This post was originally titled Three Wonderful Days in Charleston. And yes, full disclosure, I titled this post before actually going on our trip, because well, how could spending a long weekend in Charleston not be wonderful? But that’s not the point. What you should be wondering here is this: How did our three day weekend virtually get cut in half? Well, all I can say is #thanksobama.
Okay, first a little background. If you know me and T and/or have read my blog before, you know that we are proud liberals. With that said, we were obviously devastated when Trump won the election and on November 9th, I immediately began looking for flights out of D.C…we just couldn’t stomach being in the city during the inauguration. Flights were booked, plans were made, and we were all set to leave for Charleston the afternoon of Thursday, January 19th. Fast forward to two days prior to our trip, I receive a text from a (very generous) friend offering us tickets to see Obama’s farewell speech on Friday…when we’re supposed to be away. How could I possibly say no? Phone calls were made, plans were changed, and amid an otherwise dismal January 20th day, there was a brief glimpse of light–my friends and I were able to personally thank the Obamas for their incredible service and grace. To say it was an incredible and memorable experience would be a vast understatement.
The Obamas thanking us for our service as teachers and telling us they’re proud of us. NBD.
A few short hours later, our jaunt to the Holy City was underway. Charleston’s compact size, enchanting city streets, and languid setting make for the perfect weekend getaway. Of course 30+ hours are not nearly enough to explore this historical southern beauty, but you’ll find that you only need a matter of minutes until you’re completely swept away by its charming allure and under its captivating spell.
WHERE TO STAY
The Vendue Hotel is a true gem; a southern jewel, if you will. Conveniently located in Charleston’s historic center, this delightful art boutique hotel is terrific. The service is impeccable, the rooms are comfortable and lovely and the showcased artwork is a welcomed bonus. No need to rent a car as the Vendue is within walking distance of numerous restaurants, bars, the City Market and multiple places of interest. A fantastic stay!
WHERE TO EAT
Believe the hype. All of it. Every single word of it. Husk is outstanding and was our favorite meal during this glorious foodie trip. Set in a quaint Victoria-era home, this farm-to-table restaurant is an absolute must visit. Service was exceptional and our entire meal was guided by our server’s spot-on recommendations. Although their menu changes frequently, their dishes consistently focus on local Southern ingredients, with a slight spin on traditional Southern cuisine. Our favorites included their wood-fired oysters, winter brassicas salad with peanut vinaigrette, cornmeal dusted catfish, and the confit duck leg. Highly recommend making a reservation in advance.
You know this place is downright ridiculous if I (yes, ME!) am willing to stand in the rain for nearly 30 minutes before being seated. Because MY HAIR. This restaurant serves up amazing Southern homestyle food and lives up to its phenomenal reputation. Service was friendly and the food was stick-to-your-ribs delicious. Umm, and let’s just come to terms that your clean eating/diet/healthy living/whatever-you-choose-to-call-it regiment will be thrown out the fat-laden-comfort-food window the minute you arrive in Charleston, K? K. Now that we’ve gotten that settled…everyone in our party loved their meals, but I can attest to the mouthwatering shrimp and grits, moist banana bread, decadent pecan pie, and spicy Bloody Marys. What? Didn’t I tell you that all clean eating bets were off? Please pay attention.
Thing to know: Hominy Grill does not take reservations for brunch (hence, the standing in the rain–but it’s absolutely worth it, promise).
What’s not to love about this restaurant? The menu is innovative, the service is great, and the ambience is chic. My entree was fantastic–a creative and flavorful collaboration of black sea bass with sweet potato, winter salad, and wait for it…granola (that’s right, granola). The granola added the welcomed surprise elements of crunch and sweetness. The butterscotch pot de creme will transport you to straight to butterscotch heaven (not sure there is such a place, but if there is, please take me there STAT). If I had to choose, and thankfully I didn’t have to, I’d give Husk the slight edge here in terms of the overall better dining experience, but both Husk and FIG are absolutely wonderful and certainly worthy of all of their numerous accolades.
Thing to know: FIG accepts reservations up to one month to the date, and reservations are highly recommended.
WHERE TO DRINK
The Gin Joint
An excellent place for drinks-the cocktails are interesting and eclectic and the ambience is intimate and unassuming. It didn’t hurt that it was located about one block from our hotel, either. The Gin Joint has a speakeasy vibe to it that is the perfect ending to an undoubtedly superb dinner at one of Charleston’s premier restaurants. We loved this place.
Laguntas Brewing Company
We escaped the downpour rain (we learned that it rains quite a lot in Charleston!) and spent a few hours at Laguntas Brewing Company, a fun and casual brewery that was conveniently located across the street from our hotel. Live music complimented the already laid-back atmosphere and the massive building is sleek and beautiful. A great place to sip on some in-house craft beers.
An adorable coffee shop near the City Market that’s great to stop at for a little pick-me-up. I had a wonderful turmeric and ginger latte, while T enjoyed a delicious mocha.
WHAT TO DO
It’s all in the name. Walking along the waterfront while marveling at these pastel-colored row homes just might make you want to move to this magical city. The infamous homes on Rainbow Row are just one example of the stunning architecture that is so prevalent throughout this romantic city. You could spend days wandering through the city’s charming streets and admiring its colonial gems.
Taking a carriage tour is a very popular way to see Charleston. There are numerous tour providers throughout the city and we chose Palmetto Carriage Tours–Charleston’s oldest carriage company. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and had a good sense of humor. This was a wonderful way to see the historic residential district and learn about its history. The city limits the amount of carriages that can be out at one time, and the carriages must be divided among three sections of the city’s historic district. Each carriage is assigned to one of the routes by a lottery system (see photo below) so you have no idea what area you’ll be visiting until you’re on your tour.
Something to note: I really appreciate this company’s declared commitment to animal welfare-their website provides specific details about how their mules and horses are treated. Highly recommend using this company.
Thing to know: Public tours are one hour in duration and run every fifteen minutes on the weekends. Adult ticket prices are $25/person.
Every carriage stops here to receive its route assignment.
Charleston City Market
We didn’t spend a ton of time here, but this historic market is somewhat of a Charleston institution. The countless stalls and vendors sell a variety of artwork, from handmade crafts to baskets, paintings and glass pieces. This open-air venue is a delightful place to meander through and explore.
No matter how long you choose to stay in Charleston, there’s no question that you will immediately see why so many instantly fall in love with its seductive spirit, benevolent hospitality, and sumptuous cuisine.