Last summer, my mom, aunt, and I decided to take our first-ever, girls-only trip to Charleston, South Carolina. We had less than four full days to explore, and we packed in as much fun as we could!
As excited as I was, I also felt very overwhelmed. This was my first vacation to plan since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and the last thing I wanted was to be on this vacation and not know where and what to eat. Or even worse, to wing it and get sick. In preparation for the trip, I researched gluten free restaurants and menus for hours, even taking the time to call and speak to managers on the phone.
So, if you are headed to Charleston and need to eat gluten free, I hope this itinerary helps relieve some of your anxiety so you can focus on having a blast with your girls!
- Checked-in at Andrew Pinckney Inn. This was the cutest hotel, located within walking distance to downtown restaurants and shopping. They also offered complimentary breakfast each day, so that took some eating stress off of me right away (fruit, eggs, coffee…I’m good to go!).
- Explored Charleston City Market for the first time. We loved watching people make the sweetgrass baskets and learning about the history of this craft being passed down from generation to generation.
- Palmetto Carriage Works – We took the “Daytime Group Carriage Ride – Residential District” and were able to see several historic landmarks (without all the walking!). Bonus – Our tour guide was full of interesting tidbits about the city.
- Dinner at Fleet Landing Restaurant – I had the Pan-Seared Tilapia with Fingerling Potato and Sun-Dried Tomato Hash, Charred Asparagus, and Citrus-Basil Butter. Delish. If the weather is nice, ask to be seated outside – the view is gorgeous.
- Explored East Bay Street
- Boone Hall Plantation – This was by far our favorite plantation experience of the trip! Boone Hall is the oldest working plantation in our country, scenes from The Notebook were filmed here, AND Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds chose this beautiful place for their wedding. Obsessed.
- Lunch at Mercantile and Mash. They offer yummy salads and gluten free bread for their sandwiches. Plus, this place doubles as a cute little store. Who doesn’t love to eat and shop?
- Fort Sumter Tour – This boat excursion takes you out to explore the grounds of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. If you’re a history buff like me, you’ll love it! Bonus – We saw some dolphins along the way!
- Explored King Street
- American Theater – Another scene from The Notebook was filmed here. You know the one… Noah and Allie lay in the street watching a traffic light before getting up and dancing.
- King Street Cookies – Stopped in for a gluten free cookie and some milk.
- Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – SO MANY gluten free options! I had Gooey Butter Cake in a cup.
- Blue Bicycle Books – My Librarian heart had to at least peek inside.
- Dinner at Charleston Crab House. I had Cheesy Shrimp and Grits, which is not on the menu, but ask for it and you won’t be sorry! This was my favorite meal of the trip. Seriously. I’m craving it now just thinking about it.
- Explored Downtown
- Lost track of time shopping = snacks in the car for lunch.
- Drayton Hall – Now a National Historic Landmark, Drayton Hall is the only plantation house on the Ashley River to have survived through both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Original hand-carved trim around the fireplaces and ceilings still remains intact.
- Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – These are the oldest public gardens in America, and they were beautiful! We enjoyed the Historic Gardens (and all the roaming peacocks), then took the Slavery to Freedom and Plantation House tours.
- Dinner at Hyman’s Seafood. I had Shrimp and Grits again (When in Rome. No judging). These weren’t as great as at the Crab House, but cheaper if you’re on a budget like me, and the atmosphere was fun.
- Angel Oak Tree – Estimated at 400-500 years old, this gigantic, beautiful tree is believed to be one of the oldest living things in the country.
- Charleston Tea Plantation – If you’re a Southern girl like me and you love tea, then you’ll love this stop on the trip! Charleston Tea Plantation is the only tea plantation in North America! We shopped in the gift shop, tried out different flavors of tea, and took the free factory tour; unfortunately, due to rain, the trolley tour wasn’t running the day we were there.
- Lunch at Corys Grilled Cheese. So, when we ate here, it was actually their last day to be open at their storefront, but now they have a traveling grilled cheese truck that you MUST track down! I had the Philly Grilled Cheese Steak on gluten free bread…YUM! Bonus – They were SUPER knowledgable about Celiac Disease.
- Folly Beach – We couldn’t leave Charleston without setting foot on a beach and putting our toes in the Atlantic. This was a beautiful beach, and we loved seashell searching along the shoreline (say that 5 times fast)!
- Quick dinner at Mellow Mushroom – a pizza place not far from the airport that offers gluten free crust and topping options.
- Home again, home again, jiggity jig.
I can happily report that my planning paid off, and I did not get “glutened” at all! However, things can change over time, so as always, please double-check with your server before ordering and always advocate for yourself.
*** Note: I’ve also heard great reviews about Minero, Gnome Cafe, and Burton’s Grill, but we just ran out of time! Charleston is filled with so many gluten-free friendly options… I’ll just have to go back someday!