As much fun as we have at The Art of Living Beautifully talking about McKinney and all the joy it has to offer, every once in a while we find a change of scenery refreshing and inspiring. Last month, I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina with my sister to visit my nephew who is in college there, and also to explore the historic city known for its charm and southern sensibility. Like most people who visit Charleston, I fell immediately in love with the city and thought you would enjoy a recap of our visit complete with pictures of its beauty.
Courtney and I stayed at the famed Belmond Charleston Place Hotel in downtown Charleston. Located in the historic district, it is within walking distance of all the major Charleston attractions. The hotel itself is beautifully appointed with spacious rooms and plenty of old-word charm. My favorite part of the hotel was The Thoroughbred Bar. We found ourselves there for a pre-dinner martini each night, and enjoyed the people watching as much as the cocktails.
The Charleston food scene does not disappoint. We ate at several incredible restaurants, and never had a meal lacking in flavor or quality. The carpaccio at Eli’s Table was bright and subtly flavored. The ambiance at Blossom felt like gourmet food meets fast-paced eatery. Ink and Ivy was funky, eclectic bar with low-country food worthy of an award–the Mac and Greens were my favorite! Brunch at High Cotton was probably the best meal of the trip. Although the weather was chilly and wet, inside High Cotton was a warm and welcoming atmosphere with traditional southern cuisine that was comforting and delicious. Although she felt some shame in ordering the Fried Chicken Biscuit while I ordered salmon, Courtney’s choice for breakfast was probably the best of everyone’s! And on our last night, we ate at The Ordinary, a seafood bar known for their oysters…I had a fried oyster slider and it was divine! (PS: The wine list at The Ordinary offered only French Wines…so keep that in mind if you are a wine person. We know nothing about French wine and felt a little lost.)
My nephew, Taylor, is finishing his sophomore year at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. The weekend we visited was Recognition Weekend for the freshmen, so we were able to witness the parades of battalions as well as see the freshman complete the gauntlet and later welcomed into the corps of cadets. It was difficult to watch these kids endure such physical challenges (think hundreds of squats, pushups, high knees, pulling sleds with upperclassman sitting on them), and even more difficult to imagine Taylor doing the same just last year. By the end of they day, the freshmen were no longer considered 4th class, and you can’t help but feel emotional and proud for all they had endured.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
One afternoon we visited the Magnolia Plantation.
Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, Magnolia Plantation has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold before it from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. It is the oldest public tourist site in the Lowcountry, and the oldest public gardens in America, opening its doors to visitors in 1870 to view the thousands of beautiful flowers and plants in its famous gardens.
The spring weather lent itself toward the cold, but the flowers were as bright as ever. Spanish moss hung from ancient trees standing sentry over the black lake, like they had done for centuries prior. Windy shrubbery paths led us to hidden statues covered in green moss, and the azaleas were kind enough to be at their most beautiful on the day we visited. We elected not to do a tour of the house, but I am very curious about what facts about the family the tour would have provided.
In general Charleston is a beautiful town rich with history, architecture and charm. We saw age-old churches with ancient gravestones protruding haphazardly through their manicured yards. The colorful facades of Rainbow Row ignited a desire to live in the fairytale that their owner’s must occupy, complete with whimsey and romance. Through our explorations of Charleston, we caught glimpses of secret courtyard gardens enclosed by antique brick and iron gates, and I wondered what mysterious rendezvous’ had occurred there over centuries past.
Elegant art galleries pepper the streets, my favorite being the Meyer Vogle Gallery with its soft light and artist studio on the 2nd floor. A series of ladies with floral caps caught my eye, and wish I could have purchased all three to represent Courtney, me and our sister-in-law Jennifer.
Our weekend in Charleston was a wonderful experience and I know three days is only enough time to scratch the surface of all it has to offer. I look forward to returning for round two of exploring the palm tree lined city. If anyone has additional suggestions of must-see spots in the city, please leave them in the comments below.