Charleston in Charge

We tested the waters with Teagan a few months ago when we flew to California to introduce her to family and friends. She did swimmingly, thanks for asking. But, I needed to see how she’d do on the road. If I’m going to have a travel baby, she needs to enjoy road trips with great snacks and a heavy artillery of music. Charleston seemed like a great opportunity to see a new city and put Teagan’s co-piloting skills to the test.

The trip was calculated at 7 hrs, according to the Google gods. It took us 8 with diaper & bottle stops. And, aside from a detour that put us about 30 minutes late for her afternoon bottle stop, we avoided any crazy meltdowns and everyone enjoyed the ride.

Charleston is beautiful. I will give it that. Every few blocks you’ll catch a whiff of urine, but aside from that, New Orleans’ clean & sober sister is a looker. We ventured off the beaten path, exploring the college campus and driving to see the islands. We stayed on King Street, which I highly recommend. There’s enough to see and do in and around that area to keep you from needing to go elsewhere, BUT… there are so many things to see and do elsewhere, you should attempt them. Don’t be dull and stick to the bubble. Do more, see more and just be more, K?

Without further ado, my pictures and commentary (details on where to eat and such at the end of this post, if you’re looking for suggestions):

 

Strolling along the Battery, where the million dollar houses watch you gawk and stare.

Obligatory Rainbow Row Pic

More fancy.

Historic Downtown Charleston, where I could have photographed every single building,because they were all lookers!

Waterfront Park

Walking along East Bay Street with an adorable baby. 😉

The Angel Oak Tree, 400 years old and larger than life. It’s free and well worth the drive to Johns Island. Go, take pics and imagine the things this old gal has lived through. Awe inspiring.

Morris Island Lighthouse is best visible from Folly Beach. Once in Folly Beach, take E Ashley Ave until it ends, park and walk about 0.25 miles down the inlet to the beach, where you can enjoy scenic driftwood, the Atlantic coastline, and a fantastic view of the old lighthouse.

We had a few plantation options and chose Boone Plantation, mainly because I wanted to see the Avenue of Oaks. Admission was $21/person with AAA and there was plenty to see and do while there. The house tour was actually pretty succinct & interesting and I hate that sort of thing. We went later in the day and missed most of the morning crowds.

Avenue of Oaks. Gawgeous!

Where to Stay:

  1. My first choice and where I would have stayed, had I not been on a leaner budget this trip (saving up for Argentina, after all!) was the Kings Courtyard Inn. After we got here and I saw exactly where it was, I still stand by that choice. Some reviews called it loud, which I totally get. BUT, if you want quiet, stay in Mount Pleasant. You choose downtown for a reason, and this B&B puts you right where you’d want to be. Plus, it’s adorable and who doesn’t love that.
  2. Again, a fancy option that I had to forego this trip: Francis Marion Hotel
  3. Child friendly and fantastic! I was pretty upset when my better half suggested we forego the fancy accommodations to save money on this trip. The Hyatt House just sounded cheesy and “run of the mill”. However, it comes with a full kitchen, and that was a huge selling point, since Teagan has recently started solid food and this was my first time in a hotel with a baby. It turned out to be a great choice, because attached to the Hyatt House is one of Charleston’s newest concept restaurants, The Pour Taproom, where you can walk to hundreds of beer taps and pour a pint on demand… then stroll out the glass doors to the rooftop patio which overlooks the Charleston skyline. This was fantastic for our first night in town, because we were tired, hungry and thirsty. My lackluster reaction to a chain hotel was immediately upgraded to enthusiasm. 😉

Where to Eat, Caffeinate & Enjoy Dessert:

