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I’ll admit, I think we visited Charleston to experience some of Sean Brock’s restaurants, but it ended up being a fun city to enjoy a short vacation.
Stay at the Andrew Pickney Inn
While in town, we stayed at the Andrew Pickney Inn. Our room on the first floor was a decent size with a small bathroom. Besides being so close to the Charleston Market and within walking distance of nearly everything, we enjoyed this view each morning while eating breakfast on the rooftop patio and watching the cruise ships come in.
Explore the Neighborhood
After dropping our bags off, we set out to explore the area by foot. One of the most noticeable things was the color of paint used on some of the buildings. We certainly don’t have light pink and baby blue buildings in Buffalo.
I loved that there were plants and palm trees everywhere, as well as some unique pieces of architecture and cobblestone roads.
There are many beautiful churches in Charleston. Our hotel was actually miles from the 2015 Charleston shooting. It was a sobering moment when we were told this.
A few mornings, we took walks around town starting at Battery Park right on the ocean. The total path is a few miles and a part of it features slate tiles.
This house plan is featured all over Charleston. The architectural style, technically known as the Single House, probably developed out of necessity. Sideyard homes, which evolved to feature a long porch or piazza along the side of the house, often accessed through a false front door, date back to the city’s earliest days in the 1680s. Defensive walls restricted the size of the town. Laying out lots long ways maximized lots with street frontage. Porches tend to be positioned on the west and south sides to protect against harsh late-afternoon sun and capture sunlight for a garden.
Take a Boat Ride out to Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter is a sea fort in Charleston, notable for two battles of the American Civil War. The First Battle of Fort Sumter began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery fired on the Union garrison. These were the first shots of the war. We took a ferry out to the fort on an extremely windy, but beautiful day. I was really cold, so wait for a warmer day if you can.
Visit Rainbow Row
One of the big sights to see in Charleston is Rainbow Row, located on East Bay Street in Charleston, SC. It is the longest cluster of intact Georgian row houses in the US. The buildings were constructed between 1670-1680. They have been residences and shops, survived fires and earthquakes, and they were present during the bombardment of Charleston during the Civil War.
Take a Carriage Ride (or don’t)
Horse-drawn carriage rides are a favorite among tourists visiting Charleston. We stayed a block away from three stables- located right in the city. The industry is not without controversy. Some local residents hang signs in protest to lower the temperature limit or end the industry altogether.
Spend a Morning at the Charleston Market
The Charleston indoor/outdoor City Market is four blocks long and features artisans and food entrepreneurs, many of whom take down every night and set up every morning. While visiting, Nick and I bought a sweetgrass basket from a woman named Elouise, who told us the history of the baskets, how the craft was passed down in her family through the generations, and the story of her and her husband’s romance- a memorable experience!
Shop on King Street
There are lots of places to shop in Charleston. King Street offers a variety of shops. My favorite was the Savannah Bee Company. Besides their products, they had a mead counter. I love mead.
Visit a Plantation
As lovely as the South is, there is a dark past. I wanted to visit a plantation but was conflicted. Middleton Place is directly across the Ashley River from North Charleston. The plantation, now a National Historic Landmark District, is used as a museum and is home to 110 acres of the oldest landscaped gardens in the United States. On one hand of history, Arthur Middleton (1742–1787), a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born at Middleton Place and lived at the plantation in the last years of his life. On the other, 3500 slaves were stolen from their (mainly) Western African families to harvest (work) the rice and timber, after a terrifying 1-4 month journey across the Atlantic with little water or sanitation. How could I roam this land without being reminded of the many souls who tended it?
Eat Lunch at Husk
We failed to get dinner reservations at Husk (a Sean Brock restaurant) months in advance, but I was able to secure lunch reservations for us our first day in Charleston. So, after checking in to our hotel, we walked over to Husk. Pimento cheese is a thing in South Carolina, so that is the appetizer we got. I ordered the standard shrimp and grits – it was a bit wetter than I like, but the flavors were wonderful. My hubby got the fried chicken and said it was good, not the best, but good.
Eat Lunch at Hot Little Biscuits
Lunch one day was some biscuits from Hot Little Biscuits in the Charleston Market. We had watched the video below before coming to Charleston and made it a point to stop by and get some. We ordered 3 different flavors with different jams. They were so delicious- the kind of delicious where you can’t even speak during and after eating because you are trying to process how something so small could be so amazing.
Eat Dinner at PawPaw
PawPaw was our favorite dining experience in Charleston. We had great wine, each bite was delectable, and it just has a good vibe. We got the tuna tartare bites to start. These things were amazing. For dinner, I got shrimp linguine because I felt like pasta, but never get it because every diet tells you not to. Well, when in Charleston, treat-yo-self, and get the pasta if you want it. It was SO good. My husband got the best duck plate he says he has ever had – and we eat a lot of duck. Duck two ways – which was better? We couldn’t decide. Both we so tasteful. I think it was a special, but if they have it and you love duck, do not leave without eating it!
Eat Dinner at Nico’s
It’s a quick Uber ride over the bridge from Charleston, but it is well worth the drive. We were treated to dinner by a family member and I don’t even have the words to describe our wonderful experience. We Ubered from our hotel in Charleston- about 15 minutes and got a seat right at the bar and were about the see all of the action. The ambiance was amazing and the staff was exceptional. We started with cocktails. I have been in a citrus mood and the French Master really hit the spot for me. My picky “sweet Bourbon Manhattan”- drinking husband said his two Manhattan’s were out of this world. The food just kept coming at our location. Each staff member took the time to explain each ingredient and origin- as if we could, we loved each bite even more. We started with an oyster assortment of 4 different kinds- getting saltier as we went around. The sauces were delicious- the homemade hot sauce, the homemade vinegar sauce, and I could actually eat the cocktail sauce because the horseradish was not overpowering. Then we had the shrimp cocktail- loved that spice on the shrimp! We also had the crab and caviar- holy moly- such taste in a tiny shot glass- loved this! The calamari was delicious- sweet and spicy, with cognac aioli –yum! Their calamari is high-grade sweet American calamari. One of the highlights was the beef pate – amazing texture and such a fresh taste! Finally, the winner of the night, the dish my husband claimed could be his last, the dish we couldn’t get enough of— the bacon clams dish. The clams were good, but let’s talk about the sauce for a minute: Perfect mix of spices that sailed my mind off to a place like Morocco, sweet peppers, tiny delicious cuts of pork belly—order more baguette! You will want every last drop. Nico is a must-stop while in the area. Don’t miss it! This is the only photo I got because it is hard to remember to take photos when you are in heaven.
Eat Dinner at McCrady’s
The last restaurant we ate at in Charleston was McCrady’s Tavern. Constructed in several phases in the second half of the 18th century, the tavern was a hub of social life in Charleston in the years following the American Revolution. The restaurant is directed by (you guessed it) chef/partner Sean Brock, who is also an advocate for seed preservation and the heirloom crops he serves in his restaurants. This place was gorgeous, with one of the most beautiful bars I have sat in. And yes, the food did not disappoint. We started with the octopus appetizer special because octopus is my weakness. I got the local fish – I don’t remember what it was, something amazing. My hubby got the grilled pork. Dinner = silence as we immersed ourselves in every bite.
Eat Dessert at Kaminsky’s
I love dessert bars, so when my husband suggested we pop in for some coffee and dessert in the middle of the day, I thought – why not. I spotted the pecan pie in the case when we walked in and knew it was over. My husband is obsessed with pecan pie. So, I got a snickerdoodle frappe-whatever and enjoyed sipping and snacking at the dessert bar.