As involved as I am in my wedding planning process (even down to the items in the bathrooms!), when it came to my bachelorette, I didn’t want to know a thing. So let me first off give credit where credit’s due: my maid of honor and bridesmaids completely surpassed any and all of my expectations during our weekend in Charleston, over St. Patrick’s Day.
From the gorgeous custom itineraries waiting on each girls’ bed at the historic Planter’s Inn Hotel (and delicious platters of chocolate chip cookies and slices of the Inn’s famous coconut cake thoughtfully sent by my mother and sister), to a sunny day traipsing the Spanish moss covered grounds of Magnolia Plantation, they thought of everything, and I could not have asked for a better weekend with my best friends to ring in the official countdown to my big day.
Charleston could not be a better location. With beautiful architecture, interesting restaurants and chic shopping—not to mention sunshine and a gorgeous harbor!—this charming town is the perfect place for a low key, thoughtful celebration. (Vegas and Miami it is not.)
Below, a rundown of the best activities, places and restaurants we visited over the weekend—and a few photo highlights from our stay. We hope you enjoy my diary of the festivities and find it helpful when planning your own trip!
Kickoff: Candle making class at Candlefish
After arriving in the sunny city during one of the coldest New York weekends in March, I was elated. I flew down with a few of my best friends (we were 12 girls in all for the weekend) and headed toward the Planters Inn. All I knew boarding the flight at JFK was where we were going and where I would be sleeping.
Once we arrived at the hotel, I was over the moon (no pun intended!) to find my friends had booked a gigantic suite and decorated it with streamers, a hysterical—and NSFW—banner, and photos of my fiancé. One of my bridesmaids wasn’t able to attend, so she created these adorable itineraries for each girl as a way to be included in the weekend, which was so thoughtful. This was how I found out about our first activity—a candle making class at one of Charleston’s most celebrated home goods stores, Candlefish.
I am an interior designer and write about design, so I was already dying to visit Candlefish at some point during the weekend anyway. My friends had booked the entire back area of the shop, and we got to choose our own scents from their extensive (and visually stunning) library while sipping on chilled rosé and munching on cheese and crackers. It was the perfect way to ease into the weekend—plus, we got to take home customized, gorgeous smelling souvenirs to remember our trip by. It was also a nice way for my friends from home and my friends from college to get to know each other before the full festivities kicked off!
Dinner at Little Jack’s Tavern
A delightfully old school burger joint reminiscent of JG Melon in New York, Little Jack’s Tavern delivered for our first night down south. Great cocktails, perfect burgers and salads, and decadent garlic knots filled the table as we consumed drinks and laughed about memories from college. A great spot for a large group.
Brunch at Butcher & Bee
We woke up Saturday morning and headed for brunch at Butcher & Bee—an Israeli owned restaurant that is just as adorable as it is delicious. My friends asked the restaurant to create a custom menu with falafel and hummus (arguably my favorite food), breakfast bowls, and an impressive french toast, and we savored the mind blowing chocolate tahini babka. Not only was this also a great restaurant for a big group, but it was also very Instagrammable. Check out the whimsical bike filled with wildflowers in the front hall; stay for the hand baked pastries and outdoor seating.
After brunch, my friends surprised me again—this time, with an epically large party bus, complete with disco lights and control over the music. We played a decent amount of Nelly circa 2002—my choice—on our way to Magnolia Plantation, which was arguably one of my favorite moments of the trip. Once at Magnolia, we walked around the stunning property, took a visit to the petting zoo (and made friends with a peacock), and learned about the history of the main house. My favorite part was walking over the striking red bridge over the lake—you can see alligators down below!
Massages at The Belmond
After Magnolia, a few of us went our separate ways—some went shopping and exploring the town, some went to nap—and some (including me) went for a decadent 80 minute massage at The Belmond. The hotel’s spa is connected to a beautiful rooftop pool and lounge area, where we ordered an excellent lunch and sat outside with Champagne in our robes, soaking up the southern sun. The Belmond is a gorgeous hotel, the spa’s service was incredible, and it was one of those stand out moments of the weekend where I really felt like a bride.
Dinner at Le Farfalle
A relatively new addition to the Charleston scene, Le Farfalle is a modern take on classic Italian fare, including a very good buckwheat cacio e pepe. The space is definitely new and the staff is still working out some kinks, but they were very accommodating—and most importantly, they make a mean mezcal pineapple cocktail.
After dinner, my friends surprised me (again!) with a bag of classic “bride” gear—necklaces, sunglasses, a tiara—the works. I felt silly in it, but after a few mezcal cocktails, I happily obliged, and we headed over to the new “club” in town, Club NV. (This club was located next to a general store named Moonpie, a fact which none of us could get over and all of us loved.)
A friend of ours who had attended College of Charleston recommended NV—and we had the best time. Certainly not a club by New York’s standards, NV was a fun scene nonetheless, and they played a solid set of old and new music. There’s something extremely liberating about dancing at a table with 11 of your best girlfriends—we shimmied the night away, and around 1:00 A.M., gave into our craving for pizza and headed back to Planter’s Inn, which was within walking distance, to pig out on slices of pepperoni.
Brunch at High Cotton
To close out our weekend in Charleston, we started with a classic southern brunch—filled with grits, biscuits and live bluegrass—at High Cotton. The restaurant is a Charleston staple, and the food was exceptional.
King Street and Rainbow Row
After brunch, we walked over to Rainbow Row to see Charleston’s most famous attribute—its stunning architecture. Federalist style homes painted in the palest shades of sherbet were framed by sturdy palm trees and a piercingly clear sky. We got lucky with gorgeous weather, and walking past the houses by the harbor made me never want to leave.
After we took the requisite photos outside of each flower-box adorned abode, we hit King Street, where we walked and shopped, finding a few favorite stores along the way—Hampden Clothing and Worthwhile were highlights. (Ben Silver was closed, though, which I was bummed about—growing up, my family always got their catalogue, and I wanted to see the store in person! Next time.)
We finished the day with hearty sandwiches from Caviar & Bananas, a local gourmet shoppe, before going back to the Inn, grabbing our luggage, and heading for the airport.
Overall, Charleston was the perfect place for a bachelorette weekend for the bride who wants a nice mix of good food, good fun, and a little bit of culture. I was so grateful for the amazing amount of effort my girlfriends put into the weekend, and spending time with everyone together made me even more excited for the next big event—my wedding. I definitely will be back—next time, with my (soon to be) husband!
For more on where to stay and what to do in Charleston, read our Ultimate Guide to Charleston, S.C.