Friday, August 26, 2016

Weekends in Charleston, SC

Hey! If you guys follow me on Periscope (@ThePureGal), Twitter (@ThePureGal) or Instagram (@BaconNEggs), you already know I was in Charleston, SC, at the end of July. It is such an exciting city and if you have the opportunity, go explore this beautiful city. It is so full of something for everyone that you simply cannot get everything done in one weekend.

If you are planning on going to Charleston, I have a few tips to share with you to make the most of your trip to decide what you want to do! Each are divided up by area so you can make the most of your time there. I will say we used our rental car for most of the outer areas, and walked anytime we went to do something in downtown Charleston.
Angel Tree
James Island/John's Island:
Angel Tree - This tree is so moving. There is something spiritual about seeing one of the oldest trees in the world. It is stunning. Check it out! 
Charleston Tea Plantation- It is the south and this is the only tea plantation in the US. It is a must see. Stop in and try the free samples of each tea blend they make as well as take a tour of their factory. Bonus: take a trolley tour to learn the history of the plantation as well as how tea is made. It is a fun stop!
Irving House/Deep Water Vineyards- Who doesn't want to enjoy a winery while on vacation? Deep Water Vineyards has a good variety of heavy tannins white and red wines to choose from.
Firefly Distillery- If you have ever had firefly vodka, then this is the place for you. They have a tasting room to try their variety of spirits.
Rainbow Row
Downtown Charleston:
Charleston Pineapple Fountain/Waterfront Park - This park is perfect for couples wanting to stroll the city waterside. Don't forget to take a photo of the famous Pineapple Fountain. If you are bringing the whole family, let the children play in the fountain. Each fountain is a make-shift sprinkler the local children play in when the weather is too hot to play in the grass. 
The Battery- A beautiful section of town, it connects with the Waterfront Park. Take a stroll through the boardwalk or into the park and learn the cities civil war history. Plenty of monuments and benches, as well as some of the most expensive homes in Charleston sitting right across the street.
King Street - This is absolutely a must for a shopping trip. It boasts a lot of stores from antiques to your favorite high-end brands and even includes a few spots to catch a bite between swipes of that credit card. 
Queen Street - If you love historical homes, this is one street you need to stroll down. It has such beautiful homes that are truly the essence of what makes Charleston "Charleston".
Rainbow Row- Nestled right by the French Quarter, this row of houses are a perfect photo-opportunity. With each house a different color, it represents the Charleston's take on the Caribbean multi-colored homes. 
French Quarter- If you want a French vibe without leaving the states, this little neighborhood is it. It is chic, has beautiful cobblestone streets and some of the most exquisite homes in the city.
Market Street- Named for the market that still stands along it. It has beautiful shops and locals selling their local crafts. Pick up a gullah basket woven from the grass right in town. They are strong and resilient.
Bay Street- One of the best streets to find a great place to eat. With a bit of everything, you can truly eat like a king in Charleston.
Trolley Tours- We used Charleston Carriage Works and not only found the best rate but also the best tour guide (we had Blake and he was fantastic!). Each tour is done randomly so there is no guarantee you will see any particular area (example: Rainbow Row), so keep in mind even the driver does not know where you are going - that is controlled by the city's guide - a random selector similar to a bingo ball machine. The best experience is based on the guide not where you go.

Folly Beach:
Morris Island Lighthouse- A really beautiful lighthouse only accessible by boat. However, there are tons of trails that will lead you to a great viewing of it.
The Beach- As one of the famous 6 beaches in Charleston, Folly Beach is where locals go to enjoy their vacation rentals. 

Mount Pleasant: 
Palmetto Island County Park- With tons of trails and adventures, this is a great place to take the kids to expel some energy.
Mount Pleasant Pier- While there is little cover during the walk, this is a great place to spot wildlife. We saw dolphins in the area and plenty of birds. If you like to fish, this is the place to do it!
Boone Hall Plantation- If you want to step back in time, this is the plantation I would recommend. It can get rather busy so get there early. But driving by "oak alley" is magical - like right out a southern novel pre-civil war era. 
USS Yorktown- Have you seen the huge Navy carrier? It is not one to be missed. This is a great way to spend the day touring the boat. If you are not up to walking the entire boat, they do have a really wonderful helicopter ride that allows you to see the boat and the rest of the harbors from up above. 
Ravenel Bridge- If you want the ultimate challenge, park and walk the bridge. It is long - after all this is where the marathon takes place, but it is on everyone's list of things to do. You have to walk it!

