Charleston, you will always have my heart.
I never really had Charleston on my list of places to want to see, but once I got my first taste pimento cheese and fresh pralines, I was hooked. Charleston is one of those places that is just magical the minute you step foot into the downtown area.
The first time I visited Charleston was actually during a family Christmas vacation. When my mom called to tell me we were going to Charleston for Christmas, I was actually not too excited. I had never really heard about Charleston before, or anything really exciting to do around Charleston. However, It was a Christmas vacation, and it was in a warm location, so I wasn’t going to complain too much.
We arrived in Charleston and my dad decided to take a map and my mom and I took to the streets. This is where I started to realize how charming Charleston really was. We had fresh pralines that were still warm, walked down to the water and watched locals making sweet grass baskets. It was the warm air and the smiles on everyone’s faces that allowed me to relax and absorb the environment. The more I walked, the more beautiful Charleston became. Ivy growing on the side of a historic house, the cobblestone streets, the horse and buggies. Charleston was magical.
Charleston is also known as a foodie town. I once heard a statistic (which i’m not sure if it’s true or not), that Charleston has more restaurants in a square mile than any other major city. Whether its true or not, I will say there are a lot of places to eat, and all of them are amazing. I learned that some of these places, you should make a reservation weeks in advance.
I then got home from that trip and immediately called Allie. Allie is a teacher and she gets off a week from work every February. We were going to go for a couple of days, and we met to plan our restaurant reservations. We looked up the most well known restaurants, the best, and the hidden gems. We made reservations 6 weeks in advance, because that is what is needed to get into some of these places. I will say I didn’t ever have a bad meal in Charleston, everywhere is delicious.
We stayed at the King Charles Inn, a really cute hotel that is in the heart of historic downtown Charleston. You are within walking distance of the shopping of King Street, the hustle and bustle of Market Street and also the laid back lounging of the river and East Bay. Really cute place to stay if you ever go down, and additionally they offer best rate guarantee which is also a great plus to this hotel.
Allie and I did a walking ghost tour, which was….. interesting. Not as much scary as still providing us laughs as our monthly girls nights. If you want a good walk during a crisp Charleston night and get a feel for the land, recommend. Otherwise the ghost stories really weren’t ghost stories…..don’t even know if any of them were really true.
The one ”touristy” thing I would recommend is the carriage ride. Its really a beautiful way to see different parts of the city, get a feel for the street routes and also a tiny history lesson. Most of them are about an hour and the horses are beautiful and well taken care of, some might argue even better than the human employees. Allie and I enjoyed this, and in February the weather is about 65-70 degrees during the day, and sunny so bring your sunglasses.
We also did the plantation tour, we chose Middleton. I will say that the flowers at Middleton Plantation were magnificent, and when the camellias were in bloom it just smells of happiness and joy. A lot of people don’t understand the want to go on the plantation, because its not history I don’t think anyone is proud of. However, that’s just it. It is history. I’m a firm believer in that t move forward, we need to take a look into our past. We can’t learn from our past if we chose to pretend it never happened or don’t want to deal with it. I will say I did learn a few things on that plantation, and because I don’t want to spoil them, I would recommend taking a trip out there. When you do, take a look at the oak trees overlooking the river. You can almost be transported in time and imagine being at a “Gone with the Wind” type party. It is a beautiful environment, despite the horrendous history that transpired.
Allie and I ate our way through Charleston. There are a few places we made reservations that I would suggest to anyone that will listen. Husk was amazing, and Allie and I both would tell you to get the fried chicken skins, sounds weird and unhealthy, but you are on vacation. We ate here for dinner, I would suggest doing lunch here. we ate all day long so by the time dinner came we were stuffed, but lunch is more reasonably priced and easier to get a reservation. S.N.O.B. was another one definitely worth going to. S.N.O.B stands for Slightly North of Broad, definitely check this place out, it was amazing! We never made it to FIG but I heard great things and it if definitely on my list to try the next time I’m in town.
Now for the hidden gems. Hominy Grill was one of Allie’s favorites, she got the “Big Nasty” and ate every little crumb. I enjoyed the catfish sandwich, and we both ordered the chocolate pudding. Allie had researched that it was Alton Brown’s favorite chocolate pudding, and both of us being foodies, we had to get it. We were only able to eat half of our own bowl, but we took the rest to go and ate the rest in bed in our PJs watching TV later that night. We then walked our way back to our hotel, because lets face it, we needed to walk after that meal. The Gin Joint became a favorite of Allie and mine. They have this drink called the bartender’s choice. You pick two adjectives and your bartender whips you up a surprise drink. I will say that most of the time in any bar I always tell the bartender to surprise me, but these drinks were heavenly. You can pick the same two words all night and get different drinks, it was just unique! Check it out if you are in town.
We ate tapas around the city, hush puppies at Paw Paw, biscuits on market street from Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, shrimp and grits from Low Country Bistro and tons more. We concluded our food adventure with brunch at High Cotton. Just like every other meal, this one did not disappoint.
Charleston will always have my heart,