Thursday, July 26, 2012

CHEAP GETAWAYS: Charleston, South Carolina

Another in our quest to find quality traveling on a meager budget…

This week, we’ve highlighted one of our favorite destinations, Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston has become much more popular to visit than it was when we first went a couple of decades ago. As a result, it can be a challenge to visit on a budget but if you’re in the Southeast, it makes a great weekend getaway or a stopover on the way to somewhere else. Many people, us included, come here as a prime vacation destination from all over the world…certainly, it’d make a great weekend getaway if you live within driving distance.
Here is what you can expect to pay in 2012 for two nights in Charleston…
Charleston is within a day’s drive of many southern cities such as Jacksonville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Charlotte, and even Norfolk.  The farthest drive is from Norfolk at 425 miles…closest would be Columbia, SC at 90 miles. Six hours and $225 will be the most you’d need from the far end and an hour and a half plus $60 from the closer areas if your car gets 16 mpg and you pay $4 per gallon for gas. That should also get you enough to drive around the area while you’re there.
Let’s say $150 for gas on the average. It can be a bit much but if you have a higher mileage car or gas prices go down, figure from there.
GAS - $150
Hotel – While Charleston is full of premium hotels and quaint bed and breakfasts, those are for a splurge, not a budget weekend. To stay on track, we’ll head just between the town and the airport or go across the bay to Mt. Pleasant, both decent areas to stay and a short drive into the heart of the city. Examples are Springhill Suites at $89 and Quality Inn at $80. Both include breakfast.
Winter Warm-up Event: Savings are Hot!

HOTEL - $160 - $190

Food – Charleston is a premiere food destination. Hundreds of restaurants from burger stands, soul food hangouts, and haute Southern cuisine emporiums will tempt your taste buds.  We really enjoyed the fresh brewed beer and southern cooking of the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse on the corner of Bay and Queen Streets. Expect to pay about $20 per person for a meal and a pint of beer, with tax and tip, about $50 for two. Our other splurge would be to sit outside at sunset at Vickery’s Bar and Grill over in Mt. Pleasant overlooking the shrimp boats. A dinner for two here would set you back about the same as Southend. Let’s add $10 for a light lunch…after all, you’re getting a full breakfast at the hotel. I might even skip it and save room (and money) for dinner.
FOOD - $120

Fun – The fun stuff never stops here. A 90 minute tour to Fort Sumter will set you back $17 each and I notice that the elevators are out of service while they’re being overhauled, so if you’re in a wheelchair this would be a waste of money. You can visit Fort Moultrie…the fort that Sumter was exchanging cannon fire on that fateful day…over on Sullivan’s Island for free. It’s just past Mt. Pleasant and you can easily drive there.

Wheelchair accessible walking tours are the best way to see Charleston and to get steeped into its history. Walks are themed to ghosts, slavery, pirates, and other points in the city’s history. Original Charleston Walks lead many tours and the cost is around $15 per person.
Visiting the battery on the east point of the city where you can see Fort Sumter and Rainbow Row is free.
FUN - $30 - $65 for two
Adding it all up, a weekend getaway to Charleston for those of you in the Southeast will run you around $300 to $350 plus the cost of gas. Not bad for a beautiful town with great food and lots of things to.
Copyright 2012 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved