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A Shopper’s Itinerary to Charleston
While Charleston does have outposts of familiar national and international brands, those aren’t what make the city a shopping destination. Instead it’s only-in-Charleston stores like antique shops on King Street, run by the same families for generations; the Charleston City Market where, for over 200 years, residents and visitors have shopped for produce and crafts; and newer stores that celebrate all things artisanal, from clothing to gourmet products. Of course, even the most serious shopper can’t spend all their time in search of one-of-a-kind finds, and so Katie Cadar of Travel Store, a member of AFAR’s Travel Advisory Council, includes plenty of other distractions from spa visits to walking tours.
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    Day 1
    Arrive in Charleston
    Begin your visit to Charleston by checking into the Belmond Charleston Place and getting settled in your room. (An alternative hotel option is at the Mills House, at the corner of Meeting and Queen streets.) You have three full days ahead and Katie will arrange for you to ease into it with a visit to the hotel’s spa for a massage, facial or other treatment. Before or after your visit, take time to enjoy the two rooftop pools and views of Charleston.

    When you are ready for dinner, float out your hotel for a short stroll to the Cru Café on Pinckney Street. Chose from appropriately light post-spa options like the Chinese chicken salad or turmeric-spiced local fish, or indulge with a rib-eye steak or the poblano and mozzarella fried chicken.
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    Day 2
    King Street and Market Street Shopping
    While you could head out on your own in search of one-of-a-kind finds in Charleston, Katie will arrange for a personal shopper to meet you and take you to the stores best suited to your interests and tastes. Your shopping expedition will concentrate on Market Street, right outside the front door of the Belmond Charleston Place and anchored by the Charleston City Market, and the city’s most famous shopping strip, King Street. There you’ll find everything from stores like Ben Silver, an old-world emporium with classic clothes for both men and women, to Ibu Movement, a boutique that features designs by women artisans around the world.

    Just around the corner from Ibu Movement is 82 Queen, where you’ll have lunch. Located in three historic buildings, choose from the menu of Lowcountry cuisine salads and sandwiches as you eat in the shade of a magnolia tree.

    In the afternoon, Katie will arrange for another private guided tour, though this one with a local historian who will provide insights into Charleston’s long history. The city predates the United States itself by almost a century, having been founded in 1670 by settlers from Bermuda. You’ll visit one of the city’s restored mansions—the Nathaniel Russell House Museum, Aiken-Rhett House Museum, or the Edmondston-Alston House—where perhaps you’ll find some decorating ideas for your own home.

    You’ll dine tonight at the Charleston Grill, at the Belmond Charleston Place, one of the city’s most elegant restaurants with a menu that ranges from international dishes to Lowcountry favorites.
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    Day 3
    Beyond King Street
    Your personal shopper will meet you again this morning to continue exploring some of Charleston’s lesser-known artisanal shops and districts that are local secrets. Where you head will be determined by your interests, but you might browse Cannon and Spring Streets or head to neighborhoods like West Ashley and North Charleston where you can buy biscuits and other local food products at Callie’s Charleston Biscuits, or peruse the curated selection of goods at Pluff Mud Mercantile.

    Having built up an appetite on your shopping excursion, you’ll head back to King Street and the Darling Oyster Bar for brunch. Opened in early 2016, this restaurant has already become a popular choice for its classic Lowcountry dishes like shrimp and grits and biscuits and gravy.

    In the afternoon, you’ll take a break from shopping with an opportunity to visit Middleton Place, one of the area’s most famous plantations and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is especially noted for its remarkable gardens on 65 acres of landscaped grounds. After a tour of the 18th-century home, head into the gardens where at almost any time of the year you can count on something, from magnolias to crepe myrtles, being in bloom.

    Return to Charleston for dinner at the Macintosh on King Street. Chef Jeremiah Bacon, a three-time James Beard Award finalist, gives Lowcountry dishes and ingredients a modern twist at this favorite of locals and critics alike.
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    Day 4
    Set Sail
    On your final full day in Charleston, Katie will arrange for a harbor sail, allowing you closer views of Fort Sumter in the heart of the harbor as well as the city’s skyline and bridges. The sail can be arranged for either the morning or sunset, depending on your preferences. The other half of the day will be left open for you to explore Charleston on your own, or do any last-minute shopping.

    Before or after your sail, you’ll have lunch at the Palmetto Cafe, a sun-filled casual restaurant where you can sip peach iced tea in the garden setting before choosing from dishes like the she-crab soup, seafood club sandwich or tandoori chicken salad.

    It would be wrong to leave Charleston without visiting at least one barbecue joint, and so for dinner on your final evening you’ll head toward the northern end of downtown and Home Team BBQ on Williman Street. Long a local favorite with two locations outside of downtown Charleston, the new outpost opened in 2015, making it even easier for visitors to try true Carolina-style pulled pork and barbecued brisket.
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    Day 5
    Head for Home
    After figuring out how you will get all your purchases home—don’t be reluctant to ask your hotel concierge for help with shipping if you must—it’s time to say goodbye to Charleston. After breakfast, you’ll head to the airport. Remember to leave extra time, especially if you are going to want to stop at any tempting stores you pass on your way.