Travel Guide: Charleston

Charleston: A little city in South Carolina with quite a lot of culture and history. When we moved to North Carolina I was so pleased to learn we were only a few hour drive from this popular city. Right on the cusp of my wedding season mania, my husband and I decided to take a quick weekend trip away. After spending a few days in this city I decided to put a quick guide together of our favorite stops. 

We came in pretty late, but early enough to grab some fresh sea food from 167 Raw at the recommendation of our AirBnb Host. We were a little early in the season to enjoy the crab legs, but we split the sampler, and put down the freshly caught clams, oysters and shrimp. Afterwards, we made our way to Kaminsky's. I promise you, you will never have a better pie. They make all their deserts fresh the same day, so the menu changes every day. However,  I got the warm Tollhouse Pie with Ice Cream (one of their most popular choices) and Jesse got the Coconut Cream. We could have died right there, and it would have been okay.

Let me just take a moment to rave about our AirBnb. It was the perfect attic apartment, complete with the quirky mid-century vibes, slanted walls, a little kitchen and window seats. 

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We had an early start Saturday morning and began with Charleston's marketplace. It was a little touristy for our taste, but we did snag a small ink drawing of one of the famous decorative gates of one of Charleston's homes done by a local artist. 

We took a right as we exited the Market Place strip, and just kept walking. That's the thing about Charleston. You don't really need a game plan. You'll simply wander into some gems on the paninusula. 

We passed by the renowned Hanks Seafood. While we didn't have enough dinners in Charleston to stop there, this is on our list for next time. If you are in the area, you'll have to let us know what  you think and what's your favorite on the menu.

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 We also passed FIG, another dinner only spot. This has been recommended by several locals, so this is a must-stop by for next time.

We also passed FIG, another dinner only spot. This has been recommended by several locals, so this is a must-stop by for next time.

 Me in all my awkwardness.... 

Me in all my awkwardness.... 

 Another famous Seafood joint. It was still too early to grab a bite, but their menu looked delicious.

Another famous Seafood joint. It was still too early to grab a bite, but their menu looked delicious.

If you like History at all, then you don't have to go far to find it in this old city. We wandered from church to church, reading the plaques, googling the notable characters and wars. One of my favorite things about churches was their adjoining cemetaries.

Weaving through the grave stones was eerie and fascinating. We found John C. Calhoun's grave sight,  among other historical figures. It's crazy to think that these less than two hundred years ago these people walked these cobble-stoned streets, passed these color houses, dreamed dreams and bought from the market.

We even stumbled across the grave site of Annabel Ravenel, the supposed Annabel in Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee. She is rumored to have either died from heart break or killed herself when she was separated from Edgar. 

 The courtyard of Washington Square seemed like it came directly out of  Pride and Prejudice .

The courtyard of Washington Square seemed like it came directly out of Pride and Prejudice.

 The entrance into Washington Square. The monument mimicks the Washington Monument in DC.

The entrance into Washington Square. The monument mimicks the Washington Monument in DC.

 The French Huguenot Church (loving that blush pink)

The French Huguenot Church (loving that blush pink)

 St. Phillip's Church, built in 1680, ten years after the colony was established. John C. Calhoun is buried here.  

St. Phillip's Church, built in 1680, ten years after the colony was established. John C. Calhoun is buried here.  

 Known as the Pirate House, diagonally accross from St. Phillip's. The legend says that Blackbeard himself stayed here and would use a tunnel that ran all the way from battery park to the basement of this home for smuggling and escape. 

Known as the Pirate House, diagonally accross from St. Phillip's. The legend says that Blackbeard himself stayed here and would use a tunnel that ran all the way from battery park to the basement of this home for smuggling and escape. 

Being the coffee addicts that we are, we scouted out the famous coffee shops. When we saw that City Lights coffee brews Counter Culture, we couldn't resist stopping in. There's barely any seating, and it really is a whole in the wall, but the brew was exactly what we needed. 

 If you happen to stop by on the weekends, they have live music! 

If you happen to stop by on the weekends, they have live music! 

 Love snapping photos of locals...sneakily

Love snapping photos of locals...sneakily

 

We continued our walk and tour of the historical churches in Charleston. One that was particularly interesting was the Circular Congregational Church. John Newton, a slave ship captain, pulled into the Charleston harbor and listened to a sermon at this very church. Shortly after hearing this sermon, he returned to England, quit his post as a slave ship captain, penned the famous hymn Amazing Grave and devoted his life to abolishing the slave trade.  

We headed down to Battery Park to walk the water front. We witnessed someone getting engaged, breathed in that salty sea air, and peered at Fort Sumter a couples miles off. The houses there were jaw dropping.

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 The navigator...

The navigator...

 The girl who stepped on gum..

The girl who stepped on gum..

 The Miles Brewtwon House

The Miles Brewtwon House

 Rainbow Row

Rainbow Row

 Doesn't this look like it was taken out a London street?

Doesn't this look like it was taken out a London street?

We grabbed lunch rather haphazardly. We didn't have a lot of time before our historical carriage ride (maybe corny, but seriously it helped us see the local color and culture. Our tour guide knew all the mysterious rumors and stories that went along with all the houses and which movies were filmed where (including the ones where Mel Gibson shot the Patriot) So we stopped at Henry's Jazz and Seafood. We actually both got barbecue and it was oh-so-savory. It's a pretty afordable lunch spot if you're trying to stay on the peninsula and they have roof top seating that overlooks the market. 

After the carraige ride we meiandered into the only church that was acutally open to the public, St. John the Baptists. The interior architecture was breathtaking. 

Our dinner spot was High Cotton. Unfortunately, the camera died by the time we hit dinner. If you want to eat in their main dining area, you will need a reservation weeks in advance, but we sat in the bar room, listened to local jazz musicians and split the Filet Mignon. It was delicious and a really fancy night out. You'll definitely want formal attire for this one. Dinner was a pretty long affair so we headed back to the AirBnb afterwards.

 The next morning, on our way out of the city, we grabbed lunch at one of local dives, Jestines! 

 People line up the entire block for this place. The decor and the ambiance is nothing to write home about, but their fried chicken and potato salad was delicious. 

People line up the entire block for this place. The decor and the ambiance is nothing to write home about, but their fried chicken and potato salad was delicious. 

And of course, before hitting out three hour drive home, we stopped in for some caffeine at Black Tap

 #relationshipgoals...but seriously. This sweet couple comes to this coffee shop almost every Sunday afternoon and reads the paper and works on crossword puzzles together. They are seriously the sweetest. 

#relationshipgoals...but seriously. This sweet couple comes to this coffee shop almost every Sunday afternoon and reads the paper and works on crossword puzzles together. They are seriously the sweetest. 

 This is my face's favorite place to be, in a coffee cup. 

This is my face's favorite place to be, in a coffee cup. 

About thirty minutes outside the city, we stopped by to see the Angel Oak tree, one of the oldest trees on the East Coast, estimated to be 400-500 years old. If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, you will feel like you're walking through Lothlorien. 

And just like that, our weekend in Charleston was over. There are so many ways to do Charleston, and our way was just one of them. The restaurants and historical spots alone would take years to hit. Whatever you do, don't eat at a chain restaurant. I will judge you. And always talk to the locals about where to go. If you've been to Charleston, please share your recommendations below! We loved the city so much, we're already planning a return trip!

Jessica Fowler