And to finish off our summer adventures, we found ourselves in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is amazing and I just wish we had more time to explore this beautiful city.
There are so many things to do in Charleston but here are a few highlights from our trip. There is picture overload here but really Charleston is such a beautiful lady, it is hard not to shoot everything you see.
There is a lot to do in Charleston but really if you can make time for just wandering around the beautiful streets, you will be rewarded with so much charm and style.
One of the many beautiful porches in Charleston, a closed door means privacy please and an open door means visitors welcome. So funny since you can clearly see what is happening on the open porch but apparently back in the day, passerby would simply avert their eyes and keep walking when they spotted a closed door.
What always strikes me about Charleston is the incredible attention to detail. Every turn brings something new and interesting and lovely.
Here are a few of the activities you might want to consider for your next visit:
I polled the family and this was the favorite stop of our entire three city, week long trip. There are several plantation tours in Charleston and the one we stopped at is Boone Hall. You might be familiar with Boone Hall as it was featured in the Notebook and was the setting for Ryan Reynold’s and Blake Lively’s wedding. The plantation actually dates back to 1743 and features a stunning home, 738 acres of beautiful grounds, a little cafe with a Butterfly Garden in back, horse stables, slave quarters, and a cotton gin house not to mention the incredible Avenue of the Oaks. The Avenue of the Oaks is the oak tree lined entrance that takes you into the plantation under a canopy of Spanish Moss. It is really stunning and unlike anything I have seen before.
The original slave houses dating back to 1790. Each house has a different theme- worship, home life etc… and is decorated so you can see exactly what life would have been like for the slaves. There is music, a self guided tour, video broadcasts and so on to give you the complete experience.
There are several tours available of the slave quarters, the home and the actual plantation. We were really limited on time for this trip and made it to the plantation with only 2 hours before closing so we were only able to take one tour of the grounds and then walk around and explore. If you can spare more time, it will be worth your while as this plantation has so much charm. I definitely wish we could have toured the inside of the beautiful home as well as the grounds.
As we sped past this little spot on the grounds tour, the driver casually mentioned “Oh these are original trenches that Robert E Lee directed to be dug to protect Charleston during the Civil War…” wait what?!
My children loved the Butterfly Garden- so glad we took a few minutes to explore this spot behind the Butterfly Cafe.
The home was built in 1936. This was Allie’s family summer home featured on the Notebook. We didn’t have time to tour the inside but the entire bottom floor is available to view and showcases what life would have been like in the 1800’s.
The cotton gin dating back to 1853. The structure is being supported to protect it from hurricanes and storms and wind in South Carolina.
The plantation is currently a working farm and has tons of events throughout the year. When we visited in early August, they were prepping for a big Halloween celebration and corn maze.
This is a short ferry ride to Fort Sumter, a man made island in Charleston’s harbor. This is where the first shot of the Civil War was fired in 1861 and is a pretty cool spot to visit if you are a history buff. The island is tiny and comprised entirely of the crumbling brick fort, complete with actual cannons used in the Civil War. Fort Sumter was constructed in 1829 to protect and defend the American seaports and was held by Union forces at the onset of the war. The fort was bombarded by Confederate forces in the first battle of the war and the Union Army was ultimately forced to surrender.
There are a few flags that fly at Fort Sumter, I thought the view of the American flag billowing in the breeze was stunning. There is a very famous Fort Sumter flag (with 33 stars) that dates back to the Civil War. The flag was lowered after the Union Army was forced to surrender the fort and travelled throughout the Northeast serving as a symbol to raise funds for the Union Army. When the war ended, the American Flag was raised again at Fort Sumter on the very day that President Lincoln would be shot.
Look at how thick these walls are:
Our children didn’t quite grasp the significance of this island but they enjoyed exploring and the ferry ride for sure. Hopefully some of this sticks as a visual when my 9 year studies American history in school. If you have the time, this is a cool place to explore with beautiful views and rich American history.
Carriage Ride. Pretty much every travel article and guide for Charleston recommends a carriage ride. We enjoyed our ride and it is a nice way to city parts of the city but to be honest the kids were very hot and very bored. So I don’t think this is necessarily a must do and considering our limited time in Charleston, I kind of wish we had skipped this. We used Palmetto Carriage Works which was a great company. There are several carriage companies to choose from in the downtown area. Once you are loaded onto your carriage the driver will roll up to a little booth and get assigned a number. The number is the route that the driver takes. So you won’t know exactly what route you will take until you are already on your way. That ensures there isn’t too much congestion from carriages in any one particular area of downtown.
PS: Our horse was awesome. Can you see his tongue? That was his resting face.
Charleston City Market. The city market is right next to where all the carriage ride companies will be. It is a large outdoor and indoor market with tons of local artisans and vendors that sell pretty much everything you might imagine. You will also find a handful of restaurants to grab a bite to eat.
Charleston is famous for sweetgrass baskets that are absolutely gorgeous and handmade. The technique to weave the baskets is handed down from generation to generation and dates back to the slaves brought over from West Africa. I will warn you these baskets are not inexpensive but they are made by true artisans so something to look at for sure.
Waterfront/ Rainbow Row: Rainbow Row is classic Charleston. It is a series of 13 houses painted varying colors of the rainbow. We stopped by just for a second and then walked down a beautiful cobblestone street to the lovely waterfront area. Definitely worth the time to walk along the waterfront for just a bit as it really is very pretty.
WHERE TO EAT:
The Daily. The Daily is a great little spot to relax and grab a coffee. They have a handful of pastries and gourmet juices and the coffee alone is worth a trip. I tried a Tahini Latte which was crazy and odd and delicious.
Jeni’s Ice Cream. Oh man this ice cream is really amazing. Definitely some of the best ice cream I have ever had. Jeni’s is actually headquartered in Ohio but they have a scoop shop in Charleston right on King Street that you don’t want to miss. The flavors are completely unique- sweet corn, roasted strawberries, sweet cream biscuits and peach jam, whiskey & pecans… really I was a bit scared that this ice cream was going to be awful. But after one little taste I was completely hooked- it is delicious and you will probably want to sample every single flavor they offer. I have since stopped at Whole Foods twice to buy pints of this ice cream- the Brown Butter Almond Brittle was my favorite.
Sadly we didn’t get a chance to eat at many of the restaurants I was really hoping to try. Bah! Another trip is definitely in order. Here are a few of the places I had hoped to dine at on our trip:
Persimmon. Pressed sandwich and frozen custards. Looks like a great lunch spot!
Sugar Bakeshop. This looks like an adorable spot to get your sugar fix.
French Quarter. Our carriage driver highly recommended the restaurant here as a local favorite.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. I really wanted to stop at this cult favorite biscuit shop. The hours are a little limited though. I thought boxes of these biscuits would be a perfect gift to bring back from our trip.
Places to Stay:
As far as places to stay, there are a number of boutique hotels in Charleston that look fantastic. Zero George and The Restoration were two I really was interested in but as far as I can tell they don’t seem to have accommodations for children. We wound up staying at the Hyatt Place hotel which was very conveniently located. Normally we have pretty good experiences with Hyatt hotels but I wouldn’t go back to this one. The housekeeping definitely left something to be desired.
And that wraps up our quick little visit to Charleston, South Carolina. This is my second trip to this beautiful city and I can’t wait to go back.