A beloved cousin of mine finally convinced the woman he’s been smitten with for years to marry him, so we were off to a mid-June destination wedding in Charleston, South Carolina. We stayed South of Broad in a historic home bed and breakfast. This area is a prime location if you like being able to walk everywhere downtown, and we arrived a few days early so we could explore.
One of the first people we met told us Charleston is a drinking city with a history problem, a.k.a. interesting and fun! If you’re downtown, it’s one of the most walkable cities I’ve ever traversed. The locals seem to love their “Chucktown,” and the food is quite simply amazing!
Shrimp and grits, mmmmmm.
Vittles for our neck holes
Our favorite breakfast had to be Callie’s biscuits at Historic Charleston City Market. The wait was long, but it was absolutely worth it.
Best sausage egg biscuit I’ve ever had.
I know, we’d be yuuuge if we lived near a Callie’s.
Get to Callie’s early or be prepared to wait for your order in an uncomfortably-cramped space with lots of hungry folks.
I made a friend who was very generous and eager to share his breath mints with me.
You shouldn’t have eaten all that cheese before we left.
During our stay we also snagged a lunchtime reservation at Husk, which I found delightful. At Husk I got the “Plan Bee” cocktail which had interesting ingredients like egg whites and chartreuse. I’m a sucker for cocktails made with egg whites. The bright yellow color made me smile, and Plan Bee had a unique taste I can still recall.
I had fried chicken.
You liked it, right?
I mean it was good, but I’m from southeastern Indiana where it’s customary to eat an entire chicken by yourself. A leg and a thigh just isn’t going to cut it for me.
I don’t know if that’s customary, but it is kind of amazing to watch you eat chicken.
Like feeding time at the zoo!
I also want to give a shout out to a food that was new to me: She-crab soup at the restaurant Toast! You can get she-crab soup at a lot of places in Charleston, but this downtown eatery was the first place I’d ever tasted this savory and sweet bisque with a unique flavor from a not-so-secret but unusual ingredient — crab roe!
Not to spoil anything, but I heard they use crab meat now since it’s illegal these days to harvest mature female crabs and their fertilized roe.
Interesting. It was still yummy though!
Toast! gets an extra nod of the cap from us because we were a little hot and hungry after our carriage ride (more on that in a bit!), and it had no wait, good cold air conditioning and our waitress made us feel very welcome.
Other than the wedding … I’d have to say our first night in town when we went to Magnolia’s. Andrew and I didn’t feel like sharing, so we ordered up two crab cake appetizers, two shrimp and grits entrees, and two sides of mushrooms. It was definitely too much, but oh so good!
They had to roll me out.
I required the Jaws of Life.
So sad they had to break the booth apart like that.
Human extrication is a terribly destructive thing.
We think we’re pretty clever, don’t we?
Beatin’ around the bush
Although retail isn’t our usual thing, we went shopping on King Street downtown. In general it was a little expensive for us, but we found some things in our price range at a honey shop and at a women’s clothing store called Ooh! Ooh! Shoes! The funny name called to me, and I found a soft bamboo red dress there on a great sale. Meanwhile, Andrew chatted with the store clerk and relaxed on the couch.
She told me it was the men’s department.
The Historic Charleston City Market is a can’t-miss destination for artisan wares and good deals. We bought some nice souvenirs (and Callie’s biscuits of course!). Tip: Don’t ignore the shops surrounding the market on both sides of the street. We found a custom leather shop where I purchased a purse for my sister — partially as a thanks for watching my cat and partially because I remembered her favorite purse was starting to break down. She loves it, and I loved the smell of that fresh, soft leather.
To get a better view of the city and give our legs a rest in the hot South Carolina sun, we booked a carriage ride — an especially popular activity in a romantic city such as Charleston. There are several options, and we went with Palmetto Carriage Works.
