Brian and I drove to Charleston Monday morning for a little impromptu getaway. We’ve been wanting to go to Charleston since we moved to Charlotte two months ago, but we’ve been busy with wedding season (3 Gritton weddings in one year including the planning of our own) and just hadn’t made it a priority. I’m so glad we finally did! Charleston is only about a 3 hours drive from Charlotte. After all the driving we’ve done the last year, the time flew by.
I always have this vision of a place built up in my head before I actually see it. Generally no where can live up to my insane imaginative expectations, Charleston was no exception, but in a good way! I had totally envisioned one large swampy marsh with 8-foot cat tails dominating the landscape. While this was partially true (definitely some marshiness) the beauty and lack of wheat colored cat tails was a welcome surprise. The landscape was much greener than expected, from the ancient live oaks and magnolia trees to the spartina grass that filled the low-country marsh land, no view was a disappointment. Did I mention the flowers?
I knew Charleston was a city of historic significance before our arrival, and both Brian and I love historical architecture, so first thing on the agenda was a stroll through the historic districts, like the French Quarter. The homes and vibe were very reminiscent of San Francisco, especially on Rainbow Row. A very toned down, laid back version of San Francisco (with less stabby joes). We loved it right away. The layout and architecture also reminded us of San Juan, Puerto Rico (go there!) one of our all time favorite islands. While it reminded us of places we’ve seen before, it was also completely original and had it’s own flavor.
Multi-colored homes similar in feel to the painted ladies in San Francisco were scattered amongst shops, restaurants, and city service buildings from block to block to block. We really could feel the shift in our minds back to the time of their construction in the 17 and 1800s. It was honestly unnerving at times, especially when a man dressed in civil war times garb walked past us. Most of the beautiful homes included a private or public alley complete with cobblestones, fountains, and gardens.
We also made our way down to the beach (across the street from the historic district) and took a stroll along the walkway at the outermost point of Charleston. We watched a little crab swimming up to the shore, and walked through the park admiring the flowers and water feature.
You can barely see it but the little swimming crab is in this picture just below the waters surface. So amazing.
By the time we finished walking through the park, we were starving. I’d made a list of restaurants prior to our arrival (honestly every restaurant looks amazing, there are hundreds), however our drive and the walk through the balmy heat (in jeans…big mistake!) left us with limited patience and we made a rash decision. We headed to Tommy Condon’s for lunch, the first restaurant we saw, right in the heart of where cruisers (Carnival stops in Charleston) go. I don’t want to be too negative but neither Brian nor I at all liked our meal (it was obvious from the setting and cleanliness we wouldn’t, I even found a hair in my food) but that’s just the truth. I wouldn’t stop there again.
crab cakes over rice pilaf (bland) and a fried soft shelled crab sandwich (the crab = vomit) I don’t eat entire creatures. Brian said it tasted like mud.
If you ever head to Charleston, definitely check out the historic district! It’s so worth it, and if you’re interested take advantage of the tours by carriage. They offer more insight into the city. With how much we crammed into two days, we just didn’t have time.
P.S. Charleston is a total foodie hub, you really can’t go wrong if you go with a great menu. TripAdvisor and Yelp are king.
After lunch we headed to the beach, Folly Beach on James Island. We were both exhausted from the heat of the day and ready to cool down. Neither of us had been to any Carolina coastline up to this point. It was spectacular and so unlike any other beach I’d ever seen. Homes led to wild grass led to a long extended wood walkway which led to the softest sand of all time. The sand was literally like sifted flour (my feet can’t do rough sand, they’re super sensitive). It was so beautiful. The water was like bath water you’ve let cool. It was again just so much like the waters of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
At the end of the night we walked the nearby boardwalk, ice cream cones in hand (banana pudding flavor was the best!) and watched the sun set. A perfect ending to the first day of Summer.