May 1, 2018

MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL GUIDE

Oh vacation, how I miss you! Last week, Josh and I spent a week in Charleston, South Carolina and I can’t explain how badly I want to be back there right now. Typically, when we vacation, we tend to find an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean and drink and eat ourselves silly. But I have been wanting to visit Charleston ever since I started watching Southern Charm (LOL JK, guys! Give me a little more credit). Seriously, it’s a city that has been on my bucket list for a long time. So, as my Christmas present, Josh booked us a trip to Charleston, and after waiting for four long cold months, we jetted off to this perfectly charming city. First of all, the weather was incredible every day. It was between 70 and 80-degrees with, what seemed like a constant refreshing breeze. According to the locals, April/May are the best months to visit the city (way to go, Josh!). We stayed at an AirBnb on James Island, which is a prime location because it’s right between the beach and downtown. If you’ll keep reading, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite spots to eat, beach, drink and explore! I’m also going to share some of the places we didn’t have time to go to. Josh and I really wanted to go on a tour of the city. We actually explored some of the major spots ourselves first and then went on a tour to learn more about Charleston’s incredible history. Above is a view of The Battery. The Battery is a landmark in Charleston and is a defensive seawall, named for a civil-war defense artillery battery. It stretches along the lower shores of Charleston, forming the harbor. I loved walking this promenade and feeling the sea breeze–bring me back! And, in the distance, you can see the famous Ravenel bridge. Okay, the reason I’m unnecessarily obsessed with this bridge is mostly because it is named after the one and only drama-starting, reality TV “star” Thomas Ravenel. I’m super fascinated by this family, and this bridge is named after Arthur Ravenel Jr. (Thomas Ravenel’s dad). I learned quite a bit about this bridge. It connects Charleston to Mt. Pleasant (which is an area I wanted to go but didn’t have time), it is the third largest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere and its total length is 13,200 feet (WHOA!). If you’re planning on visiting Charleston, one of your first stops must be The Battery–it’s perfect and picturesque. For our tour, we did a combined bus and boat tour with Grayline tours. It was $40 per person and was three hours long. I really enjoyed exploring the city with them. We also drove through the Citadel campus which was beautiful. And the boat tour was a big highlight for us! We toured the harbor, saw Sullivan’s Island and Fort Sumter….and went right under the Arthur Ravenel bridge (LOL…K I’m done). When we go again, we would probably go on the highly recommended Gullah tour. 

UM. You can’t visit Charleston and not visit Rainbow Row. It was clearly number one on my list and out of all the colorful homes, this vibrant lavender one was my favorite! There are 13 colorful historic houses, and it represents the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States. An absolute must see.

Here! I’ll live right here. Just one of the many ivy-covered homes I want to live in.

Another shot of The Battery, and that bright pink house, right there, is John Ravenel’s house, 5 East Battery (OMG ha! I’m embarrassing myself, but it’s beautiful). It was declared the best real estate on the peninsula with the most beautiful views…in 1838. Not exactly sure it’s an ideal place to live during a hurricane…just sayin’!

More of The Battery….behind is the White Point Gardens at The Battery. A better image of the White Point Gardens at The Battery. I could stare at these trees all day. They’re breathtaking; out of a scene from The Notebook.

Staying so close to the beach, we were told we had to go to Folly Beach. We went there on our first full day in Charleston, which was a Thursday, and after talking to some locals, that was the best decision we ever made. Apparently, there are only a few beaches in Charleston, Folly being the most popular, and in the summer it could take an hour to get to the beach from where we were, which was 10-15 minutes away. Since it gets super hot in the summer months, almost sticky, naturally everyone retreats to the beach. If you’re planning on going to the beach, plan to go on a weekday.  And, it’s not just a beach, but a whole town with restaurants, bars, and tourist shops. After getting burnt to a crisp and walking out on the pier, we hopped around Folly, with our first stop being  Rita’s Seaside Grille.  A cocktail is just what we needed after getting fried in the sun (Josh more than me). OKAY. I don’t know what they did, but their Pina Colada was silky smooth and AMAZING. My mouth is watering thinking about it now. After getting some liquor in us, we stopped at Taco Boy, which is a super cool spot with the best type of food on earth. You guessed it…TACOS. I LOVED everything about this spot and it was super affordable too. Quick service and great views of the streets of Folly. Let the people watching begin! I got a Kimchi Beef taco which was out of this world. If you find your way there and are debating between tacos, let the kimchi be one of your selections.