All carriage drivers get their route chosen by a lottery system, so you might get 1 of 4 different city routes. We got the Battery which was probably 2nd most popular after Rainbow Row. Don’t be too disappointed if you don’t get the route you want — the city is FULL of history.
Also, Rainbow Row and the Battery are both easy routes by foot, which will allow for more time to take pictures of the area, as well as other carriages passing by the site. It’s a win-win!
We also downloaded a GPS-guided audio tour for our walking excursions, but it didn’t have very good production values.
I thought it was okay, but it sounded like it was recorded in someone’s basement.
It sounded like it was recorded by the girl being kept in that pit in Silence of the Lambs. I swear I heard someone in the background say something about rubbing lotion on the skin.
The $2 price tag should have been an indicator.
It guides the tour for Charleston, or else it gets the hose again.
No. Too far.
This was Andrew’s second time to Charleston, and he wanted to show me Folly Beach, which is known for its quirky residents and fun atmosphere. Despite being only 20 minutes away, Google Maps told us it was going to be 45 minutes to get there. An hour later we finally arrived at our destination — there is only one route into Folly, and apparently we’d picked a peak time for traffic.
Andrew wanted to introduce me to a restaurant he liked but warned me that it had an interesting restroom situation.
Taco Boy! Where everyone goes to the bathroom … TOGETHER!
That’s probably how it should be, really.
I startled two women.
Were you fully zipped when you exited the stall?
The Taco Boy mascot is like McDonalds’ Hamburglar … but for tacos. Andrew oversold me a bit on their fried chicken tacos, but all in all it wasn’t bad.
It was different from what I remembered. But I still say the idea of fried chicken in taco form is Nobel Prize-worthy.
Yes, there are far too few masked taco mascots recognized for culinary advances on an international level.
One busy beach
Later we explored the Folly Beach Pier and sunned ourselves on the bustling beach below, which grew busier and busier as visitors thronged to the same spot to pose for sunset selfies.
We were stretched out on a blanket, and suddenly we were surrounded by legs.
It was a little uncomfortable.
But it gave us a good excuse to pack up and take a refreshing sunset stroll along the beach.
According to Andrew, the Folly Beach County Park at the far southwest side of the island is less crowded, but be sure to leave by 7 pm or your vehicle will be locked in.
That had to have been nerve-racking for you.
Not an experience I want to repeat.
On the day of the wedding, we had plenty of time so we ventured out for stand up paddle boarding ( SUP ) near Shem Creek. I was going pretty well and I even stood up! But once we got near a bed of oysters out by the channel, the wind made such a strong current that I was paddling as hard as I could just to stay in one place.
It turns out my effort was still a good thing because later I heard if you are pushed into the oyster beds you can get cut up pretty badly! I would do SUP again, just not on a windy day. Our paddling adventure ended prematurely because Andrew inexplicably shattered his paddle.
By the way, how did you manage to do that?
Andrew not know own strength.
Here comes the bride
West Dunes River & Golf Club hosted the wedding, and it was such a beautiful setting — it was easy to see why Charleston is only second to Maui for destination weddings. Romantic live oaks framed the ceremony, the intimate club house had bars on both floors, and of course the food was delicious!
More shrimp and grits, mmmmmm.
Seeing my cousin’s contented smile as he watched his bride glide down the aisle to meet his outstretched hand warmed my soul. The locals say the weather that day was particularly mild for the area — it was a glorious day for two wonderful people to join their lives together.
That just dills my pickle
I’m surprised I haven’t been to Charleston until now! We’ll definitely be back to this southern gem of a city, and next time I want to go on a ghost tour — we heard we should do that by loads of people.
The Fort Sumpter tour is super cool too.
And Middleton Place — something else we’ll have to do!
How long should you stay? For a short trip I’d say at least four days. Any shorter and you will not be able to see enough of the city, although any longer and your clothes will start feeling tight from all the delicious low-country cuisine!
Honestly, I could see myself living there.
Shrimp and grits for life, mmmmmm.