Vegan Friendly 24-Hr Trip to Charleston, SC
I have been waiting for this trip for MONTHS! In 2016, I noticed just about everyone I knew was constantly heading down to Charleston, SC. Their pictures were gorgeous - effortlessly posed in front of beautiful pastel colored homes covered in ivy and flowers, cobblestone streets, artisanal plates of mouth-watering food and drinks and so much more.
I wanted to visit SO badly, which prompted me to start planning our second year anniversary trip for October that same year. Unfortunately, the hotels were SO ridiculously out of our price range that we opted for a two night stay at Sky Retreat in Purlear, NC instead - SO fun, will have to do a post on that one too!
Then in April, 2017, Carl had a job in nearby Summerville and his boss sent him down for an overnight trip - which meant, free accommodations and gas for a trip to Charleston! GASP! That trip was a BLAST, especially on the back of choosing to be responsible with our budget in October and now being rewarded with a mostly free trip - it was incredible!
Now Carl's project takes him to Summerville once a month and has for the last 3-4 months, so I've been not-so patiently waiting for another over-night trip so that I could tag along! This time around though, I'm mostly Vegan AND I'm not drinking for the year, so it was going to be a slightly different experience from last time.
In my research for the trip, I was excited to see SO many Vegan friendly options throughout the city! Jessica Murnane, of One Part Plant, lives in Charleston - so I was hoping there'd be a lot of options - and she actually put together a plant-friendly city guide of her own, which I definitely checked out!
So far, we've been to Charleston twice, and both times have only been about food and drinks. I guess there are other things to do here - but we're just not as interested in them haha. All we do is eat and then walk to the next place we plan on eating, so I've compiled our eating & walking tour of Charleston, SC below - enjoy!
We drove down early and I worked at a Starbuck's close to Carl's job site while he attended his meeting and did a walk-through of the building. [He's an architect, and for those of you who don't know, I used to be one as well - that's how we met, at Virginia Tech studying architecture!]
I had really wanted to work at a local cafe because I avoid chains like the plague - just not my thing usually, I prefer to support and explore local places - but the place I wanted to go to wasn't open until 11am and it was too close of a timing window. Being the good wife that I am, cough cough, I made zero complaints, cough cough, as I was dropped off at Starbuck's.
I got a slice of banana nut bread [not vegan] and a matcha latte with coconut milk [vegan]. They were good, and I could order both of them for here in a real mug and on a real plate - which I was happy about - I also avoid single use items as part of living a Zero-Waste lifestyle. It's been so long since I've been there, that I blanked when she asked me what size I wanted. I had forgotten the word grande for medium - doh.
Carl's work ended around 2:30PM for the day - so we headed to our first stop.
When I start researching any trip, the first thing I look up is "Best Matcha Lattes in [insert city here.]" Last year, I realized caffeine was making my anxiety worse, so I cut it out for almost a year entirely. Now, I will have a cup of half/caf or decaf every once in a while - but my Go-To drink is a Matcha Latte because it has less caffeine, is better for me and tastes delicious.
The Daily was on several websites lists for having a great matcha latte so we stopped there for a drink and some food for a late lunch. The place is ADORABLE inside and there are SO many delicious options on their menu, it was hard to choose!
I ordered the...
- Curry Cauliflower Sandwich | Roasted Cauliflower, Green Curry Sauce, Fresh Herbs, Shaved Carrots and Spicy Peanuts on Toasted Ciabatta Bread. [I also added the Fried Egg, which was the best Fried Egg I think I've ever had. Make it Vegan by not getting the egg.] | $9
- Coffee Roll with Toffee Crumbles [Not Vegan] | $3
- Matcha Latte with Almond Milk [Vegan] | $5
Carl ordered the...
- Breakfast Tacos | I swore he had chorizo breakfast tacos, but I don't see it on their menu, so I'm a tad confused on this one - sorry guys. | $6
- Toast with Apple Jam | $3
- Americano | $2.75
I loved this pink Kilim rug pillow from Winsome [$225] and these unique candelabras from Encore - didn't get the price on those. So far, we've never purchased anything from these places, too steep for us and not a priority right now, [we're renting and working to pay off debt so we put our spending money towards travel instead of home updates for the most part,] but we still like to look occasionally.
