Emily Lott of Cooper + Thames on 5 Ways to Do Spoleto Right

Without a doubt one of our favorite festivals of the season, Spoleto kicks off in Charleston today with 17 days of performances in opera, theater, dance, music, and more.

Navigating the jam-packed Spoleto schedule can be daunting, so we turned to a local expert for help parsing through it like a pro: Emily Lott is the blogger behind Cooper + Thames, a site named after the rivers in Charleston and London, her two favorite cities. The South Carolina native currently lives in Columbia, SC, but comes to Charleston frequently for work and pleasure. Her photos of the Holy City and her tips on what to do and see there are among the highlights of her blog.

Below, this insider shares five ways to do Spoleto right.


Emily Lott, pictured walking her dog, Mo, paired our Eyelet Cardigan with our Straw Lemon Eva Bag. “The secret to Charleston style,” she says, “is look put together, but not like you are trying too hard.”  (All images courtesy of Emily Lott.)


Emily catches a beautiful sunset in the South of Broad neighborhood overlooking the waterfront.


A church in downtown Charleston.


Another church. “They don’t call it the Holy City for nothing!” says Emily.


A row of homes in the South of Broad neighborhood.


Beautiful flower boxes like these adorn many of the homes South of Broad.


Emily’s dog, Mo, downtown on Church Street.


Another eye-catching flower box outside a home South of Broad.


An outside seating area in Charleston.


The Daily, one of Emily’s favorite spots in Charleston for a cold brew coffee.


Black Tap Coffee, where Emily adores the lavender latte.


“I loved this Draper James Eyelet Cardigan the moment I laid eyes on it,” says Emily, seen here in the Battery, an area of Charleston known for its stately antebellum homes. “Since the spring and summer can be sweltering in South, it’s a perfect piece to go from early spring to late summer.”

  1. Favorite Spoleto tradition: The College of Charleston is practically in the middle of the Holy City and they hold several shows during Spoleto at their historical cistern. My tip: forget the reserved seats (just buy general admission), pack a blanket to sit on, and get your groove on under the majestic live oaks and Spanish moss.
  2. Favorite performance: Not to jump ahead, but I always look forward to Spoleto’s finale concert, held at the Middleton Place beer gardens—and this year is no exception! Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats are headlining, and I hear that to celebrate Spoleto’s 40th anniversary, there will be fireworks after the show!
  3. “Unofficial” Spoleto happening we shouldn’t miss: Don’t forget about Piccolo Spoleto, which has an amazing line-up all its own that features (mostly Southern) emerging artists and shows.
  4. Best place to enjoy Charleston like a local while at Spoleto: Avoid the crowds, while still enjoying Charleston’s famous cuisine at one of these local favorites: For lunch, Dell’z Deli is always a must. New to downtown Charleston and with a pretty back patio, Huriyali also shouldn’t be missed (get the acai bowl). For a quick coffee fix, I’d recommend either The Daily for a cold brew or Black Tap Coffee for their lavender latte. Jeni’s is a great ice cream spot with a location on King Street, and Whisk is perfect for a smoothie (and phone charging) break!
  5. What to do when you need a break: Head out early to avoid the crowds and take a trip to Sullivan’s Island. Once you’re done soaking up the water and sun at the beach, take a walk around the quiet neighborhood streets before returning to the festivities.

Emily’s dog, Mo, rests up for Spoleto alongside our Harry Barker Rope Bone. “When he got this bone,” says Emily, “he immediately brought it to his bed and hasn’t been without it since. Sometimes I have to take it away so he doesn’t lose it on walks!