We had a few criteria on our list when we were considering fall vacation options. For example, we wanted a relatively short flight, activities that B would enjoy and the ability to keep a somewhat relaxed schedule (i.e. enough things to do to keep us busy, but not so much that we would attempt to pack too much in to a few days).
We had always wanted to visit Charleston, SC and it fortunately ticked off all of these bullets. So, we packed up B and off we went!
As is typical, I took a billon pictures and I’m just getting around to looking through them So far, I’ve sorted through the shots from our first day in town, and I am excited to share some of the highlights from that part of our trip.
Our flight arrived in the early afternoon. B surprised us by sleeping nearly the entire two hour flight, so she was ready to go exploring after we dropped our bags off at the hotel.
One of the main attractions in Charleston are the plantations and gardens, which are about a 30 minute drive from the center of the city. There are nearly a dozen to see, but we narrowed it down to just two on this trip, starting with Magnolia.
The plantation dates to 1676 and has been in the hands of the same family for nearly 15 generations. It originally functioned as a rice plantation, but in the aftermath of the Civil War, the family opened the grounds to the public in an attempt to recoup some of their losses. It quickly became a popular tourist destination (it bills itself as the most visited plantation in Charleston) due to its immaculately kept gardens.
This is the third version of the plantation house. Two other structures were destroyed by fire at various points in history.
The house is only accessible to the public through a guided tour, and B didn’t really want to participate in that. So, we spent most of our visit outside and practically had the place to ourselves. It was so peaceful to wander around the grounds, pretending that we stepped back in time. Perhaps due to the time of year, there weren’t too many flowers in bloom (the plantation is best known for azaleas, which bloom in the spring and camellias, which bloom later in the fall), but towering oak trees and canopies of spanish moss made for an impressive–and dreamy–effect.
B’s favorite part was the petting zoo, where she didn’t get to touch anything because…germs. But, her reaction to the animals was absolutely priceless. She called all of them “dog” or “Eddy” (the name of my mom’s dog, for those who have forgotten) and giggled and pointed at them like a crazy person.
The other thing that drew us to Charleston was the promise of good food. The restaurant scene there has been getting a lot of buzz in the last couple of years, for its combination of traditional Lowcountry cuisine as well as innovative restaurants serving up eclectic dishes with locally sourced ingredients.
On our first day, we stopped for a quick lunch at Two Boroughs Larder, a combination grocery store and cafe. The menu included an assortment of entrees and small plates, breakfast sandwiches served all day, and a “bowl of noodles” (the description was similar to Pho).
Although there were a lot of options to choose from, nothing on the menu really jumped out at me. Maybe it was the fact that some of the dishes that sounded good at first glance had an odd combination of ingredients when I read the description further (smoked yogurt with beets, ham and pumpkin seeds?). Or, perhaps it was because we had been traveling all day and I gotten to the point where I was starving but didn’t know what I wanted to eat. I ended up with the chicken boudin blanc (a sausage made from chicken, pork and cream) sandwich and Chester got the bratwurst. Both were delicious, but not particularly memorable.
We stopped at Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ to pick up take-out to eat at the hotel after B went to bed (this was after we stopped at the best Target ever (so well organized, well stocked and attached to a mall) to stock up on supplies for B. Times have changed!). I’m not a barbecue connoisseur, and I definitely prefer the sweet style that you can get around here to the traditional Southern style that is heavy on the vinegar. Still, my pulled chicken sandwich and mac-and-cheese hit the spot, but Chester really made the best choice with his combination plate of brisket, ribs and pork.
The best meals of the trip were still to come, but it was a great first day.