Since reading Gone With the Wind in college I have romanticized the South. Cobblestone streets, live Oak trees with Spanish moss, and beautiful, historic houses. My dream recently came true as my friend Hilary and I ventured out to Charleston, South Carolina. The historic part of Charleston was smaller than we both expected and a long weekend getaway is the perfect amount of time necessary to see the city.
We arrived on a Thursday, checked into our quaint hotel, and set out exploring. We stayed at the Fulton Lane Inn, a place I’d highly recommend as it’s central to everything.
We stumbled across Low Country Bistro while walking through the French Quarter and Charleston City Market. It was delicious! Honestly one of the best meals on our trip, can’t recommend it enough. We split a Reuben sandwich and cheesy shrimp and grits. The Charleston food scene is known for its shrimp and grits and these didn’t disappoint. I wish grits were more of a thing in Arizona, they are so tasty!
We walked around the historic downtown and stopped for a frozen mint lemonade at Bake House. These are a musty try. So refreshing! Bake House is right next to the South of Broad area.
We walked down Rainbow Row and snapped a ton of photos at all of the picturesque and colorful houses.
I felt like I was in a movie set. All of the houses were so well cared for and the streets were incredibly well manicured. Spanish moss hung from large oak trees and there were beautiful flowers everywhere.
That night we went for some barbecue at Jim and Nick’s Barbecue. I was a bit disappointed by the food but the atmosphere was fun and the staff was really friendly. The restaurant is on King’s Street, a place both Hilary and I wanted to explore more the next day.
Day two in Charleston we woke up early and headed out on a Carriage Tour. Our guide was a South Carolina native and had one of the few authentic accents we heard on the trip. When we drove to Savannah the next day where we heard more accents at the rest stop and gas station, but I was surprised how few people had accents in Charleston. It became pretty clear the reason why, most of the people we talked to weren’t from South Carolina (lots of transplants!).
The carriage tour was great. It was a fun and easy way to see a lot of the city. It was hot and humid and being under a covered carriage while being carted around was a nice change of pace from our on foot adventures the day before.
For breakfast we went to Sweet Water Cafe. The biscuits and gravy were kind of a bust but it was close to our hotel and the food was affordable. Charleston is a “foodie” place and a lot of the restaurants are more expensive than what I’m used to.
After breakfast I grabbed a honey, lavender iced latte at City Lights Cafe, so good! We saw lavender iced lattes at a lot of places in Charleston and Savannah and I quickly became a huge fan. The flavors of lavender and honey are subtle and makes the latte smooth and creamy.
After we got our caffeine fix we headed to Savannah Bee Company on King Street. We were able to try a multitude of different honeys followed by a Mead tasting. A lot of fun! I bought cinnamon sugar whipped honey, I’m obsessed now.
Next on our Charleston adventure Hilary and I toured a few historical homes. We had read that the Aiken- Rhett house was worth seeing and stopped their first. We took pedicabs to get around (I’d recommend it) and got the the Aiken- Rhett house midday. It was nice to start with the Aiken- Rhett house because it has been preserved, but not restored.
The house hasn’t been touched since its last owners sold it to the historical society and so it’s a great representation of what houses looked like in the 1800’s. It’s a big, beautiful house that takes up a city block. This was the only house we toured where we were provided an MP3 player and were able to go around the house self-guided.
After the tour Hilary and I needed a drink and to cool down (there’s no AC in the Aiken- Rhett house.) Our pedicab recommended Closed for Business and we enjoyed some local beers on draft and pimiento cheese dip (another thing Charleston is known for).
From there we toured the Nathaniel Russell House, another recommended spot. This house has been restored using methods and materials known to be used during its original glory.
Most famously, the Nathaniel Russell House has a beautiful self-supporting staircase. I enjoyed the contrast between the unrestored Aiken- Rhett and the restored Nathaniel Russell house.
Our pedicab had also recommended the Gin Joint so we checked that out before dinner for a craft cocktail. They have some really unique concoctions! It’s a fun, swanky atmosphere and a great place for pre-dinner drinks.
That night we ate at Pearlz and split fried oysters, lobster rolls and more shrimp and grits. If you can tell there’s definitely a theme to Charleston, food and drinks! It’s a great city to see one restaurant at a time.
That night we decided to explore the well-known bar scene of Upper King and hit up the Belmont, Rare Bit (they have Moscow Mules on tap!) and ended the night dancing at Republic. The drinks aren’t cheap but the bar scene on Upper King is great. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the chance to talk with some locals.
The next morning we went to Enterprise and rented a car so we could head out to Savannah, GA. Enterprise was poppin’ and they were out of economy cars (what we had reserved) so they put us in a red Jeep Wrangler, the Barbie car! We had a blast driving around in this thing and my childhood dreams were fulfilled.
On our way out of town we stopped at the Butcher and Bee for brunch. We’d heard it was good and we weren’t disappointed. It’s a little further out but worth the travel. It’s a farm-to-table restaurant and I had an incredibly flavorful dish with mushrooms, poached eggs, grits and steamed kale. It’s nothing something I’d usually jump on but I really enjoyed it.
Next stop, Middleton Plantation and Savannah.