We just returned from a trip to South Carolina. We used to live there many years ago for a very short period of time before we got incredibly homesick for family, foggy mornings and mountains. However, both my husband and I have started to look back on our time in SC in a very romantic way. We talk about the huge moon rises we would watch on the Isle of Palms connector, the sound of cicadas and of course our love affair with the food.
Now that almost a decade has passed we made a return to our beloved South Carolina. It was an amazing trip, we learned some very important things in the first few hours of it. Number one: babies don’t like to sleep on the red-eye. Number two: when your baby doesn’t sleep on the red-eye, people around you get moody. Whoopsies…lesson learned. Number three: spending time with family and loved ones is really what it is all about.
We stayed with family on Pawley’s Island and loved every minute of it. I had nightly cooking lessons by my husbands great-aunt, and surprisingly enough neither of us needed to diet when we returned…even though many sticks of butter, pounds of side pork and fat back were used in the making of our suppers.
Another thing that we learned or I suppose confirmed is that the ocean does really have a restorative power to it. We were able to walk across the street to the beach daily and enjoyed building sand castles and playing in the surf. Even when the petite encountered a jellyfish and got a pretty substantial sting on her leg – she still rallied and wanted to go for swim in the waves the following day. We had such a fun time exploring places we used to go to all the time and ones we thought the petites would like the best.
We stayed in Pawley’s Island which is a slice of heaven, there is no place that I have seen that has such deep blues and such stunning greens, the sunsets that can literally take you breath away. In the afternoon storms roll in and just for a moment it becomes so dark it would appear to be night, but then the sun shines through and blue skies prevail. It is one of my favorite places. Of course like most places it is the people who you are with that make it so incredibly special.
For our small day trips we drove south to Sullivan’s Island. We used to go there all the time to different bars and restaurants. This time we stopped in at Poe’s Tavern. It is a super cute little restaurant and bar, themed with fun Edgar Allan Poe things, after all Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie where he spent 14 months, it is said that during this time he came up with the idea for The Gold Bug about a mystical beetle who leads people to treasure. They have some really fun swag and when we lived there I never ended up buying anything, so our trip was mainly to get me a Poe’s shirt…mission accomplished. The beach at Sullivan’s Island is also really gorgeous, same goes for the beaches at Isle of Palms. All very close to fun bars and food. Yum.
We also of course wanted to drive by our old neighborhood and check everything out, I couldn’t believe how much things had changed in 10 years, at numerous times I had to ask where we were, and was totally lost and confused.
In Charleston there are just so many incredibly fun places, we only spent a little bit of time there, but we did go to some pretty fun places that you might want to check out if you happen to find yourself in Charleston.
Battery and White Point Gardens – this is a great place to walk along nad see the water, check out the ships and just explore a little bit. If you are a history buff this is a great place to start, there are civil war cannons along this defensive seawall. You are able to see Fort Sumter in the distance, if you walk along the promenade you will have views of some spectacular mansions. In White Point Gardens you can rest under the shade of gorgeous oaks and even sit in a lovely gazebo. It is a fabulous place to start your Charleston adventure.
From there we drove to the City Market, we were in search of a few things. My husbands great aunt had been referencing this cook book called Charleston receipts that was put together by the Charleston Junior League in 1950, it has 750 recipes in it and is one of those southern staples. I just had to get my hands on one of these, so we headed to the market in search of the book. (I will say you can buy one on amazon for a little bit less than the market, but you don’t get to say that you bought this awesome cookbook at the oldest city market in the south). This market is amazing, they have so many fun things, you can buy sweet grass baskets here (although if you are driving north up 17 you would most likely find a better deal on the side of the road at one of the little basket stands. If you are heading south, I got a great basket at Carolina Cider Company in Yemassee on the way to Savannah. The market is also a place where you can haggle a bit, I’m not talking flea market haggle, but if you feel comfortable you can try to get a “deal”. We also found that there was a vendor who was selling maps, old newspapers and Harper’s Weekly’s. This is a really fun place to stop in and browse. We ended up purchasing a reproduction of a Charleston map. Read more about my map fiasco here. This is a very busy place, you could easily spend hours here checking everything out. They have something for just about everyone, it is a must stop. The market is open everyday of the year except Christmas. Monday-Sunday 9:30-5:30 and Friday – Saturday 6:30-10:30.
If you’re not going south to Savannah, you need to stop in at the Savannah Bee Company at the Charleston location – 216 King Street. I am a bit obsessed with the Savannah Bee Company. This store, brand and mission are phenomenal. When I was first reading about the things we could do, I read a trip advisor review about honey tastings and I thought that would be really fun for our daughters, 5 years old and 1-year-old. Who doesn’t love honey and our little hardworking buzzing friends? So we checked it out, there were samples of all of their honeys that they sell. It was delicious, I have never tasted so many different types of honey. It was also a really neat place for us to show our daughter all of the hard work that bees do and why they are so important. So this store, has an incredibly cute logo too, did I mentioned I am a bit obsessed? They have all sorts of fun things, check out their website and you will want to order stuff right now. You must taste the Tupelo Honey, it was my favorite and all the more special because the Tupelo tree has a short blooming period 3-10 days, so it is a rather special honey if you ask me. Yum. If you end up going let me know what you think? Oh and what you ended up buying. Also, if you are going to Savannah too, go to the shop there instead it is bigger and has more to offer, a play area for little ones so you can shop and taste in peace.
Charleston Museum – 360 Meeting Street. This museum is great. We took our girl there although they were not really interested in the main museum there is a part called Kids Story, where they get to try things out. There is a little house they can play in with costumes (mainly for older kids 6-9 I would guess, they were pretty big on our petite 5-year-old), a ship where you can change and raise the flag, a lighthouse where you can push buttons and turn the light on. It was great, they loved to play in the house with the tea set and had a fantastic time. The museum is a great look at Charleston through the ages, they have one exhibit of guns that I found to be really interesting. I was a little disappointed with the lack of exhibits and artifacts from the days of slavery, there were just a few things. I am not sure if this is because there is The Old Slave Mart Museum or not. We weren’t able to go to The Old Slave Mart Museum this time around, but I would love to go on our next visit.
There are so many amazing places, you could easily spend a week touring through Charleston and not eat it all or see it all. I think part of the fun is in just walking around and taking in all of the incredibly history in this city, from the churches, gorgeous old homes, vendors in the market.
Main places we didn’t get to this time but would like to go:
The Old Slave Mart Museum – an incredibly important museum, this building was actually used as a slave auction building.
Fort Sumter – a delight for any civil war buff.
Philadelphia Alley – rumors are that this area is haunted…that there were many duels and that sometimes ghosts can be seen. So fun!
Middleton Place – gorgeous rice plantations with grounds that are stunning, just check out the reviews from other travelers, sounds amazing right?
I am sure I am missing a ton of places…I realize I didn’t even mention all of the shopping…too many fun places and we only went to a very small fraction of them. This is really just a half day in Charleston, like I said before, you could spend a week there and still not touch all of it.
If you’ve been to Charleston, what’s your favorite place to visit? Please tell me all about it in the comments. I’d love to hear all about it.