Next we headed to the hotel to drop off our stuff. We got comped a room at The Holiday Inn and I couldn't help myself with the constant singing of, "we at the ho-tel, mo-tel, holiday innnnnnn..." Last time we were here, we stayed at The Days Inn and we're not picky about our hotels because we don't spend time in them, but that place wasn't the best, so I was happy for the upgrade.
Both hotels are centrally located and at the lower end of the budget when it comes to staying in Charleston, but still in the $200-$300 a night range. If we were coming here ourselves, we would have stayed in an Airbnb outside of the city.
Indigo & Cotton | J. Stark | Sugar Bakeshop
I read about Indigo & Cotton on Jessica's city guide and thought it would be good to check out for Carl. It ended up being very close to our hotel, so we walked there first. Absolutely gorgeous men's clothes and 100% Carl's style!
On the way there, we happened upon a couple of spots from my friend Ashley's recent city guide as well - so we popped into one of them - J.Stark. They had beautiful bags that they made right there in the shop. I wanted a few of them, but passed on them this time around.
Then we came upon Sugar Bakeshop, another popular spot in Charleston, but we didn't stop to get anything because we had just eaten and had more plans for eating later on and didn't want to spoil that - so we passed, but the place is so cute!
Next we headed back to Kings Street for our favorite bar in Charleston, Prohibition, to grab some Happy Hour drinks before dinner. They have $5 small plates, cocktails and local beers from 4-6PM. The atmosphere is laid back and the bartenders are super chill, love to chat and make delicious drinks.
This time I was ordering mocktails and I went with my usual order - something herbal & spicy. I've gotten something different every time and I just love to see each bartender's creativity in coming up with something for me. I'm SO appreciative of it!
My first drink had sage, basil, simply syrup, pineapple juice and ginger beer - SO good - but my second drink has been my favorite so far out of all of the mocktails I've had! I asked for even more herbal with a touch of fruity sweetness and George did not dissapoint.
My second drink had Thyme + Sage + Rosemary with lemon syrup, almond syrup, strawberry and ginger ale. It was SO good and just look at how pretty it was!
Carl ordered the Pimm's Cup and the Negroni - two drinks he'd never had before, but at $5 a piece, that's when you can afford to go exploring. He liked the Pimm's Cup the best out of the two.
When we got the bill, I was shocked to see we hadn't been charged for my mocktails! Thinking it was a mistake, we brought it up and he said not to worry about it. We definitely gave him a good tip for that and as we were leaving, I was still so shocked. Carl believes bartenders respect people who aren't drinking - kind of a DD mentality - more than you'd think and I think that makes sense too. We just love that place!
Next we headed to HoM just a few spots up Kings Street from Prohibition. I found this place on a few city guides for Charleston and their menu looked SO good so I added it to the list. They're also a Ping Pong bar - so we ordered some happy hour apps and played some Pong before grabbing food.
- Fancy Tots without Parmesan | $2 HH Price
- Water - SO unique. I didn't want to go on sugar overload, so I opted for just water here. | $0
- HoM Seasoned Fries | $2 HH Price
- PBR | $1.50 HH Price
Both apps came with some sauces that I'm not sure what they were, but there were GOOD - mostly mayo based, not vegan, but there was ketchup too. I'm PRETTY terrible at Ping Pong but it was still really fun to get a few games in. I basically only scored due to Carl messing up rather than my actual skillset haha.
For dinner, I ordered the...
- Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burger | Vegan Chipotle Mayo, Guacamole, Tomatoes & Arugula | $9
This was REALLY good! My favorite Go-To vegan foods are Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, Avocado & Vegan Mayo so this really hit it out of the park for me and was completely Vegan.
Carl ordered the...
- HoM Wrecker Burger | Red Dragon Cheddar, Bacon, Fig Jam & Sunny Side-Up Egg | $10
He went with this because we've been watching old seasons of Hell's Kitchen and one of the most recent episodes showed a contestant making a fig sauce for a fish dish that actually ended up winning the challenge - so figs were on the brain. He said it was really good with the Cowboy Killer Burger as his second choice.
I want to go back for the...
