learn about the city in a short amount of time. On Saturdays during the spring through fall, the farmers market in Marion Square is a must! You’ll find great local food and handmade jewelry, clothing and home goods here. And to complete your immersion in all things of the South, tour an old plantation like Boone Hall or Middleton Place.
What about this southern gem that we’re completely missing out on?
Make friends with the locals. Everyone is so friendly in Charleston, I’ve never met a stranger and everyone treats you like family.