  1. This one is pretty tricky, because we did a lot of in room dining this trip. So, I can only tell you that I hear great things about Prohibition and Virginia’s on King.
  2. Sol on Meeting Street. Their happy hour menu was pretty spectacular and the blackberry margarita made my heart sing. The chorizo scallops over corn grits were amazing and so were the avocado fries.
  3. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit – Y’all. I’m Southern to the core, and it takes a lot for a biscuit to impress me. Holy Cow, this was good. I ordered the BLT with roasted tomatoes and a glass of sweet mint tea.
  4. Black Magic Cafe, Folly Beach. You’ll be hungry after you see the Morris Lighthouse. I loved the vibe here. The grilled cheese (add bacon) has pesto and rocked my world. I preferred the natural cut fries over the sweet potato fries here, btw.
  5. The Rise – The espresso here was extremely smooth, which I can always appreciate. I’m an Americano girl with nothing but the cup it comes in. Bitter espresso makes me sad. The espresso here made my ginger heart very happy. And, as an added bonus, the homemade banana bread was the best I’ve ever had in MY LIFE! Don’t forego it!
  6. Black Tap – Y’all know I love a good hipster coffee joint. I read a review somewhere about this one and felt like I needed to try it. Love the fact that it sits in an old house and is not on the main drag. The natural light in this place is beautiful and the baristas know their coffee. They offer pour overs for specialty blends and I love that. The espresso was a little bitter, but drinkable, and I left with a t-shirt because it was uber soft and begged me to buy it. It’s near the College of Charleston campus, so available seating is usually scarce.
  7. Jenis Ice Cream – I hadn’t been to a Jeni’s yet, and this one just happened to be a few blocks from the hotel. Get the flight, if you go. It comes with 3 scoops and a waffle cone cracker.

What to See

  1. King Street – This is a no-brainer. It’s the main drag in Charleston, so you can’t miss it. There’s a free shuttle that can carry your sore tootsies around if you need it. Shopping, eating, etc. Plan to spend an afternoon here. Since we stayed on King, we hit it up quite often. I don’t recommend Monday mornings. Trash apparently runs that day (on King) and between work foot traffic and deliveries, it’s a little crowded.
  2. Waterfront Park – This is where you’ll find the Pineapple fountain and the harbor where Cruise ships dock.
  3. The Battery – From Waterfront, make your way down E Bay St and to the Battery, where the million dollar homes sit on the sea wall. We hit up Marion Square while we were there, for diaper changes and an afternoon bottle. 😉
  4. Rainbow Row – You’ll naturally stumble upon it, if you’re headed north from the Battery on E Bay St. You can’t miss it, because there are a TON of photographers stopping to get that perfect shot of these colorful homes. It’s shady and pretty glorious here, so take your time and enjoy the walk.
  5. Angel Oak Tree, Johns Island – Worth every minute of the drive. We actually did Angel Oak, Morris Lighthouse and Boone Plantation in one day. That’s A LOT, and I’d actually suggest you break it into 2 and do Angel Oak with Morris, then see a plantation by itself the next day. Angel Oak is free, easy, and just a fun sight to see.
  6. Morris Lighthouse – Sure you can go see the Sullivan’s Island lighthouse, which is functional and modern. But who likes that? I much prefer the broken, aged and historic monuments. Take 17 into Folly Beach and turn left on E Ashley Ave. When it ends, park and head down the inlet (you’ll see the Morris Island Preservation Board). It’s about a quarter mile walk before you hit the sand dunes, which we pushed a stroller over, surprisingly. You’ll enjoy a fairly empty beach with driftwood, crab spotting, and a spectacular view of the lighthouse.
  7. Boone Plantation – As mentioned above, there are quite a few plantations to choose from. I just really wanted to see The Avenue of Oaks, so this one won out over the others. The house itself is not that old (1935), BUT the story behind it is pretty interesting. The tour is short and easy and there are plenty of other attractions on site to enjoy a few hours here, if you want to. Don’t forget to show your AAA card when you enter for the discount.
  8. Ft Sumter – We didn’t have time for this one. We had 3 full days, and I feel like you’d need at least 4 days to see this and anything else of interest. But, it’s there and you should see it if you have time.

All in all, a fantastic trip! Comment with any other recs!

tamihallman

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