Drayton Hall Plantation
3380 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley
Born on Magnolia Plantation, John Drayton was the son of Thomas and Ann Drayton, a prominent colonial family in early South Carolina. He purchased Drayton Hall plantation in 1738, in the days when South Carolina (along with the rest of the country) was still a colony of Great Britain. In fact, the building is famous among scholars of architecture as the first fully executed example of the symmetrical, European Palladian style in America. Since then, the home has played an important role in practically every one of the region's historic events, from the Revolution to the Civil War to Reconstruction, making it an ideal—and stunningly beautiful—place to learn about South Carolina’s unique history, including the history of slavery. Today, the 350-acre property and painstakingly-restored house are open to the public, hosting tours of the house, lectures, and walks throughout the day.
701 E. Bay St., French Quarter
Tucked away in a courtyard with a ½ address, you’ll walk right by this cozy home shop if you’re not looking for it. The brick-and-mortar outpost, as well as its gorgeous online presence, is owned and managed by bicoastal friends Erin Connelly, of Charleston, and Kerry Clark Speake, of Seattle. All of the home goods in their stores, from heirloom wooden salad bowls, to hand-knotted door jams, to delicate porcelain plates, are made in the United States.
314 King St., Upper King Street
Neatly organized by designer, Hampden Clothing is one of the most fashion-forward shops in Charleston, with collections from goop favorites like 3.1 Phillip Lim, Carven, Ulla Johnson, Stella McCartney, and Co. Hampden also has plenty of couches (should you need a bit of a break from shopping) and a stocked bar (should you need a drink). In addition to all that, attached to Hampden is their fabulously curated handbag/shoe/accessory shop, called James. (Stacy Smallwood, the owner, named both stores after her great grandfather, James Hampden Small.)
268 King St., Upper King Street
A King Street staple for more than twenty years, Worthwhile is located in the old McIntosh Seed House, which is an old general store. It’s hard to make generalizations about the buy here since it’s simultaneously eclectic and very intentional; you’ll find everything from Elder Statesmen and Isabel Marant to quirky local lines, plus a very cool selection of home goods and beauty products displayed on stunning wood built-in shelving–including our very own goop fragrance. Great news: If you aren’t heading to Charleston anytime soon, they have a great online shop.
Mac & Murphy
74 1/2 Cannon St., Cannonborough
This cards and paper goods shop may be tiny, but you’ll easily spend an hour in here reading all of the cute (and often hilarious) cards on the shelves. For design geeks, there is also a bright section filled with boutique wrapping paper, and great wedding invitations for brides-to-be.
1630-1 Meeting St. Rd., North Charleston
Lauren Lail first opened her shop as a vintage boutique, selling finds she scrounged from small Southern towns around Charleston. Now, locals head there to shop her eponymous (and fittingly vintage-inspired) clothing line—which offers refreshingly modern takes on Southern classics like pastel dresses, printed shorts, and silk tops. It’s the perfect nobody-else-will-have-it kind of souvenir.
John Pope Antiques
180 King St., Lower King Street
John Pope graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a degree in historic preservation (which we can only imagine to be CSI for gorgeous antiques), and his unique combination of good taste and sophisticated education makes his collection one of Charleston’s best. His King Street store is full of gems, from ceramic lamps to vintage frames, chandeliers, and taxidermy peacocks.
Indigo & Cotton
79 Cannon St., Radcliffeborough
Set up like a cool, rustic bachelor pad rather than a standard men’s store, Brett Carron’s five-year-old shop is devoted almost exclusively to U.S.-made clothing and accessories. As the name suggests, a lot of attention is paid to jeans, the majority of which are made of selvedge denim in limited runs. The rest of the buy is equally thoughtful: shirting from Gitman Brothers Vintage, watches from Shinola, and Billykirk leather accessories.
Croghan’s Jewel Box
308 King St., Upper King Street
Backed by over 100 years of occupying the same King Street storefront, Croghan’s is not only the oldest fine jewelry store in the area, it’s also one of the most well-appointed. The glass display cases house a dizzying array of new and antique jewelry and the shelves lining the perimeter of the selling floor are packed to the rafters with silver and crystal collectibles and decorative pieces. The estate engagement ring offering is particularly impressive—and really fun to play with.
Blue Bicycle Books
420 King St., Upper King Street
The very picture of a beloved neighborhood bookstore, Blue Bicycle houses a blessedly easy-to-navigate collection of new and pre-loved books spanning all genres—in addition to every single title devoted to the city of Charleston itself. The on-site event space plays host to countless author signings and talks throughout the year, while for the past 14 summers (and counting), the owners have organized a kid's writing camp to nurture little ones’ composition skills and appreciation for the written word.