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A Girlfriends’ Getaway in Charleston
Few cities are better suited to a girlfriends’ getaway than Charleston. For your friends who want to dine at the some of the country’s buzziest restaurants—and maybe even join a cooking class—there is plenty to leave her sated. If your group is also interested in arts and culture, you’ll have a choice of museums, galleries, and other cultural attractions. And if you’re looking to shop, King Street and the City Market are just the most famous stops in a city where you can find everything from traditional South Carolinian gifts to fashion-forward designs. From an early morning bike ride to late-night rooftop cocktails, Charleston has you covered. The city has the added bonus of being convenient to get to and from wherever your friends call home. 

Kristen Korey Pike, founder and CEO of KK Travels Worldwide in Atlanta, has put together a four-day itinerary with something that will appeal to everyone who is joining your getaway. Contact her to help customize an itinerary to your group’s particular interests, and then the celebration can begin.
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    Day 1
    Arrive in Charleston
    Depending on the type of getaway you are looking for, Kristen recommends two different hotels. Zero George is at the very beginning of George Street (hence the name), and the corner of East Bay. With only 18 rooms in several immaculately restored buildings, it’s an intimate and elegant option. Or stay instead at the Belmond Charleston Place. There’s something fitting about celebrating a girlfriends’ getaway at the city’s grand dame. The recently renovated rooms combine classic luxury, with their marble bathrooms and beautiful art pieces, and the latest in-room technology. They are also in walking distance to the city’s most elegant historic houses as well as King Street shopping—not to mention the boutiques at the hotel itself.

    After everyone has checked in, make a beeline for Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop on King Street for some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever taste or a salad if you are in the mood for something lighter. At 39 Rue de Jean, just off of King Street at 39 John Street, the eclectic menu includes French favorites (Niçoise salad, charcuterie, and croque monsieur) as well as a selection of sushi.

    A walk up King Street, Charleston’s premier shopping area, can include stops at Croghan’s Jewel Box, with its selection of designer and estate jewelry; Hampden Clothing, for designer pieces, shoes, and accessories; IBU for beautiful garments made by women artisans around the world; and Blue Bicycle Books, where you can peruse the latest volumes while finding out what recent reads your friends have loved. For the guys on your list, don’t miss the brand new Jordan Lash Charleston, also on King Street.

    Charleston, with its warm evenings cooled by occasional breezes off the water, is made for al fresco dining. Tonight head to the courtyard of the Peninsula Grill where you’ll dine on contemporary versions of Southern favorites in a garden of boxwoods and crepe myrtles, illuminated by candles and carriage lanterns. After dinner, head to the Vendue Hotel Rooftop Bar, for a nightcap and some live music. You’ll have views of the steeples and historic streets of Charleston.
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    Day 2
    House Party
    Get an early start to the day, and fuel up to explore the city, at Kitchen 208, which opens at 7 a.m., when it’s still cool enough to enjoy the outdoor patio even in peak of summer. The egg-white frittata, yogurt with benne seed granola, and steel-cut oats with dried fruit are popular healthy options.

    Kristen can arrange a private walking tour of the historic district that takes in some of its most charming houses and gardens. For armchair historians, avid gardeners, and students of design, Charleston’s centuries-old houses provide opportunities to step back in time. The Nathaniel Russell House is an elegant Federal-period home from 1808 that has been meticulously restored, filled with period furnishings, and sits amid lush, landscaped grounds. The Aiken-Rhett House was privately owned and occupied until 1975, though its interiors have largely been unaltered since 1858, the period of Charleston’s antebellum splendor. Built around 1820, it was purchased in 1827 by William Aiken, Sr., a merchant whose son later expanded the house into one of the city’s most impressive and opulent homes. (Note: If you are exploring on your own, a combined ticket to both houses is available for $6 less than individual tickets.)

    With its wood-paneled clubby feel and menu featuring steaks from Allen Brothers in Chicago, the family-owned Halls Chophouse has been recognized not only as one of Charleston’s best restaurants, but the entire country’s too. You can expect jazz performances, a warm welcome, and, of course, a satisfying steak, perfectly prepared. After your carnivorous meal, you may crave something lighter and refreshing. The Cocktail Club, just one block north on King, is equipped to help. The rooftop terrace is not only an excellent place to enjoy a craft cocktail, but you’ll also find a rooftop garden where the bar grows ingredients and garnishes used in their drinks.
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    Day 3
    Free Wheeling Charleston
    Charleston is made for leisurely biking—it is mostly flat, you won’t have to fight much traffic, and as you pedal along, you’ll pass historic buildings, green parks, and harbor views. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the Zero George has bikes available for guests. (If you decide not to stay there, you can rent a bicycle at the Affordabike Bicycle Shop and at other businesses in town.) One popular route follows a bike path around the tip of the Charleston peninsula, past White Point Garden, but don’t hesitate to also get lost and meander among the district’s side streets.

    After riding by all those historic houses, book yourself a massage at one of them. Wentworth Spa is part of the Wentworth Mansion hotel, but even if you aren’t staying there you can get a massage at the spa, located in the converted stables. With its 14-foot ceilings, it’s an impressively grand space to relax. Another option is the Spa at Belmond Charleston Place, which offers a wide variety of treatments. Afterwards, you can relax on the newly renovated rooftop pool and terrace with beautiful views of Charleston. Finally, non-guests can also access the luxurious new Dewberry Hotel’s spa.

    Charleston’s women have long been pioneers. From key advances in the cultivation of indigo, central to the area’s colonial-era economy (Eliza Lucas) to the first female newspaper publisher in the United States (Elizabeth Timothy), they have made their marks in a variety of fields, which includes the visual arts. In the afternoon, head to the Gibbes Museum of Art to see the works of Henrietta Johnson (America’s first professional woman artist), Anna Heyward Taylor, and Corrie McCallum, among other visionaries. Celebrate your last evening in Charleston with a sunset sail around the harbor. You’ll see the city’s steeples in the orange glow of dusk and the lights beginning to glitter as evening descends. Onboard the three-masted Schooner Pride, you may find yourself thinking about your next girlfriends’ getaway. You won’t be the first to realize Charleston has more than anyone can appreciate in one short visit, so be prepared to start planning your next trip back!
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    Day 4
    Stepping Out
    While you will check out of your hotel this morning, there’s still time to experience more of Charleston before saying goodbye to the city and farewell, for now, to your friends. Among the many sites beyond the historic district are the legendary gardens at Middleton Place, with its 65 acres of landscaped grounds; Charleston’s beaches, with sand dunes reaching the edge of the Atlantic; and less visited neighborhoods like North Charleston, where you’ll find some of the best soul food at Bertha’s and some of the best coffee beans anywhere at King Bean Coffee. Just let Kristen know your interests, and she’ll have suggestions to make sure your girlfriends’ getaway ends on the perfect high note.