Coined the World’s Best City by Travel + Leisure in 2019, Charleston is having a moment and everyone is booking a ticket to the colorful metropolis. From the blooming architecture and flourishing culinary scene, the city of Charleston offers a slew of hotels right in town. But what many tourists don’t realize is that just outside downtown are spotless beaches and ocean views good enough for celebrities like Bill Murray and Stephen Colbert.
The Isle of Palms is a place where you can have it all: ocean, golfing, tennis, and of course, proximity to Charleston. So if you love city-living as much as you love relaxing on the beach, follow this weekend itinerary and experience the best of both worlds in Charleston, South Carolina.
Hotel: Located twelve miles from downtown Charleston on the Isle of Palms, the Wild Dunes Resort, is a peaceful and leisurely retreat from the bustling city. With access to tennis courts, bike rentals, two top-rated golf courses, restaurants, and beautiful beaches, Wild Dunes has plenty of options to entertain families. You can book a room at the newly renovated Boardwalk Inn or rent one of their properties located within the resort and have the golf course and beach right in your backyard.
Friday: Once you’ve checked in, take the day to explore your new home at Wild Dunes. You can ride a bike through the resort and check out some of the glamourous vacation homes or rent some tennis rackets and enjoy a quick match. Don’t forget to get in at least a good hour or two at the beach, where the warm water is clean and the waves are gentle.
If you’re feeling adventurous, sign up for an eco-tour at the front desk to explore South Carolina’s barrier islands and learn more about their environments. Have dinner at Coastal Provisions, a high-class restaurant located on the first floor of The Boardwalk Inn—you can even choose to eat poolside or enjoy cabana service. After dinner, head to the nightly bonfire and pick-up s’more supplies at Hudson’s Market.
Saturday: If you’re traveling to South Carolina for golf, Wild Dunes is a great place to get an early tee time at either the Harbor or the Links Course. If you’re not a golfer, you can wake up early to enjoy a beautiful sunrise on the beach before heading into Charleston for the day.
To get a ride into the city, forget Uber and call Captain Bob, a town car service that will give you a ride from Wild Dunes to downtown for just $20. (Ubers are hard to come by on the Isle of Palms.) If you’re lucky, you may even get to ride with the affable Captain himself, who is more than happy to make recommendations for what to do, see, and eat in town and he’ll even customize a special tour just for you.
Once in Charleston, sign up for a carriage tour of the city. This is great for kids and the best way to explore its offerings at a leisurely pace. You’ll be able to buy tickets for the carriage rides in town but can also book ahead online. After the carriage ride, take some time to explore the rest of Charleston, but don’t leave without stopping for dinner and drinks at the stunning 5Church restaurant. Located inside a renovated mariner’s church, this is the perfect place to enjoy the harmony of old and new in Charleston.
Sunday: Make the most of your last morning at Wild Dunes by relaxing by the pool or beach. After checking out (and depending on how much time you have before your flight), head back downtown for the afternoon and grab lunch in Charleston, or make a stop on the way to the airport to tour the magnificent Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. For lunch, I recommend the Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar and if there’s time, visit the Old Slave Mart Museum or Nathaniel Russell House.
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- The Best Golf Destinations Around the World
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- America’s Best Long Weekend Getaways
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.