- Buffalo Cauliflower
- Kung Pao Brussles
- Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
Next we headed out to walk around the city and possibly score some dessert somewhere. We've been to Jeni's before [a popular ice cream place in Charleston] so we kept that as an option but kept on walking. We made our way down East Bay to Broad St and decided to turn around and start walking back since our feet were beginning to hurt.
Carmella's was closer than Jenni's at this point, so we stopped in there for some gelato & sorbetto. We'd been here before but for breakfast so it was nice to experience it again in a different setting.
I ordered the...
- Peach Sorbetta | I noticed everyone with gelato was using a plastic spoon, so I made a special request for a reusable spoon and was happy that they obliged. Every little bit helps in cutting back single-use items! | $5
*I must make a note that I also ordered my mocktails and waters without straws and each bartender and server obliged. It's very easy to do and doesn't make you a weirdo - I promise! And it helps cut back on contributing to climate change, pollution and our oil dependency!
Carl ordered the...
- Maple Bacon Gelato | He wasn't super impressed with this flavor and wished he had gone with his gut and ordered the Salted Caramel instead. He said it tasted like Vanilla gelato with maple syrup and bacon instead of tasting like Maple Bacon gelato - a distinct difference haha. | $6
We called it a night around 9PM and started heading back to the hotel for some much needed rest and relaxation. But first, we stopped by the window of their cat cafe, Pounce, to watch the cats for a minute. We talked with a woman for a good 15 minutes outside the window and told her about our new cat, Billy Jane Gumdrop, whom we had just adopted from Charlotte's cat cafe, Mac Tabby's. I love random conversations with strangers like this one - an added benefit to any trip!
This trip was on the back of our electrical box catching fire a couple of nights earlier, so between that, crashing at a friends house and trying to sleep with our new cat jumping on us every 5 minutes and then getting up really early to get to Charleston - we were tired!
When we dropped off our bags earlier, Yes Man was on TV and we kind of got sucked in for a bit until I was like, No - we need to go out and be in the city. So when we got back that night we were both in the mood to watch it. Carl pulled it up on his phone and we snuggled in bed to watch it. It's just such a good movie!
We slept in until 8:30AM, grabbed some terrible coffee [in my reusable To-Go cup] from the hotel and made our way out to our first stop for the day.
Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
I had read that Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts have vegan options and I love me some Doughnuts, so we stopped here for our breakfast. I was a little bummed when the only Vegan option was Biscoff [those European cookies you get a lot on airplanes] because I didn't think I'd really like it. I almost ordered something else, but felt convicted to go with the Vegan option this time, so I did.
It was SO good! It was rich and tasted like toffee, plus the doughnut itself was dense - almost like a cake. I also ordered a Chai latte with Almond Milk for here but then it was delivered to me in a Wax-Coated paper cup, Plastic lid and Cardboard sleeve. Ugh. I wish I had noticed that they didn't have mugs, because I had my To-Go cup on me and could have used that!
I'm still not in the perfect habit of remembering these things. I'd say I'm about 90% there, but sometimes I still slip up or am served single-use plastic out of habit from the server even if I ask to go without it. I brought the sleeve home with me to compost, but I tossed the cup and lid - should have brought it home for my trash jar - but again, I spaced it.
Carl got a Drip Coffee and Bacon Apple Fritter and really enjoyed both. All of their flavors looked delicious! We hung out there for a bit so Carl could check his work emails and make some calls before moving on to our next stop.
We kept walking down Kings Street, took a right on Radcliffe and then up Rutledge until we came to our lunch spot. It was nice to walk through some residential areas and just see the pretty houses. Every once in a while a shop or cafe would pop up, but for the most part, it was residential.
This HUGE tree took my breath away and I snapped a picture of this church because, there's kind of a local famous guy that walks around Uptown loudly proclaiming, "Jeeesusss Saaaaavessss - Jeeeesus Saves!" I love Jesus and couldn't agree with him more but my friend and I chuckle at the inflection he uses while saying this, so I snapped a pic and sent it to her and her immediate response was, "Hahahahahahaha." Hopefully that doesn't make us horrible Christians. Whomp Whomp.