Our first night, we went to Leon’s Oyster Shop. Josh and I love seafood, so this was the perfect place to kick off our vacation. We got…oysters, of course, peel and eat shrimp and I got the Siam Salad–so good! OH…AND…. for dessert, they offer soft serve ice cream! What!?!!! I got the vanilla soft serve in a cone with rainbow sprinkles…AMAZING.

If you take one thing from this whole post, it’s to go to Carmella’s Dessert Bar. UM. TWO WORDS: DESSERT BAR. We went to this place TWICE! It’s right on East Bay Street, in a row with a group of great restaurants. They have gelato, cake, coffee, and alcohol…what more could you ask for! I got salted caramel gelato with a scoop of chocolate gelato and it was (double hand raise emoji) amazing! We went again on our last night and I ordered a cappuccino and salted caramel chocolate mousse–OH YES! It’s a fun spot to stop at after dinner or to take a break from shopping. It’s completely open too, so you can feel the fresh air and see the passersby.

See! How cute is Taco Boy? It’s as good as it looks.

We grabbed lunch at Prohibition. The lunch menu was limited, but I can tell you that the brussel sprouts were AWESOME! It’s a huge place, with this cute outdoor seating area. We would’ve gone back for dinner, had we had more time. Definitely a spot worth checking out!

Looking for a light bite and cozy atmosphere? Go to The Gin Joint. It was OK, but I’m not sure we would go back. Check out some places I wasn’t able to make it to below.

In the mood for a delicious breakfast and good coffee? Go to The Daily. There are two locations, and we went to the one on King Street. I wish we went more than once because there were a few things I wanted to try. Seating is a bit limited at this location and it’s cafeteria style ordering, but it’s SO good. Highly recommend.

These fun little ice cream looking trucks are made for both adults and children. Booze Pops! That’s right, in addition to your go-to chaco taco, they sell frozen booze popsicles. Definitely, a fun novelty to try. There are two in Charleston and are for the most part parked in the same spots, this one was right on King Street, the main shopping destination in the city. Great way to cool off while shopping in the South Carolina heat.

I didn’t do any shopping while I was visiting. I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about any great clothing boutiques I stumbled upon, but my coworker stocked up on some super cute shoes at Shoes on King. I stopped in but there were too many shoes that I NEEDED, so I had to leave ASAP. The sales associates were super friendly and funny. There’s a mix of boutiques and your typical mainstream retailers: Forever 21, Louis Vuitton, Sperry, Vineyard Vines, Madewell…you get the gist.

We didn’t go into this antique shop, but this sign was too perfect not to snap a photo of.

Here are some of the other places we went to and loved…

Jestine’s Kitchen: Amazing southern food. We stopped in for lunch after our tour and it was one of our favorite meals

The Vendue Rooftop: Super cool spot! We stopped here after walking the city and got some drinks and a light bite. The views are unreal and it wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be. There were a ton of people there, but there was so much space so it didn’t feel like everyone was on top of one another.

Loggerheads in Folly Beach: This was Josh’s favorite spot. We sat outside on the rooftop/deck. It’s a beach bar, right next to the marina. It’s an older crowd, but there are a ton of TVs and great live music! Definitely a spot we would go back to.

Pearlz Oyster Bar: Our favorite meal! I got the salmon on top of beet goat cheese risotto—heavenly

Ones we wanted to try…

If you have time, go to Mount Pleasant. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time but apparently, there are a ton of great places to eat and it’s a bit less expensive than downtown Charleston.

Stars Rooftop, Revelry Brewing, Husk, Hominy Grill, Mex 1 Coastal Cantina, Obstinate Daughter, Vintage Coffee Cafe, Ink N Ivy, The Watch Rooftop, SNOB, Shem Creek Bar and Grill, Market Pavillion Hotel (Pavillion Rooftop) and The Commodore. Downtown Charleston is small, so it’s fairly easy to hop around to different places.

Hope this was helpful and I really hope you get a chance to visit this amazing city! If you do, let me know what your favorite places are and share some of your adventures with me.

 

xx

Jackie

 

 

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