Dining Out:
Charleston is not short of some of the best food in the south. And, hands down, some of the best food I have had to date. There are a ton of wonderful places to go with a great variety. Here are some of my favorites- divided up for eating or drinking!

The Bar at Husk- A great alternative to eating at Husk is the bar - located in a separate building. We came here early for cocktails (happy hour) and the amazing burger! It is famous and they only make a limited amount so make sure if you want it, you call ahead to ask if they are making it. 
Husk-  This is a tad expensive dinner and reservations are highly encouraged. However, if you get there early, you can easily be seated. Utilize the bar at husk if you have a decent amount of wait time. You can grab a cocktail while you wait. 
The Daily- This was one of my favorite breakfast spots in town. It is a long walk to get there - we drove to this one before heading out to explore Mt Pleasant. Their cold brew coffee is some of the most flavorful but their menu is the right amount of healthy mix of avocado toast to breakfast tacos. There is something for everyone. (if you want dinner, they are the sister to Butcher & Bee right next door)
Slightly North of Broad (SNOB)- My favorite meal while in Charleston was by far at SNOB. We were lucky to find a spot at the bar during the dinner rush and it ended up being ideal real estate in the entire place. Our bartender Trevor was a wealth of knowledge of the area but he makes some amazing cocktails. We split the duck with asparagus and grits, had a beer, glass of wine and a mixed spirit. It was by far the best place in town!
Kickin Chicken- This spot is perfect for those strolling along King Street. This little spot may be a chain but it has a feel of a local college town bar. Tons of food options from salads and wraps to items like chicken and waffles. Get the Chicken Sandwich- its their take on the Chick-fil-a Sandwich. 
Toast- The best shrimp and grits can be found here. I loved this little spot. It was the perfect little spot and not busy at all. We enjoyed dinner here with a glass of wine each. 
Brown Dog Deli- The best sandwich in Charleston is at Brown Dog. I loved the piggy figgy and my other half enjoyed their pot roast sandwich. The atmosphere is fun and decorated for the music enthusiast. They have a back patio and tons of seating. Perfect to take a family or eat a low-key lunch. They get busy but the food is worth the wait.
The Rooftop- If you want the best view of the city during dinner or drinks, the Rooftop is the place to go. This little rooftop bar has plenty of space for large or small groups. Perfect to enjoy the sunset and dinner and cocktails in the evenings. They have great drink and dinner specials. I enjoyed a fantastic Ahi Tuna Salad.

The Press- While the coffee itself is nothing to write home about, they serve starbucks, this is such a cute little cafe, it is a great stop to cool off and recharge your batteries. literally! stop and see the local art.
Whisk- By going in the middle of July, it gets really hot. Whisk is the place you go to cool off. They have some of the best smoothies around. Most of the menu is super healthy and if you like green pressed juices, this is the place for you. They have super filling salads. 
City Lights Coffee- Right off Market Street, we walked by this little spot too many times to count. When we finally walked in, we immediately fell in love with the little bar and booths that were as historic as charleston itself. It was perfect for a grab-and-go coffee.
Saffron Cafe & Bakery- This one was a bit of a hike from downtown charleston, but well worth the walk. Their iced coffee was delicious and their croissants are bigger than my  face. No joke. They have so many sweet treats. If we had time, we would have taken the breakfast bar option. They have beautiful local baguettes and cakes that are perfect for breakfast too! This place doubles as a market so if you are in the area, you can also grab some drinks and brews to go.
Southern Brews Coffee- We found this cute little drive through coffee spot randomly while driving between Angel Oak and Charleston Tea Plantation. Really great iced coffee spot and right in this off beaten path in Mount Pleasant. 
Black Tap Coffee Shop- I really loved this little coffee shop right in the heart of the Charleston neighborhood of Harleston Village. It was within walking distance of the old city jail. The people are super friendly and there are plenty of spots to watch the locals or bloggers working diligently.
Sugar Bakeshop- If you want a sweet treat, this little bakery is perfect. It is off Cannon Street in an older part of town, closer to University of Charleston. It is quite a small place, but their cupcakes are worthy to note. We took ours with us home! This little spot has been written up plenty of times for good reason.
Beardcat's Sweet Shop- I loved loved loved this place. This is on Sullivan's Island and the sweet shop to The Obstinate Daughter (we never made dinner here but i hear their pizza is outstanding). They have the best gelato, and plenty of options that are vegan, GF or dairy free. Stop in - these folk are the nicest people you will meet.

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