Xiao Bao Biscuit
Xiao Bao [pronounced Sea-Ow Bow as in take a bow] Biscuit was described as Asian Soul Food - something I can get behind. It's inside of a refurbished gas station and the color combos are gorgeous! We actually never made it inside - just sat at a picnic table outside and waited for them to open at 11:30AM.
I ordered the...
- Herbal & Spicy Mocktail | Thai Chili Flakes, Ginger Ale & Mango Juice - Another DELICIOUS one! I said "No Straw" but he forgot - and then when I took it out of my drink and set it on the table, he later saw it and apologized for forgetting and then took it with him so I couldn't bring it home for my trash jar. | $2
- Japanese Cabbage Pancake with Farm Egg | You can get this Vegan, but I opted just for the Vegetarian option this time. | $13
Carl ordered the...
- Sun Wukong Cocktail | $10
- XBB Fried Rice with Pork Belly | $12
This was by far our favorite meal of the trip! I freaking loved that cabbage pancake - not something I ever imagined I'd say - it was incredible, so filling but left you feeling light! My Mocktail was the spiciest one I've had so far and so creative with the Mango - simply delicious and cost $2. Skip the glass of orange juice - Mocktails are the way to go!
After lunch, we went back to the hotel to pick up our stuff and our car from Valet. Then we drove down Meeting, to Queen and parked in the garage there so we could continue our walking tour down East Bay beyond Broad Street. The furthest South we've been in Charleston is Broad Street, so we wanted to keep going until we got to the water.
We passed a few restaurants that were on my list but that we couldn't make happen that trip, snapped a bunch of pictures and made it to Rainbow Row for the first time. I'm no Instagram model, but I like this one Carl got of me...
White Point Garden
From there we made it to The Battery and walked along the harbor until we got to Oyster Point and White Point Garden. We snagged a bench in the shade and laid there for a bit just taking in the nice weather and the breeze while we watched these rather large birds in the trees and a woman playing fetch with her dog.
From there we walked up Church Street - another breathtakingly gorgeous street, snapping lots of photos, until we made it back to the car.
We had one last stop to make before heading home but DEFINITELY needed to drive there!
Butcher & Bee
I'm pretty sure this is a Charleston classic. Butcher & Bee owns The Daily, the coffee shop we went to on the first day, so we knew their food was going to be great! Unlike the name would suggest, there's actually a lot of Vegetarian and Vegan Friendly options on the menu!
It wasn't quite dinner so we were choosing from a smaller menu.
I ordered the...
- Falafel | Baba Ghanoush | $4
- Heirloom Beans | Turmeric Vinaigrette, Dill & Soft Boiled Egg | $4
- Grilled Radishes | Honey Harissa, Tahini, Dried Mango & Almonds | $4
- Mexican Coke | $2.50
Carl ordered the...
- Double Cheeseburger | American, Special Sauce, LTOP, Brioche Bun | $15
- House-Made Pickle Plate | Pickled Vegetables | $3
- Water | $0
Butcher & Bee did not disappoint! The food was delicious and the atmosphere was very unique and cozy. I wouldn't think bright yellow chairs with copper sheathing but, it worked! They pulled off, modern + eclectic + fun + cozy all in one space.
I especially loved their creative re-use of items. They made a bench out of old vintage bicycles, speakers out of construction cones and my favorite - they used books to deliver the bill in instead of those typical folders that most restaurants use.
I thought that was especially clever, seeing as there are TONS of used book stores carrying all kinds of random, odd books that nobody will buy. This gave them a second life and added a fun layer of whimsy to the restaurant.
After eating here, we were completely stuffed and made our way back home to Charlotte.
Another great Charleston visit for the books! I would say it was a HUGE success given my dietary changes and not drinking this year. Everything I had was either Vegetarian or Vegan and everywhere we went had several options for both as well as plenty of choices for Carl, my meat-loving husband.
We'll be heading down again in June or July and I can't wait - because there are a few places on my list that we didn't get to this trip.
Have you been to Charleston before? What are some of your favorite places?! I'd love to hear!
Love & Blessings,
Overall Trip Maps
To Do // See
Food & Drinks
- The Daily
- Sugar Bakeshop [Mentioned]
- Jeni's [Mentioned]
- Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts
- Xiao Bao Biscuit
- Butcher & Bee